Yoga vs Asana Practice – What are you practising?
Well, what’s the difference?
Asana can be loosely translated to mean posture, coming from the sanskrit root as which means to stay, to be, to sit, to be established in a particular position. It is basically the physical aspect of yoga commonly seen in pictures, sometimes also gymnastic poses, Cirque du Soleil fancy schmancy contortionist-like stuff.
When you bring in the breath, trying to focus the mind, and going a little deeper than just the physical body (asana), it becomes yoga. Hence many likes to describe yoga as the union of the body, mind and soul.
Lately, most of the time I’m doing asana practice only. There is so much going on with my life (moving to a new country, changing careers, living far FAR away from family, etc), I find it extremely difficult to concentrate on my breath, which tends to help me focus. Some times I practise at home using podcast yoga classes which often does help me focus a bit better as there is someone there to remind you to breathe, but the minute I lie down on the mat, the mind goes again.
That was a cool move just now he did in the podcast, I should try that for the next class I teach. Oh I haven’t read so-and-so’s blog today. What was that youtube video I watched the other day? I better eat the food I have in the fridge before it rots. Oh no, I still need to do preparations for tomorrow’s class. Wonder what the weather is going to be like this weekend, hope it won’t be too cold, I want to play outside.
“And then slowly bringing awareness back into your body, rolling onto the right side and push yourself back up to sit.”
Oh oops, the podcast is still playing, I was suppose to be in savasana. Bad Karen, bad yogi, bad bad bad Karen.
Whilst deep inside me I was totally aware of what kind of “yoga” I’ve been practising lately, a comment from a student the other day after class reminded me what I’ve been neglecting – “Today’s class was much easier than before. I feel much better, I think it’s because today I was focusing on the breathing.” I was SO happy to hear that from the student who was frustrated for awhile with the lack of flexibility in the body and wondering why the classes felt so intense when everyone else looked like they were just breezing through. AND the student reminded me that I should probably start listening to the thing I say most in my yoga classes – “Keep Breathing.”
Yes, keep breathing, that’s it. Often that’s the most difficult part of a yoga practice. Okay back on the yoga mat and let’s try again.
What about you? What are you practising?