If the goal of yoga is to reach a state of Oneness, or union with all that is, then where does our asana practice come into play? How can yoga asana help move us along the path towards enlightenment?
Here are 4 ways the physical practice supports and accelerates our steady path to enlightened awareness.
1. Asana Initiates Us to the Spiritual Path
Most of us, if we’re Westerners, don’t begin with meditation. We don’t begin with the pursuit of the spiritual aspect of yoga. We begin with the physical practice.
We come to the mat for a Vinyasa, Hatha, or Power yoga class, and then we continue to come back to the mat because it feels so good. We’re not sure exactly why yoga feels so much better than the traditional exercise we used to do, but we just know it does.
Through the physical practice, however, we can become awakened to the spiritual path of yoga, and start to work that into our lives as well.
2. Shifts Start to Happen
We might start feeling the effects of yoga in other areas of our life.
Perhaps we notice that we’re less reactive when chaos in our life arises. Maybe we feel more centered and grounded within our being. There might be an inkling that we’ve only scratched the surface of the yoga practice and we want to dive deeper. Existential questions might start to arise.
This questioning leads us deeper into the search for Oneness, maybe through studying yogic texts or starting a meditation practice. Whichever path you choose, as you deepen your search and feel the shifts in your life, you'll start to move closer towards an enlightened path.
3. We Want to be Healthier
We decide it’s time to break free from the ills of modern eating and pursue Ayurveda, detoxes, or other ways to cleanse our bodies. One of the aims of asana is to purify the body, and this is one of the necessary precursors to awakening.
A clean physical body and mind is one that’s primed for more awakened states of consciousness, and yoga asana helps us get there.
4. Asana Gets Prana Moving Efficiently
We are energy bodies, and the more we practice asana, the more we realize this. In fact, one of the primary reasons why yoga feels so much better than regular exercise is because it frees up the flow of energy in our bodies. It also purifies this energy.
By clearing these energetic pathways, we’re opening ourselves up and becoming more sensitive. Eventually, we become so sensitive that we have little experiences here and there of Oneness. We have tiny (or grandiose) awakenings. We get really connected to our true nature.
We experience true Union -- in our inner worlds and outer ones -- and this is what yoga is all about.
How do you feel yoga asana helping you along the way to Oneness, or enlightenment? Share with us in the comments below!