As yoga teachers begin their teaching experience, so many are taught the intricacies of guiding their students into the Yoga Posture. My question is: What does “the yoga posture” mean? It sounds so definitive, full of exactness, of “this is how it’s doneness”, that I feel the freedom to truly express what the body, the person needs from the pose, is lost.
Asana serves the body, not the other way around. Each day we get up and perform asana to serve us on that day, in this condition, to experience what we are at this moment in time. Trying to “perfect” the pose to fit into a picture of what somebody has determined we should all strive for, takes out of the practice the individual, the person, the self that needs to be attended to.
There is a saying “there are more asana than stars in the heaven”. I would like to offer an interpretation of that statement. That every day we get up in a different body, with yesterday’s effects written into us, with the mind’s activity impacting us, with the expectation of today informing us of what behaviors need to be executed. So every day, today’s warrior pose will be different from yesterday’s or tomorrow’s. If we perform the pose as it serves our needs in the present moment, that pose will change from day to day, even from moment to moment. So, there are potentially, more asana than there are stars in the heavens. An infinite number, because each day, we are different.
Teach every student to honor first where they are, before deciding how an asana needs to be performed. This attention to the present moment body will bring a more honest, open-hearted practice to the yogi. It creates a yoga practice that has infinite potential rather than an end point.