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In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali describes asana as the third of the 8 limbs of classical, or Raja Yoga. These eight limbs are the yamas (restrictions), niyamas (observances), asanas (postures), pranayama (breath work), pratyahara (sense withdrawal or non-attachment), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (realization of the true self and/or unity with god).[1]

Asanas are the physical movements in a yoga practice. In combination with pranayama or breathing techniques, it constitutes hatha yoga.[2] In the Yoga sutras, Patanjali describes "asana" simply as sitting meditation, suggesting meditation to be the path of samadhi, or transpersonal self-realization.[3]


  1. Patanjali (± 300-200 B.C.) Yoga Sutras, Book II:29
  2. Arya, Pandit Usharbudh (aka Swami Veda Bharati) (1977/1985). Philosophy of Hatha Yoga. Himalayan Institute Press, Pennsylvania.
  3. Swami Prabhavananda (Translator), Christopher Isherwood (Translator), Patanjali (Author) (1996, 2nd ed.). Vedanta Press.