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What is asana?

What is asana?

The origin of the word “asana” comes from Sanskrit and means for physical posture. In a more general sense, asana denotes a specific position that can be held quietly and comfortably for a long period of time.  In the 2nd century BC, Patanjali wrote down the principles of yoga practice in the Yoga Sutras. He named only the meditation position “asana” and the physical postures, which he called “Yoga Vyayam”. However, often using dynamic yoga exercises also become known as asanas. Asanas are believed to have a profound effect on the body and mind. 

Many asanas are derived from the natural movements and postures of animals and bear their names such as “cat”, “deer”, “tiger”, “rabbit”, etc. These asanas use examples from nature and give us the benefits they bring to animals. They have instinctively used these movements in their natural postures. These postures give benefits that are achieved by practicing the asanas. For example, Marjorie (Cat) helps to stretch the body and spine, Bhujangasana (Cobra) to release aggression and emotions, Shashankasana (Rabbit) to relax, Armrest (Shirshasana), and Lotus (Padmasana), is considered the supreme or “royal” Asanas.

Asanas are good for the muscles, joints, cardiovascular system, nervous system, and lymphatic system, as well as for the mind, psyche, and chakras (energy centers). They are exercises that strengthen and balance the entire nervous system and harmonize and stabilize the mental state of the practitioner. The effects of these exercises are a feeling of contentment, clarity of mind, relaxation, and a sense of inner freedom and peace.

Breathing plays an important role in asanas. With the coordination of breath and movement, the yoga practice becomes harmonious, the breath deepens and the circulation and metabolism of the body are stimulated. The use of the breath greatly enhances muscular relaxation by concentrating on tense areas of the body and consciously relaxing these parts with each exhalation.

The difference between asanas and gymnastics:

Unlike gymnastic exercises, asanas are practiced slowly to allow for focus and a conscious understanding of the movement. The number of exercises practiced is not important, but rather the quality of performance. A period of conscious physical and mental relaxation should be included before, after, and between exercises.

The goal of Aayan is to harmonize the body and mind, consciously observing the physical and mental process as each movement or relaxation is practiced. The idea behind the postures is not only to balance the body but also to enable practitioners to become aware of the connection between the physical and mental aspects.

A few tips when practicing the asanas:

  1. Perform the asanas in coordination with your breathing.
  2. In the initial stages of the practice, the asanas are performed once or twice without holding so that the body movement and breathing synchronize.
  3. During practice, direct your concentration to the specific body part that the exercise is working on.
  4. After practicing the pose, an opposite pose or alignment pose is performed. For example, when one part of the body is bent or contracted, then in the next asana it is stretched or extended.

Yoga practice is made up of a sequence of asanas that relates to a specific group of muscles or works a specific part of our body. The arrangement of the asanas should not be random but should be designed to bring maximum benefits to us and our bodies. Often yoga asanas are simply a prelude so that we can stay longer in relaxation or meditation at the end of the practice.  




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