Yogis compare the physical body to a home that we are living in. Just as the parents must be the masters of the house for there to be harmony in the home, for us to be happy in the home of the body, we must learn to master the mind, senses, and organs of action.
As you may have noticed, getting on your yoga mat for an asana session is a way to check in with your body. You notice where it's tight, where there’s tension, and which areas you need to work on to build strength and increase flexibility. (You may also realize that you've waited too long between sessions!)
Once upon a time there was a king who knew he would be dying soon. He wondered, “Which of my two sons should I leave in charge of this kingdom?” He wanted to find out which son would be a noble, benevolent, and loving caretaker of his people
Sometimes people who practice yoga asanas become proud of their ability to bend and twist their bodies into advanced yoga postures. They like to show off their skill and may be quite competitive in their practice. But this desire for recognition reveals an agitated mind and a sense of false pride—not the signs of a real yogi.
True yogis are humble. They may not be doing extreme backbends or advanced balancing poses; in fact, they may not be practicing asanas at all. But because they have achieved inner peace and calm through meditation, they have attained yoga’s higher goal.
A German scholar was preparing to leave for India to learn yoga. His colleagues asked him if he was going there to learn the yoga siddhis, or mystic powers. The scholar replied that he was not. He said that the yoga siddhis or mystic perfections were already being duplicated by modern science and he was therefore not interested in them.
He told them, "The mystic yogi struggles for decades to achieve the power to levitate or the power to stay underwater for long periods of time. But with the development of airplanes and submarines, modern scientists have achieved the same aim."
Wholesome is a word we often associate with our children's well-being. We feed our kids wholesome food to nourish their growing bodies. We encourage wholesome activities to help them develop good habits and useful skills. Yoga is not only wholesome, but holistic as well. In other words, it's an activity that develops the whole child—physically, mentally, and emotionally. What's more, kids of all ages have fun doing yoga asanas and watching their balance, flexibility, and strength improve. They also learn to focus and relax.
If your muscles need defrosting in the cold winter weather and your hamstrings feel like steel when you do a forward bend, here are a few hints to get you started.
Have you ever noticed how your body and mind work better on some days than on others? How one day things come easy to you, but on other days those same things require much more effort? These "off" days have a variety of causes. For example, if your body is stiff or tense, or if you're constipated or suffering from indigestion, your mind will also be disturbed. On the other hand, if your mind is disturbed because you're stressed out or emotionally upset, you may also feel lousy physically.
When you do yoga asanas, don't try to force your body into an "ideal" position; instead, do them from the inside out. Move into the postures with inner awareness, noting and accepting your body's strengths and limitations. Don't worry if you can't stretch as far as someone else—yoga is about doing the poses the best you can while maintaining proper alignment. This is the safest way to practice, too. If you practice regularly and conscientiously, gently stretching your boundaries, you will advance very quickly.
Anger can be very destructive. It can cause physical and mental problems and can even destroy our personal relationships. But you don't have to let it. You can learn to release your anger through yoga. Breathing exercises are particularly good for calming down immediately. Just take as many slow, deep breaths as you need to.