Life is Asana. It is a moving meditation towards stillness. Few know that the practice of Asana, or the postures, is a relatively current practice in yoga. Asana is only one of the 8 Limbs of the Yoga Sutras, a document written to codify yoga. Original yoga consisted of pure stillness. The only asana was sitting quietly, stacking the spine for providing an alert mind, then becoming enchanted with the breath until thought washed away, leaving one’s self with quiet perfection.
It was discovered that movement helped put a practitioner in the proper state of mind (a switch from theta to alpha waves in the brain) so that one may easily achieve the quiet peace of meditation. Yoga, in its current day state is movement into stillness. Through the discipline of coming to our mats daily, we find a way to control the mind.
Not all of us are built to be still easily, however. I myself have always found clarity through movement. Till this day, I find myself walking through the hallways of my house, shadow-boxing ghosts in my head, all for the sake of finding my thoughts, or controlling them altogether. Later on, martial arts, then yoga, gave me sanity. They both taught me to look inward and be present. After all, everyone is present minded when being punched, or while in the middle of a handstand. Therefore, regular practice of being present, particularly through our movement, is the key to happiness. Non-attachment of mind to the past and future is where all of misery dwells. Movement allows one to practice being present and thus, happy.
The question is: what is the right type of Asana for YOU? As I said before, yoga, of the act of asana within yoga, is one of many means to achieve stillness through movement. Though I hold true to the fact that yoga is indeed for everyone, perhaps there is an activity that is a better fit for you? Perhaps running is where you find your zone of total awareness. Maybe crossfit in all of its intensity brings you some form of inner peace. Perhaps your zone is best experienced through the writing of poetry or the playing of music.
Your Asana is a highly individualistic thing. It is as different and unique as you yourself are. When I, for example, step onto my yoga mat, each day is different and should be treated as such. No two days and no two people are the same. Your singular experience with each infinite moment is just that, YOURS! You have the power to interpret your experience as you see fit, making everyday an amazingly distinctive adventure.
The question beckons, “How am I experiencing my Asana, and thus, my life? “Am I egotistical during Crossfit workouts, forever pushing past my boundaries for the sake of beating a score or an imaginary “adversary/ fellow Crossfiter? When I run, does my joy vanquish when I can no longer beat the time of my last run? In yoga, am I focused on myself in this moment, or am I more concerned that the woman next to me is “outperforming” me? These questions, and many others, can steer one away from having a truly enlightened experience in ANYTHING that you choose as your Asana.
At the beginning of every training session, weather it be yoga, martial arts, fitness or whatever, set your intention. Answer the questions: “Why am I truly doing this? What am I grateful and thankful for?” If those things escape your mind, dedicate your craft to someone you love or care about. These thoughts will inject meaning into your practice. Meaning and movement creates miracles, and it is said that when you pray, you must also move your feet. Turn your practice into moving meditation by adding positive affirmations to the beginning of your practice and watch miracles unfold in your presence.
Lastly, take the time to become still and quiet after your practice. Sit somewhere quietly, with your eyes closed, and focus on your breath. Come back to your breath when the untrained puppy known as the mind, starts to wander. Pretty soon, after constant vigilance and discipline of this practice when your brain is its most receptive state, the mind chatter will dissipate. The machine known as the mind will no longer be driving the driver, so to speak. You will take back control of it, and start your journey towards peace and happiness.
Everything that we do, and everything that happened to us, happens for a reason. That reason always serves our higher good, if we are ready to listen to the life lessons that come wit them. Attach meaning to your practice daily. Find the teachings of life, which are hidden from you, right in front of your eyes.