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Principles of Practice

Yoga

Principles of Practice

Biljana Mohan

Yoga practice is not so much about the skill but about the feeling and sincerity of practice. Yoga students/practitioners have to be taught how to really apply themselves during their Yoga practice and allow themselves to go beyond the mind and ego, becoming aware of every cell in the body vibrating in perfect harmony. Yoga Nidra (or yogic sleep) and meditation done after one hour of Yoga asanas are of crucial importance and are considered essential in order to allow for the transformative results of Yoga. If a sponge is not left in water long enough, it will not absorb the water. In the same way, if one doesn’t allow some time to ‘absorb’ the effects of the Yoga asanas, the practice will be reduced to a mere exercise.

Awareness of each movement and utilization of mind’s power of ‘Sankalpa’ (Sanskrit word for ‘intention’) with which one moves the body while performing Yoga asanas is the key to a successful Yoga practice. Regular Yoga practice prepares our body to withstand higher energy and to cope with all the challenges on the path of one’s Self-Actualization and Liberation with a balanced mind.

Before starting the Yoga practice, one should acknowledge his/her body as a beautiful vessel of the soul and the most remarkably fine-tuned instrument with immense capabilities. We then invoke our Higher Self and set the intention behind all the asanas during the Yoga session. With mind fully present in each asana and breath utilized properly to help remove the blockages in the subtle meridians in our aura, the level of awareness and purity rises with each Yoga practice.

It is important to understand that lack of flexibility is associated with energy blockages in the nadis (energy meridians in the subtle body), and with samskaras (negative/painful impressions of the mind stored in the muscles (and subconscious mind), which add to the ‘luggage’ we carry unnecessarily). Yoga practice helps us to remove these blockages by working on our physical body, by consciously breathing through the stiffness in certain areas of the body. We hence start experiencing the all new lightness, learn to truly love our body as the vehicle of our soul, and come to experience the cause-less joy of our true Self.

Yoga practice (sadhana) has the enormous potential to make us more conscious human beings. It requires, however, the willingness of the body, mind, heart and the will to align with the soul’s aspiration for purification and perfection.

Most people associate Yoga with asanas, physical stretches, breathing exercises and techniques to relax and focus the mind. Many go as far to claim that Yoga is just another type of sport or a replacement of one’s visit to the gym. However, no gym equipment or machine can strengthen, cleanse and balance our brain, heart, spine, liver, digestive system, etc. Moreover, Yoga practice enhances anabolic processes in the body, while any other form of exertion, training or sport enhances catabolic processes.  One should be aware of this distinct difference.

The word ‘unity’ which is ingrained in the very meaning of the word Yoga (Sanskrit ‘Yuj’ meaning ‘to connect/yoke/unite’) relates to the path towards achieving Unity with the Divine, as well as the inner state of unity – both at the same time. Yoga is thus the path and the destination. In its deep sense, Yoga is a communion of the human soul with the Supreme Soul. It starts with brief glimpses of this communion and with practice the blessing of the same gets more and more tangible. Such a spiritual union empowers a human to overcome lust, anger, greed, jealousy, violence and all other traps that stem from one’s identification with ego, and live a virtuous life rooted in spiritual awareness and compassion.

The true challenge for all Yoga instructors and Yoga practitioners is not to invent a new Yoga form, but to dive deep into the true practice and lifestyle of Yoga the way it was traditionally taught millennia ago. The ancient sages and seers went into deep states of consciousness, observed nature closely and with utmost selflessness, gave humanity the profound knowledge of Yoga without ever turning it into a dogma. They taught us how to live in perfect harmony with nature, be completely natural and balanced in the full sense of the word, thus setting a solid base for one’s spiritual awakening.