Asana: The 3rd Limb of Ashtanga Yoga
“Sthira sukham asanam. Asana is a steady, comfortable posture.” -Yoga Sutras II:46
“The Hatha yogis realized that by developing control of the body through asana, the mind is controlled. When you practice asana, steadiness develops, prana moves freely, and there is less chance of disease occuring” -Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Asana is the physical practice of yoga. It is the postures that we take to strengthen the body, activate and detoxify our internal systems, and prepare us for moving deeper into the practice and study of yoga. It is what most of us think of when we think of yoga, and often the first element of yoga that we are introduced to. As the mind becomes more calmed through the physical practice, the desire to learn more about yoga and travel deeper along the 8 limb path happens naturally. When we do asana, we quiet the mind and control the body to open our consciousness and breakdown the separation we feel from everyone else. We take an internal gaze and approach the postures with humility and grace as an act of purification, transformation, and devotion. The asana practice can be physically demanding and vigorous like the late Sri K. Pattabhi Jois taught, or restorative and completely relaxing. I like to think of my asana practice as a daily practice… it keeps me coming!