Asanas collectively constitute the physical aspect of worship in ancient Yoga and various stretches and meditative poses of modern Yoga. The poses and stretches are thought to have physical and mental health benefits and can lead to injury in roughly 1 in 20 practitioners a year in the U.S. Different authors or schools of yoga may have different names for an asana. Many asanas have multiple names or one name may refer to multiple asanas.
In yoga, asana refers both to the place in which a practitioner (yogi if male, yogini if female) sits and the posture in which he or she sits. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali defines “asana” as “to be seated in a position that is firm, but relaxed”. Patanjali mentions the ability to sit for extended periods as one of the eight limbs of his system, known as ashtanga yoga.
Asanas are also performed as physical exercise where they are sometimes referred to as “yoga postures” or “yoga positions”.Some asanas are arguably performed by many practitioners just for health purposes. Asanas do promote good health, although in different ways compared to physical exercises, “placing the physical body in positions that cultivate also awareness, relaxation and concentration”.