Only if posture becomes effortless can it support higher yoga.

Here is more evidence that the current Yoga-is-gymnastics-with-a-meditative-twist fad does not really stack up to what yoga truly is. In this stanza Patanjali defines the relationship between posture and the higher limbs. Included are many explanatory quotations from other scriptural sources and authorities.

II.47 Posture is then when effort ceases and meditation on infinity occurs.

What is Yoga Asana?

With yoga in they eyes of many modern practitioners reduced to posture (asana) a timely revisit to what Patanjali, the ancient codifier of yoga, said about the third limb. Here is the first part Patanjali’s definition, which he gives in sutra II.46.

What happens after liberation?

I received the following question: “I have read the sutras by Edwin Bryant and there is a concept that I don’t get. How can the individual soul, atman, be differentiated from another one, if the two beings were both illuminated? It seems to me that souls are distinguishable because of the imprints (karmasaya) they carry from life to life. Do the souls of jivanmukta “blend” together in some kind of cosmic Soul?”

Bound Half Lotus Forward Bend

Today unfortunately many students hurt their knees when performing postures and as the main culprit often the lotus and half-lotus postures are singled out. These postures, however, are completely safe as long as two things are observed:

They are attempted only if the student is well-prepared through the performance of other postures in which she is to become proficient first (ideally assessed by a capable teacher).
When lotus and half-lotus postures are performed scrupulous attention is paid to minor details concerning the way in which the leg is placed in and taken out of half-lotus.

Why neither asana nor meditation are enough

Have you ever noticed how even exulted meditative experiences can quickly decay into tamasic (dull) or rajasic (frantic) states of mind? This is because your predominant conditioning (vasana) consisting of millions of subconscious imprints (samskaras) does not simply go away by you thinking good thoughts or superimposing a layer of meditative experiences onto it.


In this article I have described Karandavasana in a way that it can be learned without a teacher lifting us up from the floor. While this may provide good exercise for the teacher I don’t think that it does much towards the student being able to perform the posture themselves. The key is to no not let it get to the point were you fall down to the floor and then can’t lift up anymore. Instead of that stop right before you would loose your composure, hold it there for a few breaths and then pull up before you fall down. By practising this daily this “point of no return” can then be gradually lowered.

I.12 The Suspension of Thought Waves is through Practice and Disidentification.

Patanjali says here that the mind waves will cease through the application of the combined means of practice and disidentification. The important word here is ‘and’, since the application of only one of the two leads into extremes of the mind. If we practise only, then we tend to develop beliefs like ‘Our practice is the only correct practice’, ‘Only Ashtanga Yoga is the correct yoga’, ‘Only Mysore style is the correct form for a yoga class’,…