Yoga Sutra 2.46 Posture is to be firm and pleasant

Sūtra II.46

Posture is to be firm and pleasant

(Postures) such as the Lotus, the Auspicious, the Hero, the Svastika, the Staff the Support, the Throne, the Curlew, the Elephant, the Camel, the Confirmed, the Favourite, and others.

Having set out the restraints and observances, with their perfections, we go on to posture and the further steps. Posture is to be firm and pleasant. It is to be both firm and pleasant. Let him practise a posture in which, when established, his mind and limbs will become firm, and which does not cause pain. Let it be a posture such as the Lotus posture; he will go on to give the names of postures well-known from other authoritative works (śāstra).

(First) let him go to a pure place, such as a cave in a holy mountain or an islet in a river, but not right beside a fire or running water, a place free from insects, without pebbles. Having sipped water in the traditional way, having bowed to the Highest Lord (parameśvara) the one ruler of the whole universe, and to the holy ones and to his own selfless teacher, master of yoga, let him lay a seat. On kusa grass he spreads an antelope skin, and on that a cloth, to prevent discomfort. In one of the mentioned places he should take his seat, facing east or north.

Of the seated postures, the Lotus posture is as follows. Let him bring in his left foot towards himself, and set it upon the right leg, and then the right foot over the left leg. Let him make firm his hips, chest and neck, and fix the gaze on the nosetip, like one dead or asleep, the lips closed like the cover on a round casket, the teeth not grinding against each other, the chin a fist’s breadth away from the chest, and the tip of the tongue resting against the inside of the front teeth. The joined hands rest on the two heels in the position called Tortoise, or the reverential Brahma-añjali position. Once assumed, the posture is to be held steadily. When he has got beyond the initial effort at securing the proper disposition of body and limbs, this is called the Lotus posture.

The basic principles are the same with the other postures to be described, although each has its own special points. The posture in which he sits (simply) with the right foot over the left leg, and the right hand placed upon the left, is the Auspicious (bhadra) posture. The other points are the same (as in the Lotus).

The Hero posture is where one leg is bent (with the sole placed flat on the ground) and the other (leg from) knee (to toes) rests on the ground. In all these descriptions it is just the special points of the posture which are specified.

When the toes of the right foot are thrust between the left thigh and calf so that they are not seen, and similarly the toes of the left foot are concealed between right thigh and calf, the testicles resting comfortable (between the feet), this is the Auspicious or Svastika posture.

To attain the Staff posture, let one stretch out the legs with the ankles, toes and knees side by side like a staff.

The Support is so-called from the use of a yoga table as support, or a seat.

Stretching out the arms and putting them on the knees is the Throne posture. The Curlew, Elephant and Camel sitting postures look like the position of the curlew and the others when seated.

The Confirmed is some other arrangement which seems to be suitable to oneself; that seated posture in which one is not uneasy is called the Confirmed.

The Favourite posture: this is the one specially congenial to a sitter. The word ‘others’ (ādi) in the commentary indicates that there may be variations prescribed by a teacher.


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