The Two-Parts of a Pose

Photo by Michele Venne

In practicing asana (physical postures) there are two parts to a pose. Not all classes encourage students to notice the second part. Some instructors don’t know the importance, which depends on their school of training.

The first is the pose itself. Legs and arms and torso in a particular shape, ensuring that the breath is easy. The second part is unwinding from the pose and feeling the energetic effects in the body. The first stirs the pot of agni, the digestive fire in the belly. The second allows the digestion (burning off) of physical, emotional, and energetic waste that has yet to leave the body.

Especially at this time of year, when it’s easier to overindulge in food, drink, and entertainment we otherwise refrain from, our yoga practice can be centered around the agni. Twists (with gentleness for the low back), forward folds (with the belly pressed to the thighs, so bend the knees if needed), and postures that require the core to engage (plank, balance poses, standing poses), along with pranayama that encourages a complete exhale so that the belly hollows out, stir the fire of digestion.

Be sure to relax for a breath or longer after the pose to allow the fire to do its job, and burn away that which no longer serves you.