Asanas

Article by Sundernath (Shandor Remete)

Asana

The first limb of Hatha yoga is Asana and is classified as bahiranga sadhana (external practice). Though Asana means ‘seat’ or ‘to sit’, it also has a dynamic aspect. Before one is able to sit in a light and unobstructed manner for prolonged periods of time, one must first practice dynamically to overcome the restrictive patterns that have arisen in previous stages of life. 

‘Since the acceptance of a refined regimen is preceded by unrefined methods, the regimen for yoga is first prescribed in order to eliminate the regulations intrinsic to the previous stage of life and to make known the regulations intrinsic to the transcendent stage of life’. 

– Pashupata Sutras, Commentary on Chapter One.  

This verse suggests that a change in mindset is crucial since one cannot embark on the path of yoga with the mindset that served a completely different state of affairs. There is also an implication that a method exists that will enable a smooth changeover of these mindsets without disruption. This method is Sankalpa (lit. the will of determination) and when this is correctly implemented, a spontaneous flow of the divine desire floods the entire system. It is through this will of determination that the mind is harnessed and both mind and body brought under control.

Sankalpa usually follows a short prayer paying homage to the Guru and a plea for safety during and after sadhana – its full title is Sankalpa Mudra and Nyasa. Mudra and nyasa are hand and finger gestures utilised in touching the energetic sites on the body while mentally going through the different layers of energetic paths and sites within. This process (kriya) takes between 15 and 20 minutes, usually concludes with a healing mantra uttered 27 times, and leads into the practice of asanas. 

Sankalpa is a powerful tool that demands of the mind that it remain concentrated and alert within the energetic fields of the body complex. The method of Sankalpa is imparted to a student when he or she is mature enough to start working with it. It is inappropriate while the student is still rough and their practice mechanical.  Sankalpa is never given but must be earned. The content of Sankalpa varies from lineage to lineage according to geographical and cultural differences. 

Dynamic Asanas

The dynamic asanas develop the skills necessary to govern the energetic fields of the mind/body complex. Additional benefits include the restoration of the body’s health, the gaining of flexibility, lightness of structure, an unobstructed flow of the life force as well as strength and endurance. These accomplishments are also important in preparing the individual for the internal practices (pranayama, bandhas-kriyas-mudras et al). The most important matter during this process is that one does not confuse these auxiliary benefits with the goal.  The goal is achieving the final state of yoga, freedom through enlightenment. 

The development of the right skills for the un-imposed control of the mind-body complex through the will of determination is the goal of Bahiranga Sadhana. Impatience is the biggest pitfall on the way of yogic sadhana. One must work with patience and consistency and without break, never exceeding ones natural capacity. The asanas are of many different kinds and types including squatting, standing, sitting, lying down, face up, face down, sideways, head down, turning, twisting, jumping, pumping and weighing. However one should not focus on mastering hundreds of asanas. Indeed the oldest texts on Hatha yoga give very few asanas to practice. This is because each asana has mild, medium and intense variations and those that are knowledgable utilise them appropriately. For instance forward and backward bendings must be stabilised with balancing asanas to overcome the one-sidedness of those positions. The dynamic asanas conclude with supine positions like supta trivikramasana and anantasana followed by the inverted positions.

The beginner always starts with a fixed arrangement of dynamic asanas which may be termed Angahara (arrangement), Vinyasa Krama (step by step placement) or Sukshma Vyayamas (subtle restraining drills). These sequences range from primary through intermediate to intense (or advanced). These systematic courses carry the hidden message that one must not attempt to go beyond ones limit. It is wise if one stops at the asana which is not accessible and does not go further until one has gained mastery over it. These systems vary from master to master so it is vital that one stays where one has begun and sees it through. ‘Shopping around’ will only cause confusion and produce a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. 

Advanced practitioners who have mastered the different levels of intensity, no longer need fixed sequences. They create their own based upon the needs and requirements of the time. Until they are able to function in this free manner they have not mastered the craft of the dynamic practices; all they have gained is a partial ability.  When mastery is complete, a feeling of revulsion arises with regard to fixed patterns. This is the sign that one is ready for the practices of pranayama which must be conducted at sunrise, noon, sunset and midnight if one is to make progress towards samadhi, the equanimous state beyond the mind-body complex. 

Static Asanas

The Sanskrit term Kalitasanam, refers to a formed seat. This seat has been formed by what has preceded it. Since it is formed, karana (cause) and karya (effect) are united in it. Since it is formed one may rest (aste) in it. Thus the yogin with his own will and by his own power governs (adhyaste) the effect which is in his/her power.

Mastery of the dynamic sphere opens the gate to the unknown mysteries of mind/body function. Beyond this gate is Antaranga Sadhana, the internal cultivation of the life wind. Here one encounters the hidden aspects of fear, anger, aggression, dependence, heart rate increase/decrease, addiction, submission, and flight. The currents of the life wind  must be purged of these emotional ailments by Nadi Suddhi Pranayama. 

Guru Goraknath in his Shatakam, and his guru Matsyendranath in his Samhita, only give one asana for pranayama – Baddha padmasana (bound lotus posture). Nadi Suddhi pranayama is alternate nostril breathing. Here is some food for thought.

The static asanas will be discussed in detail in the next article which deals with pranayama. 

Shadow Yoga © Sundernath (Shandor Remete)

Shadow Yoga is concerned with the social and environmental impacts of industry and the marginalisation of various groups. We have pledged 1% of sales to help fund diverse grassroots organizations and appreciate the support of our community.

In 2002, Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, and Craig Mathews, founder of Blue Ribbon Flies, created 1% for the Planet and started a global movement. “The intent of 1% for the Planet is to help fund these diverse environmental organizations so that collectively they can be a more powerful source in solving the world’s problems.”

Driving directions

Please follow these instructions.
If you have trouble finding us, please call Paige 0434 741693.

  • From Main South Road in Aldinga, turn west onto Cox Road and follow to the Aldinga Beach Holiday Park. (Cox Road is just north of Norman Road).
  • Turn left after the Park into the NO THROUGH ROAD and continue for about 600 metres.
  • Look for YOGA signs on your right and you will see a large gate. It is the first property after the scrub.
  • The gate code is: 2468 and it will close behind you.

Please take care when driving through the property towards the house as there are potholes on the dirt track. When you get to the parking area, find your spot and walk up to the house to find the shala.

Meditations of the Thunder Dragon (Taranyali Dhyanam)

with Sundernath

Over the past twenty years, we have introduced and taught all the preparatory practices required to cultivate the subtle energy and initiate the gathering of vital power that leads to the spontaneous or natural state of Sahajavasta which is the highest peak of meditation.

These practices and technical tools were laid out in Sundernath’s book Taranyali Tridha Dhyanam in the chapters on Krantam and Kriya. In the last chapter, he introduces the principles and characteristics of the final phase to which they lead – the acquisition of Shambhavi Mudra. These properties can be summed up in the term prasādājñā which implies that this mudra has a double nature – Rudra Shakti, the command of authority for the removal of impurities and Kundalini Shakti, the command of grace. When these two energies are drawn together into a single point the portal of transmission is opened. In this explanation I gave enough for genuine seekers to gain some sense of the path ahead and the demands that it would make.

The time has come to teach those individuals who are suitably prepared and open, by practical steps and in a systematic manner, the complete process through to this final stage.

This will be undertaken in four stages as follows:

  1. The Sheathing of Thunder and Lightning
  2. Stabilising the Thunder and Lightning
  3. Opening the Sky and Flooding
  4. The Arousal of Hamsah – the Anahata Nad, (the unstruck sound of the heart).
    Shambhavi Mudra

Each stage will consist of three-weekend workshops, each weekend consisting of three sessions. Between these stages, the students will be given suitable time to practice and absorb what they have learned before proceeding further.

Copyright © Shadow Yoga. All rights reserved. No part of these teachings may be reproduced, distributed, recorded or transmitted in any form or by any means, including, recording, or other electronic or mechanical means, without the prior written permission of Shadow Yoga. All advice given is strictly in confidence.

Vitry-lès-Cluny

About the region

Tourism center information

Close by: Remember to call ahead for visit conditions

Roche de Solutré: Not to miss, on the Great Site of France Solutré Pouilly Vergisson

Musée de préhistoire: Jardin archeological and botanical garden, the Maison du Grand Site to complete the tour.

Château De Pierreclos: In the midst of organic vineyards.

Chateau De Berze-Le-Chatel: Historical monument, one of the most well-preserved medieval fortified castles of Burgundy (where Ridley Scott shot ‘The Last Duel’!)

Chapelle Des Moines: In Berzé-la-Ville (the next village!)  – not to be missed.

Château De Cormatin: (only possible to visit its magnificent garden) Between Tournus et Cluny.

Les Communs: Local ceramists.

Chapaize – L’église Saint Martin & L’église De Lancharre: The village offers bed and breakfasts, 3 restaurants a Sunday organic market, an art gallery, and artists’ ateliers.

Grottes D’azé: Earth under life: in -350 000, a primal man appeared in the cave, then rhinos and antique elephants…the prehistorical cave and the underground river hide one of the largest European cave bears fields.

Grottes De Blanot

Château De Saint-Point-Lamartine: If one appreciates the writer

Solornay sur Guye: The neighbouring town – includes a restaurant, small food store, salon de thé – pâtisserie 

Cité- Abbaye De Cluny: The Benedictin Abbaye Of Cluny Shined On The Whole Middle Age Europe, Being The Widest Of Western Christianity Before The Building Of Saint-Peters In Rome.

Communauté De Taizé: Christian Ecumenical Community Founded In 1940 By Brother Roger.

Abbaye Saint Philibert – Tournus: One Of The Largest French Monastic Cities.