Yoga Sutra 2.47 prayatna shaithilya ananta samapattibhyam
The means of perfecting the posture is that of relaxing or loosening of effort, and allowing attention to merge with endlessness, or the infinite.
- prayatna = effort
- shaithilya = relaxation
- ananta = infinite, endlessness
- samapattibhyam = by merging
If you google this sloka, you will find so many ideas of what it means. Why? Why is asana looked at as contorting your body in the West?
2.46 sthira-sukham āsanam
Asana is stable and comfortable.
That is all. Obviously something that is comfortable is easy to behold for an extended amount of time. Sitting.
relaxation of effort and by absorption in the infinite (ananta)
Still no pretzel exercise stuff
2.48 tato dvandvānabhighātaḥ
After, one has understanding of the dualities of the opposites
So if the mind is focused in circus routine exercise, how would absorption or even contemplation into Brahma. Which of course is what these three verses say and of course it is obvious they are speaking of meditation unless of course you context is only of doing exercises then you can try to make it mean anything. Yet, if you take this further and do deeper digging into each word and why it would be used, you would then come up with such deeper meanings.
Ananta is the serpent of infinity who eavesdropped on the secret teaching that was being imparted to Goddess Parvati by Lord Shiva; the secret teaching was Yoga. On being apprehended Ananta was sentenced by Lord Shiva to impart that teaching to human beings for which purpose Ananta assumed the human form and was called Patanjali. In his Yoga Sutras, Patanjali stresses upon the use of breath to achieve perfection in posture which entails steadiness and comfort, by making an effort, the effort meant is the effort of breathing. The effort of breathing has been highlighted by the term, Ananta, in Sutra 2.47. Ananta was called Patanjali because he desired to teach Yoga to human beings, he fell from heaven to earth landing in the palm of a virtuous woman named Gonika.
Ananta is that which is without destruction because it is not subject to the six modifications such as birth, growth, death etc. According to the Vedanta School, the term Ananta used in the phrase “ anadi (beginningless) ananta (endless) akhanda (unbroken) sat-chit-ananda(being-consciousness-bliss)” refers to the Infinite, the single non-dual reality. It denotes Brahma as one of its six attributes which are prajna, priyam,satyam, ananta,ananda and stithi which manifest themselves in space which is common to all six as the basis. It denotes the infinite causal energy of the Creator, the energy in the form ofchaitanya that has no end.
Shesha (ananta) is generally depicted with a massive form that floats coiled in space, or on the universal ocean, to form the bed on which Vishnu lies. Sometimes he is shown as five-headed or seven-headed, but more commonly as a many hundred-headed serpent, sometimes with each head wearing an ornate crown.
He is closely associated with Vishnu. His name means « that which remains », from the Sanskrit root sis, because when the world is destroyed at the end of the kalpa, Shesha remains as he is.
So he is refered as « Ananta-Shesha » which means « Endless Shesha ».
Lord Vishnu is seen resting on the coils of the serpent Shesha, also called Ananta. Sheshanaga is the expansion of Lord Balarama, Lord Krishna’s brother, and serves the Lord in this way as the Lord’s support and paraphernalia. Shesha has a thousand heads swinging to and fro over the form of Lord Vishnu, creating a shelter and couch for the Lord. This is just another reference to the comfortable seat or asana.
Ananta also means endless in terms of the endlessness of cosmic time. This is also represented by His thousand hoods as divisions of time. The material worlds are created within the element of time, and are thus sustained by time. During the process of the universal annihilation, time ceases to exist, in which case the material planets are also forced into obliteration.
Lord Shesha is often seen floating on the causal waters of the Garbhodaka Ocean, which exists on the bottom of the universe. Lord Vishnu is thus resting on Sheshanaga as They float on the ocean. At other times, They are viewed floating on the Kshiramudra, or an ocean of white milk. This represents the Prakriti or the ingredients of the unmanifest material nature in its purest form.
Ananda Sesha as incarnation of Godhead:
(i) Srimad Bhagavatam 10.1.24:
« The foremost manifestation of Krishna is Sankarshana, who is known as Ananta. He is the origin of all incarnations within this material world. Previous to the appearance of Lord Krishna, this original Sankarshana will appear as Baladeva, just to please the Supreme Lord Krishna in His transcendental pastimes. »
(vi) Bhagavad-Gita, Chapter 10, Verse 29:
In the Bhagavad-Gita, when in the middle of the battlefield Kurukshetra, Krishna explaining his omnipresence, says: « Of Nagas, I am Ananta » indicating the importance of Ananta Shesha.
So as far as asana goes, why don’t you try this? Sit, comfortably, and steadily and only focus on the infinity of all time and space? With the references of what was said above? See what happens yourself.