Asana is defined as “posture or pose;” its literal meaning is “seat.” Originally, there was only one asana– a stable and comfortable pose for prolonged seated meditation. More than just stretching and toning the physical body, the yoga poses open the nadis (energy channels) and chakras (psychic centers) of the body. Yoga poses also purify and help heal the body, as well as control, calm and focus the mind. The different categories of postures produce different energetic, mental, emotional and physical effects.
When holding a yoga posture, make sure you can breathe slowly and deeply, using Dirga or Ujjayi Pranayama. Go to your edge in the posture, holding where you feel a good stretch and/or your body working, but don’t feel pain, strain or fatigue. If you have not practiced yoga postures before, please read our yoga beginner’s guide.