When most people think of yoga, the first thing that comes to mind is likely the physical postures, or asanas, that are commonly associated with the practice. And while there’s no denying that asana practice can be beneficial for physical health and wellbeing, it’s important to remember that it’s just one small part of the larger yoga tradition. In fact, according to ancient yogic philosophy, asana is actually the least important aspect of yoga. So why is that, and what can we learn from this perspective? Let’s explore. 

Yoga Beyond the Mat: A Holistic Approach to Health and Wellbeing 

Yoga is much more than just a physical practice. At its core, it’s a holistic approach to health and wellbeing that encompasses body, mind, and spirit. According to ancient yogic philosophy, there are eight limbs of yoga, each of which is important in its own right. Asana, or physical posture practice, is just one of these limbs, and it’s actually the third on the list. The first two limbs are yama (ethical guidelines for living) and niyama (personal disciplines), which emphasise cultivating positive relationships, ethical behaviour, and self-discipline. 

The other limbs of yoga include pranayama (breathing techniques), pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (union with the divine). All of these limbs are interconnected and essential to a complete yoga practice. 

Asana for Every Body: Remembering the True Purpose of Yoga 

While asana practice has become the most popular aspect of yoga in the West, it’s important to remember that it’s not the only way to practice yoga. And even within the realm of asana, it’s important to remember that yoga is for every body. It’s not about achieving the perfect pose or having a certain body type. It’s about cultivating awareness, compassion, and connection with the body, mind, and spirit. 

In fact, the ancient yogic texts emphasise that asana practice should be approached with a sense of non-attachment and surrender. It’s not about striving for perfection, but rather about tuning into the present moment and being mindful of your body’s needs and limitations. 

Conclusion:

In conclusion, while asana practice may be the most visible aspect of yoga, it’s important to remember that it’s just one small part of the larger tradition. Yoga is a holistic approach to health and wellbeing that encompasses body, mind, and spirit, and it emphasises ethical behaviour, self-discipline, and cultivating positive relationships. Asana practice can be beneficial for physical health and wellbeing, but it’s not the only way to practice yoga. And when we do practice asana, it’s important to approach it with a sense of non-attachment and surrender, remembering that yoga is for every body. 

If you’re interested in exploring yoga beyond the mat and incorporating the other limbs of the tradition into your practice, consider booking a private online session with Savannah Jayne Yoga. With tailored private sessions, you can deepen your practice and discover the full potential of yoga for your body, mind, and spirit.