From the outside Asana looks a lot like physical exercise. The definitive factor, the “what” of asana is mental concentration. To say it so bluntly can sometimes miss the point. It takes, as Gauthama Buddha said, the right kind of concentration. Too little interest and the mind cannot be held in place and too much dry physicality and it wanders off to greener pastures. If the contemplation is of the body its all down to sensation and sensitivity.
The word exercise gets a bad reputation. Its an old word going back to Latin referring to training soldiers. It has a positive aspect also which could be interpreted as play. Personally these two words exercise and asana are usually interchangeable. they both describe a situation where the essentials of Patanjali’s teaching on Yoga can be realised. Oh what essentials? The twin horses pulling the chariot, Abhyasa and Viragya. Abhyasa means discipline and Vairagya means surrender. Its the action of keeping the thing happening and its also the effort not to allow the mind wander. You know like the guy in Despicable me called Vector, the one with magnitude and direction.
Then Asana and exercise have no difference but rather one uniting principle of attention. With awareness asana, or any exercise, allow Yoga.
Gracefulness then is when we have this efficient use of power acquited in just the right way. All this differentiation of Asana and exercise sounds a little like lemons and limes. Its all horses for courses. Yes there is a yoga for dance, kung fu, walking and whatever. Whatever involves the experience of inhabiting and animRe: Update on noahmckenna.comating the vehicle, the body.
99.9 percent of the time we are in our body and our body is on the earth. But, how complete is our awareness of this experience? Our minds can and usually are elsewhere. This secondary reality, the bubble, the past, the future, the inner world, the story, the psycho-emotional daydream. It may not be necessarily unnatural or a problem, or it might? It has the semblance of reality but whats the difference? From a post-modern vantage experience is all subjective, phenomenological. The crucial question then, are we awake in the dream? And just because we can analyse and interpret in real time the stuff of our imagination, are we fully awake The offering that comes down through ancient wisdom.
My two cents then, Asana means at least two things. To be in a body and to be on the earth. Simply it means to take ones place which is to be in a body and also to sit in ones place on the earth. There is a secret implicit meaning also which is that Asana is a gateway to trancendence, the internal experience of unbounded existence roaming the external space. The way is quite simple just sit upright, sit still and comfortable dont move a muscle unvolunatarily (or voluntarily) until the stillness of the experience takes on a vibration and somehow the physique dissolves away and freedom becomes apparent…….open space. Its a mystery and Id rather not embellish it.
So entré is done, Main course. How Asana helps mental stability?
First lets acknowledge that our bodies are in our minds. Every action and every sensation is a mental experience. Asana occupies the somatic field of our mental capability. There are of course other fields such as imagination and abstract cognition . Take memory, is it real is it imaginary