• The postures of yoga. Asanas are said to prepare the body for meditation. Yoga is called a practice as there is no "finish line." Try and become familiar with the many expressions of each posture available to the student. Remember, there is no right or wrong in yoga.
Literally, it is defined as a "comfortable seat” – the seated posture of mediation. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras do not specify/prescribe any actual poses, rather it is defined as a “steady, comfortable posture.”
Most western culture defines yoga as the practice asana, with asana defined as "poses" or "postures."
What does it mean to you?
Asana has taken on many different meanings throughout my life. It has been a means of exercise. It’s been a means towards spiritual connection. It is many times my calm amidst the storm of life.
How can you apply it to your daily life?
There have been times in my life where I dedicated myself to a daily 60-minute personal practice – but life, work, family, school doesn’t always afford us such a luxury. Luckily you can cultivate benefits from asana on the fly, so to speak.
Asana can be a wonderful way to start the day – slowly awakening the body and mind. It doesn’t need to be a long 30-60 minute practice (though it could be if time allows), but 10 minutes when you awake to check in and sync up body and mind will prove endlessly helpful in setting the tone for the rest of the day.
Asana can also be practiced in times of stress mid-day. Some find that intense physical activity can be used to distract and reset the mind – try maintaining an arm balance while angry about another issue. Others use restorative poses to calm the mind – resting in child’s pose, resting the forehead on the earth, stimulating the third-eye chakra.
When a nap is not in the cards, taking 5-10 minutes in viparita karani usually does the trick for me.
Bringing it full circle, a gentle asana practice is a wonderful way to bring the body back to rest in the evening before bed.
What are some benefits of applying it to your daily life?
Physically, asana can help increase flexibility, balance and overall strength. They stimulate many of the physiological systems of the body – circulatory, immune, digestive, etc. Mentally, asana helps to develop mindfulness and focus required for meditation. Energetically, they are said to stimulate the energetic body, opening chakras and nadis.
Scientific research suggests that regular asana practice provides many benefits, including relieving chronic pain, respiration control, improved sleep and quality of life, and reducing anxiety and depression.