What is asanas in yoga — features of their execution
Yoga is an ancient practice of cultivation, both physical and spiritual shells of man. And what is asana in yoga and by what criteria can you determine the success of its execution? Sooner or later, any diligent practitioner begins to ask this question.
In this article I want to share with you my own thoughts on this matter.
Approximately 2500 years ago, the rishi of Patanjali wrote a treatise on the Yoga Sutras, which summarized the knowledge about this art collected during that time period.
Before that, most likely, the process of knowledge transfer was exclusively oral — from a mentor to students. This treatise is formed by 196 schools, 2 of which relate directly to asanas.
It may seem strange that the very first and significant text about yoga mentions asanas only in a few stanzas, but it is for these stanzas that one really can get a lot of useful information for oneself.
«Yoga Sutras» characterize asana as a «fixed and comfortable posture.» And then we get a no less strange explanation of how you can get the desired effect: «Asana is achieved when they stop making efforts and concentrate solely on the eternal.»
To date, this characteristic seems rather strange and the idea might come that Patanjali is simply mocking us all. Can an asana be an immovable position?
After all, when we practice yoga, we begin to sway, not only in difficult, but even in very simple asanas.
Asana is a comfortable position? If you take 1000 students, only a few of them will confirm that they feel comfortable in the process of execution. Yes, and they can be a little cunning.
As for the beginners, any even uncomplicated gestures — any inclinations, deflections or opening of the hip joints are capable of delivering a lot of painful sensations.
What did Patanjali say then? There are many opinions on this subject.
The simplest of them — yoga is not an effect, but a process. So, maintaining an immovable and comfortable posture cannot be considered a given and achieved instantly, but represents a goal.
If it is explained differently — in order for the asana to become stable and pleasant, everything must be carried out in stages.
It turns out that progress in yoga is not when you apply your lips to your feet on shaky legs with incredible efforts or sit on a string with a face twisted in pain. Progress is when you have learned to feel this or that degree of comfort in asanas, which previously delivered you extremely unpleasant feelings.
This radically changes the understanding of yoga, relevant to Western states. After all, the classical Indian tradition says that promotion is not taking off, for example, in Mayurasana.
And advancement means fixing yourself in a position for the maximum possible number of breaths with exhalations.
This process of breathing allows you to calm down the mind, and in fact this is the main goal of the practice of yoga. It turns out that asana contributes to the development of skills of control over his mind.
At the same time, similar to all living things, asana is distinguished not only by its visual attractiveness, but also by its inner charm. Even if the asana is not yet perfect, you can still enjoy it.
And when you control your breathing and internal sensations in the asana, then you are less puzzled by its external form.
You have no motivation to show flexibility more than your classmate. On the other hand, the motivation for the safest implementation of the asana, as well as for receiving sincere pleasure from it, is preserved.
Subject to this approach, the work also takes place on his “Ego”, a person gets rid of the desire to rely exclusively on the external aspect of asanas. In the philosophy of asanas, there is such a thing as “aparigrahah” — that is, non-possession, in particular, a quick result on a rug is implied.
The whole point is that when you relax psychologically, and also get rid of the desire to do the exercise at any cost, you are confronted with external progress.
Varieties of asanas
All asanas can be classified by type of execution:
- slopes asanas;
- asanas to balance.
By type of exposure asanas are:
- complementary several varieties.
- meditative (tuning to the highest stages of yoga);
- therapeutic plan (having a directed psychological and physiotherapeutic effect on the body).
Gorakshi expresses such an opinion about asanas: “We know such a number of asanas, how many there are living creatures on the globe. Shiva called eight million four hundred thousand asanas and they were known only to him alone.
Of these, eighty-four asanas were chosen, among which the four are among the most important and useful. These will be siddha, padma, simha and bhadra asanas.
The value of proper breathing
Surely, most people are not accustomed to taking into account comfort in the process of exercising and firmly convinced that in order to get the effect you should go through the application of effort, pain and tremendous tension. In fact, the opposite principle works in yoga.
The most correct position of the asana will be one in which you will feel comfort. Our torso has a center of gravity, located in the region of the sacrum.
Performing any asana shifts the center of gravity, and the load is redistributed in such a way as to achieve a balanced state.
In the meantime, you could not reach a balance — you are in a state of muscular tension, which means that you feel uncomfortable. However, once your muscles are in the necessary position (and you adapt to fixate in it), you will no longer be required to apply efforts to keep your body in asanas.
And then you can perform any, even the most difficult exercise with ease, without much effort.
Of course, for some time you will feel some sense of internal discomfort even with the correct performance of poses, especially if you have not often practiced physical activity before. But the discomfort will not be too intense, you will not feel pain, tension or creases.
Features of the correct performance of asanas
Many people in their own practice of yoga make many mistakes. For example, in the process of performing asana adho mukhan shvanasan (the position of a dog, whose muzzle is facing downwards), the legs are fully straightened and their backs are kept in a perfectly flat state (after all, this is shown in the illustration).
From this comes a very strong tension on the back of the thighs, hamstrings and Achilles tendon. At the same time practitioners’ heads may have an idea about stretching with the help of such an asana and approaching its proper execution.
When you come to class with an instructor, you are surprised to find that in this position there should be no strong tension of the muscles of the back of the thighs. The most important condition of the asana is straightening (but physiological, not at attention) and complete relaxation of the back, not stretching the legs.
In the case when it is not possible to fix the body on a full foot and straight legs, it is allowed to pull the heels off the surface and slightly bend the knees. In this case, the focus in the asana is still on the back area.
It turns out that when you did this exercise on your own, you didn’t just not approach the right result, but on the contrary, moved away from it, trying to repeat as much as possible what was shown in the picture. But in reality, the truth is that if you are a beginner, then you simply do not have a chance to perform the asana in the manner indicated by the instruction.
As another good example, one can call the asana urdhvu mukhu shavasana (or the position of a dog, whose muzzle is turned upwards). When performing it according to the instructions, most likely, you will encounter tension in the lumbar region.
And if you have back problems, the discomfort will persist for some time after the training is over.
In group yoga classes, however, we learn that in the process of performing this asana, it is recommended to direct the shoulders forward (not separately with rounding of the thoracic section, but together with the back), and heels — to pull back. When creating such a tension, free pelvic flooring is allowed on the floor and you will not feel any tension in the lumbar region.
The instruction will not tell you about the correct execution of the asana, so take into account that the independent search for the correct position is quite laborious if you are not adapted to experiments with changing the position of your body.
Using the examples described above, you probably could understand that without the help of a highly qualified professional instructor, it will be very difficult for you to find the correct position of your body in space and perform asanas, without causing harm to your spine. So where can you get the help you need?
How to learn the correct implementation of asanas?
To do this, you will need to complete three points, about which I will tell you in more detail later.
First moment — finding a coach
A qualified trainer with work experience will be able to explain to you in which muscles or areas of the body you should feel tension, and in which, on the contrary, you should feel relaxed. Also, with the help of an instructor, you will master the technique of proper breathing and “energy locks” that stimulate the activity of internal organs.
At least in the process of training, you can always ask him a question, to understand whether you are feeling in one position or another, whether you should feel tension or pain in specific muscles and ligaments or the presence of tension is a bad sign.
It should be noted here separately that not every yoga instructor has sufficiently high qualifications and the necessary knowledge and skills. And so you have to be patient and watch the behavior of yoga trainers. The following signs will help determine an experienced specialist:
- He is obliged to build your body, correct all the asanas you perform, and also tell you about those sensations that arise when the exercises are performed correctly. If your trainer just demonstrates asana, without even leaving his mat, then think, what is the point of going to his classes? Where a more economical option would be to use a special application or watching videos on YouTube.
- He is obliged to give answers on all your questions. If the trainer has no idea about the sensations that appear in the body in the process of performing one or another asana, does not understand the reason why your waist stretches and is not able to give you intelligible advice, then think carefully about his competence.
- Communicating with him should not provoke negative emotions in you. A person may have a large store of knowledge and skills, but at the same time be so negative in terms of communication and teaching that you will feel internal discomfort in his classes.
Of course, one can parry here that the personality of the trainer is not of great importance, but personally I am convinced that because of negative mental images, we cannot concentrate on our own body and are not able to competently perform asanas. Indeed, in any case, the practice should be a joy, and not strained, is not it?
The second moment is trust in your feelings.
If you think that the correct performance of asanas lies solely in accurately copying them from pictures, then you can use a mirror to tune them. But many say that mirrors, on the contrary, worsen the practice, as in this case you concentrate less on what you feel.
And this plays a very important role: the trainer will tell you what feelings you should experience in the process of asana performance, but you should also control your own feelings.
Mastering the concept of correct movements will help you to practice without the participation of a trainer, but in this case you will have to concentrate even more on what you feel in the process of training.
The third point is to analyze your condition after practice.
If you want to understand whether a specific kind of sport is suitable for you, a trainer or a training method, you should listen to the sensations that arose in the body after training.
Therefore, after practicing yoga, take a careful analysis of the presence in the body of some kind of tension, painful sensations, on the contrary, feelings of relaxation, satisfaction, warmth, and so on. Mark the features of your inner state: are you in a state of prostration or, on the contrary, do you feel a charge of vigor and energy?
My personal opinion on this issue is that if the exercises are good for you, then after them you should feel good. If your body feels after training, as light and toned, and you feel full of vigor, vigorous — it means that training was definitely useful for you and was not wasted.
Therefore, it is recommended to always carefully monitor your condition during practice and pay attention even to minor changes in it. And if something went wrong — stop training or look for another yoga instructor.
Now you know what asanas are in yoga, how to perform them correctly and what to focus on in the process of execution. We hope that with this knowledge your practice will become even more conscious and complete!
And finally, be sure to check out an interesting thematic video:
Guess today with the help of the tarot spread "Day map"!
For proper divination: focus on the subconscious and do not think about anything at least 1-2 minutes.