The word asana is usually translated as “pose” or “posture,” but is more literal meaning is “comfortable seat”. Through their observations of nature, the yogis discovered a vast repertoire of energetic expressions, strong physical effect on the body but also a concomitant psychological effect. Each movement demands that we hone some aspect of our consciousness and use ourselves in a new way. The vast diversity of ‘asanas’ is no accident, for through exploring both familiar and unfamiliar postures we are also expanding our consciousness, so that regardless of the situation or form we find ourselves in, we can remain “comfortably seated” in our center. Intrinsic to this practice is the uncompromising belief that every aspect of the body is pervaded by consciousness. Asana practice is a way to develop this interior awareness.
Asana can be defined as a physical Yoga posture or position that is designed to help master the body and enhance the body’s functions. Yoga poses are, in essence, Yoga exercises creating strength and endurance, improving circulation and energy flow, cleansing organs and other systems, and expanding muscles and joints. With all these benefits of the Yoga poses, we can not lose attention to the original purpose of the Yoga exercise.
Yoga exercises evolved thousands of years ago from the need to create a healthy body in order to move more readily to the state of oneness and realization. When the body is cluttered with stress, tension, and disease, this clouds the mind and the ability to connect with the inner self. The physical freedom attained from the Yoga exercises increases one’s ability to sit with silence and joyful observation.