WHAT IS ASANA?
Asana is rooted in “asa” which means to take a seat, to become, to establish, to dissolve, to be grounded, to be firm, to be easy and to be comfortable.
Asana is third limb of Ashtanga Yoga described in Maharishi Patanjali in Yoga sutras.
ASANA IN PATANJALI YOGA SUTRA
In Patanjali Yoga Sutra, the eightfold path is called Ashtanga, which literally means “eight limbs” (ashta=eight, anga=limb). These eight steps basically act as guidelines on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life. The eight limbs are as follows: – Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi.
In 2nd chapter sutra 46 he describes two essential characteristics of Asana
“Sthira sukham asanam” (2.46)
Sthira = steady, stable, motionless, sukham = comfortable, ease filled , asanam = meditation posture
“Prayatna shaithilya ananta samapattibhyam” (2.47)
prayatna = tension or effort while doing pose, shaithilya = by relaxing, loosening, lessening, slackening , ananta = infinite, endlessness, samapattibhyam = by focusing attention on, by coalescence, coincidence, merging
Two means of perfecting posture: Steady and comfortable posture comes through two means:
1. Loosening of tension or effort to sit in the posture
2. Allowing attention to merge with the infinite
“Tatah dvandva anabhighata” (2.48)
From the attainment of that perfected posture, there arises an unassailable, unimpeded freedom from suffering due to the pairs of opposites (such as heat and cold, good and bad, or pain and pleasure).
tatah = then, thereby, thence, from that ,dvandva = the pairs of opposites, the dualities, dichotomies, anabhighata = unimpeded freedom from suffering, without effect or impact, cessation of disturbance