Asana is often referred to as posture and is the aspect of yoga practice that is often misunderstood and taken for the sum of all yoga practice, rather than one aspect of yoga.
Asana literally means “seat” and is the seated position or posture where one’s body is firm but relaxed. It is about certain ways of holding the body along with certain attitudes. One must be in a meditative state when practicing asana and these certain movements promote concentration of the spirit and inner connectedness. The aim of asana is to achieve an effortless alertness where one’s body is focused on the infinite.
In the yoga sutras, Patanjali describes asana as ‘stirum, sukem, asanam’ – steady and comfortable. It is important to remain supple when moving in and out of postures and opening to the flow of energy, breath and awareness. Avoid holding poses rigidly in body and in mind. Stay soft and hold your asana with awareness and suppleness.
Ultimately, asana is a means to prepare the body for spiritual exercises, with less obstacles, in order to find union with the divine, be it God, Allah, Christ or a simply the universe.