Meaning ‘seat’ or ‘posture’ asanas are the physical postures we embody so as to escape the distractions of the mind (manas) and the ego (asmita). Asanas teach us how the body responds to the mind and vice versa teaching us how to really feel ‘in’ the body.
Hatha yoga proposes that the sadhaka begin their sadhana with this third limb and that the other limbs will naturally be adopted with time.
‘Vinyasa’ is movement with breath. I can think of no better way to re-establish the mental and physical connection than by moving with complete and full awareness of body and breath.
A typical vinyasa flow has a kramic order as follows (with benefits for illness):
Surya/Chandra Namskar: re-assert our creativity and manifestation
Standing:grounding to earth energises lower chakras
Twists:detoxifying & cleansing. Removes granthis/samskaras
Backbends:heart openers rebalancing anahata chakra
Forward bends:contemplative & restorative
Inversions:prepare us psychologically how to fall & be
fearless in picking ourselves back up
Meditation: reconnect to the inner Guru
Relaxation: deeply healing in all ways
The more advanced our asanas become, the more appreciative we are of the capabilities of our bodies. Shaping our bodies into difficult postures prepares us to deal with difficult life situations. If you can breathe deeply in Pravritti Trikonasa while your thighs are shaking due to the influx of prana and intensity of the hamstring stretch then you’re more likely to be able to reconnect to the breath when the stresses of life occur.
Just noticing and sensing how we feel is an enormous benefit to anorexics; people who have consciously severed the link between thought and feelings. Without any mental effort, we re-train ourselves in coping with the chaos that life brings. This is the first step in any healing process; the forgiveness of what’s occurred and the belief that you can start over.