Mention yoga and the majority of people would immediately associate this with asana* – postures or poses. And couple this with the 1000’s of pictures on social media of yogis striking beautiful shapes it’s not surprising that we can become tempted to make our practice more about what we look like than how we feel.
These pictures can be very inspiring, yes they do look beautiful and I admit that I would love to be able to make some of these shapes but unfortunately it ain’t gonna happen, no matter how much I practice! And in striving to achieve our poses, no matter how simple or fancy they are, it can become too easy to focus on the end result, the shape, rather than the multitude of movements that it takes to get there and how that feels in our bodies, and minds.
I’ve been thinking about this recently and have decided that perhaps the word “pose” as our western translation of the word “asana” is a little misplaced. If you look up the word in the dictionary these are some of the meanings given:
Assume a particular position in order to be photographed, painted, or drawn.
Pretend to be (someone or something)
Behave affectedly in order to impress others
No wonder it doesn’t feel right, none of that is what yoga is about.
So I’m trying to stop myself from using “pose” as a description for the movements in my yoga practice and in my teaching. It’s not going to be easy as I say it without thinking but I’ve found that by focusing more on all the movements in my practice I’m slowing down, understanding more about what’s happening in my body, listening to how my brain processes this change and actually learning so much more.
There is no “pose” in your yoga practice, just breath, body and mind combining to help you connect with your true self.
*In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras asana is describes as: steady, comfortable posture.