Asana constitutes the physical part of yoga practice. In combination with pranayama (Yogic Breath), this part of yoga is referred to as Hatha Yoga. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali, considered to be the Father of Yoga, describes asana as a "firm, comfortable posture", usually a seated position, where energy to flows freely, the breath is moving and one can find stillness.
Sukhaasana Easy Pose
Benefits~Prepares for more advanced sitting poses, stretches the aductor muscles of the inner thighs and external rotator muscles of the hips.
Come to a sitting position with the legs extended in front. Draw the fleshy part of the buttocks behind you coming to the front of the sitting bones.
Fold the right leg in towards the body, then the left, crossing the legs at the ankles, feet positioned under the opposite thighs. Position the hands any where upon the thighs that is comfortable. Palms can be facing up or down.
Feel the weight of the body sinking into the hips. Inhale and lift the torso feeling the spine lengthening upwards, chest and upper back open. Exhale and roll the shoulders back and down. Lengthen through the back of the neck all the way through the top of the head. Soften the jaw, the facial muscles, close the eyes and relax.
The Eight Limbed Staff of Yoga by Patanjali, discusses ways to attain Supreme Joy, The rungs begin with Raja Yoga, the Kingly Path of Yoga. These are the Yamas and Nyamas, the controls and observances as they relate to life. Next come the yoga Asanas, the postures that are held in stillness. The forth rung relates to our breath, Pranayama, our life force. The breath links our body and mind bringing forth awareness that our mind and body are eternally connected. Fifth is withdrawal of the senses, Pratyahara. It is here that we begin to move inwards. This part of the journey teaches one how to move from distraction to a place of supreme joy.
Dharana is the sixth limb in the eight limbed staff of yoga, according to Patanjali. Dharana stands for concentration--the process of fixing the mind on one focus, an object or place. Through concentration one can cultivate inner perceptual awareness. The mind could focus on a prayer, mantra or intention, a sacred symbol, chanting, or visualization. Dharana is the first stage of meditation, building the mental ability to focus on one object at a time, releasing the distractions of the world around us. Dharana prepares us for deeper states of meditation.