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Illustration of a vividly coloured pathwork owl, sitting contently and easy on a branch with the full moon to its left.

What Is The Purpose Of Yoga Postures (Asanas)?


Yoga's foundational text mentions Only One asana.

The asanas, or postures, are the physical aspect of yoga that's commonly associated with the practice in the West. It's interesting to note that in its earliest form, Yoga did not have various asanas, or at least they were not recorded. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the foundational text of Yoga, has only one reference to posture in Sutra 2.46: "Sthira Sukham Asanam," which means a steady, comfortable seat. This emphasizes the importance of maintaining a comfortable and good posture for meditation that is strong, sturdy, yet comfortable, at ease, pleasant, full of joy, and content.

Seated Meditation calls for the harmonious and orchestrated work of All of you.

Maintaining a comfortable seated position with a long spine and neck requires the balanced work of all of one's muscles and bones. If something is not aligned or functioning properly, discomfort and pain can arise. The act of sitting for extended periods requires balanced alignment of scaffolding structures such as bones, ligaments, tendons, fascia, and muscles in relation to each other and to body planes. Balanced posture also facilitates the correct recruitment of muscles involved in breathing. It also requires pain-free, healthy joints, good health of the spine with optimal intervertebral space, and healthy communication between the spinal cord and organs, muscles, and structures.

 

Yoga asanas have evolved over time to enable practitioners to sit for prolonged periods of time with good posture and provide various health benefits. However, these benefits are not the sole goal of the practice, but rather a byproduct. While physical health benefits are desirable, the need to still the mind often arises naturally with consistent practice. For beginners, Yoga can be practiced purely as a form of physical wellness.

Yoga asanas bring balance within the body and beyond the body.

According to Sadhguru, a well-known modern-day mystic and a yogi, the physical postures are intended to bring about a state of balance and alignment not only within the body but also between the body, mind, and subtle energy systems. These systems are not usually experienced without consistent yogic practice.

 

Sadhguru's teachings suggest that the goal of asanas in Yoga is to use physical postures as a tool for inner transformation. As such, Yoga asanas move practitioners toward a state of balance, harmony, and well-being that transcends physical senses and perceptions.

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