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What are Asanas?

Asana – “sthira sukham asanam”

Asana is the third limb in the Eight Limbs of Yoga from Patanjali’s ‘Yoga Sutras’ and it literally means ‘seat’ – specifically the seat you take for meditation.

"We use yoga poses to do yoga. But the yoga poses themselves are not yoga." 

How Many Yoga Postures are There

Technically, there are 200 yoga postures. These come from Iyengar’s book, Light on Yoga, but of those, you only see about 50 regularly in yoga classes.  

Mythically, there are 8.4 million postures, a number cited in a yoga text called the Gheranda Samhita. Whenever you see a large number like that in yoga, it just means “very big” or “more than you can ever do.”  

Benefits of Yoga Asana

As a physical practice, yoga asana is highly effective at:

  • Strengthening & Toning Your Body

  • Increasing Your Flexibility and Endurance

  • Lowering inflammation thus minimizing disease

  • Injury rehabilitation

As incredible and real as yoga’s physical benefits are, yoga asana truly excels in mental and emotional benefits. If you know how to use them, yoga poses can be a doorway to a calmer, clearer mind and a feeling of joy and peacefulness. For that, we have to explore another meaning of asana.  

Regular asana practice will develop mindfulness, discipline and concentration, in turn preparing the mind for pranayama and meditation.

In the next months I will pick an asana and give you some insights. Next up: Bhujangasana Or Cobra

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