The Inner Life of Asanas by Swami Lalitananda is one of inspiring yoga books for me, about inward journey, personal yoga experience and life philosophy. Her sayings were profound; I have to permanently put close to me in my latest tattoo.
Some of her experiences in doing Hatha Yoga asanas came across as relevant and similar to what I learned throughout these years. As I grow myself in life, it is of the same vibe that I realize I grow in my yoga experience, one cannot be separated from the other.
What I like about this book is that Swami articulates it clearly through her wisdom, what it means to ‘do’, to feel, to experience, to enjoy the ride or not, which all can become an empowering driver for me to be stronger, to be who I am, to continue finding the meaning of life, the meaning of who I am, while learning it milestone by milestone… Some of her writing might sound more of her personal journey, but I can clearly reflect on my experience, too.
She divided the book into 5 chapters of Awareness, Choice, Action, Devotion and Union. She also mentioned quite a bit about the learnings she obtained from her guru, Swami Radha about Hatha Yoga: The Hidden Language. It gives me another avenue to learn further on yet another unfolding chapter in life.
Here is the excerpt from her concluding chapter of her book, Inner Life of Asanas…
Yoga and I continue to grow up together. I recently turned fifty-six and am now writing this book. What have I learned after all these years? In the column ‘Cycles of the Sun’, I had the sense of cycles, of something starting and coming round full circle to end in what seems to be the same place. Looking at yoga and me today, has anything changed?
For one thing, yoga has hit the mainstream. Diverse approaches offer a different flavour for every taste, responding to the variety of practitioners’ and their motivations. Do we all speak different languages with our bodies or just different dialects? Does variety result in separation or awareness of commonality? What if we slow down and discover what is hidden – within ourselves and within yoga?
When I first started yoga, I was excited and imaginative, anticipating ecstatic spiritual experiences, rather along the line of drug hallucinations. I thought yoga would lift me up so high that I would become something other. The reality is that I am more myself than ever, and yet I question ever more deeply who that self is.
From the ground of the asanas, I continue to stretch into new territory – with my body offering rich information and my mind expanding to question who it is that is experiencing. The more I practice, the more there is to learn. This sense of newness encourages me. I like an open system. Even though I repeat the same asanas again and again, they are never exactly the same; and so it is with me. I am the same but different.
Many spiritual practices draw us toward this mystery. By integrating self-inquiry with the intelligence of the asanas, Hidden Language is particularly effective in activating a questioning attitude and stimulating a desire to find out more.
For me, yoga is an ever growing understanding of myself as a whole. It is also the process – a process that synthesizes levels of consciousness, from the most basic to the most elevated. Through yoga, I recognize the unity and preciousness of my human life and the beauty of all life around me. I see how wonderfully interconnected we all are, and how powerful the delicate interconnection of body, mind and speech.
With gratitude we can find ways to give back. Action based on awareness and love – this is sacred, this is a yoga that will last.