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Exploring the Viniyoga Approach to Asana

Ancient Indians created asana (physical postures) as a way to take care of the physical body and to prepare the body for seated meditation. In our western world, many students think that yoga is just asana. While asana is important, yoga is so much more than just these physical postures, and we’ll be discussing what these things are in future blogs.

For now, though, let’s start exploring this thing called asana.  Many of us (all of us) carry stress in our bodies just from day to day living and this stress manifests itself in many ways. Evidently, the ancients were stressed too because they designed asana specifically to release tension and bring about a physical state that is both energized and relaxed – a balanced state for the body.

Asana can also transform one’s skeletal and muscular structure and change neuromuscular patterning. The key ingredient to this transformation is self awareness. It’s critical to bring one’s attention “inside” and observe how one’s body responds to the asana. Where am I feeling the posture? What feels tight? Is one side more flexible that the other? These are just some of the questions to ask oneself during asana practice. Bottom line — Be alert. Be observant . Then you will become aware of patterns that aren’t serving you and explore ways to change them.

In a Viniyoga practice, the body is worked in two ways. One way is through repetition which means actively moving in and out of the asana from a neutral starting point. It’s dynamic and helps increase circulation and energy. The other way is to stay or hold in the posture which increases strength and overcomes mental agitation. The method selected depends on the role of the posture and – especially – the needs of the practitioner.  This dual approach can be very different from other forms of asana practice that tend to use only the second method.

Breathing throughout the entire asana practice is essential. Consciously adding breath to the movement  is what makes it yoga and distinguishes it from a workout at the gym.

Joanne Thompson

Joanne Thompson

Founder/Owner at Yoga for Self

Health is a precious gift and my goal is to help you live a healthier, happier life through yoga. Every private session is uniquely designed just for you. For a free telephone consultation call me at 303.818.4181. Discover whether personalized, private yoga instruction is right for you.
Joanne Thompson

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