By Lauren Raffaela Piccolo
Preparing for the Barcelona Yoga Conference is an opportune moment to reflect on what is written in the great Yoga Sutras by Patanjali about the concept of the asana or posture or what can simply be considered the physical or bodily aspect of ones yoga practice. There are many levels of understanding the postures performed each time one steps on the mat. On the most basic level, a sequence is followed that may lead the practitioner to sweat, stretch, bend or move in a certain way. This all typically feels good and is part of the reason why yogis tend to keep up with their practice, whether that be once or a few times a week or as a daily discipline.
On a deeper level, what Patanjali clarifies for us in chapter II, verse 46 (written in Sanskrit as sthira sukham āsanaṁ), is that eventually in each asana one should feel a sensation of comfort and steadiness. Sri Swami Satchidananda’s translation helps us to understand that the physical practice of yoga is not about strain, struggle or setting goals to contort the body in a certain way. Rather, the practice of the asana should be kept “humble and simple,” (p.153) which for many of us proves to be a great challenge. With patience and grace, it is by slowly detaching from the ego-self or sense that something must be achieved or accomplished in order to give value to the experience, that one can learn to enjoy the asana for what it is intended to be: a simple and pure form.
In his interpretation of this verse, Sri Swami Satchidananda writes, “only if we are supple will we never break.” (p. 152) The 2015 Barcelona Yoga Conference gives yogis the chance to reflect on this concept stemming from the ancient scriptures. In signing up for the vast array of yoga classes that will be led by incredible teachers of every discipline, participants at this year’s BYC can explore each asana in the way that the scriptures advise us to: as a precious moment or few breaths to seek a feeling of stability and ease in the body. With three full days of asana and other practices on the schedule, BYC 2015 will offer countless opportunities to learn about the subtlety of each posture and thus motivate each practitioner to return to the basics of yoga, starting with the body.
*Quoted from Sri Swami Satchidananda’s translation and commentary of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (Integral Yoga Publications: Virginia, 2005), p. 152.