Asana and Modifications

Test captionOver the past, I’ve grown quite fond of using the wall, chairs, blocks, bolsters, straps, and blankets to establish a better understanding of the word asana. Like all Sanksrit words, asana (stable seat) has more than one meaning and in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the word asana is first mentioned in the sutra II.46, “ sthira sukham asanam” and here’s what a few yogis and scholars have to say about this verse:

·      BKS Iyengar: “Asana is perfect firmness of body, steadiness of intelligence and benevolence of spirit.” from Light on Yoga Sutras

·      T.K.V. Desikachar: “Asana must have the dual qualities of alertness and relaxation.” from Heart of Yoga

·      Bernard Bouanchaud: “The posture is firm and soft.” from The Essence of Yoga

·      Ravi Ravindra: “Right alignment (asana) is accompanied by steadiness and ease.” from The Wisdom of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras

·      Chip Hartranft: “The postures of meditation should embody steadiness and ease.” from The Yoga Sutras of Patanjal

Since asanas are such an important part of modern yoga classes, I believe it important to understand its meaning and figure out ways to make these qualities a regular part of your practice. This verse II.46 is a great reminder that when you’re doing your yoga postures (asanas) at home or in a classroom setting, it’s important to be in touch with your mind and body at all times to taste the fruit of your practice as well as to prevent injury or harm.

Modifications are also dear to my heart because they simply help more people practice yoga! Since variety is the spice of life, in yoga poses a unique combination of props may be needed to in order for you to relax and breathe. Props can also provide a floor, a foundation; for example, when you can’t fold forward and touch the ground, they lift you up when rehabilitating weak or injured areas, or weigh you down with sandbags when you down you’re feeling ungrounded. These are just a few of the reasons why I’m inspired to create the Asana Modifications book that will expose you to adaptations that help you, in your body and mind, feel your best.


Melina – what joy to read your work, especially having had the honor and pleasure of sharing a week with you and the Featherpipe crew. Your extra special wisdom about the opportunities for finding the creativity and potential for strength within the core yoga postures is such a gift. Inspired by you, it is so easy to access and put to work the idea of celebrating the “spice of life” through postures that connect each of us with our own body, mind, and heart. Blessings and thanks – keep up the wonderful work!

By Ellen Pechman on

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