If you are completely new to yoga, or an absolute yoga beginner there must be times when the practice appears a little daunting. Not only do you need to learn different ways to move the body, a variety of breathing techniques and relaxation practices. There is also another language to learn too. For some new students this is a lot to take in, many yoga classes for beginners will slowly filter in different Sanskrit terms.
Yoga's first ever written record was in the language of Sanskrit, this is an ancient Indian language which was spoken by the Vedic Civilisation. Although Sanskrit is not commonly spoken today, through scriptures and teachings the language has been preserved. Yoga today is still taught by many teachers to include Sanskrit terms.
What is Asana?
One of the most popular and maybe the first Sanskrit word that many yoga students will hear is the word Asana. What is an Asana? Asana translates from Sanskrit to mean a steady pose, some might also refer to it as seat, however Asana is performed seated, lying, kneeling and standing so the term steady pose is often more applicable.
Asana is the third limb detailed in the Eight Limbs of Yoga recorded in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The eight limbs of yoga provide the first ever written record of yoga and detail a concise eightfold path of the journey that yoga students embark on. It is believed that by following this path it is possible to experience health, deep inner peace and harmony and to be free from the fluctuations of a turbulent mind.
Asana is the name given to all yoga postures, some yoga schools also use the term asana for a physical yoga practice. Some yoga teachers might refer to a class as an asana practise, so new yoga students might hear the phrase "we are going to do asana now".
Asana works to align and strengthen the body, it releases tension and increases the natural range of movement. Asana practice enhances circulation, raises energy levels and prepares the body for meditation and relaxation. Asana is a crucial component of all yoga classes, by taking time to explore different asanas the body becomes stronger and more agile which then maximises the other benefits that the practise brings.
In short asana is a posture or a pose performed that is steady and performed mindfully.
Explore more asanas from by visiting the Yoga Poses in the learn more section.
“The flexibility we gain in asana is the living symbol of the suppleness we gain in relation to life’s problems and challenges.” – B.K.S Iyengar