Asanas/ yoga poses are not just physical, the most important aspect is what is happening energetically. Yet, as mainstream culture has now popularized yoga they have taken it on as an exercise that can slim you down and make you flexible; when this is only the side effects of the true practice. The goal is to unblock the flow of prana (energy) and to give stability for the body so that we can have a straight posture without any pain and can do pranyama ( breathing exercises) and meditation without loosing our steadiness.
While poses are one aspect, there are also different meditations in Hatha yoga which allow you to hold prana in different chakras, with the help of banda’s (locks) to control which way the prana goes to. This process leads one to meditation and then the ultimate goal of samadhi, which is union with the highest consciousness, divine consciousness. To have a true experience of yoga is it important to know how the Doshas and the Gunas are affected. These I will explain below.
Yoga helps us to balance the three doshas ( energy our body is made up of, an ayurvedic term I have talked about in earlier posts- pitta, vatta, kapha).
Our mental attitudes can balance or imbalance doshas. Thereby, how we do yoga can effect our doshas. Not only that, but it is reflection of how we treat our body and how we live our lives. If one changes postures too quickly then Vatta will be imbalanced. If you do it in a competitive way then you will cause a pitta imbalance. Kapha gets imbalanced when asanas are too easy without effort and too much relaxation. Therefore, the Practice must be balanced.
Flexibility is not important it is how long you can hold the pose without moving and are relaxed inside and can meditate in the pose. As well as how much the prana is liberated.
It is important to have a balance between effort and relaxation, one should NOT force a pose or try to overextend themselves. Yoga is not about pain, it is about accepting what you can do now and diving into the deepest parts of your inner world. It is about having an inner experience with your true self and recogizing what you really are ( pure spirit). Your body/mind should not control you by its numerous embedded habits, but instead you should be able to control your mind and body.
As our mind is affected by the gunas, so is our practice. When tamas in the mind you find yourself lazy and resistant, Rajas when you are too hyper to calm down, and when there is sattva there is energy and one is able to do things properly
To get out of the state of tamas it is good to start with more dynamic and energizing exercise so it will wake you up. Try sun salutations, Leg raises etc to get the blood moving and your energy flowing. Hold the postures longer to get out of Rajas (Rajas just wants to move). If you have had a good yoga practice you will feel peaceful because your mind is now in sattva (pure state).