How Hatha Yoga Increases Body Awareness & Good Health
What is Yoga & what is it not?
First of all, I want to cross out some misconceptions about yoga.
- Yoga isn’t just for flexible people. Unfortunately, you often see the limber types in acrobatic poses, but that’s not what yoga is about.
- Yoga isn’t just for hippies or new age people, either. Yoga is for everyone, because yoga sees beyond labels, boxes, skin color, age or bank account.
- Nor is it whoo-whoo! On the contrary: yoga is the most practical thing I have ever implemented in my daily life. It keeps me grounded and keeps me making wise choices.
- Yoga isn’t just a workout, either. Yoga is much more than just postures. Yoga is also breathing, meditation, but also the development of virtues and disciplines.
That is why I traveled to India, the country where yoga originated, to study hatha yoga.
Now you probably know that there are many different forms of yoga: yin yoga, flow yoga, vinyasa yoga, kundalini yoga and bikram yoga, just to name a few, but maybe you didn’t know that all these forms originated from hatha yoga.
Eight Limbs of Yoga
The father of the Raja Yoga Bible, Patanjali, has described eight paths to enlightenment that every yogi should follow.
- Yamas & Niyamas: The first two paths describe the virtues plus the moral and ethical disciplines.
- Asana: Path three contains the well-known body postures and anything in which you actively use and move your body.
- Pranayama: Path four are breathing exercises.
- Pratyahara: Path five is to close your senses so that you are less distracted during meditation.
- Dharana: Path six is to develop concentration.
- Dyhana: Path seven is meditation.
- Samadhi: And path eight is the experience of enlightenment, oneness, rest and bliss.
What is Hatha Yoga?
If you are not a monk in a monastery, it is absolutely impossible to start with the first two steps. When your mind is overheated, you have no strength and insight whatsoever to still it, let alone practice and develop discipline and virtues.
That’s why I believe hatha yoga is so cool. Hatha yoga skips those first steps and starts at step three. The body must first be purified through cleansing techniques, breathing and body postures, so that the blockages in the body are dissolved and your blood and energy can flow freely.
Hatha yoga basically prepares you so that you are well armed
to battle with your mind (Ego).
That does not alter the fact that the first two steps are important. I often see self-claimed yogis who still skip the Yamas & Niyamas. Now don’t get me wrong, you can definitely be vegan and take yoga classes, but if you are still a victim of the world then you’ll still drown in the negative.
And that’s okay. Life may be a learning curve, but for the right direction, all eight paths are consistently important to attain enlightenment.
Let me be truly honest here, I am also very stubborn when it comes to following directions. I follow my own path, not that of someone’s Bible, so that means getting lost every once in a while.
When I become aware that stress is taking over again, I immediately go back to my body. As I mentioned earlier, your body is the gate.
I follow my own path,
not that of someone’s Bible
Why is it for me?
In the book ’The Power of Full Engagement’ by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, the authors describe how you can use your energy on four levels for ultimate performance. What they want to make clear in the book is that your physical level gives you the energy to master your emotional and mental level, so that you eventually have a pure connection with the spiritual level. Your body is therefore of great value if you want to make a change.
It’s similar to the goal of hatha yoga. Your body is always present. It is in the here and now and your beautiful body is able to lead you to a place of calmness and truth, from where you can deal with any emotional and mental issue that you need to process.
Yoga is for you because
it prepares you for the ultimate.
The metaphysical text ‘A Course in Miracles’ tells us that there is only one problem and that is our separation from God, or if you don’t like that word, separation from our Truth or from Love.
So any stress-related issue that causes you to be unhappy is solvable by union in a way. And the Sanskrit word ‘Yoga’ means ‘Union’… coincidence????
Your body is always here in the now, and therefore it is thé guide to union. Seek unity with your body, work together and the rest will fall into place.
As a yoga teacher and spiritual coach I’ve been helping people for over five years now. I help them with sleep problems and addiction, with diseases such as cancer, with depression, anxiety and burnout…all to find union, to find peace again.
And everyone who has experienced a turbulent period can regain their power and thereby letting their light shine authentically again and it all starts with their body.
Every time a client connects with their body and finally surrenders, I see the resistance disappear. They literally go out of their heads and into their bodies. They feel grounded, and peace is restored to the mind. As I always say: “The mind is created to work for you and not the other way around.”
The mind is created to work for you
and not the other way around
How to start?
When you’ve identified with your mind for a certain time, it is not easy to detach from that identification. This takes practice. The mind wants to make this very confusing for you. It’ll try to throw you off so that you will quit trying new things and you will stay a victim.
My advice here is to start small and start with one thing at a time. Also I advise you to look for a practice that you enjoy and is easily accessible in your unique lifestyle.
My message today is to start with the body and one tool that always works and is accessible for everyone is the bodyscan.
Sit or lie down comfortably. Close your eyes. With your minds-eye take a mental picture of each body part, starting with your feet, up the legs, upper body, face, head, shoulders, to the fingers. Connect with each cell of your body.
This creates awareness of the body. It draws you into the present moment and you give your mind a task, so it actually works for you (as it should be).
Here’s a short & simple bodyscan example. Click on the video and experience it for yourself.
Now I would love to hear about your experience of the body scan. How was it? What happened during? Did you experience resistance of the mind? What did you think of this blog post: How Hatha Yoga Increases Body Awareness & Good Health? Are you more aware and/or connected with the body? Let me know in a comment below.
At your service, with love