Asana in Sanskrit is a posture in the practice of yoga

In the ancient writings on yoga there are two main commentators who give advice on the practice of asana.

Patanjali composed the Yoga Sutra over 2000 years ago, gives Asana as one of the eight branches of Yoga, let us first consider its definition and description:

Sthira Sukham AsanamSadhana Pada Sutra 46

Patanjali says: Asana should be constant and easy. In Sutra 47 and 48 he says that to master asanas one must reduce restlessness and feel timeless while maintaining posture. Then the mind is freed from the dualities of the body.

If you have ever tried to stay still for a long time, you know that after a while the pain builds up in your body. Thinking that a little movement will relieve the pain we start to worry. Soon the discomfort of the body has disturbed the mind and the mind reacts by moving the body. Asana and concentration have been lost. The perfect Asana requires the presence of mind, one is aware of the sensations of the body without reacting automatically by moving.

The magic of asana is that with practice the body will be transformed by conditioning the mind. Asana shows us the tensions that are maintained in the body. The experience is mental and the pattern of muscle tension retention is revealed as an action of the mind. This tension held in the body has its roots in the mind. If we stand still we are releasing tension from both body and mind. The unconscious program of the mind that organizes the posture of the body is altered if we can find a new comfortable balance. Over time, the body finds a more appropriate symmetry. With time left and right, upper and lower, inner and outer are balanced.

In sutra 49, Patanjali says that once the asana is firm and stable, then it is appropriate to begin the practice of pranayama. Patanjali is the classic authority of yoga, it is interesting to note that these four sutras contain all his teaching, but he does not mention any individual posture. Patanjali talks about the essence of asana and gives the reason for its practice. Within Indian yoga traditions, the mastery of asana is said to be to be able to sit comfortably for four hours.

The other ancient authority we look at is Swatmarama who composed Hatha Yoga Pradipika over 1000 years ago. This classic text describes Asana in detail and gives instructions on about 15 different postures. The Pradipika offers a graphic explanation of the relationship between mind and body and the interaction of the subtle energy known as prana. In the Pradipika Asana it is used to purify the Nadis, that is, the network of channels for Prana. This is an important preparation to take advantage of the latent potential or Kundalini that comes with other practices of pranayama and dhyana (meditation).

Everyone can relate to the idea of ​​nervous energy, imagine a restless child who can’t sit still or an adult who has had too much coffee. Hatha Yoga is a process that allows efficient use of the body’s energy. Asana is a system of physical exercises whose heart is the integration of mind and body. The nervous system that coordinates the use of the body’s muscles is being conditioned to function effectively. Exercise physiologists now know that the peripheral nervous system can be conditioned to provide better electrical impulses to muscles through exercise. If you are interested in these health aspects of the practice, I suggest you read the page on Yoga Therapy.

In modern times, the practice of Asana has become a rich and diverse culture with many different styles and methods and thousands of different postures, from basic to advanced. As in most fields of effort, a teacher needs to explain the safe and effective way to practice. The most important thing is to understand the essence of the practice. Having proper instruction is vital and of course the individual must work to make the experience real.


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