The body can act as an anchor or a kite.
If you wish your mind to be clear and joyous, if you wish to retain high mental states, then the body must come along for the ride. Your body can be your best friend, tapping you on the shoulder, releasing helpful neurotransmitters, delivering intuitive guidance, facilitating effortless play in life. Or it can be a nuisance, a complaining pest.
Your posture affects your attitude, this is well known. When you walk down the street with a positive body posture, you are more likely to notice positive aspects of the world around you. Positive body posture has been shown to have a corresponding effect on affect mood, memories and associations [source].
It is crucial for a human to know innately that they are fit and healthy. Consider the assurance that one might feel if they instinctively know they are athletic enough to sprint after a wayward child and save them from sudden danger. Consider the confidence of a person who takes it for granted that if they trip over, the landing will be nothing more than a funny anecdote. The condition of being playfully buffeted by nature.
Freedom in the physical body is more important than material wealth. To be fragile in the bones and joints is to live inside a shaky home. For some people, tripping over in the garden would have dire consequences. For some, it can even hurt to breathe deeply. Limitation in the body accumulates very slowly most of the time, it often tracks along with chronological age. Is it any wonder people feel like they are dying as they age? Their freedom is slowly being withdrawn. But it does not have to be this way.
When you can stand up tall and throw your shoulders back and laugh loudly without hesitation or pain, then you can thrive. You are unrestricted. If you can lift a child and throw them in the air and catch them easily, then you demonstrate a fun and joyous attitude that is self-sustaining. This is the baseline we need to move forward.
We begin by creating bodily freedom through yoga asana, and it is done by the individual student, not by anyone else. The teacher is a helper on the side, not a doctor or a saviour. Far from any religiosity, yoga is centred in self-responsibility, autonomy, and authorship.
From the upcoming book: The Spirit of the Matter – Mysore style yoga and the metaphysics of Yoga Taravali.