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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The Way of Grace

Yoga Stretch

Postures like these are more than just "kids stuff." They are a health plan for life. When practiced regularly, asanas profoundly strengthen the internal organs of the body and reduce aging.

Each morning gets off to the right start when you stretch with simple postures called yoga asanas. More than mere physical exercises, asanas have a profound benefit for the mind, emotions, body, and our total sense of well-being.

Asanas are a gift of wisdom from ancient Masters who observed the natural postures of children at play. By twisting and turning in various ways that feel good, a child honors the body's desire to become flexible, toned and healthy.

So much tension accumulates in the body. When the body is stressed or unfit, the mind is also affected, causing laziness and lethargy. On the other hand, a fit body is the basis for a sound mind, allowing us to experience the world through a more joyful and refined instrument.

Through yoga asanas we develop a keen attention to the sensations within the body -- the debris of tension, pains, stiffness, and our unconscious "holding on." Through slow, meditative stretching combined with coordinated breathing, yoga postures facilitate the release of these long accumulated tensions and strains.

With daily asana practice, we gain increased flexibility and maximum range of movement. The muscles become relaxed and toned. The spine, joints and ligaments are gently massaged, making the body supple. Each posture also massages and stimulates specific internal organs, improving the blood circulation, strengthening the digestion, and aiding the body in the cleansing of toxins.

Asanas leave us enlivened, refreshed, and comfortable with our body, with a compassionate awareness of our body's needs and messages.

Yoga means union. The practice of yoga asanas allows the mind, body and breath to merge in the present moment, drawing us back to a feeling of one unified, seamless whole. Yoga asanas are a celebration of feeling at home and relaxed in our own body. We learn to appreciate our body as a beautiful gift to us from the Divine.

Basic asanas are learned on the Healing Breath Workshop, and Art of Living Advanced Courses often cover a variety of new postures each morning. Through gentle guidance you are taught how to correctly perform each asana -- how to stretch the body in beneficial ways without strain. Asanas are always performed in a non-competitive environment with the emphasis on nurturing your inner experience, as opposed to goal-oriented postures.

Once learned, yoga asanas may be enjoyed at home as part of your daily routine.

Asanas maintain the health of joints and can prevent the debilitating back and joint problems that are so common with age.

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