Animalia Asana® is a free resource and information hub for international facilitators and practitioners of yoga. The initiative is dedicated to exploring and raising the profile of the multifaceted animal element in yoga. Both online and in-person, the initiative explores the animal-named postures/mudras, the animal-based mythology/philosophy, and animal-oriented chanting and meditation. Through this, it aims to inspire humanity’s connection with and thus compassion for non-human and human animals. Animalia Asana® is an international healing, fundraising and educational initiative. It is run completely voluntarily; in instances of any funds generated, all funds go to global animal charities FIAPO and IAR.
Animalia Asana® specialises in exploring the animal element in yoga through the following means:
- Running this free online resource full of information that helps to raise the profile of the animal element within yoga
- Sharing yoga practices that consist entirely of the animal-named postures (asanas), animal-named hand gestures (hasta mudras), animal-oriented chanting, animal-named breath practices (pranayama) and animal-based mythology/philosophy
- Sharing yoga practices that focus on receiving inspiration from the animal kingdom for our approach to life; on connecting with our fellow earthly inhabitants and our own animal nature; and on fostering ever more compassion towards and awareness of animals in society
- Sharing face-to-face training (and online training throughout the year) with yoga teachers and practitioners who wish to delve deeply into the animal element in yoga
- Sharing yoga practices that are rooted in the yamas and niyamas (yogic teachings) and their application to the entire animal kingdom within society
- Raising awareness within the yoga community of how the animal element in yoga relates to both traditional and more modern interpretations of yoga
- Raising awareness within the yoga community of the critical need for shifting away from animal-based diets and towards plant-based diets in honour of the immense suffering and extensive environmental destruction involved in the farming of billions of sentient animals every year with whom we share a deep connection
- Donating any funds raised to International Animal Rescue (IAR) and the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO). The reasoning behind choosing these two charities can be found here.
Through these means, Animalia Asana serves as a combined educational, healing and fundraising initiative.
Animalia Asana® is rooted in the ancient teachings of ahimsa (non-harming) and daana (charity). Animalia Asana® adopts yoga’s potential as a tool for generating a more merciful world for all animals (human or otherwise). In particular, Animalia Asana® focuses on the nurturing and application of the following four attributes:
INSPIRATION – Through yoga, we gain inspiration, whether that be consciously or subconsciously, and mentally or physically! We can be inspired in our physical practice by many animals’ athleticism: just think of what a cat can do, let alone a cheetah or a dolphin. Animals live in intimate connection with their wider ecosystems. They also “live in the moment” and listen to their bodies and intuition. There is wonder to be gleaned from the anatomy, physiology, and behaviour of both human and nonhuman animals. The ancient original practitioners of yoga are thought to have simply observed their surrounds, creating and naming yoga postures as a result. Each animal and each species has its own nature, its own spirit. Let these aspects and more inspire our practice and our lives. The more we learn about other animals, no matter the species, the more connected with the animals we will feel.
CONNECTION – One translation of yoga is unity. We can use our practice to connect more with the animal inside of us, our own animal nature, and with many animal spirits and beings across the planet, exploring the balance between wild and tame/civilised. We can also connect more with nature and the environment and fellow inhabitants around us. We can feel a connection with the original ancient practitioners of yoga with some of the oldest postures being animal-named postures. The greater our connection with animals, the more compassion we will feel towards them.
COMPASSION – A key teaching in yoga, known as karuna. Just as humanity has made vast progress away from slavery, segregation, and the oppression of women, LGBT individuals and other such minority groups (even though world over there is still much room for improvement to say the least on all of these fronts), we can also move forward and recognise the rights of non-human animals. There is a shared mentality behind all forms of oppression. Indeed, some progress has already been made but there is still absolutely tonnes more to do. We can use our practice to harness even more compassion towards animals in ourselves and in others. We could also use it as a prayer for the protection of animals, for the evolution of humankind to a more compassionate plane or for a specific animal or animal cause which particularly resonates with us. The more compassion we feel for animals, the more likely we will be moved by our increasing awareness of how our everyday choices affect animals.
AWARENESS – One key aspect of yoga is becoming aware and increasing our awareness of feelings, thoughts, habits, patterns and of our ultimate state of unity. The intention is to make the invisible visible; the intangible, tangible. We create awareness with each of the preceding steps; we can continue to move further along the path of awareness, applying it to all areas of our lives, including our everyday food choices and the impact these may have on billions of other beings.
A list of current Animalia Asana® Teachers can be found here. Wish to be a certified Animalia Asana® Teacher?
Read about the management of Animalia Asana here.
= ahimsa (non-harming to all living beings)
one of the yogic teachings that Animalia Asana® is based on
= dānam (charity)
one of the yogic teachings that Animalia Asana® is based on