Yoga is extremely popular today, both in the East and the West. However, as you may have already noticed, that even though these posts have been Yoga-based, I have made almost zero reference to a “standard asana (movement) based practice”.

Yoga, as put forth through the Sutras is at its heart a meditative practice. Not that you would know this given the extremely physical version practiced in the West.

Indeed most of the Yoga practiced worldwide today would be unrecognizable to earlier yogis. (Much like democracy to Thomas Jefferson, Christianity to Jesus, Islam to Mohammed). These earlier yogis attained their realizations through meditative stillness.

Had Patanjali lived 7 centuries later, in the 10th century instead of the 3rd his system might well have included movements from the leading form of Yoga practiced today.

Hatha Yoga, which was developed in part to temper the body/mind and focus it energies for meditation. Patanjali represented Asana (movement) as the 3rd limb of Yoga in it’s famed Eight Limbed Path found in the Book II of the Sutras (the portion on practice).

Hatha Yoga has it’s own book The Yoga Hatha Pradikapita. (It is long, sometimes weird and nothing like Hatha practice today)

Patanjali structured the Sutras so that the reasons for contemplation (Book 1) came before the practices (Book 2). In Patanjali’s era, yoga posture (asana) was simply a means of sitting steadily and effortlessly as possible and WAS NOT an exercise system of any kind.

This older, more contemplative yoga is now referred to as Raja Yoga (the exalted path) to distinguish it from later forms of Yoga including Hatha. There are many forms of Yoga.

Raja yoga is a process of stilling and inward focus, in which utter physical and mental calm is brought to every aspect of your being and experience. We will be using many of these concepts and morphing them into highly accessible birth skills.

Patanjali considered Asana to be the bodily aspect of this stilling process.  Asana (movement) is a very important Birth Skill— and will be discussed in more detail in a later section.

For now we will stick with Patanjali because the process of stilling the mind is also an important Birth Skill. These processes will be discussed in more detail as well.

Like Patanjali’s structuring of the Sutras, I want to delve more into the “why you would want to” use yoga as a birth skill, before showing you how.

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