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Āsana (Skt. ‘sitting’, ‘posture’). A posture assumed for the practice of yoga; the third ‘limb’ of Patañjali's ‘eight-limbed’ (aṣṭāṅga) or rāja yoga. Āsana keeps the body still, regulates physical processes, and so allows the yogin to concentrate his mind. In Haṭha-yoga, āsana takes on central importance, and Haṭha-yoga and Tantric texts describe and give lists of different āsanas. Perhaps the most famous is the ‘lotus posture’ (padmāsana) in which the yogin sits with the right foot placed on the left thigh and the left foot on the right thigh, soles facing upwards, with the hands placed between the thighs palms facing up. The eyes are directed to the tip of the nose and tongue placed at the root of the front teeth.

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The physical positions, or postures, of hatha yoga. Many of these are named after living creatures, e.g., cow, peacock, locust, cobra, lion. Early yoga treatises state that there are 8.4 million asanas, of which 84 are the best and 32 the most useful for the health of mankind. Hatha yoga should properly be combined with spiritual development.


Hittleman, Richard L. Richard Hittleman's Yoga for Total Fitness. New York: Bantam Books, 1983.

Kuvalayananda, Swami. Popular Yoga Asanas. Rutland, Vt.: Charles E. Tuttle, 1971.