Welcome to Part 10 of The Seeker’s Story, where Namit continues his exploration into yoga philosophy. This week, he discusses the point of asana – why do we practice postures in yoga?
Chapter 1 & 2 – Yoga Sutra – A Seeker’s Story Part 1.
Chapter 3 – What is Yoga?
Chapter 4 – Yoga’s Theory of Creation
Chapter 5 – Happiness and Oneness
Chapter 6 – Does Magic Really Exist?
Chapter 7 – Who is God?
Chapter 8 – What is Karma?
Chapter 9 – What is Spirituality? What is Spirit?
Chapter 10 – What is Prana? Is it the Same as Breath?
Yoga Sutra – The Seeker’s Story
Chapter 11 – What’s the Point of Postures?
The next day came and I found yogi ji. Today he had his knees bent and facing over to one side. His body was then turned to look the other way. He had one hand wrapped behind his back to catch his foot. He still had that serene look upon his face.
‘Yogi ji’ I said to him. He smiled at me and then pushed himself into a normal seated position.
‘Yesterday we were talking about the advantages of the postures yogi ji.’
‘Yes we we were Jake.’
‘So why do you practice postures yogi ji?’
‘Okay so first things first Jake, in India we call these yoga postures asanas.’
‘Okay yes these funny postures or asanas I keep seeing you in.’
‘Ha ha these are not meant to be funny, they are very relaxing, you should try practicing some one day Jake.’
‘Maybe I will, we will see. So tell me why asanas as you call them?’
‘These were invented to strengthen us so that we can sit for a longer period of time in meditation. These postures, hard as they might look, actually help to calm us down. They awaken energy inside the body.’
‘But doesn’t having lots of energy result in tiredness?’
‘It is not the excited type of energy that you are thinking of Jake. It is a calm energy. That type of calm energy lasts forever. It is the strong positive energy of prana that we were talking about yesterday that you become filled with.’
‘So basically you become filled with positive energy and then feel recharged?’
‘Well that is how I feel Jake and I am sure you would too.’
‘So you can meditate for hours.’
‘Yes exactly. When you are filled with this energy and your posture is strong then yes you can meditate for hours.’
I had wondered what meditation was most of my life. After all I had heard so many people say that meditation keeps you relaxed and living in a stressful world as I have mentioned before I really wanted to learn how to keep relaxed.
‘Jake there are other reasons why we do the asanas that you need to understand too. When you are tense in your mind and stressed then your whole body tenses up and all the muscles tighten. When this happens then your mind becomes even more tense. Now if you stretch out your muscles then you change them from being tense to being relaxed. And when your muscle relax out then your mind relaxes too. When you are relaxed you are happier and you can think more clearly. Plus you can also meditate really easily.’
‘I see yogi ji. So you are saying that the mind and the body are linked?’
‘Yes they are linked Jake. When one is relaxed then the other is relaxed and when one is tense then the other is tense. Also when you have a happy, healthy mind then your body too is healthy. When you are depressed then your body too becomes unhealthy. Now just stay healthy and you will automatically be happy. Make sense?’
‘Yes it does yogi ji’ I giggled. ‘You sound more like a Doctor now.’
Yogi ji giggled back. ‘Okay enough for today. Think about what you want to ask tomorrow.’
But by then I had already decided. I needed to know more about meditation.
I spent the rest of the day out by the lake doing some very simple stretching exercises, just stretching out my legs. Maybe I was imagining it but I really was feeling a lot more relaxed. The meal that night at the Rai’s was once again delicious. It was some kind of a bean curry with lots of coriander. I slept like a baby that night. I remember it well.
[Stay tuned for Chapter 12: Meditation next week]
About Namit Kathoria
Namit Kathoria has a Bachelors Degree from King’s College London in Pharmacy and a Masters Degree in Clinical Pharmacy from Queen’s University Belfast. He is also a member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain and has worked the Pharmacist Advisor to NHS Direct. He hence has a vast knowledge of health which he applies to his yoga teaching. He has studied yoga across the world including various parts of his native India including Dharamshala, Rishikesh and Mysore. He currently teaches yoga retreats in Spain at Yoga Sutra Shala in Sayalonga. To read more please visit www.retreats-yoga.com.