Yoga Paramparas Revealed

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23 Sep 2023


Importance of Asana

Importance of Asana 

Dr. Parinita Singh
Vice Chairperson, Jharkhand Chapter, IYA
Guest faculty, School of Yoga, Ranchi University, Jharkhand

According to yoga each individual is made up of three aspects- body, mind and consciousness. The postures, mentioned in our scriptures as ‘asanas’ influence all these three aspects and harmonizes the body and mind as a whole. Yogasanas are the physical practices but they not only tone up the internal organs of the body but also influences subtle and causal bodies. While we are performing any asana, we are aware of breath and the final posture and as such, we can stretch our body parts more comfortably. Here, we are trying to control the entire psychophysiological system according to our will. According to multiple scientific studies, yogasanas have shown to reduce the respiratory rate, blood pressure, rate of heart beats, inflammatory condition and psychological stress. Asanas essentially involve many principles of bending or twisting of the body and holding the posture for sometimes as per individual’s capacity. It also involves controlled breathing, channelizing the thought process and concentration of mind on parts of the body being stretched and bringing in complete awareness about all these processes while doing the asanas. All these principles not only increase the elasticity of our body and make the body more active and flexible, but also influences our mind thereby making it more balanced and peaceful. This ultimately leads us towards spiritualism. The energy channels are opened and ‘prana’ flows freely into the body. The major and minor pranic energy, i.e., panchprana and upaprana helps us in improved physiological functions. Many studies have revealed that asanas also influence the seven psychic centers (Chakras) in our body. The psychic centers (Chakras), are energy centers of the subtle body. They are called subtle because they are not part of the gross matter of the body, but have certain correspondence with the anatomy of the material body. These subtle psychic energy centers run roughly along the course of the spine. Practice of any asana or posture with breath awareness does influence these seven chakras in many ways and help us in balancing our body, mind and spirit. Therefore, we can say asanas prepare us for higher practices like pranayama and dhyana.

The shloka of Maharshi Patanjali Yoga Sutra- “Prayatnashaithilyanantsamapattibhyam”. (II/47)- means by loosening of effort and by meditating on serpent Ananta, Asana is mastered. Here, loosening of effort means we are not applying any force to come to a final posture. Rather, we are trying to control the involuntary process of our body. This is asanajaya. There will be no conflict between body and mind. They work in coordination with each other. (Tatah dvandvabhighatah/2/48). State of our body i.e., comfort or discomfort and the state of our mind i.e., peaceful or restlessness are interdependent. When our body is not comfortable, we cannot expect peace of mind and similarly when our mind is restless, we cannot expect bodily comfort. Thus, we can say that, when the aches and bodily discomfort (pains) are removed, one becomes emotionally and mentally relaxed and to release the stressful content of the mind resulting from our environmental interactions, the body should be maintained in balance (stable and steady condition). In this way, the restrictions of individuals can be released and one knows his or her true inner-nature, which is pure and infinite. Consciousness could be untangled from the troubles of the body and mind by regular practice of asanas. Our mind stops fluctuating and we become focused. Our Annamaya, Pranamaya, and Manomaya koshas are influenced. This allows practitioner to focus on his inner environment and develop inner awareness. The ancient yogis developed and practiced these techniques for transcending the normal limitation of the body and mind and achieved self-realization. This is true and ultimate benefit of asana.

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