Back to Back Issues Page
Yoga Lowdown, Yoga Beyond Asana II
March 13, 2015

Yoga Beyond Asana - II

There are eight limbs of Yoga as described by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras.

Over the next few months I hope to give an overview of the eight limbs so the reader may begin to understand the other aspects of yoga beyond asana (posture).

The February issue of Yoga Lowdown was about the first 2 limbs, Yama and Niyama, if you missed it check out the archive.

This issue is about limbs 3 & 4. The first 4 limbs are Bahiranga (external) Yoga.

3. Asana (Posture or Pose)

The third limb of Yoga is Asana; the actual translation is “seat”. It is more commonly translated as posture or pose.

This refers to the physical poses done in Western style yoga classes. Asana practice encourages opening of the physical body and increased circulation to promote health and concentrate the mind so we are able to sit for Pranayama.

For example, the standing poses open the hips and headstand strengthens the back so one may sit upright for Pranayama and Dhyana (meditation).

Twists and backbends make the torso supple to allow proper expansion of the torso in Pranayama.

Inversions and arm balances tone the abdomen to assist in controlling the breath in Pranayama.

4. Pranayama

The forth limb of yoga is Pranayama. Prana means breath, life, vitality, wind, energy or strength.

It connotes the soul as opposed to the body. Ayama means length, expansion, stretching or restraint.

Pranayama connotes extension of breath and its control.

According to BKS Iyengar in Light on Yoga, “Pranayama is the science of breath. It is the hub around which the wheel of life revolves.”

In A Gem for Woman, Geeta Iyengar says” Pranayama is breath control for moral discipline.” The practice of Asana and Pranayama prepare the body and the mind for the more internal practices of Yoga in the last 4 limbs.

Asana and Pranayama are stepping-stones to Meditation.

Yamaniyamaasanapranayamapratyaharadharanadhyanasamadhayo’stavangani -Patanjali Yoga Sutra II.29

Yama Niyama Asana Pranayama Pratyahara Dharana Dhyana Samadhi are the eight limbs of yoga

Bolsters, sandbags, blankets, straps and more items are available at

Find Yoga Mart USA at any of these links:

Yoga Mart USA Website - Facebook - Twitter - Instagram - Four Square

Thanks for subscribing to my Yoga Lowdown! I hope you will enjoy reading them as much as I love sharing them with you.

Marj Rash
Yoga Mart USA

Back to Back Issues Page