Asanas are like Sutras

By Shivadas

The Asanas (postures) are like the Sutras : they do not reveal their true identity at first sight. At first sight, one thinks that they are gymnastic exercises which permit one to become more flexible.

The Sutras also have a hidden meaning which is very important, and one must be a seeker when practicing Yoga to become aware of it, otherwise they appear to be merely some pretty verses which express the perspective of a poet.

The prana, which appears as the shape of all living organisms of the planet, is nothing less than a modification of the prana, which makes up the sun. Prana assumes two phases of existence, the solar, positive lifematter and the lunar, negative life matter. All the various modifications of these two forms of prana constitute the total of our world appearance. All of the worlds appearances, visual, auditory, olfactory, kinesthetic, gustatory, in all their varieties are gathered into prana. The Yoga Vasistha says prana in company with the mind takes the human pilgrimage.

As practitioners of Kriya Yoga, we are aware that the sutras, the ancient texts of certain Siddhas or yogis, are the sacred heritage which has been given to Humanity to help it discover the essence of Truth behind everything.

In modern times, Yoga has been taken hostage by a culture which confuses “the good life” with things which are against the teachings of Yoga. But when one carefully listens to the subtle voice of the asanas, one finds that they have much to be said to us.

The practice of the Asanas are a part of the five phases of Kriya Yoga, and therefore their teaching as a whole is necessary for complete awareness and understanding. Unfortunately, most of the time, the practice of the postures remains superficial, under the reoccurring pretext: “one must be flexible to do Yoga.”

Because in this practice, no matter what our level of flexibility is, we do not put emphasis on becoming more flexible, but on letting go of the resistance in the body. It is very important to understand the fundamental utility of the asanas. By their regular practice, we channel a great amount of energy in our spinal column, more precisely in the sushumna nadi, an energy channel. Students of Kriya Yoga know this channel very well because of its association with the heart of our practice (Kriya kundalini pranayama) and the central importance of this Nadi.

A qualifed teacher of Hatha Yoga does not have as their goal to make their students more flexible, but to maintain their health and to prepare energetically their vital body. The entire range of practices in Babaji’s Kriya Yoga can be perceived when one practices the Asanas with continuous awareness.

Often, when we learn postures, we are taught « iso-static » positions ; the correct posture, using points of support which will bring balance and relaxation, good breathing, while the rest of the path is to be discovered on one’s own.

In the teaching of Babaji’s Kriya Yoga, we are taught how practices in five phases, corrresponding to the five bodies : Asana, Pranayama, Dhyana, Mantra and Samadhi, love and service to life, to the Divine, absolute consciousness, in the midst of all our actions and all forms of life.

It is possible to use all these phases in the practice of Asana and each phase can be implemented consciously in stages:

  1. One begins to search for balance in the posture, in order to relax every part of the body which is not being used to hold the posture ;
  2. The regular with the ujay sound in the throat, brings prana and pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses) and one melts in the external sound of the breath.
  3. Then one develops the Witness consciousness, taking a step back from the movements arising from the subconscious mind, and in so doing, one develops awareness of the Self. By doing so, it is possible to observe the psychodynamics of the mind and put an end to mental slavery.
  4. It is possible, comfortably resting in a posture, to focus the mind on the bija mantras (which are taught during the 2nd initiation) corresponding to the chakras, the psycho-energetic centers, one after the other, or only on that one which is being especially  activated during the particular posture.
  5. Finally, after some time, and with constant practice of the postures, one’s attention is no longer on the body itself. The body is now the temple in which we seek the Divine, surrendering completely our being. It is at this moment that the prior preparation of all five bodies, through the different practices, enables one to melt into infinite consciousness: the all is the truth and the truth is in the all.

With time and the constant practice of all five phases, we no longer practice the postures in the same manner, with the feeling of a dense body, gross and limited; this gives way to a sense of pure energy directing us through the postures and our conscious actions. This sensation reinforces the idea that “I am not my body, and I am not my thoughts, and which permits the intellect to melt and to identify with the ever-present absolute truth..

Just as we are taught in Babaji’s Kriya Yoga that the sutras are like keys, which open the doors and make accessible much wisdom, so are the postures. They give us the capacity to experience the profound truths which the siddhas wish to transmit to us.

From the Kriya Yoga Journal, Volume 19 Number 1, Spring 2012

Copyright © by Shivadas 2012


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