You might have seen complex yoga poses on television or on the internet with yoga masters doing elaborate and complicated poses. In this post, I’ll share a few basics of Yoga poses or Yoga asanas based on what is mentioned in the original texts.
1. Yoga Poses are steady and comfortable
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali define the Yoga pose as “Sthiram sukham aasanam “, meaning ‘that position which is comfortable and steady’. Patañjali (पतञ्जलि) has been the author of a number of Sanskrit works and the greatest of these is the Yoga sūtras. Yoga Sutras is a text on Yoga theory and practice. The Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali is a collection of 196 sanskrit sutras (aphorisms) on the theory and practice of yoga. Yoga tradition holds the Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali to be one of the foundational texts of classical Yoga philosophy.
2. Yoga Poses are a part of Hatha Yoga
Prior to everything, Yoga pose is spoken of as the first part of hatha yoga. Having done asana, one attains steadiness of body and mind,
freedom from disease and lightness of the limbs (Hatha Yoga Pradipika). The hatha yogis found that by developing control of the body through yoga poses, the mind is also controlled. Therefore, the practice of asana is foremost in hatha yoga.
3. Yoga Poses represent Progressive Evolution
In the yogic scriptures it is said that there were originally 8,400,000 yoga poses, which represent the 8,400,000 incarnations every individual tnust pass through before attaining liberation from the cycle of birth and death. These poses represented a progressive evolution from the simplest form of life to the most complex: that of a fully realized human being. Over time the great rishis and yogis modified and reduced the number of asanas to the few hundred known today. Of these few hundred, only the eighty-four most useful
are discussed in detail.
4. Yoga Poses and Prana
Prana, is vital energy, which pervades the whole body, following flow patterns, called nadis, which are responsible for maintaining all individual cellular activity. Stiffness of the body is due to blocked prana and a subsequent accumulation of toxins. When prana begins
to flow, the toxins are removed from the system, ensuring the health of the whole body. As the body becomes supple, postures
that seemed impossible become easy to perform, and steadiness and grace of moven1ent develop. When the quantum of prana is increased to a great degree, the body moves into certain postures by itself and asanas, mudras and pranayamas occur spontaneously.
5. Yoga Poses and Exercise
Yoga poses have often been thought of as a form of exercise. They are not exercises, but techniques that place the physical body in positions that cultivate awareness, relaxation, concentration and meditation. Part of this process is the development of good physical health by stretching, massaging, and stimulating the pranic channels and internal organs, so asana is complementary to exercise.