Discovering the History of Asana, Origin of Asanas Yoga
To the Yogi, the mind and body are not separate realities. In the most esoteric sense, Asana is a reflection of the mind manifesting through the body. Even though it’s not actually possible to see the mind, its operative functions can be seen and monitored through bodily actions and reactions. For this reason, there are said to be 1,000 variations on each posture.
A thousand is an eastern symbol for infinity. We could assume that this means that there are infinite ways in which to gage, express and explore oneself through Asana. As we progressively learn to move from one variation to a less familiar one with growing fluidity, it cannot help but spill over into our lives helping us to move from one situation to a less familiar one with new rhythm and courage. It is also possible to see attitudes of aversions, inhibitions, fears, strivings, and desires for achievement in the way the body responds to the Asana. It is possible to see by our practice just how we are living our lives. Excessive indulgence, a transgression of the physical needs, periodic rigidity in the mental and emotional attitudes may show in the way the body moves or perhaps, rigidly doesn’t move. The way in which we would assume a forward bend, for instance, where the head is aggressively brought to the knees before the stomach is humbly brought to the thighs, would be indicative of inward striving and eagerness for results. In conceptually trying to get to the finished point of the posture, we forsake its precision for its range.
A similar instance where the mind can reveal itself through the posture would be in the basic standing posture, Tadasana (mountain pose). When the weight is distributed more towards the ball of the feet and toes, the posture reveals eagerness and anticipation of the next moment. When the weight is heavier on the heels, it would be a reaction or holding back as it is attempting to recapture that which is behind. In the same standing pose, if the chest and shoulders are rounded and the chest concave, the posture is speculated to tell tales of fear or a defensive attitude. It is thought that perhaps the weight of responsibilities, commitments and even guilt is carried upon the shoulders and upper back. The position of the head when standing can also show whether we are in the future or in the past. Ideally, the head is to be balanced over the base of the spine and the feet so that the body is aligned to the pull of gravity. If the head is forward, it can be a projection into the future and if the chin is pulled tightly into the throat and the back of the neck is firm and taught, this could be a withdrawn retraction to the past. In this instance, if done with precision and awareness, Asanas are condensed aids in learning how physically as well as mentally set aside actions of the past and future so that one may find greater energy within the spontaneity of the present.