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Yoga 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?"- M.D.

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 joy.

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 and consciousness.

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 stillness.

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.

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