Asana practice and energy- how ideas take time to make sense.

I love it when I learn about something that is difficult to grasp so store it in a ‘drawer’ inside my mind. Then, once in a while, I go back to it, explore it, apply it to my own experiences, and evaluate if I have a better understanding. Oftentimes, I have to put it back in the ‘drawer’, until one day, just like magic, a little spark of understanding ignites and I feel I understand a little bit better. To then realize that my understanding is most probably just the tip of the iceberg… Does it happen to you?

Ever since I took my YTT, I have been very sceptical to talk about flow of energy and chakras in my classes simply because they are concepts that are very difficult to grasp for me, and I don’t want to teach something that 1) I don’t understand 2) I haven’t experienced. Some years ago, I bought a book about chakras and tried to ‘work on my chakras’ as described in the book for some months, without noticing any change. Most probably because of lack of understanding, perseverance and proper guidance.

After studying a bit more about the Tantra and Hatha traditions this year, I have come to understand that in order to work with the chakras, one needs to be initiated into one of these traditions. This said, the practice of yoga asana does have an impact in the flow of energy inside our body. This is not ‘mystical’ energy as we have a tendency to believe, it is oxygen, blood circulation, flow of nutrients, stimulation of the nervous system, etc.

If you think about it, our lifestyles allow us to move in very limited ways. Even if we are conscious about getting enough exercise, most of the time, the range of movement is limited. The big advantage of yoga asana is that the different movements and poses allow us to mobilise joints, and strengthen and stretch muscles that we probably otherwise don’t give much attention to on an everyday basis.

I have experienced to feel heaviness, discomfort or even pain in certain body parts and then focus my asana practice towards these and other body parts directly connected to them feeling much better afterwards. The key, I think is to have a regular practice that allows us to get to know our body well, and to start creating a mental list of movements and poses that we know have a good effect in our body. In order for our asana practice to be of benefit for our body and mind, we need to be curious both about the practice and about our body and mind.

So in this sense, yes, the yoga asana allows the energy in our body to flow better by strengthening, releasing tension and keeping our joints healthy. That is maybe ‘level 1’ of my understanding of energy. ‘Level 2’ would then be the flow of prana. Which I do understand but I don’t fully grasp. So, I continue practicing, I continue observing and learning. This is such a fun journey! 🙂

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