Asana

Tree pose
Vrksasana
In my mediation practice, I have been contemplating what it means to take my seat. One thing that came to me was how the physical practice of Yoga began with three asanas, or “seats.” One of my yoga teachers told me that “asana” was where we got the word “ass” from, but I haven’t found any back-up on that. It wouldhowever, explain why I become clumsy on my path.

Today, people translate “asana” as “pose.” Each yoga pose’s name ends in the word “asana” (i.e. sukhasana, virasana, padmasana etc…). These seats, which at first were used in meditation, eventually evolved into more playful and varied shapes of form in the body. Who knows what made the yogis extend out into these endless poses, but it happened over hundreds of years. Throughout this long evolutionary process, these shapes grew into poses like adhomukhavrksasana (downward facing tree pose or “handstand”), turning the body upside down. Some poses, like bakasana (crane pose), lifted the body off the floor, mimicking a bird. Not only was it the poses themselves, but as the process evolved, it was the transitions which became an integral part of the practice. The more poses that were created, the more transitions from one pose to another became discovered.

Each yoga pose is an asana, a seat. With a strong practice, the transitions become poses, a dwelling place to explore. I notice that I receive the clearest feedback from my mind-body when I pay attention to the quality of my transitions, as this is the most subtle way to connect with my seat. How does my body feel as it moves into and out of each pose? When I land in a pose, where is the ground? Sometimes, the ground is above my head, sometimes, below my feet, sometimes, I lose sight of where I am, and sometimes, especially in transitions, there is no ground.

Living in this physical embodiment is just plain fun sometimes!