Asana is a posture in harmony with one’s inner consciousness it aims at the attainment of a sustained and comfortable sitting posture to facilitate meditation. Yoga Asanas also help in balancing and harmonizing the basic structure of the human body. Therefore, they have a range of therapeutic uses too.
Maharshi Patanjali in his classical work of Ashtanga Yoga places the Asana as the Third limb and defines the posture as “Sthir Sukham Asanam” Patanjala Yoga Sutras, Chapter 2:46
“Steady & comfortable posture is Asana”
The history of asana practice can be traced back to the earlier civilization and ancient texts. We can see the same in Shrimad Bhagawad Geeta, It says
Samam kaayashirogreevam dhaarayannachalam sthirah;
Samprekshya naasikaagram swam dishashchaanavalokayan.
Ref ; Ch VI-11 & 13
Let him firmly hold his body, head and neck erect and perfectly still, gazing at the tip of his nose, without looking around.
The concept of Alignment and stability including the practice of gazing was discussed much earlier which shows the importance of these principles as essential elements in the asanas practice in order to maintain the inner Harmony of an individual. This harmony is essential factor to achieve the peace of mind through the practice of the meditational practices. The school of Hatha Yoga provides a descriptive analysis of the Yoga Poses.
Aims and Objectives of Asanas
The practice of Asana is always helpful to achieve the inner harmony which is called as Homeostasis, apart from this equilibrium condition in the mind and body these poses help to achieve the following objectives.
- To Promote and maintain perfect Health:
Promotive, Preventive and, curative aspects of Asanas as natural health measures are contributing a lot for the achievement of the best possible of the health. They re-establish a harmonious functioning of the body and mind as one integrated whole. This reduces Stress and Strain and tensions arising out of interaction with external disturbances.
- To Overcome the Internal disturbances:
The presences of obstacles such as disease are more prone to cause the internal disturbances. This type of disordered condition can disturb the peace of mind. Disturbances like tremor and Instability are rectified by reconditioning Psycho-physiological mechanisms and to prepare one for higher Yogic practices like Meditation.
- To bring about equilibrium in:
The establishment of the harmony in overall functions at the emotional, behavioural level and perceptual level will be great a step in experiencing the peace of mind.
Classification of Asanas
The classifications of asanas are broadly divided into three types, they are
- Meditative Poses: Meditative Asana are helpful to achieve the higher stages of Yoga like meditation.
- Cultural Poses: Cultural poses are useful in the proper development and growth of the mind and body giving good strength and endurance.
- Relaxative poses: Overcome the physical and mental fatigue, relaxes and rejuvenate the mind and body.