THE INNER ASANA

In Buddhist meditation, the first step needed to progress is calming or pacifying the mind. This practice, called Samatha, is essentially training the mind to be still. This is the foundation that makes deeper inquiry possible later on.

This is not much different from a beginning yogi training the body to position itself in asana practice. Training the body how to come into right alignment in downward dog, learning how to flow from chaturanga to cobra, this all takes repetition and is a necessary endeavor. The basics come first and are the platform from which to grow.

The second level of meditation practice is called Vipassana, which is leveraging that training of calming the mind to inquire more deeply and gain insight into the nature of mind and the universe.

This subtle level of exploration is also what we want in our asana practice. Beyond the mechanics, we can now make an inquiry of the pose. How does the energy flow in the body with each new alignment? How does each breath affect the body? How does a movement in the shoulder affect the sensations in the hip? This is not an intellectual exercise; it is an embodied exploration that opens the door for us to relate to the experience in a whole new way.

Through these foundations, in both yoga and in meditation, we open the gateway to cut through the ignorance that conditions our mind. With dedication, we can come to see things clearly as they truly are. This is a revelatory experience. When the body is united with mind and spirit, there is no separation. We stop being the one who is doing the pose, there is only the pose itself. The self disappears. The pose is pure energy, purely the elements of the pose. This is reaching into infinity.