Yoga and the body (asana)
Yoga is a means of learning about the body–mind complex and the beginning of a spiritual journey for those who may be interested in pursuing it further.
In the West, the learning process begins with the body. It is the first point of contact for many if not most people practising yoga today. Practice begins by exploring and learning about the body, how to move it skillfully, and how to balance and hold it in certain positions (asanas).
When practised consciously, asanas have the potential to affect all of the major functions in our system, from the bones and muscles to the circulation of blood and body fluids. The asanas stimulate and regulate the organs and the glands that manage our metabolism. The central nervous system, which connects every part of the body to the brain, is strengthened.
Our bodies are both limited and imbalanced in their range of movement. When the body is out of balance and restricted in its flow of movement, it is also restricted in movement and flow of energy. This has a very influential impact on our bodies, and on our state of mind and emotions. Through asana, the concept of symmetry can be considered and applied – from the right to the left side of the body, from the back to the front, from the bottom to the top and, most importantly, from the outside to the inside. With experience we learn how to move and hold the body still, internally, structurally and energetically.
So when we practice asana our whole system receives the benefits, physically, energetically and mentally/emotionally. The practice of yoga has a tremendous impact on our whole sense of well-being.