Moving into and holding various configurations of the physical body as part of the practice of yoga is called asana. When people in the West think of yoga, this narrow range of the total discipline commonly comes to mind. In Sanskrit, ‘asana’ translates as seat or ‘seat next to the teacher’, expressing the need to be comfortable in the body before other learning can commence. Asana practice improves health, strength, flexibility and balance. The lymphatic system of the body needs movement and the flexing of muscles to propel lymph fluids through the body. All the components of the body need to be exercised to maintain optimum function. Without stimulation they tend to atrophy.
Asanas help to clam the mind and temper emotions. Challenging the physical body helps the practitioner connect with the other levels of self. Because of the rapid ability of the physical body to reflect change, it demonstrates the capacity to change on deeper unseen levels. The physical body is our home in this reality. Memories can be stored in our tissues. Asana is a way of strengthening the will and exploring our psychological makeup, creating a balance between our material and spiritual existence.
Weight Loss Through Yoga, Jewel in the Lotus page 73