Note: In the
AYP Easy Lessons book, the
Asanas, Mudras and Bandhas
book, and at AYP Plus, additional information to this lesson is provided, including an "Asana
Starter Kit" covering 14 yoga postures. For busy practitioners, an "Abbreviated
Asana Starter Kit" is also provided, covering four essential postures that can be
performed anywhere in a few minutes..
Click here for illustrations of the 14 postures in the AYP Asana
Lesson 71 -
Yoga Asanas - A Wonderful Billion Dollar Industry (Audio)
AYP Plus Additions:
71.1 - Asana Starter Kit, with Instructions and
71.2 - Maha Mudra (Audio)
71.3 - Sequencing Kumbhaka (breath retention) in Maha
Adapting Asanas (Postures) for Seniors (Audio)
Date: Wed Jan 7, 2004 4:57pm
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
A billion dollars is only a guess. Maybe it's more. Maybe it's less.
No one can deny that the teaching of yoga asanas (bodily postures) is a huge worldwide
business. It is a good thing.
The important thing is that yoga has caught on with the public and become very popular. So
much good comes from it. It doesn't matter which branch of yoga caught on in a big way
first. All the branches of yoga are connected. If you do asanas, you will be drawn to
pranayama and meditation eventually. If you do meditation, you will be drawn to asanas
eventually. That's how it goes. Our nervous system knows a good thing when it sees it.
Wake up the nervous system a little and it wants more. All of the branches of yoga are,
after all, expressions of the natural ways that our nervous system opens to divine
experience. In truth, our nervous system determines the practices, not the other way
around. They come to us when we need them. It is amazing how that happens. It is the power
of bhakti. In time, all of the practices come together automatically. We just have to give
a nudge here and there. A little bhakti is enough to put us in nudging mode. See how
simple it is?
It is no surprise that yoga asanas are so popular. We live in a world where human
experience is based mainly on physicality. Our senses are yet to be drawn inward to the
point where inner experiences will become as real (or more real) than experiences in the
external world. So we are always looking for a physical solution. Yoga asanas begin to
take us from physicality to more subtle experiences of divine energy in the nervous
system. This is why asanas are so relaxing. It is their main draw. People do asanas for
relaxation, for some inner peace. Yoga asanas are very good for that. They are also very
good for preparing the body and mind for pranayama and meditation. This is the way we will
look at them in these lessons - as a preparation in our daily routine for pranayama
There are exceptions to the "relaxing" mode of asanas. Nowadays, you can go take
a class in power yoga, aerobic yoga, and get a good workout. That is okay. It is not
suggested for right before meditation though. We are going the other way in that case, to
less activity in the nervous system, not more.
Asanas in the traditional sense are for quieting the nervous system. But more than that.
They are designed to facilitate the flow of prana in the body, particularly in the
sushumna, the spinal nerve. So you can see that this makes asanas an excellent preparation
for pranayama, for spinal breathing.
Asanas are part of a broader system of yoga called hatha yoga. Other yoga systems include
asanas too. No one owns them. In hatha yoga there are some additional practices that are
more direct approaches to moving prana in the body. There is an Indian scripture called
"Hathayogapradipika" that goes into these additional practices. They can also be
found in other systems. For example, kundalini yoga and tantra yoga use them.
It all comes down to what we were talking about in the last lesson dealing with balancing
kundalini - the joining of feminine and masculine energies in the nervous system, the
joining of Shakti and Shiva. Hatha yoga means "joining of the sun and the moon,"
masculine and feminine energies. We will run into this theme in every tradition, because
it is an essential characteristic of the human nervous system. The Taoists call it yin and
yang. The Christians call it the holy spirit (or ghost) and God the father. The Christian
patriarchy has tried to make the holy spirit androgynous, but it doesn't matter what they
say. It does not change what she is inside us.
There is some overlap between asanas and the more advanced practices of hatha yoga. Some
of these advanced yoga practices keep the name "asana," while others carry the
name "mudra" or "bandha." Whatever you call them, they are mainly
physical practices facilitating the movement of prana and pure bliss consciousness inside
us. We have discussed a few of these methods already - mulabandha and sambhavi
(mudra). We are about to take on some more.
But first, let's talk some more about asanas. There will be no attempt to teach a full
range of yoga asanas in these lessons. It would not be practical. If you live in or near
any town or city, the chances are good there is a yoga studio close by. If you have not
already, go and take a yoga class. This will give you a basic routine to do at home, if
you are so inclined. About five or ten minutes of gentle asanas before pranayama and
meditation is an excellent way to start your session. If you are not inclined to do
asanas, or don't have time, it is okay. Review the lessons on "finding the time"
and "managing the time" back where we covered keeping up a daily practice of
meditation and pranayama. These same time management procedures apply when adding asanas
to your schedule. When time is short, asanas are last in the pecking order. If there is
time for only one thing, the best choice is usually meditation. If two things, then
pranayama and meditation. If three things, then asanas, pranayama and meditation. Like
that. This is not to say that one practice is better than another. You may be naturally
inclined to do asanas and leave pranayama and meditation behind. That's okay. It may even
be necessary if you are having some kundalini imbalances. Asanas can help smooth out the
inner currents. But if you do not have a strong urge one way or the other, you will
usually do best to pick meditation if you have time to do only one thing. It is the
deepest practice. It puts us directly in touch with pure bliss consciousness.
If you know nothing about asanas and live out in the wild somewhere, and are inclined to
learn, there are plenty of good books and videos on yoga asanas. Any of them will do. For
our purposes here we are looking for some very simple bending and stretching before our
pranayama and meditation. What you do is up to you. If you want to do more than five or
ten minutes of asanas, that is okay. Some people love to do yoga asanas. It can become an
end in itself for some. That's okay too. Whatever practices you choose to do, make sure
you build a stable daily routine that you can keep up without undo strain or discomfort.
If it feels good after practices for the rest of the day and night, you are in the right
ballpark. Then you are in the best position to consider adding more advanced yoga
practices at some point.
Now we will look at several additional advanced yoga practices that add stimulation to the
flow of prana in the body.
Click here for
complete instructions for the AYP Asana Starter Kit, and the Abbreviated
Asana Starter Kit for people on the go.
The guru is in you.
Related Lessons Topic Path
Discuss this Lesson in the AYP Plus Support Forum
See the AYP Easy Lessons book and
Mudras and Bandhas book,
and AYP Plus for
illustrations for beginning an asana routine.