Among the very most important texts in Yoga is the Yoga Sutras, written by the sage Patanjali in the 2nd Century, BC. In it, he articulates eight limbs which comprise the “Royal Path” of Yoga. The third limb, Asana, means “posture.”
Most of us who love Yoga in the West think it is primarily, or completely, based on Asanas. We go to Yoga studios or classes at our health clubs and are guided through various series of standing, seated and supine postures that make us feel more flexible, balanced and relaxed.
In Patanjali’s 196 Sutras, Asana is only mentioned three times. Each time the term is used, it refers to sitting comfortably in a cross-legged posture while stilling the mind and meditating on the soul.
This said, Asana practice is essential for the journey. It not only helps us reconnect with our bodies, it heals us physically and emotionally.
I invite you not only to attend as many classes as you can with teachers who inspire you, but to also develop a home practice. Early morning is best, before sunrise if possible. Take just 10 or 15 minutes so it’s easy to sustain on a daily basis.
Sit comfortably, come into the present moment, breathe deeply and fully. Then do a few opening twists and lateral extensions, followed by so standing poses that you have learned in class. Perhaps add a few rounds of salutations. Then settle down for a few more restive poses, always focusing on your body and breath.
Finally, sit in stillness for a minute or two, silently repeating a mantra to still your mind. OM Namo is a good mantra top begin with, breathing in OM on the inhale and Namo as you exhale. This means “I bow,” which is bowing into your heart, into the new day, into your sense of higher power.
Practice every day with reverence and enjoy!