The Mountain Pose (TâDâsana) is the foundation for all standing âsanas. One always begins from this and returns to it at the completion of the standing sequence. In this it very closely resembles not only the standing posture of qiyâm in salât, but also the "Return to Mountain" of T‘ai Chi Ch‘uan. Standing in Mountain Pose or qiyâm is a quiescent exercise for the whole body: feet, legs, and spine working together. With one's feet planted squarely on Earth and one's head reaching toward Heaven, this pose is of the finest metaphysical significance to the sacredness of the human state, for verticality is the essence of religion.
b) Spinal stretching.
As the yogis say, one is as young as one's spine. Hatha yoga concentrates much careful attention on deep, thorough stretches of the spine, bringing the head forward to rest on the knees. Since all the nerves of the body are channeled from the spinal cord out between the vertebrae, a healthy spine is of central importance for the well-being of the whole human body and mind. It takes much patient, persistent practice to make and keep the spine ideally flexible, and only the most dedicated yogis succeed in this. Since Islam is a path for everyone, the Islamic spinal stretch is kept easy and within everyone's reach: the bowing position called rukû‘ only requires that you bend forward enough to place your hands on your knees. Nonetheless, even this minimal stretch helps keep the spine in good condition. When I returned to yoga after praying salât for several years, I found that making rukû‘ seventeen times a day had beautifully prepared my spine for deeper forward stretches.
c) Inverted poses.
The heart does its best to circulate blood all through the veins and arteries, but it's a demanding job, and exercise is needed to help the circulation go at maximum efficiency. In particular, raising fresh blood to the brain through the carotid artery, and lifting it from the feet back up to the heart, is always going against the pull of gravity. This is why two of the most important and beneficial âsanas are the Shoulderstand (sarvangâsana, the 'whole body pose') and the Headstand (sirSâsana). Islamic prayer has taken the most essential aspect of these inverted poses: lowering the head below the heart. The position called sujûd is easy for everyone to accomplish and helps to bathe the brain in fresh oxygenated blood to keep it healthy and alert. Ashraf F. Nizami writes: "This may be termed similar to … HALF SIRSHASANA. It helps full-fledged pumping of blood into the brain and upper half of the body including eyes, ears, nose and lungs."
d) Seated postures.
The word âsana means 'seat' and the basic postures for meditation are seated ones, especially the Lotus. The Diamond Pose (vajrâsana) is practically identical with the seated position of salât called jalsah. This has, of course, not escaped the notice of both yogis and Muslims in
When sitting in the Lotus, a yoga mudra that accompanies meditation is made by forming the index finger and thumb into a circle. The Islamic mudra, made while sitting in jalsah, is to extend the index finger in a straight line (to attest to the Oneness of God), while forming the thumb and middle finger into a circle. The figure 1 and the figure 0 can convey a Tantric symbolism, and also are curiously similar to the binary 1 and 0 of computer science.
e) Spinal twists.
A session of yoga practice normally concludes, just before final relaxation, with a thorough twist of the whole spine (ardha matsyendrâsana) to the right and to the left. It helps to even out the spine from the other poses it has done and keep everything balanced. In much the same way, salât concludes with the prayer of peace (salâm) said while turning the head to the right and then to the left. This works only the cervical and maybe a few of the thoracic vertebrae, but it is useful for keeping the neck flexible and is consistent with the pattern in salât of presenting reduced versions of the yoga âsanas.