What this refers to is how in the Western world (including on EkhartYoga) we tend to use the word ‘yoga’ as shorthand for just the physical asana practice when in reality yoga is a whole scientific and philosophical system.
According to traditional teachings such as in The Hatha Yoga Pradipika and Patanjali’s 8 limbed path of yoga, there is a progression within yoga practice from the gross to the subtle. We start out with asana, then introduce pranayama and then meditation.
This is not always the case for everyone, but it often follows that people come to yoga through the physical practice of yoga poses and then discover the other elements as they study more and experience the subtle sensations.
There is a progression within yoga from the gross to the subtle
Through asana practice you are becoming embodied, and you will start to release tension and blockages as you are opening up. As you develop greater body awareness, you can next work with the more subtle movement of energies within. You are now able to hear, listen to and respond to the more subtle feedback that the body gives you.
This can bring you to Pranayama. Pranayama is about freeing the breath and freeing the energy – and there are many practices out there. Through pranayama exercises we start to influence the body with our breath. It settles the nervous system and it brings a restless mind to stillness. This helps to focus the attention to prepare you for meditation.
Then to meditation. When the nervous system settles and you focus your attention, your meditation is like a continued movement inwards towards stillness and towards the sacred and the profound. Through the subtle practice of meditation you get to know yourself on another level.