* [note: "asana" = physical postures]
"Asana is completely unimportant and absolutely necessary."
Aadil Palkhivala, co-founder of Purna Yoga
The first time I heard this oft-quoted Purna Yoga phrase, I was both confused and inspired. Confused because all the yoga I had been exposed to was asana-centric; how could the postures not be important if every yoga class focused almost exclusively on them? Inspired because I loved the physical practice and how alive, focused and centered it made me, so I could scarcely imagine the benefits that the “important” aspects of the practice must offer.
Why is asana unimportant?
Because it’s just the prep work. Asana prepares the body to hold the Light and Love of the soul, but if the relationship with the soul is not cultivated through deeper internal practices (like Heartfull Meditation), then the asana primarily serves to glorify the vehicle of the body. Doing asana for health, focus, calmness, etc., is like going to communion because you want a cracker and juice. You will get what you came for (and the benefits of asana are not to be scoffed at), but without more you will probably miss the universal and transcendental truths available through a complete practice, which also includes meditation, application of philosophy, and lifestyle choices.
I may be in the minority, but I am not interested in yoga as a strictly physical practice. If I am not living my inner truth, I will be unfulfilled regardless of whether I can do splits and headstands; the difference between being lost and stiff and being lost and limber is not a worthy distinction in my eyes.
Why is Asana Necessary?
Because the human body is the link between the energy of spirit and the form of the material world. Asana makes that link effective by opening the body to receive the Light and Love of the soul, so that the body becomes the instrument through which the soul acts and experiences. Without a fully open and surrendered body, the soul doesn’t have an effective means to create change in the world.
Since we must do asana, it is important to do it safely and effectively. Purna Yoga asana incorporates the alignment and sequencing mastery of BKS Iyengar (with whom Aadil studied from childhood), and makes that alignment clear and accessible for all bodies. After learning the foundation and safety points of each posture, we focus on refining the postures to create a more powerful brain/body connection. We then use that connection to bring the light of the soul into the body itself.
More about Purna Yoga Asana
- The first priority in the practice of Purna Yoga asana is safety. The second is feeling the practice in your body. The third is improving the pose. It is not a performance-based practice, but balances the real and the ideal, taking note of what you can actually do as you move towards more refined expressions of the posture.
- In Purna Yoga, we focus on teaching people, not poses.
- Asana is always practiced in service to dharma (living your purpose), not for the sake of the asana itself.