Effortlessness in Asana

The key principles of yoga apply throughout all aspects of yoga and life, there is only one awareness, one space, one heart and one authentic self, unified and connected. It’s like a web of insight connecting the subtle to the gross, stillness to flowing, small to big and so on.

Everything is connected and can be reasoned out with simplicity once we understand this. This is when true accelerated learning happens, because here we begin learning at different levels at the same time. This happens instinctively but when the understanding becomes conscious, the power of the mind can be exerted with much greater precision and affect.

A simple example of this is the experience of being centred, of being rooted into oneself and ones place in life – being connected. Being centred physically is no different than being centred emotionally, mentally or in one’s everyday dealings, they are all subtle differences of the same true experience.

It is much simpler to maintain one space than it is to maintain many different spaces. The more compartments we have the more energy it takes to keep them apart. A physical example is locked out knees, compressed lower back and hunched shoulders. The body is holding itself in sections rather than aligned as one integrated body. Equally this can be said on an emotional or mental level; the more compartments the more stress and unease.

All Asana, Pranayama, Meditation, Yoga Nidra and every other yoga practice is initiated by centring and all are maintained when centred within them. If we truly understood centring then it is only one practice spread through our entire being. It becomes our state of being, our natural state in which our authentic self resides.

Centring in ones breath is equally as important as centring in the body and the same principles apply. We go to the base of our breath by exhaling and finding the natural pause at the end. That stillness within the pause is the centring of the breath, the rooting of oneself into breath. It is also centring the energetic body and the body of feeling and emotion. If we apply this with Asana practice the whole experience of Asana practice is transformed.

Equally the same can be said for Meditation; to centre the mind we must recognise that we are not our thoughts we are the awareness within. In doing this we slow down the thoughts and disengage from them, experiencing the space that is called the field of awareness. As we focus on our awareness we experience stillness, which is the experience of centring at a mental level.  

A clear awareness, in a calm breath and a steady body.

It is the same principle practiced at different levels, simply put:  

Slow down, let go and connect.

The easiest and most effective way to access this experience for most people is in Yoga Nidra. Once the student has this experience in Yoga Nidra they are convinced of the power of centring. They are much more receptive to exploring the same experience during Asana, Pranayama and Meditation even if it is more challenging a task because they now know how beneficial being centred and connected is to their health and well-being.  

I ask my students all the time, “How can you take what you receive in Yoga Nidra and bring it in Asana practice?”, “How can you hold the Asana longer while putting less effort in and getting more energy in return?”, “Where is the effortlessness in Asana?”

By Roy Griffin