Yoga Sutras on Asana Continued: Sutra 2.47

This week we will look at the second of three sutras on asana (posture), Sutra 2.47.

Prayatna saithilya ananta samapattibhyam

Prayatna — persevering effort, continued exertion, endeavor
saithilya — laxity, relaxation
ananta — endless, boundless, eternal, infinite
samapattibhyam — assuming original form, completion, conclusion

“Perfection in an asana is achieved when the effort to perform it becomes effortless and the infinite being within is reached.”

The sadhaka (practitioner) can be considered firm in his postures when persevering effort is no longer needed. In this stability, he grasps the physiology of each asana and penetrates within, reaching the minutest parts of the body. Then he gains the art of relaxation, maintaining the firmness and extension of the body and consciousness. In this way he develops a sensitive mind. With this sensitivity, he trains his thinking faculty to read, study and penetrate the infinite. He is immersed in the boundless state of oneness which is indivisible and universal.

(B.K.S. Iyengar)

And from Edwin Bryant:

Asana becomes perfect when all effort or strain, prayatna, ceases and the body no longer trembles, says Vyasa, and when the citta (mind) is absorbed in the infinite, ananda. Hariharananda elaborates that the practice of asana involves a level of pain at first. After a time, this disappears by complete relaxation, saithilya, into the pose, and by meditating on infinite space so that eventually the body feels nonexistent, like infinite space. The essential idea is that by the practice of asana, the body should be so relaxed that the yogi ceases to be conscious of it at all, and the mind can thus be directed toward meditation without any bodily distraction or disturbance.