A good friend of mine asked a great question that I am going to answer through a series of blog posts this week. Brooke asked one day, “I know yoga is suppose to be good for me, but how is it good for me?”
Honestly, she stumped me. I know yoga is good for ME, but the parts of yoga that are good for me, may not be the same parts that are necessarily attractive or speak to YOU. In the same token, you may extract benefits from this dynamic practice in areas that are amiss to me. I started my practice purely as a physical form of exercise. I was training for the 500 Festival Mini Marathon in 2005 and I wanted to avoid having really tight and sore muscles during my training. It was purely for the “stretching” that yoga offered. I had no idea at the time that yoga was the YIN, more passive aspect, to my YONG running schedule. I was extracting more benefits from yoga than just stretching, but I was completely unaware and that’sok.
That’s the beauty of yoga. You can take from it what you want. You can use yoga as a tool for physical strength and flexibility, or for strengthening your spiritual practice and beliefs. You can use yoga as a tool for stress relief and therapy or as a vehicle to holistic wellness. Yoga can be your social hour or your hour to TAKE TIME for yourself. And that is only focusing on the Asana, or posture, aspect of yoga. Yoga has eight limbs and the limb that us Westerners typically focus on is the asana. The other seven limbs include breath work, a “code” to live by that includes non-violence to others and to yourself, sensory withdrawal and meditation to name a few.
These other seven limbs of a well rounded yoga practice, are equally important as the asana or the physical movement of the practice. However, if that is where you are in your practice, great. Enjoy it, learn from it and probably without you even knowing it right away, you will be extracting other benefits and you will start to become more aware of the subtleties that yoga has to offer. Or not. And that’s ok too.
Ok, so how am I going to answer Brooke’s question? Well, because yoga can be so dynamic and you can extract from yoga what you feel is most appropriate for you at that given moment, I have decided the only way to explain the benefits of yoga is to break it down pose by pose and explain not only how to do each pose, but also point out the benefits and you can take from it what you wish.
I will focus initially on the ASANA, which is the Sanskrit word for posture or pose, and I am going to break down the Sun Salutation, step by step.
First, Tadasana or Mountain Pose. This is a standing pose, and the very first pose in a Sun Salutation and coincidently the first pose we do as toddlers before we begin walking. More tomorrow…