ASANAS or POSTURES, the THIRD LIMB OF YOGA
As we continue examining the eight limbs of yoga, set forth by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras as the path to end suffering and achieve enlightenment, we come to the third limb, postures. There are only three aphorisms amid the 195 sutras that talk about the yoga poses. Patanjali tells us that by dedicated practice of the eight limbs of yoga, impurities are destroyed, the causes of afflictions are removed, and wisdom radiates.
In Book II, yoga sutras 46-48, Patanjali discusses the third limb of yoga, the poses.
(A sutra is a thread of wisdom)
Sutra II, 46 says that the poses are to be “steady and comfortable.”
Sutra II, 47 tells us that the postures are to be performed with “effortlessness and meditation upon the Infinite.”
Sutra II, 48 says that when we perfect steadiness in the poses, and have achieved effortlessness doing the poses with meditation upon the Divine Oneness, we will transcend the dualities of opposites.
According to sutra II, 48, when we master the asanas, we will no longer be pulled by the mind’s judgments of good and bad, pretty and ugly, best and worst, ups and downs, but remain in a neutral state allowing and accepting the flow of life.
You might ponder these sutras and what they may mean to you. I see them as a metaphor for life, saying that whatever roles we play, let us make them steady and comfortable and perform them effortlessly with meditation upon the Infinite. This is wisdom to apply to our roles in family relationships as well as at the workplace. As far as transcending dualities, I have not gotten to the place of dissolving distinctions of good and bad or right and wrong or likes and dislikes yet, but I do remind myself often to be “neutral.” The best we can do when we find ourselves being judgmental is to recognize it, let it go, and shift to being neutral. The important message about the postures is to not struggle with your yoga practice, not make the poses a source of striving and pain, but a vehicle for accessing the expansion, security and Lightness within. Enjoy your yoga practice.