This article is written based on my experience and understanding of Yoga and also wisdom given from Hatha Yogis like Sadhguru.
What is an asana?
An asana is a posture. There are innumerable postures your body can take. Among these, certain postures have been identified as “yoga asanas” or yogasanas.
“Yoga” means that which takes you on to a higher dimension or higher perception of life. So, that kind of posture which leads you to a higher possibility is called a “yogasana.”
Asanas and awareness
Yogasanas are not exercises. They are very subtle processes of manipulating your energy in a certain direction.
It needs to be done with a certain level of awareness. There are various levels of doing asanas. You can practice asanas just physically, or more deeply, being aware of the breath, sensations, reverberations, being aware of the nadis, or with appropriate mantras.
You can even do asanas without moving a limb. That is also possible.
The science of asanas
The science of asanas is known as hatha yoga. “Ha” means sun, “ta” means moon. The first process of yoga is to bring balance between the masculine and feminine in you. Otherwise there will be no scaling of consciousness.
After a profound and thorough exploration of the human system,
the yogic system identified 84 asanas as yogasanas, 84 postures through which you can transform your body and mind into a great possibility for your ultimate wellbeing.
An individual human being becomes who he or she is only because of what he or she perceives. You are who you are right now only because of what you have perceived in your life until now, and you will be who you will be only because of what you will perceive in future. The whole system of yoga is about enhancing perception.
If you hold the posture right, if your alignment is right, it matches with the cosmic alignment in some way. The 84 yogasanas represent 84 alignments, because existence as we know it now is seen as the 84th creation.
Yogasanas are a powerful means to connect. Do not forget, yoga means union. Union means two have become one.
There are only two in existence – you and the rest of existence. In the rest of existence you may identify individual entities, but essentially, there are only two – you and the rest of existence – because there are only two dimensions of experience within you.
You do not know what is up and down in this cosmos. You do not know what is forward and backward. These are all things that we have made up for convenience. Essentially, there are only two dimensions of experience – inner experiences and outer experiences.
Speaking and Touching can cause serious imbalance
Once, Sadhguru was invited to speak in a yoga studio in the US. This lady is an Isha meditator and she had been a yoga teacher for many years.
When I came to her yoga studio, music was playing, and she was in ardha matsyendrasana, talking non-stop into a microphone to the group. When I saw this, I wanted to leave, but she recognized me, said “Hi,” jumped up out of the asana, and came towards me.
I took her aside and told her this is not the way to teach yoga because it brings serious imbalances to one’s system, and it turned out that she actually was suffering from them.
No talking while doing
There should be no talking while doing an asana, and no going into any asana whenever you feel like it. Sadhguru have seen people doing some asana during a bathroom break, because they want the world to know that they are doing yoga. This is silly.
As a rule, you never ever speak in postures because focus, breath, and what happens to your energy system are most important. And above all, asanas are a preliminary meditative state. You cannot talk in your meditation.
If you speak while doing an asana, you will disturb the breath, the mental focus, and the stability of your energy system.
No Touching – Conscious corrections avoid damage
To the question of corrections – in a way, physically correcting someone would amount to using props.
If the teacher makes the corrections clear, people should be able to consciously correct the asana. Otherwise, later, they will make the same mistakes again. Another aspect is, if they are already in a certain state and you try to physically correct the posture by touching them, you could cause damage.
To give an example – just moving a finger involves so many things. My muscles, ligaments, skeletal system, mind, and energy have to work in a certain way. Suppose you hold my finger and move it, it is a completely different matter. So the teacher should tell you until you understand how it should be done, but you should make the effort to do the correction from within.
Two person yoga poses should never be done while practicing Hatha Yoga, if at all if it is really required an experienced and established Hatha Yoga teacher will give some guide lines on touching them and this also happens very rarely.
In India people do not shake hands and they do Namaste, to avoid exchange of memory and energy in human systems through hands. Do your own Individual yoga poses to avoid damages to your system.