Yes, we twist and sweat. We grunt and sigh. We fly and fall, flop down and recover. But why oh why? What is it all for?!?
Asana practice is nothing less than preparation for liberation of the soul. By helping us shed body consciousness, it makes up one small part of a path that ultimately leads to freedom, joy, bliss, and wholeness.
Early on, a practitioner will feel that her suffering, her pain, manifesting palpably, is magnified. Challenging asanas draw forth the hurt of accumulated inadequacies, anxieties, traumas and offenses to the ego. They illuminate in physical form the metaphysical suffering shared by all humanity. It is common to walk away, to give up, to find diversion.
Discipline = Freedom
To commit to the discipline is to work through one’s own addictions, thought habits, negativity, self-assigned limitations, and the clinging to this ostensibly important, and actually impressively insignificant, person named “I”. We have work to do, and it is easy to see why we often opt not to do it.
However, if we continue the practice, pieces of our pain drop away. Asana becomes divine play, a sacred celebration, the experience of connection. Its fruit is a joy so expansive a singular body cannot contain it. It is the freeing of energy, of ultimate consciousness, of prana, expressed through the practitioner who now radiates, his lightness and superlative vitality a gift to his human mates.
“Your own Self-Realization is the greatest service you can render the world.” –Ramana Maharshi
When one of us is unwell, the whole is unhealed. When we empower ourselves to heal, we help the whole move toward wellness. Asana practice is a gift, our chance to heal as an animal collective, a means to experiencing this life and body in wholeness and in health.