Why Yoga Postures Are Called Asanas?

by Sudesh
(Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)

Why yoga postures are called Asanas?

Answer
Asana is a Sanskrit word which means 'seat' or 'sitting position' or a 'posture'. Asana means a comfortable pose in which a person can sit comfortably for a long time and meditate. As per Patanjali, Asana is the third limb of Yoga and he defines Asana as "Sthira sukham asanam." It means asana is a specific posture which is held steady and comfortably. For example, sitting in a meditative asana like padmasana (lotus pose) for hours without any fluctuations in mind and body builds a solid foundation for meditation. There are three parts of an asana, preparation, holding of the asana and coming out of asana. All these movements are performed slowly and without any effort or straining. In a perfect asana we can achieve balance, relaxation and self awareness.

As per hatha yoga texts, asanas are specific body postures which open up energy channels and psychic centers.

Either way, asanas practice is meant for purification and better control of body. Asana practice paves the way for our further progress to the next stages of yoga: pranayama, concentration, meditation and samadhi.

Since yoga asanas are specific postures to be held for some period of time, asanas are called yoga postures. These postures were developed by Indian Rishis and Yogis and provide all round developement and harmonious development of mind, body and spirit.

Remember that any posture which is comfortable and stable can not be called an asana. Asanas are specific postures, whereby attaining the posture, holding the posture and coming out of the posture are very important.

Hope this helps..
Daljit

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