By Jess McNally
When when one thinks of yoga these days, they often imagine beautiful bodies flowing through postures with grace and ease. Newsflash: that’s not what yoga practices look like for most people! Thanks to social media, our perception has been distorted… our perception of yoga, and even of ourselves. One way to correct that distortion is through the actual practice of yoga.
Through daily yoga practice, you can begin to improve your body, mind, and soul. This practice may include asana (physical posture) practice, meditation, pranayama (breathwork), mantra practice, reading/studying, journaling, spiritual devotion, prayer, and more.
We work in this daily practice to balance ourselves and find inner peace, clarity, and a true wisdom deep within ourselves. A wisdom that inherently knows that our divine light inside is what drives us, and nothing can dull that light. When we have complete clarity and mindfully practice self-reflection, we learn to respond to the stress of life with more ease, less conflict, and greater fortitude. It is through the yoga practice that we spark that inner, divine light to gracefully lead us down this path we call life.
The practice of yoga asana is the act of placing the body in specific physical postures for physical and mental benefit, to keep the body healthy and strong, and to be in harmony with nature (Light on Yoga BKS Iyengar pg. 21). One of the most widely practiced sequences of asanas is the Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutation.
The daily practice of Surya Namaskar has just as many benefits as any asana practice! The mental benefits include a calm and focused mind, increased energy levels throughout the day, clarity, and increased mood. What more could we need?! Fortunately, the yoga practice can also assist in conditioning the body, burning calories, lowering blood pressure, relieving low back, shoulder, and hip pain (when practiced correctly), decrease migraines, and encourage a stronger digestive and respiratory system, just to name a few things.
The classical Surya Namaskar consists of a series of 12 postures. These postures are practiced in the style of one breath per movement, inhaling to transition into one posture and exhaling to transition into the next. Surya Namaskars can be practiced one after the other to build heat, endurance, and focus throughout the practice.
While there are 12 postures in a Surya Namaskar, the foundation of them all is Tadasana or Mountain Pose. Tadasana is a posture that allows one to know how they stand, physically and mentally. How they hold them selves, how they feel… and guides you to that innate wisdom of how to realign yourself towards your inner light. Knowing this, we acknowledge that all postures have aspects of Tadasana in them, using the physical alignment to find mental alignment. Practice these postures, starting and ending with Tadasana (Mountain Pose) in sequence each day to begin your yoga experience.
Jess McNally is the owner of Purple Blossom Yoga Studio, located at 302 Evans Street in Uptown Greenville. Check out classes, workshops, and yoga instructor training offerings at http://www.PurpleBlossomYogaStudio.com. Register for classes on-line, through the studio’s app, or by calling 252.364.2917.