Hatha yoga is not exercise. Understanding the mechanics of the body, creating a certain atmosphere, and then using body postures to drive your energy in specific directions is what hatha yoga or yoga asanas are about. “Asana” means a “posture.” That kind of posture which allows you to reach your higher nature is a Yoga Asana. If you have observed yourself, when you are angry, you sit one way; if you are happy, you sit another way; if you are depressed, you sit another way. For every different level of consciousness or mental and emotional situation that you go through, your body naturally tends to assume certain postures. The converse of this is the science of asanas. If you consciously get your body into different postures, you can elevate your consciousness.
Dedicating a certain amount of effort and time to see that the body does not become a barrier is important. The body can become a means for your health, peace and spiritual growth or it can become a major barrier. Suppose some part of your body, for instance is hurting the pain becomes the focus and it is hard to aspire for anything higher. For example, right now if you have a backache, the biggest thing in the universe is your backache. Other people may not understand that, but for the person who is going through it, that is the biggest thing. If your body is not functioning well, it can take away all other aspirations from your life. Whatever you may fancy, all your longings just disappear once the body starts hurting – because to look beyond that takes an enormous amount of strength, which most people do not possess.
There are thousands of people who have come out of spinal problems by doing simple asanas. Doctors had told them they would definitely have to go through a surgery, but they never had to. Your back can be restored to such an excellent condition that you will never need to go to a chiropractor. It is not only your spine that becomes flexible; you also become flexible. Once you are flexible, you are willing to listen, not just to someone’s talk; you are willing to listen to life. Learning to listen is the essence of a sensible life.
Dedicating a certain amount of effort and time to see that the body does not become a barrier is important. A painful body can become a major obstacle, and so can a compulsive body. Simple compulsions, whether they are about the body wanting to relieve itself or of lust, can rule you so strongly that they will not allow you to look beyond; the physical body becomes a major entity. Body is only a part of you; it should not become the whole of you. Asanas level the body down to its natural place.