Well, this one is going to be both interesting and action-packed as we try to understand it since writing more and more on this topic doesn’t end. The heart and core of the yogic practice which we know today, no wonder streets, facebook walls and every corner which has heard the name of yoga has an imprint of this part of the yogic routine. Asanas are postures, simply speaking taking your physical body and trying to manipulate and put it into various ways here and there is what an asana is. Twisting, laying down, standing, bending, etc. Etc whatever possible motion your body can do is combined to form a specific posture and then you stay or try holding it feeling both stable and peaceful at the same time.
From the perspective of the practitioner that is what a posture would look and feel like. This way we have not hundreds and thousands of postures (new ones being developed by curious practitioners as well), and while it is both a challenging and physically vitalizing part of the yogic practice don’t think it is a meager one , it is one of the most in-depth and essential routines which is the reason that most of the scriptures deal with this topic in pages and pages. Asana may seem like static gymnastics and acrobatics but is way deeper. The Hath-yoga (one of the yogic traditions) attributes postures for activating the dormant vital chakras or energy centers of the body. They carry immense physical benefits ranging from weight-loss, flexibility, immunity, calmness, lightness of body and good sleep and overall health. They go on further integrating your mind to the body since staying or maintaining a posture with ease and peace is possible only when the mind is actively involved in doing so with the proper realization of the same and with proper breathing as well. Once purification of the body is complete the practice takes on the part of asanas and hence the practice mainly covers a range of postures in which the body is put into.
There are a few facts though which need to be kept in mind while doing an asana, firstly a complete posture involved smoothly moving into the posture which means all the body parts take their respective roles in a smooth and generous manner and take up the form of the posture. Once attained holding the posture or maintaining it for a period of time is essential where the mind comes into play with the body. Lastly, the type of breathing you do in a posture sums it up and while being steady in a posture the breathing is sought to be calm and composed having proper realization while you inhale and exhale. The key features of a successful posture are steadiness and feeling of calm and peace of mind while in it, adding to it no sweating or shivering.