22 Jul 2021 HYN Himalayan Yoga Academy
Asanas,or postures, are a physical help for concentration. They are often associated with gymnastics,keeping fit or body building techniques,but this is completely wrong. Asanas bring about physiological changes within the body so they should be practiced with care and not as gymnastic exercises.
Asana means a state of being in which you can remain steadly,calm,quiet and comfortable with your physical body and mind totally aware. In the classical yoga text by Sage Patanjali called Raja Yoga Sutras or Ashtanga Yoga,yogasana is clearly defined:Sthiram sukham asanam or ‘asana is that position which is comfortable and steady’.
In other classical yoga texts,such as Gheranda Samhita or Hatha Yoga Pradipika,many asanas are described for curative or preventative health reasons. The gentle strectching of the muscles,massaging of internal organs,toning of nerves and increase in glandular secretions throughout the body assures the physical wellbeing of the practitioner.
History of Asana :
Yogasanas are mentioned in the oldest known literature of mankind,The Vedas,but it is believed by some that the science of yoga is older than Vedas.
In the archaeological excavations made at Harappa and Mohanjodaro,whicj is now Pakistan,many statues found depict Lord Shiva and Parvati(his spiritual wife) in different yogasanas. These civilizations werw from the pre-vedic age,before the Aryan civilization in the Indus subcontinent.
According to ancient Indian legends and scriptures,Lors Shiva created all the 84,000 asanas and taught them to his first disciple,Parvati,for maintaining human health and attaining a higher degree of self-knowledge.
Throughout the centuries,these asanas have been modified and reduced in number by the great rishis and yogis,so that now only a few hundred are known. Of these postures,eighty-four are discussed in detail and only about thirty are commonly taught and practised as being useful to modern man.
The first historically recorded exponent of yogasana was the great yogi Gorakhnath. During his time the science of yoga was not popular so he taught the asanas to his close disciples,far away from society in the mountains and forests,where they led a life of seclusion and austerity. Animals were the great teachers of these yogis because the animals lived a natural life,free from disease and wordly problems. Animals do not have doctors or drugs to cure ailments. Nature is their only helper. Through meticulous observation and imitation of these animals,yogis developed many techniques which are natural and effective systems for curing disease. Children from about the age of eight were given the practices of surya namaskara(salute to the sun),nadi shodhana pranayama(alternate nostril breathing) and Gayatri mantra( an invocation for light and brilliance).
Yogasanas are performed slowly,with relaxation and concentration. In this way,both the external and internal systems are influenced,so that the nervous system,endocrine glands and internal organs as well as the muscles are encouraged to function properly. Asanas have physical and psychosomatic effects which are very helpful in curing infirmities .They can be done by both healthy and unhealthy people,young and old . They are also most useful for concentration and meditation . Other systems of physical culture actually increase the toxins in the body,whereas yogasanas reduce the toxin level.
General benefits :
Physically ,the important endocrinal system is controlled and regulated so that the correct quantities of the different hormones are secreted form all the glands in the body . This has repercussion on our physical wellbeing as well as on our mental attitude towards life .Even if one gland is malfunctioning , a noticeable loss in health can be experienced .For this reason , it is of the utmost importance that this system is maintained at the peak of condition . Diseased organs can be repaired and rejuvenated and encouraged to carry out their normal duty . The muscles , bones , glandular system ,nervous system ,respiratory ,excretory and circulatory system are coordinated so that they help one another rather than oppose eachother .
Asanas make the body flexible and able to adjust itself easily to changes of environment . The digestive functions are stimulated , so the correct amount of digestive juices flows . The sympathetic and parasympathetic systems are brought into a state of balance , so that the organs under their control are neither too active nor under active . Asanas maintain the physical body in its optimum condition and encourage as unhealthy body to become healthy .
Mentally , asana make the mind strong and able to endure pain and unhappiness . The powers of determination and concentration are developed . Equilibrium and vitality become the normal state of mind after regular practice of asana .You will be able to face the sorrow , Anxieties and problems of the world with peace and without being disturbed .Stabilitty of mind is developed , life becomes easy and difficulties become stepping –stones to perfect mental health . The practice of asana releases the dormant potentialities , so that a persom is able to radiate confidence and inspire others by speech , behavior and actions .