Fitness enthusiasts often seek yoga to tone muscles, achieve better balance and increase flexibility. But although yoga poses can help tone your biceps, flatten your belly and strengthen your quads, there’s a spiritual meaning underlying the poses that can add depth to your practice. Even if you’re not spiritually inclined, understanding the deeper metaphors behind the poses might help you power through them when you’re running out of breath or starting to feel tired.
Strong, Grounded Mountain Pose
In Mountain pose, you stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms extended alongside your torso. Your core, quads and arms are engaged, and the crown of your head is lifting toward the ceiling. In Mountain posture, the idea is to feel strong and grounded, with your feet firmly connecting to the Earth but your head, mind and thoughts moving toward greater spiritual understanding in the metaphorical sky, or spiritual realm, according to "Ascent Magazine." Mountain posture emphasizes mental and moral steadiness, deep connection to the Earth, and being unperturbed by external events. A mountain might experience snow, wind, rain and heat, but it remains a mountain just the same. In the same way, Mountain pose can help you work toward calmness and equilibrium even during tumultuous times.
Safety and Sweetness Within Child’s Pose
Child’s pose is one of yoga’s great nurturing postures. In Child’s pose, you’ll kneel on the floor with your torso resting on your thighs. Your arms will extend in front of you, palms resting on the floor. This yoga posture is about creating a cocoon of quiet tranquility, allowing your spirit to rest and nurture itself outside of the world’s pressures, according to "Om Times." Granting yourself the quiet time to be still allows your mind, heart and body to reintegrate, creating a sweet and satisfying wholeness.
Battling Ignorance in Warrior Pose
Yoga has three primary Warrior poses, each involving strong extended legs pressing into the ground, an active, engaged core and powerfully extending arms. Warrior pose helps your body develop physical strength, but it’s also a spiritual expression of the interior battles the mind and heart must fight. Yogic philosophy teaches that the biggest spiritual enemy is self-ignorance, according to "Yoga Journal." The idea is that not knowing yourself causes suffering for yourself and others. Warrior postures allow you to embody the idea of courage, bravery and strength in facing down your inner demons.
Tranquility in Sleep, in Death, in Renewal
Most yoga classes end in Savasana, which is a Sanskrit term meaning “Corpse pose.” It involves lying on your back with your eyes closed and your arms extended alongside your body. This posture’s spiritual significance involves surrender, giving up your intentions, goals and worldly pursuits in acknowledgement that there is richness and peace to be found in stillness. During this posture, your body and mind become very quiet, allowing you to experience your inner self without the distractions of movement or thought.