Asana: The Third Limb of Yoga
Asana or “posture” may be the most recognizable limb. The Yoga Sutras (11.46-47) explains, “The natural comfort and joy of our being is expressed when the body becomes steady. As The body yields all effort and holdings, the infinite within is revealed.”
Asana is important because it strengthens our bodies for deeper, internal work. It integrates our breath and body, it balances our energetic forces, calms the nervous system, and focuses the mind. Through our bodies, we express our inner world - when there is anxiety and fear, it is expressed in our Asana just as joyful contentment is expressed. There is no difference between ourselves on the mat and off the mat. Asana is a tool for listening to your body, uncovering preferences/tendencies, and observing rhythms. Asana is about intimacy with the Self as a whole.
Asana serves to awaken the inner intelligence and fortify your intimacy with it. The poses are designed to bring you past the external distractions of the outer world so you may clearly feel and see the subtle details of yourself. This inquiry is possible when the posture is “Stira Sukham” or Comfortable and Stable. You mat is your mirror - it will reflect to you the lessons that must be examined. Asana must be practiced with Yama and Niyama, otherwise it is just exercise.