Gaining mastery over the mind is Yoga and Yoga postures are the tools for gaining that mastery. The term Asana is derived from Sanskrit root ‘aas’ means ‘to sit’ or ‘asi’ means ‘to be’. Asana is a posture held stable with comfort. In practical terms stability here signifies immobilization of the body and comfort denotes a harmonious peaceful and serene mental state. Thus contrary to the common motion asana is not only a practice involving the human body but also the human mind.
Yoga postures form the base of almost all other practices of Yoga from beginning to the end. Their real importance lies in the way they train and discipline the mind. Thus the first step to get into a Yoga posture is effortlessness or relaxation. It involves relaxation of all those groups of muscles in the body which are not required to participate for the performance of a particular posture. Further even those muscles which are involved in the maintenance of the final posture are made to relax consciously to the maximum possible extent. Yoga postures therefore involve the techniques of relaxation of efforts and attuning the mind to the expansive vision of calmness. The longer we are able to stay, the better and deeper will be the result.
Yoga postures take full advantage of the extreme range of movement made available due to various types of joints, flexibility and the gravitational aspects of human body. It uses the limbs of the body that provide the necessary weights and counter weights. The scope of Yoga postures is so vast and all-embracing that their limitations fade into insignificance comparatively. Depending upon the anatomic limitations due to fat rigidity, ageing process, illnesses etc., one can choose the simplest from the vast array of Yoga asanas. Some traditions prescribe use of props, mechanical aids in the performance of specific asana which make the performance of asana within reach of all kinds of practitioners to be able to reap its benefits.
- Yoga postures overcome the disharmonies in the body and help to restore perfect harmony in the working of the whole body especially the neuro-musculo-glandular tone.
- It helps to restore mental and emotional wellbeing. It teaches one how to quiet the mind so one can focus the energy where one wants it to be – could be into a difficult yoga posture, on the tennis court, or in the office, it encourages positive thoughts and self-acceptance.
- It also leads to spiritual benefits by building awareness of body, feelings and the world around. It promotes an inter dependence between mind, body and spirit, helping one to live the concept of ‘oneness’.
Thus, by practicing Yoga postures, the practitioner gains holistic health, which is not mere existence. It is not a commodity which can be purchased with money. It is an asset to be gained with consistent practice. A true practitioner seeks a body strong as a thunderbolt, healthy, and free from suffering so as to dedicate it in the higher purpose for which it is intended for.