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What does Asana mean in yoga? 5 emerging benefits of practicing asanas

What is Asana in Yoga?

Those who are familiarizing with the practice of yoga regularly hear the word ‘asanas’ or ‘asana’, yet what does asana mean? The term asana literally implies “pleasant and comfortable position held for long full breaths”. Asanas are therefore the poses that make up the yoga practice, i.e. the physical poses that need to be held for a variable timeframe during practice. 

What does asana mean: history

Asana is the Sanskrit word for position. As taken from the ancient records and first introduction, the primary yoga asanas were likely seated positions for meditation. They were also described in the “Yoga Sutras” of Patanjali.

Asanas are a part of the yoga practice, a sequence of yoga poses combined with breathing techniques. The “Hatha Yoga Pradipika” was written in the 15th century and describes only 14 original poses, of that, eleven are seated positions.

It is not until fairly recently in yoga’s history (with the influence of the Western culture ) that asana developed in such a wide collection of poses and became the most widely used today’s yoga. 

This simple sequence of asanas allows the individual who practices yoga to cleanse and purify so-called Nadis, basically the canals that allow energy to flow through our bodies.

Asanas – hence yoga, are constantly evolving. A pose invented last week isn’t less legitimate than one from the 16th century.

Bikram tried to patent 130 new asanas in 2007. 

Asanas and the Sanskrit Names

What does Asana mean in Sanskrit? Each yoga asana is performed to enhance flexibility, strength, and balance. The application of focused breath facilitates to relieve stress and anxiety. The poses don’t seem to be meant to be physical exercises, rather as holistic tools for the mind-body to enhance physical and mental health.

Asana is used as a suffix within the Sanskrit names for yoga poses, such as balasana, virabhadrasana, savasana, and ekapadarajakapotasana. Knowing this and a couple of alternative Sanskrit terms will assist you unravel these sophisticated names. Let’s say, eka pada means one-footed, accordingly, you’ll foresee that one foot is going to be doing one thing completely different from the opposite. Parsva means appearance, parivrtta means turned/twisted, and so on.

Sometimes their name comes from a combination with the Hindu religion and with the sites where certain divinities are portrayed. Other yoga asanas just bring back regular structures, inspired by animals, and plants.

Benefits of practicing asanas

What most people call yoga today could otherwise be called asana. Yoga has eight limbs. However, yoga combines pranayama (breathing exercises), dhyana (meditation), yamas (codes of social conduct), niyamas (self-observances), pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), dharana (concentration), and samadhi (bliss).

Through the asanas, whenever you practice yoga you effectively deliver the Prana that streams inside your body everywhere is needed. Each pose works on both physical and mental levels, favoring the expulsion of toxins and balancing the endocrine system. 

Why does yoga asana work? 

A more Westernized answer would definitely sound like this: 

“The asanas work by invigorating blood flow, improving the expulsion of toxins. Likewise, the combination of the breathing techniques with the execution of the poses, allows full-body re-oxygenation, supporting the entire living being. ” 

As per the oriental view, when you ask “What does asana mean?”, they refer to the practice of physical positions that work by supporting the free-stream of prana, or ‘Life Force’ (also known as chi or ki). According to these theories, the unbending nature of the body directly relates to a blockage of prana and the constant collection of toxins. Physical tensions in the body relate to mental troubles, so it becomes essential to balance prana.

Through the practice of yoga asanas, the body will break-free from any block, physical also mental. 

The purpose of yoga is to stir the Kundalini, or our vital energy, which is located at the base of the spine. 

The regular practice will eventually awake this life energy, which accordingly starts its way by going up towards sushumma nadi, which is the main energy channel, located inside the spine. 

The prana rises going through the different chakras (7 altogether) – energy cores of the body connected to specific parts of the body and mind, and eventually ending its way by lighting up the higher centers liable for the evolution of human perception. 

So, what are the benefits of practicing asanas 

  • it stimulates blood distribution 
  • improved oxygenation 
  • release the blocked energy 
  • remotion of mind barriers 
  • balances the chakras

You may also like: What are seven chakras and how they affect our lives

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