The practice of yoga is a large practice composed of smaller specific practices such as but not limited to meditation, breathing and movement. As Emile chose to write about meditation recently I thought I would attempt to tell you a bit about movement. “Asana” has for the longest time been the title of the yoga movement practice. Most yoga practitioners probably don’t know the word asana and many who do might not know what it means. Asana is generally thought of as a seat or perhaps posture. Seat or posture never quite satisfied me as a definition of asana. These movements breathe. Finding the stillness of the mind in it is the only true seat, but the movements themselves are alive and thus are subject to growth and evolution. This is where we truely find movement.
I found my asana practice was no longer limited to Yoga Alliance's five classifications of asana: (standing poses, forward bends, back-bends, twists, and inversions), rather my movement practice evolved into hand-balancing, gymnastics, locomotive (various gait) patterns and is continuing to expand thanks to the help of my friends and fellow teachers at Yoga Movement Sanctuary. The new asana that we propose, the movement practice, is recognition that our bodies crave more and thrive from more than anything that can be classified into 5 categories. That the complexity that our bodies are capable of, requires our attention and is a source of the greatest rewards one can have in this incarnation.
The fountain of youth is here my friends, a place where the temporary aches and pains of hard work are differentiated from the chronic pain of a sedentary existence. A fountain that makes sleep better, your senses sharper and allows you to be more in touch with your own existence, in a modern world that seems to put up barriers from this awesome relationship you can have with yourself. An old Chinese Proverb says: “You are as old as your spine”. We will take special attention to mobilizing one's musculo-skeletal system but we will also focus on complex movements that have the added benefit of exercising one’s neurology and isn’t the youth and vibrancy of one’s brain even more important?
The beauty is, you don’t need to choose. Just as you can never truly isolate any muscle from the rest of the system, you can never truly isolate a system from the others that support the organism. Movement doesn’t discriminate, it allows a thorough and complete approach because, it as a practice is never finished evolving. Movement grows from learning from experts in their respective fields, pooling the information and utilizing it. We as an institution are responsible for communicating this information and fostering a supportive environment where the infinite well of movement information can be experienced and expressed.
Yoga means Union. Union may be similar to the idea of Enlightenment, or Oneness. Movement is in my summation a synthesis or union of life in motion, of all the possibilities and capabilities of one’s physical vehicle. Movement is more than asana, and yoga is more than movement, but the practice of movement will bring one closer to Union.