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Yoga Sutras 2.46-2.48: Asana or Meditation Posture; Rung #3 of 8

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  • Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
    Yoga Sutras 2.46-2.48 ASANA OR MEDITATION POSTURE; RUNG #3 OF 8 http://www.swamij.com/yoga-sutras-24648.htm YOGA SUTRAS 2.46-2.48: The posture (asana) for Yoga
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      Yoga Sutras 2.46-2.48
      ASANA OR MEDITATION POSTURE; RUNG #3 OF 8
      http://www.swamij.com/yoga-sutras-24648.htm

      YOGA SUTRAS 2.46-2.48:

      The posture (asana) for Yoga meditation should be steady, stable, and
      motionless, as well as comfortable, and this is the third of the
      eight rungs of Yoga. The means of perfecting the posture is that of
      relaxing or loosening of effort, and allowing attention to merge with
      endlessness, or the infinite. From the attainment of that perfected
      posture, there arises an unassailable, unimpeded freedom from
      suffering due to the pairs of opposites (such as heat and cold, good
      and bad, or pain and pleasure).

      THIRD RUNG IS ASANA:

      The third of the eight rungs (2.29) of Yoga is Asana, or sitting
      posture for the later rungs. The word Asana comes from the root ~as,
      which means "to sit".

      TWO ESSENTIALS FOR POSTURE:

      Yoga has been defined as the mastery of the thought patterns of mind
      field (1.2), so that Self-realization can be experienced (1.3). To be
      able to do the meditation practices that allow this, it is essential
      that the posture be (2.46):

      1) Steady, and
      2) Comfortable

      TWO MEANS OF PERFECTING MEDITATION POSTURE:

      Steady and comfortable posture comes through two means (2.47):

      1) Loosening of tension or effort to sit in the posture
      2) Allowing attention to merge with the infinite

      FREEDOM FROM PAIRS OF OPPOSITES:

      From the attainment of a perfected posture, there arises an
      unassailable, unimpeded freedom from suffering due to the pairs of
      opposites such as heat and cold, good and bad, or pain and pleasure
      (2.48).


      YOGA SUTRA 2.46:

      The posture (asana) for Yoga meditation should be steady, stable, and
      motionless, as well as comfortable, and this is the third of the
      eight rungs of Yoga.
      (sthira sukham asanam)

      sthira = steady, stable, motionless
      sukham = comfortable, ease filled
      asanam = meditation posture (from the root ~as, which means "to sit")

      STEADY AND COMFORTABLE:

      The two essential characteristics of the sitting posture for
      meditation are that it must be:

      1) Steady, stable, motionless
      2) Comfortable, or filled with ease

      SUGGESTED POSTURES:

      The sage Vyasa, commenting on this sutra, names several postures,
      which are further described by Vachaspti Misra in the translation by
      Rama Prasada:

      1) Padmasana is well-known [sitting posture]
      2) Virasana is that in which a sitting man [or woman] has one foot in
      contact with the ground, and places the other over the partially
      inclined knee.
      3) Bhadrasana is that in which the sitting man [or woman] places the
      soles of both feet joined together below the testicles [or genital
      area], and places both hands with the fingers interlaced over that
      region.
      4) Svastika is that in which the left foot is placed, a little
      downward inclined between the right thigh and shank, and the right
      foot is placed in a similar position between the left thigh and shank.
      5) Dandasana is practiced by sitting with thighs, shanks and feet
      stretched straight along the ground with the ankles joined together,
      but the toes kept apart.
      6) Paryanka is that in which the knees are extended and the arms are
      used to lie upon.
      7) Sopasraya is that in which the tiger's skin or the deer skin or
      some cloth is used to sit upon. [The skins were used over grass due
      to the coldness of the ground, but these are not generally necessary
      now.]
      8) Kraunchanisadana and others of the same class are to be imitated
      from the sitting postures of the Krauncha, the elephant, the camel.
      Samasamsthana is that in which the feet are so placed that the heels
      and fore-parts of both are joined together with the feet a little
      bent.
      9) Sthirasukha is whatever posture may secure steadiness and ease.
      This is approved by the writer of the aphorisms [Patanjali]. It is
      also described as Yathasukha. This means any position that may secure
      ease.

      USE ANY POSTURE THAT BRINGS STEADINESS AND EASE:

      Note the suggestion in the last item noted above (Sthirasukha) that
      any posture may be used, which brings steadiness and ease. This is a
      common suggestion in oral tradition, that the posture might be
      varied, but that the key is that it must be steady and comfortable.
      Steady is given to mean that the head, neck, and trunk must be
      aligned, leaving the natural curve in the spine.


      YOGA SUTRA 2.47:

      The means of perfecting the posture is that of relaxing or loosening
      of effort, and allowing attention to merge with endlessness, or the
      infinite.
      (prayatna shaithilya ananta samapattibhyam)

      prayatna = tension or effort (related to trying to do the posture)
      shaithilya = by relaxing, loosening, lessening, slackening
      ananta = infinite, endlessness
      samapattibhyam = by focusing attention on, by coalescence,
      coincidence, merging

      TWO MEANS OF PERFECTING MEDITATION POSTURE:

      Steady and comfortable posture comes through two means:

      1) Loosening of tension or effort to sit in the posture
      2) Allowing attention to merge with the infinite

      A still higher degree of steadiness is attained by samyama (3.4-3.6)
      on the channel below the throat, as noted in sutra 3.32.

      EFFORTLESS ATTITUDE:

      Most of us have busy lives in which everything happens because of a
      concerted effort to "make it happen!" It seems as if we must do
      something if anything is to happen. Perfecting posture for meditation
      comes not so much by doing but by not doing. Surely we have to put
      some effort into training the body to sit straight and be aligned.
      However, after that is accomplished, the next step is to learn to do
      nothing, allowing the posture to settle in for meditation. It is an
      active form of doing nothing, of consciously ceasing to place any
      effort into the posture. This conscious effort to release any form of
      effort can be felt experientially, internally. You can know for
      yourself that this really is a valid, useful, and key principle in
      developing a sitting posture for meditation.

      LOOSENING OF EFFORT THROUGH ATTENTION:

      One way of loosening effort is to systematically move attention
      through the body through a variety of relaxation practices. By
      systematically moving attention and breathing smoothly, the releasing
      of tension and effort comes easily. It is more a case of allowing
      than of causing the release that leads to a perfected posture.
      http://www.swamij.com/relaxation.htm

      FOCUSING ON THE INFINITE:

      To focus on the infinite simply close your eyes, sit as comfortably
      and erect as you can, and allow your attention to expand. Attention
      likes to wrap itself around an object. Allow that object to be the
      whole of infinity. The mind will not be able to do it, but the effort
      to do so will easily be seen to bring a stability in the sitting
      posture. With a bit of experimentation, you can feel the effects of
      this yourself.

      EFFORTLESS AND THE INFINITE GO TOGETHER:

      By consciously, intentionally practicing the effortlessness of
      posture, along with the focus on embracing the infinite, it becomes
      self-evident how well these two work together. The expansion and
      letting go bring a natural release, as the attention is ready to move
      inward to the next rung, which deals with breathing and pranayama
      (2.49-2.53).


      YOGA SUTRA 2.48:

      From the attainment of that perfected posture, there arises an
      unassailable, unimpeded freedom from suffering due to the pairs of
      opposites (such as heat and cold, good and bad, or pain and pleasure).
      (tatah dvandva anabhighata)

      tatah = then, thereby, thence, from that
      dvandva = the pairs of opposites, the dualities, dichotomies
      anabhighata = unimpeded freedom from suffering, without effect or
      impact, cessation of disturbance

      FREEDOM FROM PAIRS OF OPPOSITES:

      From the attainment of a perfected posture (2.47), there arises an
      unassailable, unimpeded freedom from suffering due to the pairs of
      opposites such as heat and cold, good and bad, or pain and pleasure.
      That perfected posture comes from the two means of loosening of
      effort and focusing attention on the infinite (2.47).

      http://swamij.com
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