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
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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