The first element of Sadhana is generally the Asana. A trained disciplined mind is our greatest friend. An undisciplined and untrained mind is our greatest enemy. Sadhana is nothing but training and disciplining the mind.
To train and discipline the mind we need to work on the mind. To do this we need to understand, introspect and turn in. Thus a posture is essential to work on the mind.
Asana does not mean exercise but if any Asana contains certain exercise movements it is incidental and an add-on.
For working on the mind it is essential that we are able to sit straight. A few questions may arise:
· Why should we sit straight?
· Why can’t we assume any posture?
· Why can’t we sit like a question mark?
· Why can’t we be sprawled in a sofa?
· What is the necessity of any meditative posture?
· Why is posture important?
The back must be in balance. That’s why we will find that excepting for Vajrasana, there will always be a triangle (triangle indicates stability) formation at the base.
The other most important characteristic of a posture for meditation is that the head, neck and back should be in straight line. This is what Sri Krishna refers to in the Gita as Samam Kaya Shiro grivam - essential.
A correct upright posture fosters alertness. It is an anti-dote for depression, mental inertia and laziness to a certain extent. We have already seen that depression is one of our enemies. Thus at the posture level itself we have tackled one of our enemies.
It is a challenge that we cannot think of a depressing thought sitting straight. Our head will drop down the moment we encounter such a thought. Thus there is a connection between the mind, the body and the nervous system.
Ayurveda says, ‘Adi Vyadi’– Adi in the mind gives rise to vyadi in the body by the dislocation of the three - vata, pitta and kapha.
For spiritual purposes Padmasana and Siddhasana are enough. As most of our systems are under repair, we need the other Asanas to flush out the toxins that are generated by wrong life style. This will reset the system, both at anatomical and physiological levels. There is also a connection between the Asana in the physical and the mental level. So the first level in Sadhana is Asana.
(extract from the notes of Shankarji's sessions)