Beneficios dos Asanas

Āsana in Yoga Therapy: Learn about Yoga Benefits

Āsana means “seat,” and in its earliest usage refers to seated postures for meditation. The importance of appropriate posture for meditation is emphasized in all the major traditions of Indian spirituality beginning with Buddhist and Jain scriptures from 500 BCE. One of the first uses of the word āsana as correct posture for meditation is from the Bhagavad Gita from approx.300 BCE

To practice Yoga, one should make an āsana (seat) in a sanctified place…The āsana should be neither too high nor too low. Seated firmly on it, the yogi should strive to purify the mind by focusing it in meditation with one pointed concentration, controlling all thoughts and activities. He must hold the body, neck, and head firmly in a straight line, and gaze at the tip of the nose, without allowing the eyes to wander. BG 6; 11-13.

The usage of the word āsana within the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is clearly related to the seated poses for meditation, but, as we will see, a philosophy of āsana is presented which encompasses the entire tradition of āsana practice.

While āsana as a seat for meditation is the most common usage, there is an earlier tradition of posture as a vehicle for spiritual transformation in the austerities of the ancient ascetics collectively known as Śramaṇas going back to the time of the early Upanishads from 3000 years ago. In the fourth century BCE, members of the entourage of Alexander the Great came across ascetics maintaining different bodily positions for long periods of time. The use of such positions is common in description of early ascetics and many of the positions are similar to Hatha Yoga poses including standing on one leg as in tree pose or hanging upside down which is called the “Bat” pose. The chair position, called Utkatkasana is similar in name to the chair pose which appears in Hatha Yoga texts 2000 years later. Though these ascetics normally maintained a single pose rather than a variety of poses that evolved later, the intention of burning away karma and developing strength in order to attain spiritual freedom are clearly related to the intention of Hatha Yoga.

It is important to note that the group of āsanas that are considered to be modern and origin are the standing poses including the Triangle and many of the Hero variations which may have influences from Western gymnastics as well as Indian martial arts. It is also clear that postures have been evolving throughout the history of āsana and there was never an absolute consensus of what constituted an authentic āsana. Perhaps the best guide to authentic āsana is not the form of the pose but the way it is practiced, embodied in the three sutras on the subject provided by Patanjali.

While referring to seated poses for meditation, the three sutras on āsana within the Yoga Sutras embody a complete philosophy for the practice of all Yoga postures.

    • sthira sukham āsanaṁ

Āsana is steady and comfortable posture.

These words sthira, steady and stable, and sukham, comfortable, easeful and pleasant are related to abhyasa, practice and vairaygya, non-attachment from Sutra 1.12. They can also symbolize relative Yoga Therapy in the form of technique and absolute Yoga Therapy as the journey of recognition of our true being, inherently whole and complete.

    • prayatna śaithilyā ‘nanta samāpattibhyāṁ

(Attained by) releasing effort and tension to merge with the infinite.

The second sutra presents the methodology for achieving this posture; all effort and tension is released, allowing us to merge with the infinite, Ananta, which is our limitless inner Being and merging with the infinite.

    • tato dvandvā ‘nabhighātaḥ

Thereby, invincibility, immunity to the pairs of opposites (is attained).

The third sutra presents the benefit attained from steady and comfortable posture, which is invincibility in relation to the pairs of opposites, all the polarities that characterize the realm of prakr̥ iti.

Benefits of Asana

1 – Creates a balance of strength, stability and flexibility

Āsana practice optimizes the functioning of the bones, joints, muscles, and fascia as an integrated system, allowing for healthy movement for all age groups. This is especially key in relation to the spinal column where Āsana, practiced adequately, maintains the integrity of the vertebrae while nourishing the spinal discs.


  • Practice warm-ups from table position (Sandharasana 11) including Cat/Cow (Marjariasana – 11)  and then the Tiger Stretches, holding Tiger (Chakoravakasana -12b) with the leg raised, followed by Sun Bird (Chakoravakonasana – 12) to experience a balance of strength, stability and flexibility.

2 – Strengthens the skeletal system by placing pressure on the bones from all directions

Bones develop and maintain density partly through the stresses placed upon them from various angles. Āsana is unique in placing forces upon the bones both horizontally and vertically. Yoga postures also strengthen the ligaments and connective tissue as well as improving circulation to the bones.


  • A for the arms. Practice the Plank Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana – 13), followed by Sphinx (Purushamrigasana -37), Infinity Pose (Anantasana – 49) and Eagle arms (Dhyana Virasana) to sense the pressure placed upon the bones from various angles.
  • B. for the legs and pelvis. Practice Seated Hero (Virasana-27), Camel (Ustrasana-44), Reclining Hero (Supta Virasana-45), Reclining Eagle (Garudasana-63).

3 – Optimizes the functioning of the heart and circulatory system

Āsana produces a squeeze and soak effect on all arteries and veins by constricting them fully and then relaxing them completely. Yoga postures also exercise the heart by raising blood pressure, followed by complete relaxation which supports heart rate variability, the ability of the heart to respond to changes in the inner and outer environment quickly and smoothly in order to meet perceived needs. Inversion poses help to regulate blood pressure by exercising the baroreceptors in the carotid arteries and enhancing circulation to the head, face and brain.


  • Practice Cow’s Head (Gomukhasana – 23) with the arms in Eagle position (Dhyana Virasana). Press the arms and legs together tightly, then release and lie back with the body in an ”X” position, sensing the enhanced circulation to the extremities.
  • Practice Locust or Half Locust (Shalabhasana – 39) allowing heart rate and blood pressure to rise to the maximum comfortable level. Rest in Child Pose (Garbhasana – 52) and sense how quickly, heart rate and blood pressure adjust.
  • Enter Half Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana – 71) and sense the slight activation of the cardiovascular system to pump blood to the legs and feet. Also sense the enhanced circulation to the head, face and brain.

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4. Optimizes the functioning of the respiratory system

Āsana strengthens and stretches the muscles of respiration while maintaining elasticity in the lung tissue.


  • Practice Rotated Head to Knee (Parivritta Janushirshasana-55) (f) to sense the opening of the lungs on each side. Accentuate the effects by practicing Anuloma Krama pranayama on the upper side. Also, actively contract the muscles of the rib cage on the lower side of the body.
  • Practice Restorative Cobra Pose(Bhujangasana-38)with a cushion supporting the chest. Open the front of the chest cavity fully, while contracting all the muscles at the back of the rib cage.
  • Practice Rabbit Pose (Shashangasana – 53), fully opening the back body and the space between the shoulder blades, while fully contracting the rib cage at the front of the body.

5. Supports the functioning of the digestive, eliminatory, urinary, and reproductive systems

Āsana provides a direct massage of the abdominal and pelvic areas, promoting circulation and releasing muscular and psycho-emotional constrictions in the abdomens and pelvis.


  • Practice Bhunaman Vajrasana to feel the effects on all organs in the pelvic region. Relax in savasana and allow the pelvic area to receive a fresh supply of blood.
  • Practice Knee Down Twist (Jathara Parivartanasana–34) to sense the massage of the abdominal and pelvic areas.
  • Practice Supported Bridge Pose (Setubandhasana-42) with a block to sense release of tension and enhanced circulation to the pelvis and abdomen, followed by Knee to Chest pose (Apanasana-19).

6. Supports the functioning of the lymphatic and immune systems

Lymph transports a range of antibodies and specialized white blood cells designed to fight disease, flowing through lymph nodes that filter out bacteria, foreign matter, and dead tissue. Its optimal functioning is therefore essential for a healthy immune system. The lymphatic system depends on gravity as well as on adjacent muscles contracting to squeeze fluid through its vessels. Many āsanas squeeze and stretch the tissues surrounding lymph node clusters in the neck, armpits, and groins to support a healthy lymphatic system and boost immunity.

The contraction and release of the musculature of the legs supports the movement of lymph and the contraction and internal massage of the abdominal area is also important. Additionally, Inversions assist in this    process of returning lymph to the kidneys where toxins are filtered out through the urine. The functioning of the immune system is also supported by the enhanced balance in the autonomic nervous system cultivated by Yoga as a whole.


  • Practice Cow’s Head (Gomukhasana – 23), followed by Cow’s Head variation with the arms crossed in front of the body, Cow’s Head Lateral Bend, Cow’s Head Twist, Cow’s Head Forward Bend.
  • Practice Z Sit (Shaitilyasana-25a) with Dolphin movements. Then, hold Z Sit with Kapalabhati.
  • Half Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana-71) with legs in Eagle Pose
  • Pose of Devotion Twist
  • Reclining Hero (Supta Virsana – 45)

7 – Optimizes the functioning of the endocrine system

The āsanas directly massage the sites of the endocrine organs, releasing muscular tension from these areas and optimizing circulation. The functioning of the endocrine system is also optimized by balance in the autonomic nervous system which is supported by āsana practice.


  • Practice Rabbit Pose (Shashangasana – 53) to sense the effects on the pineal, pituitary, thyroid, adrenal, and pancreatic glands.
  • Practice Fish Pose (Matsyasana – 46) to stimulate the glands with the torso in the reverse direction.
  • Practice Rotated Half Circle (Ardha Mandalasana – 50b) or Rotated Triangle (Parivritta Trikonasana – 9) to sense the massage of the entire endocrine system.

8- Optimizes the health of the brain and central nervous system 

Through enhanced body awareness, optimal circulation, and reduction of muscular and psycho-emotional tension, the āsanas support the health of the brain and nervous system. The inversions support optimal circulation to the brain as well as the functioning of the baroreceptors, the mechanisms that control the flow of blood and nutrients to the brain. The alternating movements of the spine support the movement of cerebral spial fluid within the spinal cord.

The proprioception required in all the poses maintains the functioning of the peripheral nervous system which sends and receives messages from the entire body, especially the extremities.


  • Practice Wide Legged Standing Forward Fold (Yoga mudra – 54c) and sense the enhanced circulation to the face and brain and the regulating effect of the baroreceptors.
  • Practice Balancing Half Moon (Tulatta Ardha Chandrasana – 64)  and sense the optimal flow of messages to and from the brain and spinal cord to every area of the body, especially the extremities.
  • Practice Cat/Cow (Marjariasana – 11), Lateral Cat and Table Twist (Sandharasana 11) in synchrony with your breathing as you visualize cerebral spinal fluid lubricating your entire spinal cord and brain.

9- Optimizes the functioning of the senses 

Asanas release muscular tension from the shoulders, face, neck, and jaw, supporting optimal functioning of the senses.


  • Practice Yogamudra (54) with the top of the head on the floor to feel the Enhanced circulation to the senses.
  •  Practice Lion Pose to release tension from the face and jaw.
  • Practice neck warmups to release tension from the neck.
  • Practice eye exercises to release tension and enhance circulation.

10- Improves and maintains balance

Aāsanas, especially the balancing poses, support healthy balance through activating the balance receptors in the feet with a variety of weight bearing poses in varying planes of movement. This is especially important for seniors who may sustain serious, and even life-threatening injuries from falls.


  • Practice the Stork posture (Uttanasana)  with its variations of internal and external rotation.
  • Practice modified Hero III pose ( Virabhadrasana III – 65) with the hands in prayer position.
  • Practice modified Balancing Half Moon Pose  (Tulatta Ardha Chandrasana – 64) with the arm resting alongside the body as needed.

11- Supports the functioning of the Autonomic Nervous System, enhancing the ability to deal with stress effectively

The ANS has two branches. The parasympathetic branch is responsible for relaxation and regeneration of all major organs and systems of the body. The sympathetic branch is responsible for liberating the energy needed for all activities. Balance of these two is essential for the health of every system of the body.

The stress response is mediated by the autonomic nervous system together with the endocrine system. Together they produce   the energy needed for daily living with extra energy provided in case of emergencies. This balance allows us to relax and restore completely when energy is not needed. A main component of the ANS is the vagus    nerve, the longest nerve in the body, whose principal connections to the spinal cord are at the neck and digestive tract. The vagus nerve elicits the relaxation response in all the main systems of the body including, circulatory, respiratory and digestive. It is the main channel of communication between the enteric nervous system in the abdomen and the brain. It inhibits the effects of the stress response activated by the sympathetic branch of the ANS and supports the health of the immune system.

Āsanas regulate the ANS and subsequently the stress response in many important ways including:

  • Āsanas massage the vagus nerve directly, especially in the area of the neck and sacrum, increasing vagal tone.
  • Āsanas massage and increase circulation to the organs that mediate the stress response including the endocrine glands, especially the thyroid and the adrenals.
  • Āsanas release tension from the musculature in all areas of the body, especially from the neck, shoulders and arms, areas that are especially activated in the fight or flight response thereby deactivating this response.
  • Āsanas cultivate stress hardiness, the ability to hold the pose in daily life, through moving beyond psycho-emotional resistance in holding the Yoga poses.
  • Āsanas teach the ability to move from tension to relaxation quickly and voluntarily.
  • Āsanas release tension from the face and jaw, especially the temporomandibular Joint (TMJ), which supports reduction of the stress response.
  • Āsanas release psycho-emotional tension from the chest and pelvis, where psycho- emotional tension that sustains the stress response is held.


  • Practice Mountain pose (Tadasana – 1)for an extended period, gently moving beyond your limits to develop stress hardiness.
  • Practice Down Dog Vinyasa (Adho Mukha Svanasana – 14) of with a leg in the air to Pigeon (Kapotasana -25) then rest in Child Pose (Garbhasana 52), sensing the increase in HRV and Vagal tone.
  • Practice supported Bridge pose (Setubandhasana – 42) with a block under the pelvis, focusing on releasing psycho-emotional tension from the chest and pelvic area.
  • Practice Butterfly pose (Baddha Konasana – 22), using each exhaling breath to move deeper into the posture, relaxing physical and psycho-emotional tension from the hips and pelvis.
  • Practice Lion pose to release tension from the jaw.
  • Practice Cow’s Head (Gomukhasana – 23) w/variations to release tension from shoulders, arms, hips, legs.
  • Practice a seated twist from side to side, allowing the eyes to move in the opposite direction of the head with a focus on the cranial vagus nerve.
  • Perform Somatic trapezius release movements with a focus on the cranial vagus nerve. I: Perform Happy Baby Pose with Asvini mudra with a focus on the pelvic vagus nerve.
  • Perform Agni Sara Kriya to release the diaphragm with a focus on the pelvic vagus nerve.
  • Perform Fish pose (Matsyasana – 46) followed by Rabbit pose (Shashangasana – 53), concluding with Child pose (Garbhasana 52) with a hug to release tension from the adrenals and thyroid.
  • Practice the Reclining Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana-30), entering more deeply into the twist with each inhaling breath, sensing the release of tension, especially from the hips and shoulders.

By Joseph Le Page
Professor and cofounder of Integrative Yoga 


A Yoga New Year’s Resolution

Patanjali Yoga Sutras 1.1 is “atha yoga anuśāsanam”

Therefore, (when the student is prepared), instruction in Yoga (begins).

The decision to begin the Yoga journey is a crossroads where we choose consciously between ways of doing and being that cause limitation and suffering and the journey of Yoga that leads to greater joy, equanimity and clarity.

Along this journey, we also open to receive enhanced levels of health and vitality that are an essential support for our journey.

This crossroads is even more important as we enter the New Year which is traditionally a time for affirmations, resolutions and new beginnings.

In order to create positive affirmations for the new year, you will explore four different facets of daily living.

Within each one, you will reflect on your attitudes and tendencies before you begin practicing Yoga, and how they have evolved since Yoga practice began.

With this clarity, you will then create an intention for further growth and transformation in the new year.

Watch the video and let’s meditate together! 

Happy 2023!

Joseph Le Page and Integrative Yoga Therapy Team

Let’s Meditate!


Samkhya Philosophy for Children of all Ages

Once upon a time, there was a planet called Purusha. You could say that Purusha was a perfect place to live; everyone was happy and there was a sense of timelessness and limitlessness. In fact, the people of Purusha were complete in every way. The only problem was that in all that vast kingdom there wasn’t a mirror to be found. Without a mirror, the Purushans couldn’t see themselves, so although they were perfect, they had no way to recognize or become aware of their inherent perfection. This absence of a mirror in which to see their own reflection, is the source of a desire or longing to go in search of a way of Self-knowing.

One day, the Purushans heard about a far-away planet called Prakṛti where it was possible to know oneself in a world of duality, with the world out there and a separate “me” to experience it. This world of duality could be experienced through sound, touch, sight, taste and smell, so it was indeed a mirror for all five senses. By traveling to Prakṛti, the Purushans would be able to have all the limitless peace and joy of planet Purusha and also to be conscious of it; a journey of exploration and learning, to return to Purusha both whole and aware of their wholeness.

To make the journey to planet Prakṛti, the Purushans needed spacecraft that could withstand the atmosphere when they arrived, so they built their ships from the same five elements that comprise planet Prakṛti – earth, water, fire, air, and space. Each ship was hand-crafted and had individual characteristics, but overall, they fit into three basic models: the kapha ships were dense and solid, the pitta ships were fast and fiery, with powerful engines, and the vata models were light and quick.


The ship itself is called the Body. At the center of each ship is the principal passenger called Spirit, which carries the essence of limitless freedom and consciousness, the hallmark of planet Purusha. Each ship also has a pilot called “Mind”. Body, Mind, and Spirit must work together to make the journey, with the understanding that both the body and the mind are ultimately vehicles for the journey of the Soul toward Self-knowledge.

At the beginning of their journey, the Purushans installed a powerful transmitter in space so they would always be in touch with planet Purusha. This transmitter to and from Purusha was called Mahat, which means “the great” so that the essence of wholeness and limitless which are the hallmarks of planet Purusha would never be lost. Each spacecraft also had an ultra-intelligent on-board computer, called Buddhi, to make sure that signals coming from Purusha were received and transmitted to the pilot to guide the ship to planet Prakriti and to return to planet Purusha. Each ship has its own unique identity or sense of individuality since each is a unique combination of the five elements, so that the journey and destiny of each is unique, both in the journey to prakriti and the way of return to Purusha. This unique and individual identity for each traveler is called Ahamakara, which can be loosely translated as – I want to do it my way!

While each ship has a unique journey, overall, they fall into three basic categories. The kapha ships are heavy and slow but make steady progress. The pitta craft excel in speed and performance, but when things go wrong, time is lost looking for who to blame. The vata craft have the most exciting journey, exploring different universes and planets, but often forgetting where they left the keys to the spaceship. In the end, all the spaceships arrived at the same time.

As they near planet Prakṛti, the pilots prepare the sensing devices they need for exploration. One set of sensing devices is the jnanendriyas, or instruments of knowing, including the ability to smell, taste see, touch and hear. The others are instruments for action called karmendriyas, such as ability to speak, touch, move, grasp, eliminate waste, and even to procreate little Purushan ships as the complete journey may take more than one generation.

As the ships near planet Prakṛti, they encounter a series of unexpected storms that form part of its atmosphere. There are storms of tremendous energy and turbulence, called rajas. There are also doldrums, called tamas, in which nothing moves at all. These cycles of rajas and tamas are interspersed with moments of perfect balance, called sattva, when the journey flows smoothly and effortlessly.


All the ships manage to reach planet Prakṛti, but the journey is a difficult one. Many of the pilots arrived traumatized and suffering from chronic recurring amnesia in which they forget their original mission of exploration and Self-knowledge in order to return to planet Purusha. They come to believe that they are their ships comprised of the five elements and use their senses and organs of action to seek pleasure and avoid pain believing prakriti and its experiences to be their sole reality, while the passenger and the reason for the journey, Spirit is completely forgotten or is just a distant memory. With their original mission forgotten, their time is spent at the mall looking for items to beautify the ship or on vacation taking selfies.

This pattern of driving their ships around in circles to stay busy, while never finding life’s true purpose or meaning is called, Samsara, which literally means, going around in circles. But no matter how much they try to stay busy to avoid looking at their lives more deeply, there is a subtle inner voice coming from Spirit, telling them that there must be some deeper purpose and meaning for living.

Those who hear this message more clearly are the Rishis, or seers, and Gurus, the ones who can lead the people from the circular patterns of planet Prakṛti, back to the remembering who they really are as citizens of Purusha. These pioneers are also called Yogis which means to join, or in this case to reunite  with who we are as Spirit.

Those that decide to make the journey home to Purusha first need to repair their ships from the damage caused by the chronic stress and sensory overload that is the nature of a planet under the sway of the three gunas and the constant roller coaster of ups and downs. These repair stations use a science called Ayurveda to rebalance the five elements from which the ships are made. Sometimes all the ships’ systems must be completely cleaned out in a process called Panchakarma. Once in balance, the ships need a path for their journey home, and one of the clearest of these is by the Sage Patanjali: A manual on the return to Planet Purusha in 8 steps, called Ashtanga Yoga.

The first two steps, called yama and niyama, are guides for conduct and behavior on the journey home. The third step, asana, is a guide for keeping the ship stable and comfortable to ensure its safety along the way. The fourth step, pranayama, involves having adequate energy for the journey and using this energy wisely. The fifth step, pratyahara, is removing the attention of the pilot from all of the distractions on planet

Prakṛti so they can focus on their journey of return. The sixth step, dharana, is setting a steady one-pointed course and staying that course all the way home. The seventh step, dhyana or meditation, is the journey itself, with all the ship’s systems functioning spontaneously and effortlessly, guided by Buddhi in  contact with Mahat to maintain a continuous communication with the energy of peace and joy from planet Purusha.

Through the methodology of Asthanga Yoga, many of the ships can return home, and once there, reassume their true identity as citizens of planet Purusha and return to a state of peace, wholeness and harmony called samadhi, the final step of the eight-limb journey. These explorers, however, are not the same as when they left. Now they have a mirror of consciousness. They know planet Prakṛti and the world of duality and now, returning home to planet Purusha they are complete and whole and know it to be so.

The final and deepest learning from this journey is that planet Purusha and planet Prakṛti are actually one.  The world of matter and the world of spirit are not opposed to each other and our own version of planet Prakṛti, called Earth, is calling out for us to treat her with love and reverence so that Purusha and Prakṛti  may live together in peace and joy happily every after.


5 Elements Meditation

Within the Yoga philosophy, all creation is composed of the FIVE elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space.

Our bodies and minds are also composed of these FIVE elements.

Each element is located in a specific area of the body and is also related to one or more body systems.

Each element has a symbol, a mantra or sacred sound, and is also related to a facet of the natural world.

Through meditation on the 5 elements and their various attributes, we cultivate perfect balance of our bodies and minds as doorway to absolute health in the form of recognition of our spiritual being.

Let’s meditate in the 5 elements with the professor Joseph LePage!