What is true Asana?
I have got a chance to visit many schools in India and abroad; many modern yoga schools where yoga is taught. I saw it does not look like yoga asana class, but like a gymnastic class. The students of yoga asana are either stretching or pressurizing their bodies. In this way, often beautiful asanas are done wrong or misguided and lose their essence, whereby aspirants become victims of either injuries or pains and physical problems.
Now the question arises: Can we call this asana? If, aspirants go beyond the acceptable limits of physical body, this cannot be called as asana.
Then, what is Asana?
Patanjali Yoga Sutra (2/46) says “Sthirm Sukham Asanam”. “Steadiness with happiness is called asana”. A position in which we feel happy and stable is called Yoga asana, where our diseases and troubles are removed.
Whenever you practice any asana, keep in mind the words of wisdom of enlightened Yogis as the following guidelines:
- Be happy.
- Be careful.
- Be present.
- Be aware.
- Breathe normally.
- Practice with bliss.
- Feel the effect of the asana.
- Do according to your capacity.
- Concentrate on what you are doing.
- Remove your negative thoughts out of your mind.
- Do not see and compare yourself with others.
- Keep your eyes closed, except in balancing asanas.
- Be aware of the energy in your body, and expand it.
- Realize without any resistance.
- Start every asana normally, easily, and comfortably and end in the same way. Never shake your body.
- Hold the asana for 30 seconds minimum and feel the effects on the body.
- Few asanas are not recommended during menstrual cycle and fever.
- The best way to get the benefits is to practice with an empty stomach and an open mind.
- Start practicing for short periods of time, and slowly increase your time as your body becomes stronger.
“There are no fetters like those of Illusion (Maya), no strength like that which comes from discipline (Yoga), there is no friend higher than knowledge (Jnana), and no greater enemy than Egoism (Ahankara).”
– Gheranda Samhita. Ch 1, Shloka 4
Let us practice the beautiful science of Yoga asanas mindfully! Hari Om!
An excerpt from “Alchemy of Life” by Dr Omanand Guruji