The third limb of Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga is āsana: the physical practice of yoga. Interestingly, this is what yoga is most known for in the west, however, of the 196 verses in the Yoga Sūtras, only a mere 2 are dedicated to poses! But, as we yogis know, the physical practice of āsana is invaluable to cultivating a sublime meditative state. By linking breath with movement, āsana teaches us to embody steadiness and ease.
A Way to Practice Āsana
Āsana practice helps us to maintain physical health and vitality, but along the way, we also learn valuable lessons about ourselves and about life. Some poses teach us patience, some humility. Yoga teaches us to feel into each pose, and push to the limit—without ever causing pain. Most poses teach us to do what feels right, not just in the pose, which is very important, but in every situation. When you’re presented with a challenge, can you listen to your gut, rather than doing what you think you should do? In your next āsana practice, focus on what you are feeling in each pose, and modify the pose accordingly—ease off or push a little harder. Then, take it a little further: reflect on situations in your life and the feelings that come up around them. Learn to trust those feelings.