Why do we practice Asana?
Updated: Dec 23, 2022
Why do we practice Asana? According to Patanjali, Asana is "a steady and comfortable posture" and Asana is just one of the 8 limbs of Yoga. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are from a lineage called Raja Yoga, which is a path to Yoga through meditation (this is the lineage from which we teach as well).
Of course we love the movement, the flow, the feeling of coming together, connecting with our body, breath, mind, as well as community including all of the relationships and moments of truth, growth, and connection that result from the practice. But in the larger scheme of Yoga as a spiritual practice, there's more to it.
In Patanjali's 8 limb model, Asana is a platform for Pranayama (the regulation of our energy), which is a platform for meditation and connecting with the deepest essence of our Self - an inherently divine energy and consciousness that is throbbing within each of us.
The practice of Asana could be viewed as simply coming into a seat, so that one can regulate energy and meditate from that seat.
Of course our modern Asana practice does a bit more than just sitting! but underneath the myriad postures found in a modern Asana practice, the underlying intent is to create an environment in the body and mind that is optimized for being able to sit down and connect with the deeper layers of our Self. To the extent we can optimize and create a sense of integrity and ease within our physical environment (body, mind, relationships, space, etc) there are fewer distractions or obstacles to connect and feel deeply as one with our own divine essence.
Whether you practice Asana as a form of exercise, or a space in the day for mental health, clarity, or part of a meditation or spiritual practice, it's worth remembering that Asanas are really just a set tools intended to ultimately bring us into a sense of steadiness and ease. Different tools are needed at certain times depending on the state of the body or mind (just as various Pranayama techniques have different intended effects). It might be helpful to orient yourself toward Asana knowing that the Asanas are meant to serve you (whatever your goal might be) rather than the other way around ✌️🙏🕉️
Flow Collective Yoga offers classes at Bulli Surf Club, 15 minutes north of Wollongong CBD.
About the Author:
Jason has been teaching Yoga in Wollongong since 2019 and began teaching Yoga after his teacher training at Yoga Six in San Diego California in 2017. He has since completed a Diploma of Remedial Massage Therapy and is passionate about creating and facilitating space for growth, transformation, and overall wellbeing. He primarily teaches Vinyasa Yoga, and offers Massage treatments designed for Yogis to embody their breath, improve posture, and soothe the nervous system.