I just finished a workshop with Gary Kraftsow this past weekend. I was so pleased to hear him speak about the difference between asana as yoga and yoga as yoga. Asana is a fragment of the full philosophical spectrum of yoga. The asana-s are templates/models for us to use towards wellness, both physically and mentally. But any template or model that is not adaptable to the needs of the individual is in the long term useless for positive, healthy change. Asana-s are there not for us to alter our bodies to fit into some the perfect execution of a pose, but for us to see what aspects of that pose can be used to inform, heal, improve, sustain us. Someone with scoliosis may use certain aspects of the mechanics of warrior 1, but not form fit themselves into the pose. Of what value would that be, if it causes extreme stress to the spine and mind; where would the usefulness be in trying to execute a pose that is actually damaging if preformed as described rather than prescribed?
Much of today’s yoga is about everyone conforming to “somebody’s” idea of the perfect pose. But who is defining that? The instructor, the student, the journals, the press, the marketing gimmicks? We pride ourselves in this country as being independent, yet rush to all look the same in a yoga pose or somehow we aren’t “good enough”.
The art of yoga asana is not in the conformity/uniformity of the pose. The art is in the beauty of the individual as they pull from each pose what will heal, progress and support their journey towards stability and ease within the context of their life, not within the context of someone else’s.