Asana breaks down the barriers and lets the divine inside come out. When I first began yoga, I loved the freedom I felt at the end of class. I walked out of the studio feeling lighter and looser - a happiness inducing experience, for sure. As I continued to practice, I saw tension lessen, little by little. I showed up for class more flexible than the last time. Then over years of practice, I came to see major change - the disappearance of pain, the appearance of strength and stability - those feelings that make you free all day long, not just after practice. These changes I'm describing happened on the level of annamaya kosha - physical body. But changes were happening on other levels, too - pranamaya kosha, manomaya kosha and vijnanamaya kosha - breath, mental mind and wisdom mind. If you think back on your practice, I bet you agree. The central level of the koshas is anandamaya kosha - bliss body. According to the Sutras, if we are to let the divine inside come out, we must be free in all the koshas.
When you practice, you massage tension out of the muscles, you loosen tightness in the skin and you send away chatter from the mind. I think many of us feel intuitively a divinity inside, even if it's a tiny spark. Each day you get on your mat, you bust down the barriers a little bit, and you feel freer - in body, in breath and in both minds. Over time, the barriers crack and crumble. They walls are thinner and shorter. Your divinity peaks out a little more. Even when there's no gross change in the way you feel from one practice to the next, you know change is happening. You've seen change over time.
We're offered in class to bow to the divine inside. Or for the light in me to bow to the light in you. Ishvara pranidhana is surrendering to the divine, to a higher source, one inside or outside of you. The divine inside can come out, but only if we work to let it out. Freedom from tension, from weakness, from ignorance, from chatter will break down those barriers. The walls will crumble. The koshas will light up in harmony. The divine will shine into the ether. Any amount is cause for celebration of the practice, practice, practice.