The beauty of yoga is that it is ever evolving. For a practitioner, knowingly or unknowingly, we are always on the path. Each moment is an opportunity to learn more about your own body, mind, and heart. Hatha Yoga is about asana, the physical practice of yoga we undertake on our sticky mats — how to align the body in such a way that it improves not only flexibility but strength, so that aches, pain, and injury are reduced, and most importantly so that prana, the vital energy of the manifest world can flow optimally. You will feel a difference in yourself after just one class.
And there is more to yoga then simply artistic expressions of the body. Body, mind, and heart are not separate entities. We describe them as separate so as to make sense of things, but essentially they function as one unless we unconsciously create barriers or arbitrary divisions. Yoga is a path to seamlessly connect all parts of the individual self into one whole.
Tantra means to loom or to weave in addition to its literal translation, a practice of expansion. We take the disparate threads of ourselves — made separate through lack of awareness — and weave them together to create a marvelous tapestry of experience. A fine cloth is beautiful as well as durable.
The story of Patanjali, credited for codifying the Yoga Sutras, tells us that this life is a rare and precious gift. We are truly lucky to be here on this planet. The Lord of Serpents, Vishnu’s companion, Shesa, wanted so badly to see the enchanting dance of Lord Shiva Nataraja, but Vishnu told him he could not witness the dance unless he took human form. He meditated and prayed to take embodiment, and when he finally did manifest as human, after many years of yoga practice he became the great sage Patanjali. This is why Patanjali is often depicted with the torso and head of a human and where legs should be is actually a serpent’s tail. Because we have eyes to see and ears to hear, we are able to enjoy the divine dance of consciousness itself. It would not be possible without a body.
So yoga honors the body through yoga postures, but it is also awareness of the breath to create relaxation, and connection to the heart to know yourself truly.
Therapeutic Yoga Asana
There are bio-mechanical principles within the body that allow the practitioner to align in a conscious way. It is not enough to have book knowledge of how to hold your body and carry yourself. It takes regular practice to understand the principles fully. Good alignment is good therapy. If you are feeling aches or pains in some area of your body, often there is some habit you have developed unconsciously that takes your physical form out of its optimal posture. Through repeated hatha yoga practice over time, you can create good alignment habits and relieve yourself of aches or pains. It is not a quick fix, but it will be lasting.