Drdhata, or strength or firmness, the acquisition of which is the second of the above-mentioned processes, is attained by asana. Asanas are postures of the body.
The term is generally described as modes of seating the body. But the posture is not necessarily a sitting one: for some asanas are done on the belly, back, hands, etc. It is said(1) that the asanas are as numerous as living beings, and that there are 8,400,000 of these; 1,600 are declared to be excellent, and out of these thirty-two are auspicious for men, which are described in detail. Two of the commonest of these are muktapadmasana (2) (“the loosened lotus seat”), the ordinary position for worship, and baddhapadmasana. (3) Patanjali, on the subject of asana, merely points out what are good conditions, leaving each one to settle the details for himself according to his own requirements. There are certain other asanas, which are peculiar to the Tantras, such as mundasana, citasana, and savasana, in which skulls, the funeral pyre, and a corpse respectively form the seat of the sadhaka.
These, though they may have other ritual objects, form part of the discipline for the conquest of fear and the attainment of indifference, which is the quality of a yogi. And so the Tantras prescribe as the scene of such rites the solitary mountain-top, the lonely empty house and river-side, and the cremation-ground. The interior cremation-ground is there where the kamik body and its passions are consumed in the fire of knowledge.
1. Gheranda-Samhita, Second Upadesa, In the S’iva-Samhita (chap. iii, verses 84 91) eighty-four postures are mentioned, of which four are recommended-viz., siddhasana, ugrasana, svastikasana, and padmasana.
2. The right foot is placed on the left thigh, the left foot on the right thigh and the hands are crossed and placed similarly on the thighs; the chin is placed on the breast, and the gaze fixed on the tip of the nose (see also S’iva-Samhita, chap. i, verse 52).
3. The same except that the hands are passed behind the back and the right hand holds the right toe, and the left hand the left toe. By this, increased pressure is placed on the muladhara and the nerves are braced with the tightening of the body.