Any fast or slow movement of body in rhythm is exercise. But when you involve awareness in it, it becomes asana. It is more than adjustment/alignment for maintaining balance. When you bring stability & awareness, then the journey of asana begins. It is your first step towards the Mount Everest of yoga. It is the base camp where your plan & prepare your Everest expedition.
You need right attitude and correct performance to have a mastery over any asana. The whole involvement with awareness always yields positive results. When you bring alignment in body with mind, you move towards higher awareness of life. Asana is in nature. Animals do asana unconsciously, while human beings have to learn different poses inspired from nature.
It is a qualifying round where you are expected to give your best to ensure your entry for the next level. You are trained under direction of yoga master who prepare you for transformation. He instructs you, guides you, pampers you, and sometimes treat you harshly just to bring potential within you. Mastery over any asana requires regularity, punctuality and commitment.
In one of his 196 yoga sutras (aphorism), Sage Patanjali writes, “Sthiram sukham aasanam”, which says, “that peculiar position is asana which gives you comfortable and stability.” The combination of position/movement, with breath & relaxation of muscles results in your involvement in asana. For meditation, you need to sit in one yogic pose for long duration of time. So, practicing asana is preparing your body to reach higher possibilities of yoga.
In hatha yoga, asana is first organ, while in ashtanga yoga, it is third organ. With weak body, you can’t have healthy mind. And, in weak mind, meditation is not possible. To attain healthy body, asanas are practiced. It removes muscular knots and improves the circulation of blood. Moreover, it infuses prana (vital energy) in a balancing way into the body. You feel exhausted at the end of physical exercise, but it doesn’t happen in yogic poses.
Rhythm in inhalation & exhalation during breathing is intended to connect your physical awareness with mental awareness. When your awareness level goes higher, you enter into the realm of consciousness. The focus & concentration on your breath during asana lands you to the right path where the higher journey of yoga begins. You catch right track for ascending.
Breath awareness while practicing expanding or contracting is must to reap the fruits of yogaasana. Backward & forward bending asanas activates your nerve cells. Balance and coordinate your breath from both nostrils with every yogic pose. It expands your awareness level and. Mind and body are not different entity, but are complementary to each other.
Asanas can be categorized into three levels—asanas for beginners, asanas for intermediate level and asanas for advanced level. These are integral part of yoga teacher training course in Rishikesh. The asana series start with light asanas like slow clockwise and anticlockwise wrist movements, leg movements & neck movements. It is practiced mainly for opening blockages, breaking the knots and enhances the mobility of the joints and muscles.
These are the three types of levels of asanas:
If you are first-timer, improve your posture first. Practice light asanas for inducing the strength and flexibility of arms, legs, wrists, neck, shoulders and spine. The classical hatha yoga teacher training course begins with light asanas.
Practice under the supervision of yoga master. The light asanas are refreshing, comfortable and easy to practice. Be regular in your practice anyhow and anyway. Start developing your awareness with each movements of the body. It is initial level of asana to get to intermediate and higher level of asanas series.
The asanas of pawanmuktasana series are:
It is a second level of asana series for developing steadiness. If you have some past experience of the beginner level of yoga, only then you can go for intermediate level. This is more difficult than the previous one, and need twisting and turning with more awareness and balance. You have to control your breath with more focus with steadiness in asanas. As it needs spinal twisting, your back and neck strong be strong to bear the pressure with no comfort or strain.
The third level is the advanced level of asana series. You practice level 3 asanas in ashtanga yoga teacher training course. Early preparation and proficiency in basic and intermediate asanas is pre-requisite for learning the advanced level. You have to turn your body in certain directions with breath awareness and stability with no strain or pain in any part of the body. These asanas balance the energy levels of your body by channelizing the path of the flow of energy. You are advised to practice under the supervision of experienced guru.