Yoga Poses

What is Asana ?

Asana is Yoga Pose or posture or position of the body. Patanjali in Ashtanga Yoga defines Asanas as Steady and Comfortable pose.

Benefits of Asanas / Yoga Poses

A healthy and peaceful body is the starting point for advance practices. This is the purpose of Asanas

Practicing Yoga Poses or Yoga Positions

Asanas on the other hand, are different as far as taking the position (slow and controlled movements), maintaining the position (steadiness, comfort & relaxation) and releasing the position are concerned. The Asanas (physical positions) can be mastered progressively through following four levels.

  • Once the stability is achieved for a certain period of time in any asana, the next level is to feel the comfort in this position. One should be able to maintain the asana comfortably and feel the ease.
  • After steadiness and comfort, one should try to progressively relax the muscles, with the practice of relaxation, one can experience greater stability and comfort in the position. Once the body is relaxed, the mind also becomes calm and relaxed, which can be introverted or easily focused.
  • And finally this mind can be easily focused on an object of meditation and higher stages of experience can be realized, this level of asana is related to higher mind, the physical experience is transcended.
  • If one practices Asana with these four levels in progression then one is said to have mastered the Asana, which results in perfection on physical and mental aspects. Ideally if one can maintain an Asana for three hours without discomfort, it is mastery on physical level, if one can focus the mind on one object during this practice then it is mastery on mental level.
  • The natural condition of the body and mind is a relaxed state. By regular practice of Asana this relaxed condition is achieved without efforts. So if you are just sitting in the office chair, try and make your body relaxed and let the mind become calm & peaceful. Then there will not be any stress or strain on physical level and no thoughts in the mind. Now we can easily understand what an asana is.

    The similar description of Asana is found in Hatha Yoga Pradipika which says that “One can achieve sound health, stability, lightness of body and mind with Asana”.

    In Gherand Samhita (Another text on Hatha Yoga), the author describes the effect of asana as “The result of Asana is perfecting the stability of body and mind.”

    We can see the other effects of asana in day to day life such as increased efficiency, stamina, increased immune capacity, quiet and calm mind, easy control over emotions and improvement in attitude.


How the Asanas Work

The Asanas are based on five principles

  1.  The use of gravity. The inverted postures such as the shoulder stand and the plough pose advantage of gravity to increase the flow of blood to the desired part of the body; in the shoulder stand to the thyroid gland and in the plough posture of the gonads (sex glands).
  2. Organ message. The position of the asana causes a squeezing action on a specific organ or gland, resulting in the stimulating of that part of the body.
  3. Stretching muscles and ligaments. This causes an increase in blood supply to the muscles and ligaments as well as relaxing them. It also takes pressure off nerves in the area. the stretching is involved in all the asanas, since it has  such a beneficial effect on the body.
  4. Deep breathing. While holding the yoga posture we breathe slowly and deeply, moving the abdomen only (abdominal or low breathing). This increases the oxygen and Prana supply to the target organ or gland thereby enhancing the effect of the Asana

General Rules for Asanas

  1. Follow the fixed hours for the practice of asanas.
  2. Keep the exercise room clean and airy
  3. Spread a blanket or carpet on an even floor
  4. Use comfortable and seasonable clothing
  5. Never apply pressure on any particular limb
  6. Only regular exercises are benefitial
  7. Always practice after the toilet
  8. Separate sequence during their menses for females
  9. Avoid practice during the sickness
  10. Always perform exercise in a particular series
  11. Practice the complimentary Asanas also
  12. Inhale and exhale always through the nose (or a directed)
  13. Keep your eyes closed
  14. Remain fully conscious
  15. Never hurry during the practice
  16. Always perform exercises in rhythm
  17. Follow pauses and use Shavasana
  18. Avoid blocking the nasal passage
  19. Practice according to your capacity and not just the heck of it 
  20. Keep proper track of the muscle according to your physical capacities
  21. Stretch or strain your muscle according to your physical capacities.
  22. One gets the feeling of happiness and a new vigour in the body; if you are not feeling then you must be erring somewhere
  23. Adhere throughly the basic postures or primary