Asana: A Refreshing Experience

Asana, or posture, is the most popular jewel of the Hatha Yoga exercise system. By Swami Sivadasananda

Reading time: 4 minutes

Combine asana with the expansion of the breath and conscious relaxation and discover the many benefits of asanas for body, mind, and soul.

Become mobilefeel younger: The mobilisation of joints through asanas can be felt especially in the hip and shoulder girdle. Asanas are a blessing for the spine as your back develops both muscle length and muscle strength. They alleviate tension especially in the lumbar and cervical area. As the postural alignment improves, you will enjoy tension-free sitting, standing, and walking.

Friendly support from gravity: Inverted poses such as headstand and shoulder stand induce a relaxed cardiac workout. Local blood circulation is stimulated by the pressure between the mat and the body. The abdominal organs and the endocrine glands also benefit from this self-massage.

Take charge of your nervous system: Pose, counterpose and relaxation help to balance both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system in daily life: you learn to be active and relaxed at the same time. Relaxation reduces unnecessary energy expenditure and builds up vital energy. Each asana requires muscle contraction through motor control; this muscle stretching is a sensory stimulation which deepens your body awareness.

Asanas for the mind: Asanas create a meditative focus on the ‘here and how’. You learn to hold certain asanas for several minutes with conscious breathing and relaxation. In this meditative asana experience you become a peaceful observer of the five elements: the grounding quality of element earth; the throbbing blood circulation or the flow of element water; the expansion of body warmth, the element fire; the subtle influence of the air element, which improves the internal chemical balance; and the awareness of the space element which connects you with the flow of vital energy.

The soulful asana experience: The cross-legged meditation pose stabilises your spine and the chakras, or energy centres. There is a firm grounding at the base of the spine, a gentle upward flow through the heart chakra and a connection with mental clarity and focus in the third eye between the eyebrows. Listening to peaceful music, singing a mantra, or expanding your vision into the beauty of nature, the body vibrates now as the temple of the soul. Why hesitate?

Swami Sivadasananda is one of the acharyas and senior teachers of the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres in Europe. Visit the Sivananda Yoga Centre in Putney:

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