What does Yoga Sutra define as Asana?

October 9, 2020 |

Read Time: 2 minutes

Yoga Sutra 2.46 defines Asana as Sukham Sthiram Asanam. This means every posture including the steps to get into the posture, being in the posture, and coming out of the posture should have the qualities of comfort and steadiness or Sukham and Sthiram. At all points of time, the practitioner should be perfectly balanced between stability and comfort. And this is possible only when the entire asana practice is breath-based and movements follow the breath and the mind is completely bound to the breath-based movements. At the end of the asana practice, one should feel energized yet calm! And this is the essence of yoga asana practice.

Some of us practice breathing exercises and meditation as part of Yoga. Here again one needs to question whether what we are doing is Yoga. Pranayama is a very critical component of Yoga. Pranayama involves replacing our unconscious pattern of breathing with a consciously regulated pattern of breathing. Again, here the focus is on working towards a long, smooth, deep, and subtle pattern of breathing with the mind completely focused on our breath. And this is the essence of Yoga in the context of Pranayama.

Dhyana or meditation is an internal or subtle aspect of Yoga. Dhyana is a state of mind where there is an interrupted flow of thought between the meditator and the object of focus to the exclusion of all other thoughts. The Mind is in a very high state of clarity and is completely absorbed in the object of focus. It is a state of extreme focus, attention, and concentration. And this is the essence of Yoga in the context of meditation.

Yoga is all the above and more but the common thread running through any Yoga practice is absolute, unmitigated mindfulness in the practice. And this is the essence of Yoga which needs to be brought into our daily Yoga practice, every day.

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Ms. Mimi Partha Sarathy

Founder, Managing Trustee and Sr. Yoga Teacher Sri Krishna Wellness Yoga Centre

Bengaluru, Karnataka, India