Aasana is roughly translated as Posture. I want to translate it as ‘Tuning yourself to the Cosmos’ - HH Paramahamsa Nithyananda Paramashivam
In the yoga world nowadays, the word asana generally means body postures: holding a specific pose while bending the body. Asanas may be popular practice for a number of reasons, including their great physical and mental benefits, and of course for aesthetics. On one level, it is, but asanas have a much deeper meaning and purpose.
In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali states:
“sthira-sukham asanam” -Chapter II, v. 46
Paramahamsa Nithyananda translates:
“Asanas are steady and comfortable body postures to tune oneself with the Cosmos.”
If you look deeply, any body posture is associated with a state of being, with a particular state of consciousness. There are 1000s of ways to tune yourself to the cosmos. For every act you have a particular posture. Posture, your consciousness, action - all 3 are connected closely.
For example, can you sleep standing up? And how about lying down in a relaxed way and try to shout angrily at someone. You can’t! By lying down you cant shout at some one and by standing up you cant sleep.
The body language changes according to your moods and attitudes. Subtle changes in your body posture will cause a major change in the way you feel.
Each posture creates a particular consciousness in you and helps you with the action. The posture for the ultimate consciousness is the Maha Mudra.
For this, you need to evolve your body step by step. Change in body posture brings change in your consciousness. There is a particular body posture for you to reach towards the ultimate. You need to find that.
One of the biggest crimes of the Vedantic Tradition is the disrespect towards Asanas. Many have started disrespecting the body, as though the body is a villain. The body is the victim of you. You go on abusing the body. Continuously for your enjoyment, you take the body to the extreme.
Whether it is eating, seeing - you watch TV till late night. Your eyes will be crying. Your body is the victim. Your tongue will be a victim of your pleasure. You abuse your tongue. In every level, your body is the victim. You disrespect and neglect your body. Even great Vedantis who study these ideas never experience anything. For experience, your body needs to evolve to a certain posture.
Your body is the mirror. The light coming to the mirror is the cosmic light. You need to align the mirror to a certain posture where the cosmic light reflects itself without distortion or deflection. That tuning is Asana.
Either you align or malign your body. Align means tuning to experience the transcendental super consciousness. Other than aligning, everything else is maligning.
There are two things you can do
- 1) Trial and error-checking if this system works for me and choosing the right ones.
- 2) Once you find that a routine works for you, increase your capacity to do it
Stiram means any posture imbibed by you should become your bio-memory. any posture that you do now and after 5 months you cant do it is not bio memory in you. Sthiram cant be shaken.
Sukam-All of you come down with a certain bio memory. Having the sweet pain of the asana, the whole day by increasing the practice in you. Once you find the set and increase the practice, increase the capacity to do and be in those postures and experience the sweet pain the whole day.
Sukam does not mean luxury. When the right posture is done, nectar oozes out from every joint. Nectar is available in every joint. The proper mudra makes it ooze out. The set of postures, practicing them more and more and increasing the capacity of your body and increasing the sweet nectar is sukha.
For Aasana-Respecting your body, raising your body to the highest possible spiritual conscious coherence. Through trial and error or a Guru’s prescription, find the right set of postures for you. Increase the ability to practice, by doing the aasanas again and again, experience the sweet nectar like pain the whole day.
Understand the concept and truth which Patanjali is expressing. The sweet pain which comes in your system by practicing is what Patanjali calls Sukha.. When your body is aligned, it Levitates; when you malign your body, it gravitates.
A small exercise:
Sit straight with eyes closed and the hands in front of you, palms facing up. Just notice how your body feels. Notice the breath.
Slowly turn the palms down. Bring awareness to how you feel now.
Can you feel a subtle difference? This subtle difference is due to the change of body posture.
So, asanas are specific body postures designed in a way so as to reflect the highest possible coherence with the Cosmos. The perfect asana for you depends on you. You will see, in some asanas you will suddenly feel natural, steady (sthira) and comfortable (sukham).
Actually, in a deeper way, sthira does not only mean steady, it means, “which cannot be lost, which has become part of your bio-memory”. It should be natural to be in that posture. If after a few weeks without practice you suddenly realize you cannot perform the posture anymore, then the true quality of sthira has not been achieved.
Sukham, which is commonly translated as comfortable, is not about cushion luxury! You should be able to be in a posture and feel its effect in your body throughout the day. Every joint should be oozing with nectar, like a sweet feeling of lightness. You can achieve sukham by constant practice, and increasing your ability to stay in that asana.
Respect Your Body
But understand, the practice of asanas does not mean abusing or disrespecting your body. Our bodies are victims of our self-destructive lifestyle. We often overeat and over-stimulate our bodies. Asanas are conscious practices to make you fall in tune with the deepest you, so it can never be against your body. Asanas are about aligning yourself with the highest possible coherence, with the highest qualities of the cosmos. Aligning yourself is levitation, maligning yourself is gravitation!
There are two ways of finding which asanas are best for you: 1) By your own practice, until you find your own sequence, or 2) By the Master’s instruction
In these particular asanas you will align your body perfectly with the super-consciousness, just like a mirror aligned directly with the source of light. This will allow you to tune yourself to the ultimate state of consciousness, and be established in Yoga.