Asanas and Samadhi
by Durga Ahlund
I recently received a question from a student.
I would like to share it and my answer.
Question… "How can the practice
of the asana eventually lead to experience of the infinite?
I think I have a general idea, that it brings you to an increasingly
meditative state, and deepens the meditations you do have.
Where can I find a reference to this to increase my understanding?"-
Answer: To begin, I'd like to quote the Mother
of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram: "The body is a mystic bridge
between the physical and spiritual components of one's being.
Through Hatha Yoga one can achieve power, light, purity and
freedom as the soul unites with the physical body. Hatha Yoga
strengthens the body and readies it for a deeper connection
to the soul through the use of the asana and pranayama."
A yogi can realize the cosmic consciousness
in any point or any level of his/her being, in mind, heart
or the body, for cosmic Spirit is everywhere, in every point
of the universe. The deeper we allow ourselves to go into the
experiences of ascension, bouyancy, light, expansion in the
body the closer we come to the infinite. Experiencing the movement
of prana in asana one can be taken from one pose to another,
the breath can become still and one may witness or experience
intense emotional warmth, flashes of light, a pulsing vibration,
a sweeping release of joy, or even vast continuous luminosity.
Remaining in a pose in absolute stillness in deep mental calm,
opens one to the experience of feeling, seeing and hearing
the sound of the pulsation of the universe, as we drop into
the depth of who we are. The kundalini is awakened, and the
prana and apana regulated and balanced in the ida and pingala
nadis, are stilled, the sushumna opens and the prana is released
or merges into the sushumna. We are supported on the inner
prana without need of breathing.
The best reference is the discovery for your
self. Choose an asana, work with it daily. I recommend especially
the meenasana, paambuasana, or yogamudra. Choose asana which
you can hold it for longer and longer times in ease and with
depth. There is a sense of intensity, persistence and aspiration,
but never is there pain. There will be an "edge," where
you realize if you went any further you would move into pain.
It is a threshold to be crossed if you want to find the true
life force behind the tension. But you stay at the edge and
at that point of resistance, you breathe and consciously relax
in both body and mind. This will ease the tightness and resistance
and allow you to hold the stretch in relative comfort. Practice
in this way will eventually release into physical and mental
Kriya Hatha Yoga is an integral Yoga and
the goal is Self realization. Kriya Hatha Yoga is an integral
part of that process toward Self-realization. An integral Yoga
is one which comprises all parts of the being and all the activities
of the being. But, what we find is that the practices for one
being will not be as powerful as the practices for another.
This is because we are not all integrated to the same extent.
Only when all of our being participates in the Yoga, will it
become for us an integral Yoga. To fully participate means
that all parts of our being are engaged.
The body is a temple of divinity. It expresses
the Spirit. It is not only for living a physical and mental
life. Man has the ability to educate his body to develop his
latent faculties. We can systematically develop and remedy
our defects and shortcomings and acquire things which we did
not once have. This Kriya Hatha Yoga will work on all parts
of our being, and it can literally change our outer nature.
It has changed me. It is dynamic and transformational Yoga.
We know that everything is animated by a
marvelous consciousness. And we all feel that given the right
circumstances we could even see that marvelous Supreme consciousness,
which sustains life everywhere, directing both the outer and
inner universe. We feel that same Supreme consciousness is
residing within, as our very Self. But most of us don't have
the experience. We don't feel that consciousness residing in
our bodies or in our homes, even if we yearn for it.
Why don't we? Why don't we have that experience?
Because we identify with our body and with mind as we are conditioned
to. In order to have that experience of that vital power within
us we must learn to pay attention to that consciousness. Only
with the greatest attention to the Self will we become absorbed
in the Self. Awareness begins with attention. It begins with
inwardness, when part of our attention, some of our awareness
is resting within watching what the rest of our consciousness
is doing, seeing, feeling, or thinking. It can begin as we
begin to watch our self breathe and do asana.
On a physical level, notice the position
of the spine…keep the spine straight and the abdominal
muscles tightened and the breath deep… continue with
diaphragmatic breathing…then on a vital, pranic level,
direct the prana though the body into the deepest recesses
of the body and to various chakras. On a mental level, make
your mind as silent and passive as possible. You will experience
a silencing of the senses, pratyahara, as you withdraw consciousness
so that it is not all going out through the senses and direct
it inward toward the Self. With this inwardness we engage the
buddhi, the intellect, as we sense a silencing of the mind
and begin to rest in the inner being who is simply watching
the postures forming on the flow of prana, and watching the
inhale begin and end and the exhale begin and end.
In the midst of doing our postures, some
of our awareness, some of our attention, rests on an unchanging
sense of presence, the witness. As we continue to practice
this inwardness during our asana practice, we will begin to
extend and widen ourselves and find within the space of our
inner body, new depths of being, which has limitless expansion
Contemplate the following as you
rest in a posture:
We begin with Kriya Asana Vanekom, Salutation
Pose: Salutation to the Self,
To worship the Self, is truly to begin Yoga.
Be aware of the Stillness,
Become aware of that which is aware of your
Become aware of the existence of awareness.
Become aware of the feeling of being.
Become aware of your breathing...
Aware of the one who is breathing....
Be aware of a steady feeling of presence....the
presence of the Self.
This inwardness allows us to move closer
and closer to the Greater Self.
And more and more we will find ourselves
aligning with that Self.