The asana practice promotes physical strength, flexibility, health, a stable nervous system, and an ability to sit for periods of time without discomfort, which a necessary prerequisite to meditation. Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutras, only refers to asana as a posture for meditation, and probably never foresaw the present emphasis on physical ability and fashion as part of asana practice. Each of us is a little different in physicality, bone structure, and affinity for aspects of yoga practice. Many of us would be unable to sit in meditation, as the body’s energies are scattered and one-pointed concentration is difficult at first. Mindful asana practice creates a physical and energetic body capable of withdrawing into itself, as performing postures is an exercise of moving prana consciously. Without this awareness, yoga practice would not be able to “Cure the body of that restlessness which is a sign of its inability to contain without working them off in action and movement the vital forces poured into it from the universal Life-Ocean”
Pranayama in Yoga
Pranayama is not simply breath control. Prana, or the essential life-force, is responsible for all
functions of the body—heart, organs, brain, and breath. The breath is our most obvious link to
prana, and the one that we can influence the most. Practicing pranayama brings us another
step closer to refining our internal awareness of the movement of prana. The practice of
becoming more sensitive is not to be approached with an attitude of domination, control, or
athleticism, but an opportunity to set the ego aside and simply notice.
Pratyahara in Yoga
When the body becomes more readily still and the movement of prana is noticeable, the practice of sense withdrawal becomes possible. This stage of practice is akin to the ripples on a lake becoming stilled. External objects, be they desires created by the mind or anything else, are seen clearly as only temporary. When we no longer cling to these objects and non-attachment becomes possible, our true nature turns inward.
Dhyana in Yoga
This is the deep state of meditation where the Yogi is wholly immersed, and senses are stilled. The lake of individual consciousness is so still it reflects clearly the ultimate reality, that all is One.
Dharana in Yoga
Dharana is a state of refined concentration, with the movement of prana stable. This state is a precursor to meditation.
Samadhi in Yoga
Here Classical Yoga states that individual consciousness and Universal Consciousness merge.
The bliss experienced here is said to be millions of times that of the experience of the ordinary,
separate mind. Bliss in this context is outside of normal experience and beyond all words.
“Meditation” and “mindfulness” are buzzwords these days for good reason. Yogis have been practicing dhyana (meditation) for illennia. Get expert insight here on meditation and its symbiotic relationship to yoga. Read More
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