Mindfully Move Your Body: Yoga of Synthesis #2
How many facets of yoga do you know? How many do you practice? At the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat Bahamas, a destination for yogis from around the world, yoga is based on five points that are practiced regularly in order to achieve wholeness in your mind, body, and soul.
In this five-part Yoga of Synthesis series, you can learn about each of these aspects of living yoga in your daily life. First we focused on the breath; the second facet of yoga involves movement of the body.
More than Muscle-Building
In yoga, you practice the asanas, which are the yoga postures themselves. These postures bring major healing to all parts of your life, not just your body.
Yoga postures do benefit the musculoskeletal system — a lot. They strengthen muscles, while making them more flexible at the same time. They stretch and strengthen simultaneously, which is rare for a lot of muscle-building exercises. They also strengthen bones, and yoga has been shown to help combat osteoporosis, and other age-related ailments.
What may come as a surprise is that yoga postures also benefit your insides. Your literal insides. Certain postures benefit your glands, like the pineal gland, thyroid gland, and suprarenal gland above the kidneys. Some postures benefit your bowel movements, and can even strengthen your digestive system itself.
Which Posture Does What?
The Sivananda system of yoga sequences the classical yoga postures so you receive the highest benefits. The sequence stays the same each time, because the sequence affects how your body integrates the benefits. Of course you adapt, modify, or do advanced variations, but your body receives benefits just the same.
There are 12 major postures in the Sivananda style of yoga. Each posture has its own function, and you hold each posture for a considerable amount of time, so the body can relax into the pose. The seated forward-bend, for example, is an easy posture that nearly everyone can practice. This posture is simple to do, and provides extraordinary benefits for your digestive system.
Practice Now: Sit up tall in your seat. Feel how the muscles around your spine need to work in order to keep you sitting straight. Now focus on the front of your body, and feel how your abdominal muscles are also working to support the erectness of your back. Roll your shoulders down away from the ears, and try to hold yourself as straight as you can, while still keeping the body at ease. Close your eyes, and breathe.
Was this a challenge? Keeping a high level of awareness in all yoga postures is important, not only for safety, but so you can get the most benefits possible. It’s important in all yoga postures to keep the integrity of the spine, while also keeping the body relaxed at the same time. In the beginning, it can be a lot to think about! But all yoga practitioners are encouraged to go at their own pace.
Swami Sivananda Says: “Asanas are not mere physical exercise alone. They are something more than that. They bestow mental poise. They help you in controlling the emotions. They confer spiritual benefits. Asanas keep the muscles supple and the spine elastic, develop mental faculties and lung capacity, strengthen the internal organs, and bestow longevity.”