Drew Perry

Sutras II – 46, 47, and 48


  1. Asana is perfect firmness of body, steadiness of intelligence and benevolence of spirit.
  2. Perfection in an asana is achieved when the effort to perform it becomes effortless and the infinite being within is reached.
  3. From then on, the sadhaka (i.e. the practitioner) is undisturbed by dualities.

Continuing with the description of the eight limbs, or angas, Sutras 46-48 in Book II of the Yoga Sutras are devoted to the more familiar limb of asana. These three Sutras are all that Patanjali writes about asana. There are no specific instructions or actual poses given anywhere in the Yoga Sutras.

What are we to conclude from this lack of detail? Do the Yoga Sutras short-change the asana work that we do? After all, this one limb is the part of yoga that we in the West focus on the most.

However, instead of specific instructions Patanjali has given us a universal key for pursuing a yogic practice through any individual pose. We are advised to proceed with dedicated attention to all aspects of the individual pose, with the give-and-take of both mind and body moment to moment as we create, maintain and experience the poses through all the “fibres, cells, joints and muscles in cooperation with the mind” (as B.K.S. Iyengar notes).

In this way it is possible to be fully and completely absorbed in the asana. At that moment some of the full effort can be released and a glimpse of a more transcendent state surfaces.

Patanjali and B.K.S Iyengar have given us the keys; it is up to each of us to unlock the door.