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Asana (Posture) as the third sermon of Ashtanga Yoga

4 Apr 2021 HYN Himalayan Yoga Academy

Asana (Posture) as the Third Sermon of Ashtanga Yoga

Asana (Posture) as the Third Sermon of Ashtanga Yoga

Asana is the third limb in Ashtanga Yoga. “Sthiram Sukham Asanam”.  Asana is the state of still and happiness. Shiva’s estimated presentation has eighty-four lakh asanas. It is projected on the basis of the eighty-four types of organisms in the world, i.e. the eighty-four vaginas. But even if there are four asanas in daily practice, regular ones are enough.

In today’s world, especially in urban and modern life, something more may be needed. But in principle, the meditative posture is enough. Asanas are practiced to develop the ability needed to meditate for a long time. Asanas and pranayama are for the preparation of meditation. Reaching the state of meditation through concentration is the state of Samadhi or Yoga. In Yoga philosophy, only a few meditative asanas are mentioned, showing the definition and importance of asanas. Even in the Shiva Samhita, only four asanas are mentioned.

Meaning of Asana:

Asana (Sanskrit: meaning “sitting down”) refers to body positions that are prescribed in the practice of Yoga to cultivate physical discipline, improve the body’s flexibility, and enable the practitioner to remain seated in meditation for extended periods. In Yoga terminology, asana denotes two things: the place where a practitioner sits and the manner (posture) in which he or she sits. In the authoritative Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, asana is described as being “seated in a position that is firm, but relaxed” (P.Y.S. 2:46). As the repertoire of postures has expanded and moved beyond the simple sitting posture over the centuries, modern usage has come to include variations from lying on the back and standing on the head, to a variety of other positions. In the Yoga sutras, Patanjali mentions the execution of an asana as the third of the eight limbs of Classical.

How Yoga Asanas Help Connecting Body & Mind?

The inner journey we travel by the practice of yoga asana begins with the body, body to breath, and breath to energy, energy to mind; mind to spirit. This is like connecting different energy layers of the body.  

When asanas are done with proper breathwork (Pranayama), we learn to redirect our pranic energy into the specific shape of the yoga pose. Up to this point, we got control over the body and breath to manipulate energy flow. 

Our body is the most visible form of pure consciousness that lies within our Chitta (Chitta in yoga means more about mind). To experience this consciousness, yoga asanas are like the physical conduit to flow the energy throughout different nadis within the body.

A more spiritual purpose is to quiet the mind, to understand one’s true nature, and to facilitate the flow of prana to aid in balancing the koshas (sheaths) of the physical and metaphysical body. Depending on the level of mastery, the practitioner of asanas is supposed to achieve many supernatural abilities. For instance, a yogi who has mastered Mayurasana is said not to be affected by eating any poison. Nevertheless, the practice of asanas is allegedly associated with health benefits such as the following:

  • Opening and stretching joints and muscles
  • warming the entire muscles and tissues
  • purifying the whole entire body
  • improving muscle flexibility
  • improving tendon strength
  • improving stamina and endurance
  • improving the respiratory and circulatory functions
  • helping to control blood pressure
  • Reducing stress, and unnecessary pressure

In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali suggests that the only requirement for practicing asanas is that it be “steady and comfortable”. The body is held poised, and relaxed, with the practitioner experiencing no discomfort.

When control of the body is mastered, practitioners free themselves from the duality of heat / cold, hunger / satiety, joy / grief, pleasant and unpleasant; Day and night; hard and soft which is the first step toward the unattachment that relieves suffering. This non-dualistic perspective comes from the Samkhya School of the Himalayan Masters.

Listed below are traditional practices for performing asana:

  1. The stomach should be relatively empty.
  2. Force or pressure should not be used, and the body should not tremble.
  3. Follow the breathing rules and awareness physical and spiritual as well.
  4. Lower the head and other parts of the body slowly; in particular, raised heels should be lowered slowly.
  5. Apply the rules of Timing , duration, repeatation
  6. The breathing should be controlled. The benefits of asanas increase if the specific pranayama to the yoga type is performed.
  7. If the body is stressed, perform Corpse Pose or Child Pose. or Makarasana,
  8. Some claim that asanas, especially inverted poses, are to be avoided during menstruation.
  9. For yoga practice, nothing is needed, just your body, energy, mind , this universe will be yoga studio and your body is laboratory.

Only one series in Yogasana that is Surya or chandra Namaskar:

One of the common practices in yoga is the Surya Namaskara, or the Sun Salutation, is a form of worshiping Surya, as the solar power by concentrating on the Sun, for vitalization. The physical aspect of the practice links together twelve asanas in a dynamically expressed series. A full round of Surya Namaskara is considered to be two versions of the twelve poses, with one is individual seven asanas pattern and next pattern is individual eight asanas pattern with a change in the second set where the opposing leg is moved first. The asanas included in the sun salutation differ from tradition to tradition, now days Surya-Chandra Namaskara is also used to.

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