Essentially yoga is a tool for awareness and a preparation for meditation. As the Indian sage Patanjali put it ‘Yoga is the settling of the mind into stillness’*. It is very tricky however to come to this stillness directly, so we approach it in a roundabout way. We start with the body and the breath is our guide.
With the yoga poses (asanas) we enable the body to let go of excessive tension and allow for more flexibility and strength. Fresh blood and life energy reach out to every cell as you stretch and breathe into the tight areas, bringing the body back into its natural alignment.
We use the breath itself to create more space in the joints and muscles, and also to bring more awareness into the body.
The deep relaxation (yoga nidra) relieves us from the stress and anxiety that the world brings and gives us a profound sense of peace, while the breath exercises (pranayama) help to increase the intake of oxygen, to clear the sinuses and focus the mind.
All these elements make it possible for you to stay comfortable and steady as you sit in meditation. Here the real gem of yoga reveals itself and a new perspective of life, of consciousness opens out to you.
This new insight feeds back into the asana practice, when you find that same balance within the movements, and it can’t help but spill over into your daily life, inviting harmony and wellbeing.
*Sutra 1.2 – Yogas chitta vritti nirodhah – Translation Alistair Shearer
This moment is not a measure of time.
It has no beginning and no end.