The third limb of ‘Ashtanga yoga’ is Aasan.After getting positive control over mind and heart by following Yam and Niyam, this is the step of practicing physical Yoga where different Aasan postures help to attain a flexible, healthy body with mental equilibrium.
In ‘Yoga sutra’ saint patanjali stated “Sthir sukham asanam.”
Sthir means study/motionless, sukham indicates state of pleasure and aasan literally translate to seat .In simple words Aasan is practicing meditation in a posture which practitioner can hold for a period of time, staying calm, comfortable and motionless. In ‘Yoga Sutra’ there is no information about specific Aasanas. Any posture which is difficult for a practitioner to hold or creating any kind of restlessness is not considered aa Yoga aasan pose.
For example sitting meditation is to keep chest, neck and head erect that is proper spinal posture.
In ‘Hatha Yoga Pradipika’ asanas mentioned are considered to be taught by ‘Shiv ji: The Aadiyogi’ .According to this the most important Aasanas are
- Siddhasana (accomplished)
- Padmasana (lotus)
- Simhasana (lion)
- Bhadrasana (glorious)
Then they further elaborated eleven other asanas.
Now come to modern time Yoga Aasanas .They are numerous and came in practice after a lots of research and became popular among all, from youth to elders.
If you are a beginner, you must practice only under the guidance of a well trained mentor or Guru as with correct posture, each Aasan has its own breathing techniques & well defined moments of inhalation and exhalation, deep abdominal- diaphragmatic breathing also. see, with correct posture breathing is also an integral part of Ashtanga Yoga Aasans. From warm up to wrap up, each step is important.
General sequence of the primary series of Aasans in Ashtanga yoga is
- Standing poses (Samasthiti, Suryanamaskar, Hastasana etc.)
- Sitting poses (Dandasan, Navasan, Kurmasana etc.)
- Finishing poses (Yogamudra ,Padmasana,Shavasan etc.)
A very interesting fact one can see in the name of Aasanas The poses are named after an animal, tree, any natural resource, a life activity etc which symbolises the essence of a specific quality of that particular thing, huge impact of nature on mankind & also the connection of humans with all these phenomenas.
As Yoga Aasanas evolve over a period of long time and very well researched ,can performed at home without any instruments.If done right, no side effects and the list of benefits is too lengthy. Studies prove that Aasanas can help one in losing weight, shoots up the health of the heart, digestion, boost up energy, lubricate joints, bones, ligaments etc. Right Aasan practice promotes not only physical health but also emotional healing in a way where one can learn how to unlock and release stress & tension from the mind heart & body.