asanassm"Posture is to be steady and comfortable." - Patanjali 2.46

An extract from the the DSY Foundation Course manual:

In Yoga, the word asana means posture. All asanas are intended to make the body fit so that one is able to hold them for a sufficient period of time without discomfort. A pleasant, steadily maintained posture is conducive to mental equilibrium and steadiness of mind, and is a necessary prerequisite for the practice of pranayama and meditation.

The original classical asanas were mainly seated postures. The 'as' of asana means 'to sit'. In order to maintain a comfortable steady posture for pranayama and meditation it is helpful for all sources of disturbance, both external and internal to be eliminated. The body is one of the most prominent sources of disturbances in the beginning; the asanas help to eliminate this disturbance.

One should be aware that, in the beginning, there is a tendency to make the body tense when doing the asanas, especially when trying to maintain a steady pose. This tendency should be discouraged. In the yogic system, all movements are slow and gradual, with proper breathing and relaxation. The goal to be striven for is complete stillness, with relaxation of the rigid muscles; for only then is it possible to forget the body and focus attention on the mind.

The benefits received from the practice of asanas are manifold. Apart from generally making the body feel better and more lively, and giving a certain calmness and peace of mind, the asanas give relieve from many ailments. The asanas, performed properly and conscientiously, and coupled with the kriyas, conscious breathing, a moderate diet and regulated habits, can bring about the good health of a person. This state of health is required for the practice of pranayama and meditation, which results in the proper regulation of the pranic currents (life force) in the body. Those who become proficient in the practise of the asanas find that the movement of the breath becomes very natural. Gaining control over the physical body brings to the yogi an extraordinary influx of the spiritual force, which expresses itself in outer life as energy and will power. Thus, through conscious control of physical and psychological functions and through proper storage and discriminating usage of energy, the groundwork is laid for progress in the higher aspects of yoga.

 

 

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"Posture is to be steady and comfortable." - Patanjali 2.46

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