The third limb of Yoga is Asanas or postures. Asanas are certain postures of the body. Any steady and comfortable pose is asana. By effortless dissolution of the mind in the Divine, the asana is mastered according to Patanjali. When the asanas are mastered then the dualities are won over. Kundalini (Ananta) is awakened by the method of asana, by overcoming the dualities of ida and pingala and passes through sushumna. He who masters the postures conquers the three worlds. There are several types of asanas such as standing asanas, sitting asanas, lying down asanas, forward bending asanas, backward bending asanas, balancing asanas, relaxing asanas and so forth. There are many benefits of asanas like improving all systems of the body, correcting endocrinal imbalances, improving concentration and several others (Complete list of Yoga Asanas).
Asanas give strength and energy to the sadhakas. By practicing of asana steadiness of body and mind, freedom from diseases and lightness, and flexibility of the limbs is achieved. One can derive maximum benefit if the following aspects are observed while practicing asanas.
- Perform asanas everyday at the same time.
- Begin with prayer and end with prayer.
- Yoga should be practiced with an empty stomach. No solid food should be taken before 3 hours and liquid diet before one hour to commencing the practice. Water can be taken if needed. Food can be consumed after 15 minutes of yoga practice.
- It is better to practice yoga after ablutions. It is better to have a shower either before or after 20 minutes.
- Asanas should not be practiced on hard surfaces like bare floor, wooden plank etc. Better to practice on a soft surface like a blanket.
- In the morning, it is advisable to practice asanas including suryanamaskaras after meditation and pranayama. In the evening it is vice versa.
- To relieve any fatigue while performing asanas, temporarily relax in either savasanam or makarasanam or matsyakreedasanam. Remember asanas are not rigorous exercises. They have to be done in a comfortable, slow and
- When in tension it is advised to first practice yoga swasa or yoga nidra and then commence other practices.
- If unable to attain the posture in its final form do to the extent possible for similar benefits.
- Asanas have to be practiced in a systematic manner. It is to be remembered that for almost every asana there is a pratyasana (counter posture). After the counter pose is performed then only proceed to the next asana. For example immediately after forward bending asana do the counter pose a backward bending asana.
- Asanas give better results when coupled with breath control. The general rule is for any forward bending or side twisting asanas one need to exhale. For all back bending asanas one need to inhale.
- While practicing the asanas apart from doing them in a stable, slow and steady manner it is better to concentrate on each organ of your body that you are moving. Once the final posture is attained stay only as long as it is comfortable and concentrate on the eyebrow center.
- Yoga should be practiced under the proper guidance of an eminent Guru. If suffering from ailments (both physical and psychological) follow the recommendations of the expert. Women should not perform most of the asanas and higher pranayama practices during menstruation or after conceiving.
Dr Sri Krishna Chandaka is MD in Alternative Medicine and Ph.D. in Kundalini Yoga.
He can be reached for individual, group and corporate training sessions.