One of my yoga teachers would often comment that she never suffered injuries. Her observation was that she had a high level of body awareness and this prevented injuries from happening. This got me thinking. People with body awareness are less prone to injuries because they move effortlessly. When movement is effortless, you are unlikely to jostle, bump into objects or hurt yourself otherwise. Basically injury is your body saying something to you, most probably directing your awareness to something you need to know at that moment.
Therefore, injury is not a bad thing when it happens, even if you don't know how it happened. Ultimately it is all about bringing your awareness to your body - better before the injury than after, though. However, the intrigue in her statement was the fact that body awareness could actually prevent injury from occuring in the first place. How does this happen? When you practice any form of body awareness such as yoga, for example, you are allowing the body to open itself up and unlock its many dimensions. Even if you are not always conscious of it, you develop, or should I say, your body develops a sub conscious mastery over movement. Your muscles have opened up so much, they are agile and their range of motion is wider and the movement itself, smoother.
When you stretch your muscles and infuse them with your breath (and new oxygenated blood) they get rejuvenated. Continuous rejuvenation will leave them fresh and agile, rather than tired and clumsy. Life is very stressful, we all know that. Your muscles can easily get tired as can the rest of your body. Regular rejuvenating over a long period of time will give your muscles control, poise, flexibility and even grace in motion. That is not all. Posture will improve, and best of all, you will find yourself walking through a crowded street feeling your own space around you - you will pretty much glide through quite easily.
A regular practice of asana has many benefits - some obvious, some not so obvious. You will notice that asana creates space within your body for prana to flow. This means better heath, greater range of motion and overall sense of wellness. The next time you think of getting on that mat think in terms of building body awareness, not just the body. Bring your mind to your mat, body and soul. You will not only transform the way you practice (your yoga sadhana will be a dynamic and an evolving one), but also how you feel from the inside out.