Humans are spiritual beings with minds and bodies. We have three dimensions – body, mind and Spirit. We are trinitarian beings—three natures in one person.
Human nature has a lot in common with animals. Animals and humans have the same basic urges. Humans have the same fundamental needs for survival—food, sleep, sex, and self-preservation—as do animals. Human nature also has a lot in common with God. We are spirits who manifest and express the qualities that we attribute to God/Source of Life—truth, freedom, healing, wholeness, unconditional love, joy and life itself. Our mind is what makes us uniquely human. Our mind is aware of our animal and divine natures. It knows when we are acting out of our lower instincts and when we are expressing the highest virtues of our species.
Our journey in life is to free ourselves from our animal nature and consciously, mentally choose with our human nature to become like God. As I was always taught in Catholic Schools, we are to become other Christs. The Yoga Tradition has the same teaching.
Our human journey to union with God, whatever we call that Creative Reality/Source of Life, is derailed often by our focus our physical/animal needs and not our spiritual/divine aspirations. Those animal needs drive us to the human desires of security, pleasure and power. They become human goals that lead to many of today’s problems and disasters. We work hard to attain security, pleasure and power because we want to be happy, often attributing happiness to the material aspects of life.
Yoga calls this aspiration to happiness misdirected. As we practice the postures and develop strength, flexibility and balance, we begin to realize that working hard for those goals sends us in the wrong direction. It sends us toward our animal nature, not our divine nature. Practicing the asanas and daily meditation helps us realize that those tendencies of the animal mind disturb our happiness. Bringing strength to the body through the asanas creates the heat that is needed to burn away the fear of not having security. Bringing flexibility to the body through asanas releases all the worries about not experiencing a pleasant life. Bringing balance to the body through the asanas erases the complaints about not being recognized for the good things we have done and overcomes the instability of being thrown from side to side by other peoples’ opinions.
Asanas, the postures, bring an awareness that happiness is in our hands, that the goals of security, pleasure and fame are all achievable with hatha yoga, the practice of the body in postures. Then we can sit with a calm, peaceful, happy mind in meditation.
Happy asana practice!