July 23, 2014.
The yoga movements are often referred to as poses rather than stretches to emphasize that they are done very slowly and held steady. More intense stretching in an attempt to force your muscles to lengthen may actually make the tension worse as the muscles recoil.
What makes yoga stretching different from most exercise is the additional benefit to the internal organs, glands, and nervous and cardiovascular systems. There are poses particularly beneficial to the endocrine glands, the organs of digestion and elimination and sexual function. There is special emphasis placed on the spine and the freedom of energy to flow up and down it. Yoga poses work from the inside out.
Millions of Americans today complain of simple back pain. Perhaps our bodies were not made to sit in chairs—at least not for long periods of time. When we get concentrated or even “relaxed” in our easy chairs, we forget about our bodies and the position of our spines. Many of us sit on our storehouse of energy in the sacrum (sacred). This stops the energy from flowing. We may begin with the spine erect in the morning, but by the end of a long day we may look like gravity has won the battle. By allowing the back to straighten and strengthen, we can again look to the stars instead of only looking at the Earth. Our thoughts and ideas will be elevated, and our thinking will be clearer and more balanced. The spine is also a very important river through which much of our energy flows. By having the back bent, even slightly, the flow of energy is inhibited.
Western science is now discovering what yogis have known for thousands of years. The body, mind, and spirit are not separate. Even speaking about the mind”“body connection is not entirely correct. It is not possible to separate them except in theory. Think of the body, mind, and spirit like H20. There can be solid (ice), liquid (water), or vapor (air). It is all the same, just different forms that determine the closeness and speed of the molecules. The body is solid (the molecules are closer and slower in movement); the mind is liquid (farther apart and with accelerated movement); while the spirit is air (expanded and boundless). Yet, they are all one. Only the forms are different.
In the practice of Hatha Yoga the body, mind, and breath all function together. The mind first moves the energy and then the physical body follows. Meditative movements bring great healing benefits to the physical body and the subtle, or energy, body. This energy body contains the pathways or meridians used in acupuncture. It runs through and around the physical body like a river, carrying energy to the entire body and mind. The postures are designed to move the energy through the same pathways by various bending and stretching movements
Yoga postures are not unlike certain forms of dance, like ballet, or sports, like golf or tennis. In ballet, the moves are done with concentration and grace. First, the mind maps out the movement and then the physical arm follows. In golf, the swing is often done many times in the mind before the ball is actually hit. Once the ball was hit, the eye and the mind’s energy follow the ball as if to guide it to its destination.
When the mind images the benefits of the poses, the energy moves more easily to those parts. Then we receive maximum benefits from the practice—a relaxed, healthy body and mind.
❤ Partially excerpted from The Healing Path of Yoga by Nischala Joy Devi
❤ Article: The Best Asana; Keep It Simple
❤ Healing with the Chakras Meditation with Nischala Devi