The body as a playground in yoga practice

Have you ever smelt a fragrance, for example that of a rose, when it was actually not there ? Or a taste of a certain food in your mouth when you have not eaten that food in a long time. These tastes and smells are said to arise from memories stored in the body. In the Yoga Sutras Patanjali talks about six ways to bring the mind to focus for meditation. One of these ways is to focus on arising sensations in the body that resemble sense objects. These can be smell, taste, touch etc. Sutra 1.34 talks of 'Vishayavati'. 'Vishaya' means objects in sanskrit and 'Vati' means resembling. By 'Pravriti', directing the activity (of the mind) towards these sensations that resemble sense objects, Patanjali says, 'Manasah Stithi Nibandhini', steadiness and binding of the mind occurs.

In fact, in the 10 day Vipasana silent meditation retreat, this is what is taught- to focus on the subtle sensations of the body to settle and bind the mind. Otherwise the mind tends to jump from thought to thought.

Yoga asana practice is like a Vipasana practice but magnified a hundred times; it is magnified because it is easier to find sensations in the body in asana practice than it is when just sitting down. When asana practice is done this way, one would have a completely different dimension to the practice, than when one is just focused on getting a workout out of it, or when one is just focused on outer form.