Let's continue our review of the eight limbs of yoga. We are on the third limb- asana or physical postures. In general, if you are new to yoga or just not had time to delve into the spiritual study, this is most likely what you associate as yoga.
Uber-skinny people scantily clad doing twisty poses, standing on their heads or trying to spell words you've never heard of with their fingers all while maintaining a look of bliss on their unblemished faces, right? Okay, perhaps that's the stereotype that was in my head...
Let's face it, the asanas are usually what draw us to the practice of yoga. They are the flashy wrapping paper that pull us in. They are the physical practice that become the medium for connecting the body and breath, purifying energy and ultimately plugging in to the universal Self.
The practice of asana can have many benefits. Increased strength and flexibility, weight loss, improved cardiovascular health, and reduced stress and anxiety are just a few commonly mentioned benefits that may occur if one practices regularly. There are a variety of asanas and their modifications to choose from. A kind soul gave me a copy of BKS Iyengar's Yoga when I first starting practicing. The book is worn, the pages dog-eared and covered in post-it notes for quick reference. It has been my go-to illustrated guide for learning the asanas. I also really love Iyengar's Light on Yoga and The Women's Health Big Book of Yoga. I encourage you to check out some of these books if you can't make a class.
One of the reasons I continue to practice daily is the way yoga can calm me. Let's face it, life can get pretty crazy. Our schedules are full. Full of family parties, work, gardening, sports (playing and watching), dinner with friends, working out, cooking, volunteering and community activities. We're often over-booked and under-nourished. Self care has taken a backseat- we'll sleep when we're dead.
My asana practice quiets my mind and brings me back to the present moment. Back to the basics. Back to my body. If I don't take care of my physical body, my vehicle in this life, I don't get to participate in all the cool offerings of life. My asana practice is the way I take care of myself- physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Give yourself permission to make your health a priority.
You deserve it.
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