Yoga: It’s more than just Asanas

By Melanie Kiss

Yoga: It’s more than just Asanas

While yoga has been around for thousands of years, the asanas and postures we practice today are a fairly new development. They coincide with the days when “static gymnastics” was popular. Nowadays in the Western world, yoga has mainly become postures that sometimes gloss over the root of the discipline. Yoga is more than just asanas. There is a whole other side to the physical that once was the only yoga people took part in.

Yoga is more than Asanas

“When there is no mind, you are in yoga: when there is mind, you are not in yoga. So you may do all the postures, but if the mind goes on functioning, if you go on thinking, you are not in yoga.” — Osho

The mind-body connection of yoga lost strength as it spread across the Western globe. Whether the understanding was lost in translation or people were not prepared for the spiritual quest, yoga has changed meaning. With that being said, there are many spiritual teachers who live and teach yoga beyond the asanas.

Practising yoga goes beyond the mat. It’s how you think, feel, and act. Yoga is a way of life. In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, he outlines the eight limbs of yoga as a guide to living a meaningful and purposeful life.

The 8 Limbs of Yoga

  1. Yamas: Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (continence), aparigraha (food should be pure and we should only eat as much as we need)
  2. Niyama: Saucha (purification), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (internal fire), Swadhyaya (study of vedic scriptures/prayers), Isvara pranidhana (surrender to God)
  3. Asana: purifying/strengthening the body
  4. Pranayama: breath control/life force
  5. Pratyahara: directing our awareness internally by withdrawing from external stimuli
  6. Dharana: concentration and focus
  7. Dhyana: meditation
  8. Samadhi: union with the divine

Embodying the Concept of Yoga

Practising the 8 limbs of yoga is not an easy task and one must be patient with oneself. Some spend an entire lifetime on this inner work, striving to live a spiritual life. So the next time you unroll your yoga mat, ask yourself if you embody the concept of yoga. How are your personal relationships, for example? Namaste isn’t just a cool Sanskrit word to throw around. It is a sacred word that means “The light in me recognizes and honours the light in you. Together we are one.” Accepting one another, helping one another, and having forgiveness and compassion are all part of yoga. In fact it is one of the main aspects.

The Real Practice of Yoga

While physical asanas allow you to strengthen your muscles and stretch your ligaments, working on strengthening the awareness and love within is even more important. To attain clarity and peace, one must practise breathing techniques and meditation. Mindfulness can be a challenge but once practised, just like your asanas, you get better and better.

Yoga: It’s more than just Asanas

Now that we have some understanding of what practising yoga entails, going to a yoga class might feel a little different. Yoga will not just be about asanas, but about helping us to go beyond them.

When you book a retreat at the Yoga Loft, our yoga teachers will be more than happy to help you dive deep into the heart of yoga.