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What Does Asana Mean in Yoga?

What Does Asana Mean in Yoga?

The word “asana” is a Sanskrit word. When you do Hatha yoga asanas, you join millions of other people around the world in practicing the centuries-old tradition of yoga yoga.Asana is defined as “posture or pose;” its literal meaning is “seat.” Originally, there was only one asana–a stable and comfortable pose for prolonged seated meditation. More than just stretching and toning the physical body, the yoga poses open the nadis (energy channels) and chakras (psychic centers) of the body. Yoga poses also purify and help heal the body, as well as control, calm and focus the mind. If you have not practiced yoga postures before, make sure to read yoga beginner’s guide.Hatha yoga asanas come from a book written in the 15th century called the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. It is the oldest known yoga book and yogis consider this sacred text as yogic scripture. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika contains information on 8,400,000 Hatha yoga asanas.

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika contains information on 8,400,000 Hatha yoga asanas. Wow, 8 million! It says a yogi must perform all 8 million asanas before being freed from being reborn into the endless cycle of reincarnation – a core belief in the Hindu religion.Over the centuries, yogi’s simplified these 8 million Hatha yoga asanas down to a few hundred. These are the poses you find in modern yoga classes.A typical Hatha yoga class consists of several series of asanas in the following sequence:

  • Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)
  • Standing forward bends
  • Standing balance asanas
  • Seated forward bends
  • Back bending asanas
  • Twisting asanas
  • Inverted asanas
  • Hatha Yoga Asana Basics

Here are a few yoga yoga asana basics every student and aspiring teacher should know:

  • To do a Hatha yoga asana, move into the described position following the breathing protocol specific to the pose.
  • Yogis typically hold the final pose of the asana between 30 seconds and 2 minutes, but this is not “written in stone.”

How long you hold a given pose, along with the order of the poses, are the principal differences between styles of yoga, including Vinyasa, Ashtanga, and Sivananda.

Modern yoga students commonly come with the initial intention of taking Hatha yoga classes as exercise. Yoga is not traditionally considered exercise, but both do help build:

  • strength
  • flexibility
  • endurance

Ancient yogi’s actually created Hatha yoga asanas as a path to increased awareness, deeper relaxation, and better concentration, with the ultimate goal of enhancing one’s ability to meditate. “Why is meditation so important to yogis?” Because yogis reach their ultimate goal of enlightenment by meditating.

The breath plays an important role in the Asanas. With coordination of breath and movement, the Yoga practice becomes harmonious, the breath deepens of its own accord and the body’s circulation and metabolism are stimulated. Use of the breath greatly enhances muscle relaxation by concentrating on tense areas of the body and consciously relaxing those parts with each exhalation. Use these powerful techniques and do your body a favor.