A report on Meditation and Asana

Man Meditating in a Garden Setting
Asanas in varied contexts. Left to right, top to bottom: Eka Pada Chakrasana; Ardha Matsyendrasana; Padmasana; Navasana; Pincha Mayurasana; Dhanurasana; Natarajasana; Vrkshasana
The āsana in which Mahavira is said to have attained omniscience
Mould of Pashupati seal from the Indus Valley Civilization, c. 2500 BC, its central figure in a pose resembling Mulabandhasana.
Bodhidharma practicing zazen
A page from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and Bhasya commentary (c. 2nd to 4th century CE), which placed the practice of asanas as one of the eight limbs of classical yoga
A statue of Patañjali practicing dhyana in the Padma-asana at Patanjali Yogpeeth.
Relief statue in Achyutaraya temple, Hampi, Karnataka showing an unidentified hand-balancing asana, 16th century
"Gathering the Light", Taoist meditation from The Secret of the Golden Flower
Postures in Niels Bukh's 1924 Primary Gymnastics resembling Parighasana, Parsvottanasana, and Navasana, supporting the suggestion that Krishnamacharya derived some of his asanas from the gymnastics culture of his time
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina stated: "Through the study of books one seeks God; by meditation one finds Him."
Headstand (Kapala Asana) from 1830 manuscript of Joga Pradipika
Whirling dervishes
Meditation. Alexej von Jawlensky, oil on cardboard, 1918
The lion pose, Simhasana, is named for an avatar of Vishnu in the form of the man-lion Narasimha. India, 12th Century
Meditating in Madison Square Park, New York City
"Seal" posture from Mary Bagot Stack's Building the Body Beautiful, 1931. It closely resembles Salabhasana, locust pose; she had learnt some asanas in India in 1912.
Young children practicing meditation in a Peruvian school
The Indian Minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, joining a programme of yoga for pregnant women in 2018
The Yoga Sutras 2:46 state that asanas, here Natarajasana, should be "steady and comfortable".
Adho Mukha Svanasana, downward-facing dog pose, is performed at least once and often twice in Surya Namaskar, the Salute to the Sun.
Utthitha Trikonasana, an important pose in Iyengar Yoga, using a prop, a yoga brick. The pose requires the practitioner to work different parts of the body in different directions.
Eka Pada Bakasana (One-legged Crane), an asana in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga's Advanced series
Jambhala, the Buddhist god of riches, seated in Lalitasana. Nepal, 1643

Patanjali describes asanas as a "steady and comfortable posture", referring to the seated postures used for pranayama and for meditation, where meditation is the path to samadhi, transpersonal self-realization.

- Asana

Asanas and positions such as the full-lotus, half-lotus, Burmese, Seiza, and kneeling positions are popular in Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism, although other postures such as sitting, supine (lying), and standing are also used.

- Meditation
Man Meditating in a Garden Setting

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Detail of a 19th century manuscript copy of the 15th century Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Schoyen Collection, Norway

Hatha Yoga Pradipika

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Classic fifteenth-century Sanskrit manual on haṭha yoga, written by Svātmārāma, who connects the teaching's lineage to Matsyendranath of the Nathas.

Classic fifteenth-century Sanskrit manual on haṭha yoga, written by Svātmārāma, who connects the teaching's lineage to Matsyendranath of the Nathas.

Detail of a 19th century manuscript copy of the 15th century Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Schoyen Collection, Norway
Manuscript painting of a yogin in meditation, showing the chakras and the three main nāḍīs (channels) of the subtle body. A small serpent, representing the Kundalini, climbs from the base of the central nāḍī.

He introduces his system as a preparatory stage for physical purification before higher meditation or Raja Yoga.

The work consists of 389 shlokas (verses) in four chapters that describe topics including purification (Sanskrit: ṣaṭkarma), posture (āsana), breath control (prāṇāyāma), spiritual centres in the body (chakra), kuṇḍalinī, energetic locks (bandha), energy (prāṇa), channels of the subtle body (nāḍī), and energetic seals (mudrā).

Haṭha yoga's components include Shatkarmas (purifications, here Nauli), Asanas (postures, here Mayurasana, Peacock Pose), Mudras (manipulations of vital energy, here Viparita Karani), Pranayama (breath control, here Anuloma Viloma).

Hatha yoga

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Branch of yoga which uses physical techniques to preserve and channel the vital force or energy.

Branch of yoga which uses physical techniques to preserve and channel the vital force or energy.

Haṭha yoga's components include Shatkarmas (purifications, here Nauli), Asanas (postures, here Mayurasana, Peacock Pose), Mudras (manipulations of vital energy, here Viparita Karani), Pranayama (breath control, here Anuloma Viloma).
Tibetan depiction of Tummo (candali, inner heat) practice showing the central channel, the sushumna
A folio of a medieval copy of the Amṛtasiddhi, written bilingually in Sanskrit and Tibetan
Early Bindu Model of Hatha Yoga, as described in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and other texts
Late Kundalini Model of Hatha Yoga, as described in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and other texts
18th century yoginis in Rajasthan
Yoga as exercise has spread in different branded forms such as Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, and Sivananda Yoga.
The shatkarmas were intended to purify the subtle body.
The Haṭha Yoga Pradipika recommends Siddhasana for breathing exercises.
Kukkutasana was described in the 13th century Vāsiṣṭha Saṁhitā.
The mudras were intended to manipulate vital energies.

In the 20th century, a development of haṭha yoga, focusing particularly on asanas (the physical postures), became popular throughout the world as a form of physical exercise.

The Haṭha Yoga Pradipika text dedicates almost a third of its verses to meditation.

Demonstrating lotus position

Lotus position

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Cross-legged sitting meditation pose from ancient India, in which each foot is placed on the opposite thigh.

Cross-legged sitting meditation pose from ancient India, in which each foot is placed on the opposite thigh.

Demonstrating lotus position
The flower of the sacred lotus, Nelumbo nucifera, grows out of mud, thus symbolising enlightenment.
The sage Bharadvaja meditating in half lotus. 19th century
Baddha Padmasana
Yogamudrasana
Padma Sirsasana, lotus headstand
Gautama Buddha
Shiva
Mahavira

It is an ancient asana in yoga, predating hatha yoga, and is widely used for meditation in Hindu, Tantra, Jain, and Buddhist traditions.

Shavasana

Shavasana

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Shavasana
Modification with knees bent for people with low back pain
Vishnudevananda with a Sivananda yoga class relaxing in Shavasana

Shavasana (शवासन; IAST: śavāsana), Corpse Pose, or Mrtasana, is an asana in hatha yoga and modern yoga as exercise, often used for relaxation at the end of a session.

It is the usual pose for the practice of yoga nidra meditation, and is an important pose in Restorative Yoga.