According to legend it is said there were 8.6 million Asanas (physical poses) in Yoga! Of course in modern times, we are only acquainted with about three or four hundred asanas. And it is also said that all these Asanas exist primarily to help the Yogi develop the strength and flexibility to sit in one of the 4 classic meditative postures!
To understand the meaning of the term ‘Asana’ we refer to the Patanjali Yoga Sutras; a treatise codified by the great Yogi Ptanajali around 300BC. Asana is defined as “Sthiram Sukham Asanam” meaning “Steady Ease Asana”, meaning that one must be steady/ unmoving and at the same time at ease/ comfortable in this Asana.
The Meditative Asanas
Padmasana (Lotus pose)
This is the classic posture that you most often associate with the idea of a meditating Yogi or Buddha. By interlocking your legs you gradually arrest the blood supply to the lower body so that your awareness is not distracted but remains with the central nervous system (spinal cord and brain) and its more subtler parts. Padmasana is one of the most important yogic postures.
Often you will need to gradually practice this pose and it may take a few months to be able to sit in Padmasana without any discomfort. If you have terrible knee pains from excessive jogging or surgery, avoid doing Padmasana and choose a simpler pose.
Vajrasana (Thunderbolt pose)
Vajrasana is also a classic yoga meditation posture; and the only asana that can be practiced after eating – it in fact promotes digestion. Again if your knees and ankle are paining or are damaged; then avoid Vajrasana.
Sukhasana (Comfortable pose)
Sukhasana is the easiest meditative posture to practice. You must look to master this only if you are unable to master Padmasana or Vajrasana; as it takes longer to slip into meditation in Sukhasana. Also the posture does not automatically straighten your back so you have to put in effort to keep your back straight.
However, this posture suits a lot of people with knee, hip and ankle pain. It can also be practiced on your bed if sitting on the floor is a problem.
Now enjoy working on the meditative posture that suits you. In yoga we say that to master an asana you should be able to hold it for 2hrs 32mins!!
Total Yoga is a balanced style of Yoga that focuses on Fitness training and Mindfulness practice equally.