7 Ways Yoga Can Liberate You
By Meredith Zelman Narissi, M.S., BCPP
Ancient Sages alluded to Yoga as Liberation. What did they mean?
I asked my Yoga students this question and they said they were liberated from tension, tightness, fatigue, stiffness and other similar answers like pain and anxiety. Clearly, they were experiencing these benefits even if they were not embracing all the eight “limbs” the ancient Yogis practiced that included such things as avoiding violence and lying, or learning studies from ancient texts, or deep breath control, meditation and more.
How does this relate to the benefits that a regular Yoga practice can give to you?
The benefits of Yoga happen experientially. The results are inherent in the practice. So, the body-knowing and learning naturally lead to shifts in states of mind and states of consciousness. What might these be, and how do they compare to the meaning of Liberation as the ancients understood it?
1. Yoga teaches you to watch for release of tension. As a Yoga instructor I remind my students that there is no force in Yoga. On the contrary we wait for the body to relax and accept all the sensations along the way as tension is naturally released.
2. Yoga helps to realign your mind and body when you are out of balance. While executing a pose properly, we cannot think of the proverbial laundry list of what to do! You mind is being trained on your body awareness. Otherwise you might fall!
3. Yoga helps you study your mind. As sensations arise in the body you watch how your mind negotiates sensation with thought. We are instructed to let go of judgment in Yoga, but to remain mindful of how to keep your body safe and strong while elongating and relaxing.
4. Yoga reveals your grasping, tension, judgments and brings them to light. These things arise anyway, but we learn not to hold on to them. We especially do not compare ourselves to others.
5. Yoga directs you inward. Body awareness, thought awareness, breath awareness, all bring you to a place of self-understanding. Naturally.
6. Yoga illuminates your insightful self. As your mind and body begin to work in harmony, and tension in both areas is released, the sixth sense begins to arise…a place where logic gives way to in-sights: the sight within.
7. Yoga liberates you from the body-mind and indicates that there is more to connect with then your own self. If you wish to go further and let Yoga prepare you for meditation, as it was designed to do, then the ultimate goal of yoga is the attainment of liberation (Moksha). Yogis meant Liberation from worldly suffering and the cycle of birth and death (Samsara).
Yoga entails mastery over the body, mind, the emotional self, and finally the transcendence of desire. It is said to lead gradually to knowledge of the true nature of reality.
Then one may reach Samadhi: A Super-conscious state or trance-state of liberation.
What you find there may be very personal, yet all the great wisdom traditions would have you believe that you are then one with all that is…sometimes interpreted as God, the all knowing one, or even the Love that runs the Universe. Certainly, an interesting experience besides liberation from stiffness or tension…it implies a deep Spiritual Liberation.
Wishing you that liberation with the blessing of Namaste.
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