In Yoga, You Don’t Just Work Out; You Work In
The goal of yoga isn’t just stretches and bows; it also requires the mind to be centered and flexible. Yoga isn’t just focusing on the body, but rather the mind as well. Asana practice in the context of yoga is thought to benefit in three dimensions: physical, mental and spiritual.
Asanas are considered physical in interpretation and relate to the three koshas or sheaths of the physical body; annamaya kosha, pranamaya kosha, and manomaya kosha. Through these three dimensions, you can gain a holistic understanding of your physical, mental, and spiritual experiences. We will discuss these three physical extensions of sheats and how asana practice benefits your physical, mental, and spiritual lives.
Physical Aspect Of Awareness
In Annamaya Kosha, all in physical nature are included except the mind, which is intangible. The physical aspect of awareness is muscles, nerves, blood circulation and the internal organs, such as the lungs, heart, kidneys, and liver. Practice of asanas is never unconscious or robotic. For each asana, the yogis described where to focus, which psychic centre to utilize, and what kind of sensation to experience for each asana practice.
A longer period of practice increases the faculty of self-observation and awareness, which increases the brain’s intelligence. Through yoga poses students learn to observe their bodies and determine which type of stretch, release, or tension the individual muscles need. What is the experience of the physical body and inner organs in a state of comfort or discomfort? What is the feeling of silence and stillness?
Mental Aspect Of Awareness
The yoga tradition maintains that the benefit of asana practice achieved in three dimensions. The three dimensions understood in any case, such as physical, mental and spiritual. Three dimensions best understood in terms of koshas or layers or sheaths of physical body such as annamaya kosha, pranamaya kosha and manomaya kosha. These three dimensions are the extent experience of the physical body, and the asanas are physical in nature.
Let’s understand these three physical body extensions of sheats and the benefits of asana practice in depth.
Etheric or energetic Body Aspect of Awareness: Attunement of the body and mind affects the etheric body, or energy body. Prana is called vital life source energy, and it relates directly to physiological experience such as fatigue and muscular stiffness. The energy blocks are felt in the muscles and tendons as a result of physical pain or depletion of energy.
Pranayama techniques help one develop the ability to sense prana, or energy, in them and around them.
Asanas then become a vehicle to pranayama practice. There are several references to asanas in Upanishads that clearly mention how knowledge of our existence in three dimensions unfolds through their perfection.
If you are adjusting your morning routine with a cup of coffee, you can begin your day with ten rounds of Surya Namaskar or Kapalabhati pranayama, and let your body feel the stimulating and energizing effects on you. For those who wish to alter their perspective within the day, you surely benefit from a few minutes of asana practice that will calm the anxious system, calm the mind, and give you a unique perspective.