Asana, as the seat of Yoga Practice
Asana translates to manner of sitting, or easy sitting or seated ease or comfortable seat and refers to a state of being in seated postures that is a pre-condition for advanced yogic practice.
Asana, the pose or posture
Asana is the name given to all Hatha Yoga Postures including postures other than the ones used for seated advanced yogic practice. Example Garudasana - Eagle Pose is a standing posture. There are a few postures noted in older texts/scriptures and many more have been added to what constitutes Hatha Yoga Postures today by teachers and traditions from olden days to modern times.
Asana, the practice
We say we are practicing asana when we are practicing Hatha Yogic postures (old or new) as part of our Yoga practice. Asana practice in classic Yoga of olden days refers to seated postures only, of which the Lotus is considered the King of all Postures. All other postures of sitting are for specific energy work/male or female practices or specific breath or other practices that require a certain seated posture and/or as preparations for Lotus (Padmasana). These advanced practices of Yoga are almost entirely energetic or breath practices involving connecting and integrating with one's bodies, beyond the physical body.
As Yoga literature and texts move through time, from then to now, we see that more and more postures of practice are added in order to help the practitioner to prepare the body for the intensity of Lotus and other sitting practices and the pre-conditions of health, fitness, purification, connectivity and awareness necessary for higher levels of Yogic Practice.
In our YM practice we define Asana as:
- a shape of stillness - physical shapes with specific energetic resonance for spiritual evolution
Further definitions Merriam Webster
asa·na | ˈä-sə-nə
Definition of asana
: any of various yogic postures
First Known Use of asana
1811, in the meaning defined above
History and Etymology for asana
Sanskrit āsana manner of sitting, from āste he sits; akin to Greek hēsthai to sit, Hittite es-