Asana means a state of being in which one can remain physically and mentally steady, calm, quiet and comfortable. In Patañjali’s Yogasutra, there is a concise definition of asana: ‘sthiram sukham asanam’, meaning ‘that position which is comfortable and steady’. So, we can say that yogāsana in this context are practiced to develop the practitioner’s ability to sit comfortably in one position for an extended length of time, as is necessary during meditation.
Therefore, Asana are great tool to develop mastery over mind by using our body. Additionally, by practicing Asana one gets complete physical health benefits as well. In order to realize the full potential of Asana as a tool to develop higher awareness and steadiness, we classify the practice of Asana in three stages. These three stages are dependent on one core feature of Asana i.e. ‘maintenance’.
While maintaining the Asana we go through three stages which are Sthira, Chira, Sukha. After going through these three stages one can easily experience the real essence of sthiram sukham asanam.
Sthira means steadiness. In the beginning, while adopting an Asana one feels shaky and finds it difficult to reach the final position. After gradual practice only one can achieve final position and experience some steadiness in posture. However, the duration of maintaining of posture is short. This is the first stage.
Chira means length of time. In this second stage the practitioner maintains the posture for a certain length of time by withdrawing the effort involved in the first stage. Mind control begins in this stage. Since the posture becomes effortless there is possibility of mind getting wonder in thoughts. To counter this we focus on the infinite or just vast expansiveness.
Sukha means comfort or happiness. When the mind calms down and as it stays in silence and start experiencing the bliss the practitioner enters the third stage called as sukha or comfort while maintaining the Asana. To experience this ‘sukha’ is the secret of Asana and this is the third and final stage.
In our Yoga teacher training program we emphasize on all key points of Yoga practice in simplified manner for easy assimilation of Yoga and for preparing competent Yoga teachers.