The Role of Asana in Purna Yoga

"Asana is completely unimportant and absolutely necessary."

Aadil Palkhivala, co-founder of Purna Yoga


The first time I heard this oft-quoted Purna Yoga phrase, I was both confused and inspired.  Confused because all the yoga I had been exposed to was asana-centric; how could asana not be important if every yoga class focused almost exclusively on the postures?  Inspired because I loved asana and how alive, focused and centered it made me, so I could scarcely imagine the benefits that the “important” aspects of the practice must offer. 

Why is asana unimportant?

Because it’s just the prep work.  Asana prepares the body to hold the Light and Love of the soul, but if the relationship with the soul is not cultivated through deeper internal practices, then the asana primarily serves to glorify the vehicle of the body.  Doing asana for health, focus, calmness, etc., is like going to communion because you want a cracker and juice.  You will get what you came for (and the benefits of asana are not to be scoffed at), but without more you will probably miss the universal and transcendental truths available through a complete practice, which also includes meditation, application of philosophy, and lifestyle choices.

Why is Asana Necessary?

Because the human body is the link between the energy of spirit and the form of the material world.  Asana makes that link effective by opening the body to receive the Light and Love of the soul, so that the body becomes the instrument through which the soul acts and experiences.  Without a fully open and surrendered body, the soul doesn’t have an effective means to create change in the world. 

So, enjoy your asana, but don't confuse it with yoga!

What is the greatest benefit of your asana practice?

Leave your answer in the comments below.