Traditional & scientific views on Asana

Traditional References

  1. Patanjali
    • sthira sukham asanam
    • Prayatna shaithailyam anant samapattibhyam
To sit stable and comfortably for a long time for the purpose of meditation.
  1. Hathayoga
    • Hathapradipika- Kuryat asanam stheiryam arogyam changalaghavam
    • Gherand samhita- Asanena bhaveta drudhata
To adopt the posture for some time so that the channelization of energy become easy.

Difference of Asana and Physical exercise

Physical exercise

  • Rapid , jerky movements. (kinetic)
  • Heart rate- get increased
  • Breathing becomes faster
  • Metabolic rate is increased.
  • More energy expenditure.
  • Concentration towards the movement or outside object.

Asana- scientific definition

  • Maintaining the posture (static)
  • Heart rate remains at the rest.
  • Breathing remains as usual or later on slows down.
  • Metabolic rate slows down .
  • Less energy expenditure. (asana itself is a rest)
  • Concentration towards inner side.

Asana- scientific definition

  • To train the mind through postural discipline.
  • To keep body stable consciously in specific posture with comfort .
  • Adaptation and maintaining specific posture through skillful , gentle movements which produces physical, psychophysiological and spiritual benefits.
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Stages of Development

EffortPain /discomfort(unbearable)Unstable
EffortPain /discomfort. (Bearable)Stable for some time
EffortlessnessPleasureStable for a long time

Principle and prerequisite for Aasan

  • One can practice asana 3-4 hrs after- solid food, 1 hrs after- liquid or juices and ½ hr after- water.
  • Advance asana should always be performed with clear bowel.
  • Avoid any kind of jerky movement or outside pressure which may lead to injury.
  • During asana wear loose and comfortable cloth very much necessary for energy flow.
  • In acute disease or any abnormal pain avoid asana.
  • Female should not practice any advance asana during 3 days menstrual period.
  • During pregnancy any asana which increase abdominal pressure must be avoided
    Before taking particular pursuit of asana one should be clear with objective.
  • Asana should be performed in very slow and rhythmatic manner
    One should avoid practice asana in too much cold or hot.
  • Too much effort should be avoided
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Asana as co-ordination

  1. Musculoskeletal co-ordination.
  2. Neuromuscular co-ordination.
  3. Cortico-cerebellar and corticolimbic co-ordination.

Benefit of the Asana

  1. Improves qualities of muscles- elasticity, endurance, length,
  2. Improves the flexibility of joints. (range of motion)
  3. Proper nourishment of the bone, cartilage, ligaments and bone marrow.
  4. Massage to the intra-abdominal organs.
  5. Improves digestion (by improving peristalsis and glandular secretions. )
  6. Stabilizes the metabolic rate. / helps to eliminate metabolic toxins.
  7. Improves the efficiency of respiratory organs. (muscles, bony cage, diaphragm, lungs)
  8. Nourishes the sense organs.
  9. Decreases the effects of stress (which appears on the body)
  10. Enhances parasympathetic tone.

Psychological effect of asana

  • Peace
  • Calmness
  • Non- reactiveness
  • Change in habits

Benefits in day to day life

  1. Diminished unnecessary body movements in rest.
  2. Improvement in the body language.
  3. Habit to sit in standard posture./ postural awareness.
  4. Easiness in all movements.
  5. Decreased symptoms of fatigue and lethargy.
  6. Discipline and regularity in daily activities.

Spiritual effect

  1. Stable body does not allow the thoughts to reflect on it. This leads to weakening of thoughts.
  2. Centralization and channelization of the vital energy through proper musculoskeletal work in the specific posture.

Difference between effort and effortlessness

Significant muscular activity. (contraction)Very less muscular activity.
Respiratory interference.No respiratory interference.
Difficult balance.Very easy balance.
Stability for limited time.Stability for longer time.
Feel to withdrawal the posture.Feel to remain in that posture.
Sensation of stretch and pressure.Very negligible sensation of stretch and pressure.
Concentration towards body sensationsConcentration towards the subtle things.

Type of asana

Very less muscular work. (very less stretching and contraction.Less muscular work. (less stretch and contraction)Comparatively more muscular work. (significant stretch and contraction)
Effective in fatigue or exhaustion.More effective after relieve of the fatigue.Can do only after relieve of the fatigue.
More surface of body is on the ground.Less surface of body is on the ground.Comparatively very less surface of body is on the ground.
Breathing is easy but not complete.Breathing is easy and complete.Breathing is as usual or somehow restricted.
Aim is relaxation of body and mind.Aim is to improve and maintain alertness.Aim is to improve the physical quality and prepare body –mind for pranayama and meditation.
Spine remains in its normal curvature with support of floor.Spine remains in normal curvature without support.Spine- flexed, extended, twisted , bended.

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