One of the most popular and ancient texts of yoga, ‘Yoga sutras’ written by Patanjali in the 2nd century BC stated the significance of Ashtanga (eight stages and the principles of Yoga practice) Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. Let’s learn about Asana and Pranayama for now.
Asana is a Sanskrit word which means ‘body posture’ or in more accurate terms, asana means a comfortable position leading to the relaxation of mind and body. While Patanjali referred only to the static meditation posture as ‘asana’ and dynamic exercises as ‘Vyayam’ but in course of time, exercise postures are also called asanas
If you are aware of some asanas, you might know that some of them are named after animals like deer, snake, tiger, cat, etc. and flowers like a lotus. The postures have been inspired and adapted from various creatures of nature to help an individual stay fit and flexible. The positive effect of asanas spreads through your mind and body. Specific animal positions are gifted to them to instinctively utilize for their natural advantages but how are these postures helpful for humans? For instance, Bhujangasana (The Cobra posture) for the discharge of aggression and emotions, Marjari (The Cat posture) for sprawling the body and the spine, Shirshasana (the headstand position) to increase blood flow to the eyes, head and scalp, Shashankasana (The Hare) for relief and Padmasana (Lotus posture) for relaxing abdomen and improving digestion.
Patanji referred asana as ‘Sthiram Sukham Asanam’ means the posture where one stable and also comfortable with proper body alignment is called as ‘Asana’
Asanas activate the Chakras and help joints, muscles, Nervous system, cardiovascular system, and lymphatic system. These exercises coordinate and balance the person’s state of mind. The effects of these exercises are a sense of fulfilment, relaxation and a feeling of inner freedom and harmony.
Pranayama is also a Sanskrit word where Prana means breath, ayam means to regulate the breath pranayama means conscious control of the breath. With every inhalation, we do not only take in oxygen but also cosmic energy, which is said to be the ultimate power in the Universe that establishes, preserves and modifies. The prana is available in the form of food. That is why eating healthy vegetarian food supports pranayama.
The persistent absorption of Prana into the body results in surge instability, physical detoxification and improvement in immunity and a healthy mind.
The aim of practicing asana is to get stable body and mind..there by one will get rid of duality and confusions(Tato dwandwa anabhighataha)