In today’s Western world, when any of us hear the word yoga, we immediately think of yoga studios, lean limbs, poses, and colorful yoga pants. Make no mistake, as the physical part of yoga is definitely a key and an important component as it helps us tap into the other aspects of yoga. But, yoga is much more than just about attaining that perfect posture.
So how do we make our asana practice become something more than striving for impeccable alignment? For example, teachers cue us to activate our core, hug the muscles to your bones, firm your feet on the mat – all are important to help you have a safe and effective experience. But, how can we tap into the more mental aspects of yoga such as concentration (Dharana), going inward (Pratyahara) and meditation (Dhyana)? By giving MEANING to each asana we do on the mat.
I’ve decided to start a series on this blog where I plan on going through yoga asana(s) and try to help you attach a certain intellectual purpose to each one. So the next time you’re doing yoga, you’re actually delving into the deeper and more substantial aspects. You will be elevating your practice to a whole new level 🙂
So the featured posture of today is Bridge – one of my favorites!
I’ll start off with some brief physical notes and cues to be aware of:
1) Lie on the floor and bend your knees to bring your feet flat on that mat (place a blanket underneath your shoulders if need be to protect your neck)
2) Actively engage your arms, and the soles of your feet as you firm your buttocks (not harden) and lift them off the floor
3) Try to maintain your thighs and buttocks parallel to the floor, keep your knees above your ankles, and lift your chin slightly away from the sternum.
Now for the meditative portion of the pose.
As you stay here for as long as it is comfortable for you – think of someone who is going through a rough time (maybe it is you) See if you can build a mental bridge towards that person (or yourself) filled with whatever it is they need – maybe they’re unwell and need some health. Or, they are going through a rough personal battle and need some encouragement and compassion. You can pick any good intention – positivity, happiness, love, peace, or forgiveness. With every exhale, think about sending them the chosen intention. On each inhale, imagine taking away some of their pain or illness or anger, stress, etc. Breathe here with focus for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Relax and then slowly make your way back down to the mat.
Yoga is a very personal and internal practice. One of the key goals of yoga is to help you realize what your true nature is. Even though in the above mental exercise, you are thinking of someone else other than yourself – you get to learn about your reactions, your mental capacity to forgive, be positive and selfless in giving that person some good vibes. Ergo, you’re ultimately getting to know what YOU are capable of.
As always, thanks so much for reading and stopping by. Your comments and experiences are highly encouraged! How have you given certain asana (s) meaning? Do tell!