Here in this article, I seek to not only introduce to my readers what asana is, but also I shall start off with the explanations of a few asanas. Going further I shall be dedicating a few articles exclusively on a few asanas. In every article, I shall explain 3-4 asanas, the procedure with which it is done i.e. a scientific methodology to it, its benefits, and also its contra-indications. At the outset, I would like to make it clear to my readers that I do not seek to “teach asanas” through these articles. Although I shall be writing on individual asanas in detail, I only seek to educate my readers regarding those asanas. I would strictly suggest those who are learners to avoid doing these physical postures at your homes or any other place having read these articles. Asanas are to be learnt and practiced only under the physical guidance of a learned teacher. Here, I only want to motivate and educate my readers about a few asanas.
Before going into details of individual asanas, let us refresh our memory as to the basics of asanas.
The word “asana” is defined in the Patanjali Yoga Sutras –
’स्थिर सुखं आसनं ।’ meaning
‘one in which you are stable, comfortable, & happy.’
Asanas are performed with comfort & not with pain. That which gives happiness, performed without strain is asana. There is another adage in Sanskrit in this regard – “वज्रादपि कठॊराणि म्रुदूनि कुसुमादपि ।”
– One becomes as hard as the diamond & as soft as a flower.
Yogasanas are for strength as well as gentleness. The body gets attuned to the situations & surroundings. At a time when strength is required, strength is presented; and at a time when gentleness is required, gentleness is displayed. Very subtle, yet marvelous are the benefits of asanas.
Rudimentarily there are 4 types of asanas:-
3. Prone (performed on the stomach)
4. Supine (Performed on the back)
Another form of classification is based on the object of asanas i.e. –
1.Culturative (Trikonasana, Paschimottanasana, Halasana, Dhanurasana, etc.)
2. Relaxative (Shavasana, Makarasana, etc)
3. Meditative (Padmasana, Siddhasana, etc.)
Before starting the practice of Asanas, the important thing is to start with a prayer. For the prayer, we sit with the “Namaskara Asana” or the “Anjali Mudra” (as depicted in the picture).
- Join your hands together and place your hands in between your chest.
- Keep your back and the neck straight.
For the prayer, you may choose either one of the following:
- Shantih Mantra
ॐ सह नाववतु ।
सह नौ भुनक्तु ।
सह वीर्यं करवावहै ।
तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु मा विद्विषावहै ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥
Om Saha Nau-Avatu |
Saha Nau Bhunaktu |
Saha Viiryam Karavaavahai |
Tejasvi Nau-Adhiitam-Astu Maa Vidvissaavahai |
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||
1: Om, May God Protect us Both (the Teacher and the Student),
2: May God Nourish us Both,
3: May we Work Together with Energy and Vigour,
4: May our Study be Enlightening and not give rise to Hostility,
5: Om, Peace, Peace, Peace.
- Patanjali Oblation (Oblations to the father of Yoga).
योगेनचित्तस्य पदेन वाचां ।
मलं शरीरस्य च वैद्यकेन ॥
योऽपाकरोत्तमं प्रवरं मुनीनां ।
पतञ्जलिं प्राञ्जलिरानतोऽस्मि ॥
Yogena Cittasya Padena Vaacaam |
Malam Shariirasya Ca Vaidyakena ||
Yopaakarottamam Pravaram Muniinaam |
jalim Praan.jalir-Aanatosmi ||
1: (I bow down to him who purifies the impurities) of the Mind (by removing the Chitta Vrittis) by Yoga, (who purifies the expression of) Speech by Pada (Grammar) …
2: and (who purifies the) impurities of the Body through Vaidya (Medical Science), …
3: He who is an expert in removing (the impurities of the Body, Mind, and Speech), to that most excellent of Munis, …
4: (Who is) Patanjali, I bow down with folded hands.
Let us start off with the standing asanas and then move on to the sitting, prone, and supine postures.
I will depict the picture of the first posture, being Tadasana, of Yoga Guru BKS Iyengar in reverence of the master. After which for all other asanas, I shall use the pictures of my own.
Note: – Tadasana is the “starting posture” for all other standing asanas. Before starting any standing asanas, we start off with the “Tadasana Sthithi”.
Type of Asana: Standing
Category of the asana: Culturative
Name of the Asana: – ताडासन/Tadasana
Meaning of the asana: – Palm Tree Posture
1. Legs together, hands by the side of the body.
2. Spread the toes, naturally, and press it on the ground.
3. Tighten your cough muscles, knees, & thighs.
4. Exhale & suck the abdomen.
5. Inhale & expand the chest.
This is tadasana for you. The picture also contains the benefits of the asana, do go through the same.
In this article, I shall end with Tadasana. In the ensuing articles, I will take up 3-4 asanas per article in detail.