Saturday, January 07, 2017
What is the Practice of Yoga?
The Practice of yoga involves not only the poses (asana) and the breath (pranayama), but also the yamas and niyamas or the things we should abstain from and the things we should observe if we are to live a spiritual life. The object of these four stages is to cleanse the body-mind so that the life-force can flow through and lead us to higher levels of consciousness. This means to become more balanced and aware.
The poses are not yoga, but through the practice of the poses we have an opportunity to discover yoga. For example; balance can best be understood when we do a tree. It takes strength, focus and stillness to find balance. In life you will need all of these to maintain your balance when life’s stormy emotions pervade your life.
Pranayama is the control of the breath. It is not the breath, but the life force that gives rise to the breath. When we sit in Zen and take a few controlled breathes we clear the astral channels and allow a flow of energy throughout our body-mind and this produces contentment and peace.
The astral channels correspond to the nerves of your body. The nerves are the only part of your body that does not regenerated throughout your lifetime. When we clear the astral channels we touch the soul. Think of this like touching something with your body. We need the nerves to be able to feel. Damage the nerves and the ability to touch disappears. Damage the astral channels and the ability to touch the soul becomes impossible.
The yamas and niyamas are guides for living a spiritual life. In the weeks to come we will discuss each of these. For now let’s focus today on the poses and the breath.
Using the body and the breath we learn to harness prana or the life-force. This week pay attention to your sense of touch and your breath. Flow with the force of life and you will bring balance and harmony into everything you think, say and do.