Why are yoga asanas important ?
By doing yogasana one can spread the prana to every nook and corner of the body, it vitalises the system and prepares one for doing pranayama. Pranayama increases the quantity of prana where asanas move the prana to different parts of the body. If one sits for pranayama without preparing the body for that, the temperature of the body will rise because of the impurities congested in the nadis. So in need of asanas to make a space to flow the prana.
How many postures are there in yoga?
As stated in shiva samhita there were 84L yoga postures out of which 84 are important and it briefly describes 4 most powerful asanas.
According to dhyana bindu upanishad there are as many postures as there are living creatures; and Maheshvara (the great Lord) knows their distinguishing feature. The four main asanas are siddhasana, padmasana, simhasana and bhadrasana.
The main person who introduces the science of Yoga Asanas to the modern world is Tirumalai sri krishnamacharya, without him the Yoga Asanas may not be as much popular as they are now.
T. Sri krishnamacharya says, of the 84 lakh asanas, their own writings reveal that during the time of Pujyapada Sri Sankaracharya, he was able to master (bring into his experience) 84 thousand asanas; during the time of Ethiraja Sri Ramanujacharya, he was able to master 64000 asanas, and during the time of Sri Madhvacharya and the time of Sri Nigamantha Desikar, they were able to master 24000 asanas. In recent times, during the time of our jagadguru Sri Narasimha Bharati Swamigal, I have heard him state several times that he has mastered 1600 asanas. In Nepal, living in Mukti Narayana kshetram Sri Rama Mohana Brahmachari Guru Maharaj has mastered/(brought into his experience) 7000 asanas. I have seen this directly and through his guidance and advice, I have mastered 700 asanas. Nowadays (in present times), there are only 84 asanas illustrated in the books available and it is the same with some renowned yogis. Some have mastered a few more.
According to thirumoolar siddhar there are many asanas (eighty and hundred) of which padmasana , bhadrasana, kukkutasana, and simhasana are important. He speaks of the eight important asanas : Badra, gomukha, padma and simha,
Sothira, veera and sukha These seven along with eminent swastika constitute the eight, eighty and hundred, however, are asanas in all reckoned.
Hatha yoga pradipika of swami swatmarama explains 15 postures where in gheranda samhita explains 32 postures.
Pathanjali maharshi mentions asanas as follows :
Sadhana pada Sutra 46 : sthiram sugam asanam, the steady and comfortable posture is asana.
Sadhana pada sutra 47 : prayatna shaithilya ananta samapatti bhyam
By meditating on the ultimate or vastness with little bit effort the posture becomes steady and comfortable.
Sadhana pada sutra 48 : tato dvandvanabhighatah
By practicing asanas the dualities will never become a hindrance.
But Patanjali maharshi doesn’t mention any postures in yoga sutras.
The way the raja yogis see the asanas are different from that of the view of hatha yogis.
Even though there are 84 lakh posture the best one is siddhasana. By meditating in siddhasana one can purify all the 72000 nadis. But the meditation should be long and steady without having any distractions in the body. If there is any movement during meditation the prana fluctuates and it creates a certain vibration and distracts the meditation.
How to practice these asanas ?
The first and foremost thing is that it has to practice first under a guru.
Second, a strict diet.
Third the breath control while practicing (bhramana kriya and langhana kriya)
forth continuous practice until it grounds.
Fifth to check the progress, 10 yama and 10 niyamas.
Will continue how to practice asanas in Hatha yoga part 3.