YOGA – BEAUTIFUL – SIMPLE

To overlook the subtleties of Yoga we are apt to be blinded to the spiritual purpose of a system that offers us a clear indication how to discover for ourselves, through direct experience, the spiritual realities beyond material existence.

The way of Yoga is simple. It begins in seeking to understand and determine to follow the natural laws or spiritual principles that are commonly revered in all cultures and affect our lives. This naturally includes attention to personal self discipline and self culture aided by learning the art of relaxation of mind and body and practices of meditation.

The beautiful system embraces the need for suitable health levels, physical and psychological. This includes a unique system to help master the body by Asanas or physical static positions designed to relate to attitudes of mind as well as body. Without this understanding we could be left as with an empty shell and neglect other more important disciplines related to our self culture and preparation toward spiritual realization.

In time, as we advance in applying the classical teachings we grow by extending our capacity to understand life beyond our own ego and come to identify more and more with our soul self or true centre of our being, sometimes described as the higher self, or the inner self.

Here we begin our own unique journey through life, consciously aware of our energy Source, tapped through our breathing and expressed through our life of activity and chosen work. We will possess increased self confidence and more conscious and careful of the application of our free will toward our clear personal goal.

We can gradually expect expansions of our consciousness that bring spontaneous personal realization of life and spiritual realities, with increased awareness of the immensity and unity of all life in a totality of consciousness or God consciousness.

So we all evolve through a process of natural evolution, progressing as a result of both individual effort and our willingness to surrender to the great life in which we all live and move and have our being, Knowing the ultimate Power that directs us toward light, truth and love.

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Posture is an Attitude

Any assumed attitude of mind will be reflected in an obvious, or a subtle corresponding attitude of the body. This is now a well known fact.  The relationship has been known and utilized for centuries and applied in the traditional art of self development by those who adhere to the teachings and practices of Yoga. This system utilizes physical poses to help the mind, and applies mental attitudes to help the body.

Although there is a highly developed system based upon 84 classical yoga Asanas, as they are called, the simplest practice is fundamental.  It is called Tadasana and represents the erect, upright mind and character, the confident individual whom we aspire to become. There is an associated physical discipline and muscular effort involved in standing upright, walking tall and sitting without slumping.

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Hand Balance Asanas

Most of these Asanas are designed to increase body strength and they require a certain strength for their execution.  Further strength is developed by extending the duration in holding the Asana but in the main, exponents apply a matter of seconds only in sustaining a successful balanced position, particularly in the more difficult poses.

In Hatha Yoga these Asanas are those directly related to the masculine principle (the ‘ha’ of Hatha) or the sun energy and outgoing breath. They are the focus for men who seek to apply the yogic principle and to strengthen their masculine energies both physical and psychological.

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Seated Asanas

A comfortable seated position is required in order to practise breath controls of Pranayama, as well as the mental disciplines and pracitices of Raja Yoga such as concentration and in particular meditation, which demands longer duration of a pose to be held.

There are many variations of the basic classical Asanas used in order to arrive at the desired comfortable position . Adjustments are made for individual special needs but in ease case it is important to assume an upright postion of the spine.

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Balance Asanas

The degree of control over many Yoga Asanas is often measured in terms of ability to balance for a period of time.

Balance is for that time demands full physical control although of course some are easier than others.

There are many types of balance – from standing on one leg to balancing the whole body weight on the hands, or even in inverted positions, such as the headstand.

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Matsyasana – The Fish Posture

This is one of the basic health Asanas.  The position is to accent the chest and ribcage so that with the action of deep respiration certain physiological benefits are offered.

Benefits include better circulation and tonic affect on the heart, lungs,  thyroid gland and kidneys.

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Asanas by Degrees – Variations

The wonderful system of maintaining a free, flexible, strong and healthy body through the practice of specific positions in addition to those involved in normal daily activity, is invaluable. It is based upon natural abilities for movement and the use of positions, the simplest of which can be observed in young children. The full range of body freedom is formalized in the sophisticated, traditional classical Indian Yoga teaching of the 84 Asanas passed down through the centuries.

There are understandably many common name variations to describe them in English, so there will be differences given out in different teaching institutions throughout the modern world. However there is serious attempt to retain the identity of the 84 classical Asanas by referring to the Indian names for them and standardize them for the future. However, as Indian names will be found to vary also, although each will end in ‘asana’, it demonstrates a certain need for identifying Asanas through the image as well as the word.

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Asanas for Psychological Benefit

It is easy to see that yoga students could approach their disciplines in a manner that is motivated by an aim to physically master each of the classical Asanas.  But this is only the beginning.

The system of Asanas was developed through understanding that the attitudes of the body affects the mind just as a mental attitude reflects in the physical stance or position assumed. Body language is well accepted now in fresh awareness of an ancient rule.

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Selecting Yoga Asanas

To avoid the use of Asanas becoming an abuse through sheer fascination with the variety and complexity of positions that the human body is capable of assuming or accomplishing, it must be borne in mind that there should be a reason and purpose for selecting each pose.

Understandable the student will wish to attempt positions and to practise for personal accomplishment and rather more limited understanding, the following offers a simple a guide for the yoga teacher who should be aware of the very reason behind any suggestion that students assume particular Asanas in classwork.

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Yoga Asanas

Mastering Yoga Asanas offers the third stage in traditional training in the 8 fold system prescribed by Patanjali.

The system of Asanas was developed through understanding that the attitude or the position of the body affects the mind just as a mental attitude reflects in the assumed physical stance or posture. What we now call “body language” in modern understanding is just a new awareness of an ancient principle. Aware of the intimate association between mind and body the Indian sages developed a system of Yoga Asanas to assist both physical and spiritual development and well being. Traditional training in Hatha Yoga encourages mastery of some or all of the 84 classic Asanas over a period of time. This demands skill in both strength and flexibility and assists in activating our full range of mental faculties.

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