As you all know, New Year’s Eve motivates us to do more sport, eat healthy food and make our wild dreams come true in the upcoming year. Social media helps with that a lot: in the first week of the year, Instagram and Facebook published more than usual sponsored content about sport, love, and money challenges with a goal to make this year special. For 2019 I decided to skip New Year’s resolutions, set smart goals and work on them.
One of the goals is to be fit and come back to yoga. I started doing challenges with my favorite YouTube yoga teacher, Adriene Mishler. I was following her for a couple of years, and I admire her “go with a flow and love yourself” yoga style. Usually, her yoga challenges are free without annoying advertisement, which is so rare nowadays.
Doing yoga with Adriene and hearing familiar words like “Vinyasa” and “Shavasana”, they brought some questions to my mind and made me realize, how much I don’t know about yoga. For example, what the main principles of Vinyasa Yoga are, what the meaning of Shirwasana is, and why I am doing yoga in the first place.
What I know is that yoga was born in India many centuries ago. Vinyasa means “moving with intention” or “moving with a flow.” Breathing in and out during yoga exercises is absolutely mandatory. Other branches of yoga that have heat and movement exercises can also be called “vinyasa.” That’s all!
As I have limited knowledge of yoga positions and yoga itself, the goal of this post is to discover what they represent and what is their purpose. Hopefully, I can come closer to yoga and enjoy it more. Honestly, for a long time, I treated yoga more like workout exercises and the means to lose some weight. It is indeed true that yoga can help to lose weight, but I believe it brings much spiritual impact on a person’s life.
Apparently, when I have a question, I tend to buy books to find answers in them. This time, I bought the book on Amazon, called “Myths of the Asanas: The Stories at the Heart of the Yoga Tradition.” It is a well-written book, that gathered all Indian myths about yoga and every common yoga positions. By the way, the Sanskrit name of the yoga position is “asana.”
This book is fantastic concerning structure and content. The writing style is astonishing, and it was a pleasure to read the book. Though I found all the myths presented there quite unrealistic, and they looked to me more like Indian fairytales, which is probably fine. I liked, that the author mentioned that every asana helps to understand the Divine, be closer to it and have a better personal relationship with it. Most importantly, I found what I was searching for: the meaning and purpose of every asana.
Every yoga practice starts with the lotus pose, which is perfect for meditation and it is even more powerful if you add an “OM” sound to it. “OM” is the most important and sacred mantra in yoga. It is the sound of divinity, and it represents three life cycles: birth, life, and death. In the Indian myth, they are presented by the cosmic trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
Lotus pose (“Padmasana” from Sanskrit) makes us more connected to our roots, letting our humble beginnings stay behind, and leading us to blossom. Usually, I hated this asana, because I needed to sit still for ten-fifteen minutes, closing my eyes, breathing in and out, and basically doing nothing. After digging deeper into this topic, I am trying to do even more: I imagine that I am a lotus, moving up from the water to the sky, facing the sun, and blossoming in the purity of it. Taller I sit, closer to the sun I feel.
Namaste is not an asana, but it is an important symbolic gesture in yoga. It can be translated as “I bow to the God within you” or “the light in me honors the light in you.” Yogis usually bring their hands to prayer at the start and at the end of the practice. I prefer to say “namaste” at the end of the practice, which makes me feel very proud of finishing my yoga practice.
Another pose, which I enjoy doing is Triangle Pose or Trikonasana. In the beginning, it hurt a lot, because I needed to straighten up my legs and bend my body towards the ground, dropping one hand and rising another one to the sky. I had the feeling that I was going to collapse, but over time it eventually passed away. I learned that Trikonasana represents the “trinity of earth, space, and heavens,” and it a symbol of qualities, that form our body and mind. Besides that, the author of the book recommends mediating during this asana. I tried it, it works perfectly!
Perfect Pose or Siddhasana is slightly similar to the lotus pose: you press left heel the perineum with the sole of the foot and place the right ankle over the left, putting palms down on knees. This pose means “the pose of accomplishment,” and one of its benefits is to give space to meditate, find the power and beauty of unconditional, selfless love. The author also mentioned that this asana “closes of the root chakra” and heels the body and soul; however, I am not still ready to understand chakras.
One of my favorite poses after energized asanas is the Child Pose (“Balasana”). It is a comfortable resting pose, which represents the child in the womb. It gives some time to slow down and think about how you feel on the yoga mat, and it provides some energy to continue the practice.
You have also probably heard of the Warrior Pose in yoga. This pose has three main variations: Warrior Pose I, II and III and it has very interesting myths behind. Every time when I do Warrior Poses, I feel empowered and capable of accomplishing any dream and goal. Magically, everything feels possible. Indeed, the warrior pose is actually a reminder of having that particular inner strength, that leads us to achieve integrity, compassion, and love.
The main surprise was for me to learn the meaning of the ending pose in yoga, Shavasana. It means a “corpse pose,” which has a purpose of reminding to stay aware of the inevitable death, appreciating the remaining time and inspiring us to do more good things, while we are still alive. I thought before that it is just a pose to end up the practice and meditate a bit, but I did not know that it had such a deep philosophical meaning behind.
After this research and doing more yoga, I feel much closer to it, and I started understanding what my yoga teacher is talking about. It started to have so much sense. Now my yoga time is the sacred space where I build the peace for my mind and my soul.