Asana is the third limb of Yoga. This is the physical aspect of yoga. The goal of asana practice is to unite the mind with the body. How can you unite mind with the body? We are all aware of the connection between our mind and our breath. When we are angry, tired, frustrated, or despondent, our breathing is fast paced, shallow, and labored. When we are happy, calm, and contented, our breath is deep, slow, easy, and complete. In a way, our breathing reflects our state of mind. We can also say that there is a direct correlation between our breath and mind. In asana practice, we take advantage of this knowledge and focus on the unity of body movement and breath. This is how we can unite our body with our mind.
One of the challenges I have had in my asana practice is that my posture is in sync with my breath but out of sync with the class in that setting. Why is this so? Because we all have a slightly different rhythm of breathing, and once you have practiced asana for a while, your breath naturally becomes even paced, deep and controlled. Moreover, challenging poses have a negative effect on our breathing because we are challenged and thus breathing is labored, rapid, and incomplete. No matter how good you are with any particular pose, with time our bodies change, and poses that were once easy become harder causing breath to be out of sync with our yoga posture. Other poses, once that were difficult, may become easier over time resulting in better body-mind connection. Listen to your body and focus only on creating the mind-body connection because this union is yoga. Hence it is essential to incorporate home practice with a focus on mind-body connection in addition to in-class practice.
Why is asana practice essential to yoga? Yoga is the union of body and mind, and self and the object of attention to achieve the state of flow. Asana practice helps in developing discipline and awareness of mind-body connection. Discipline is essential for change within ourselves, a change for something better, and change we aspire. Asana practice helps us become aware of our short comings, experience the discomfort caused by the short comings, provide us with the ability and motivation to persevere despite the discomfort, and treat our bodies with kindness. Leadership requires awareness, discipline, perseverance, and compassion. Asana practice is the first step of the process towards self realization and awareness. It is much easier to see for ourselves the progress we have made in asana practice than in any other tools for developing self awareness and realization such Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), Dharana (focus), Dhyana (meditation) , or Samadhi (flow). Progress is the catalyst and motivation that is required to continue down the path of positive change because if you don’t see any progress, then it is easy to get give up and “fall of the progress wagon.”
About Kammitment: Led by scientist and life-coach Kamalesh (Kam) Rao, Kammitment helps one realize and make a commitment towards self-actualization, through tailored leadership coaching workshops and programs for students and professionals in all stages of their lives, by drawing upon the time-tested principles of Yoga and Mindfulness. Kam has spent 20 years as a scientist and a manufacturing industry professional in the pharmaceuticals industry, and continues to consult with the industry. In his free time he leads executive coaching programs for Fortune 100 clients. A certified Yoga instructor, Kam lives in Oakland, CA and is an active volunteer in the Bay Area