In continuation of the three-part series on the importance of posture or Asana, I would like to cite the explanation given by Ram Chandra of Shahjahanpur.
He said: “The contraction always starts from below and proceeds gradually upwards because of its upward tendency. Therefore, in order to go upwards he must start contracting from below. The form would only be to bring his legs and the allied parts to one pose and to keep them steady. In whatever way it might be done, the form would finally be that of asana. It is essential because it paves our way to the ultimate. The posture must always be the same. The reason is that in this way he gets associated with the great power, the very thing he takes up in the beginning for the attainment of his particular objective.
“Performing meditation in an upright sitting pose has been thought to be most advantageous from very ancient times, because in that position the flow of divine grace descends straight upon the seeker. If the seeker sits crookedly or in an unsteady pose, the flow of effulgence will necessarily be impeded or disturbed. The seeker will thus be deprived of the full benefit of the descent. Therefore, in order to get the greatest spiritual benefit, one must sit in a proper steady pose.”
But this aligned sitting position is not just so that we receive the flow of divine grace. This steady comfortable pose is also important for physical well-being. Our heads are heavy – even when they are balanced lightly on top of our necks they weigh around 5 kg. Now, what happens when we become deeply absorbed in meditation with transmission and we lose consciousness? Sometimes our head will fall so far forward that it lands on our chest, and in that position it can put up to 27 kg of strain on the neck and shoulders. Imagine what that does over time to the back, neck and central nervous system! So it is important to stay upright, steady and balanced in a relaxed way during meditation. To keep the head balanced lightly on the neck and shoulders during meditation requires a strong consciousness. For that we need to meditate. So, everything is interlinked – the physical, mental and spiritual. Even to sit in a comfortable, steady asana during meditation, we have to sharpen our consciousness.
When the ancient rishis meditated to attain a state of oneness with god, they soon learnt that the body also needed to be cared for and exercised. Sitting in meditation all day would not allow them to stay healthy, so they developed other postures that could be done throughout the day while they remained meditative.
That way they could continue to meditate while also improving immunity, respiration, blood circulation, muscle tone and joint flexibility. And so the physical practices of Hatha Yoga evolved. But are they just physical exercises? The legendary yogacharya, BKS Iyengar once said, “You must do the asana with your soul. How can you do an asana with your soul? We can only do it with the organ of the body that is closest to the soul – the heart. So a virtuous asana is done from the heart and not from When the ancient rishis meditated to attain a state of oneness with god, they soon learnt that the body also needed to be cared for and exercised. Sitting in meditation all day would not allow them to stay healthy, so they developed other postures that could be done throughout the day while they remained meditative.
to be continued
Kamlesh D Patel is the fourth spiritual Guide in the Sahaj Marg system of Raja Yoga meditation. He is a role model for students of spirituality who seek that perfect blend of eastern heart and western mind. He travels extensively and is at home with people from all backgrounds and walks of life, giving special attention to the youth of today