The sanskrit word asana comes from the root ~as, which means “to sit”. According to Patanjali sutra 2.46 “sthira sukham asanam’’, it is a steady, motionless and comfortable position. More loose translated as physical pose, it’s the first element we are introduced to when we hear the word yoga.
The variety of these postures is vast and the following two books are recognized among the most important references to them. The “Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga” by Vishnu-Devananda with 66 basic postures and 136 variations and “Master Yoga Chart of 908 Postures” by Sri Dharma Mittra.
From Ancient Greece to India, the body was always considered as the temple of the soul. Therefore in the science of yoga, asanas aim to strengthen, purify and keep it disease-free. Some of the benefits are described below.
• Physical: Strengthens the muscles, improves flexibility and joint mobility. Corrects posture and keeps the spine elastic. Regulates the glands of the endocrine system and inner organs are stimulated and toned. Toxins are removed and deep breathing is promoted.
• Mental: Improves concentration and memory. Increases body awareness and builds mental health.
• Psychological: Encourages positive attitude and gives emotional balance and stability. Brings on the surface the hidden potential and the whole body is energetically balanced.
There is though a higher purpose in asana practice and this is the preparation of the body for meditation. Steady mind presupposes a steady, cooperative body. Training the body through the asanas, eventually the body is mastered under the wise guidance of the mind. Then every asana can be meditative.
Furthermore yogasana cultivates virtues like patience, tolerance, adaptability, discipline, acceptance. Qualities that jump out of the mat and influence our whole being as well as our relationship with the world. Every asana has a deeper spiritual meaning. Performing the balancing pose Vrksasana, we become the tree. A tree that even when the wind blows and the branches are shaking, the trunk remains unaffected steady and grounded on earth. Likewise, despite the factors that agitate the mind we must practise grounding and finding balance within.
“The practice of yogasana for the sake of health, to keep fit, or to maintain flexibility is the external practice of yoga. While this is a legitimate place to begin, it is not the end… Even in simple asanas, one is experiencing the three levels of quest: the external quest, which brings firmness of the body; the internal quest, which brings steadiness of intelligence; and the innermost quest, which brings benevolence of spirit.” — B.K.S. Iyengar
Barcelona Yoga Conference program is finally announced! More than 20 styles of yoga will be presented by some of the greatest teachers! Check the following link, get your ticket and start warming up your yoga mat!
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