Linking the 8 Limbs of Yoga: Asana

Welcome to Week 3 of our continuing journey through Pantanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga. We covered the Yamas and Niyamas the last two weeks, which are part of the foundation for moving on to Asana.

Asana is the third of Pantanjali’s 8 limbs. These are the yoga poses we practice in class, and this is the limb of yoga that is most emphasized in our modern day.

The practice of Asana helps to create unity between body, mind, and breath. When this happens, blockages can be released and energy can flow freely.

Asanas can have a significant impact on our nervous system and emotions. Keeping this in mind, we might choose a vigorous vinyasa class one week and a restorative class the next.

Practicing only intense, challenging, or competitive poses will emphasize the HA part of Hatha yoga, which is the heated, masculine side. To maintain physical and mental balance, we also need to include THA asanas that represent the cooling, feminine, intuitive side.

  • STHIRA. The Sanskrit word Sthira suggests finding an effortlessness in coming in, holding, and coming out of poses. Learning how to be comfortable while in uncomfortable postures will come in handy when we find ourself in uncomfortable positions in life.

 Learning to Love the Pose You Love to Loathe (MindBodyGreen)

  • URDHVA DHANURASANA. Also known as Wheel pose and part of the family of poses called backbends. Backbends are great teachers. Practicing them we learn to honor resistance in our body, to face our fears, and to step right up to our edge. They can also help balance our heart and throat chakras.

Meeting the Edge, Exploring It & Going Over (Elephant Journal)

  •  SUKHA. Sukha is becoming comfortable in our own skin. When our bodies settle into their natural state of comfort and joy, our minds and emotions can follow suit.

Cancer Took My Leg, Not My Spirit (Positively Positive)

  • DEVI. Devi is the Sanskrit word for Divine Mother or goddess. Asana was originally created for male bodies. As women, our bodies have different shapes and needs. Shaping our asana practice to fit our needs will nourish us on a deeper level.

Got Menopause? Get Yoga! (Care2)

  • HATHA. Hatha yoga harmonizes the body, breath, and senses. Listening to what are bodies are telling us instead of telling our bodies what to do will allow us to heal, grow, and root deeply into our lives.

6 Yoga Poses for Depression and Anxiety (Huffington Post)