Patanjali’s Yoga has been very misunderstood, misinterpreted. Patanjali is not a gymnast, but Yoga looks like it is a gymnastics of the body. Patanjali is not against the body. He is not a teacher to teach you contortions of the body. He teaches you the grace of the body, because he knows only in a graceful body a graceful mind exists; and only in a graceful mind does a graceful self becomes possible; and only in a graceful self, the divine.
Step by step, deeper and higher grace has to be attained. Grace of the body is what he calls asan, posture. He’s not a masochist. He is not teaching you to torture your body. He is not a bit against the body. How can he be? He knows the body is going to be the very foundation-stone. He knows if you miss the body, if you don’t train the body, then higher training will not be possible.
The body is just like a musical instrument. It has to be rightly tuned; only then will the higher music arise out of it. If the very instrument is somehow not in right shape and order, then how can you imagine, hope, that the great harmony will arise out of it? Only discordance will arise. Body is a veena, a musical instrument.
The posture should be steady and should be very, very blissful, comfortable. So never try to distort your body, and never try to achieve postures which are uncomfortable.
For the Westerners, sitting on the ground, sitting in padmasan, lotus posture, is difficult; their bodies have not been trained for it. There is no need to bother about it. Patanjali will not force that posture on you. In the East people are sitting from their very birth, small children sitting on the ground. In the West, in all cold countries, chairs are needed; the ground is too cold. But there is no need to be worried about it. If you look at Patanjali’s definition, what a posture is, you will understand: it should be steady and comfortable.
If you can be steady and comfortable in a chair, it is perfectly okay – no need to try a lotus posture and force your body unnecessarily. In fact, if a Western person tries to attain to lotus posture it takes six months to force the body; and it is a torture. There is no need. Patanjali is not in any way helping you, in any way persuading you, to torture the body. You can sit in a tortured posture, but then it will not be a posture according to Patanjali.
A posture should be such that you can forget your body. What is comfort? When you forget your body, you are comfortable. When you are reminded continuously of the body, you are uncomfortable. So whether you sit in a chair or you sit on the ground, that’s not the point. Be comfortable, because if you are not comfortable in the body you cannot long for other blessings which belong to deeper layers: the first layer missed, all other layers closed. If you really want to be happy, blissful, then start from the very beginning to be blissful. Comfort of the body is a basic need for anybody who is trying to reach inner ecstasies.
Whenever a posture is comfortable it is bound to be steady. You fidget if the posture is uncomfortable. You go on changing sides if the posture is uncomfortable. If the posture is really comfortable, what is the need to fidget and feel restless and go on changing again and again?
And remember, the posture that is comfortable to you may not be comfortable to your neighbor; so please, never teach your posture to anybody. Every body is unique. Something that is comfortable to you may be uncomfortable to somebody else.
Everybody has to be unique because every body is carrying a unique soul. Your thumbprints are unique. You cannot find anybody else all over the world whose thumbprints are just like yours. And not only today: you cannot find anybody in the whole past history whose thumbprints will be like yours, and those who know, they say even in the future there will never be a person whose thumbprint will be like yours. A thumbprint is nothing, insignificant, but that too is unique. That shows that every body carries a unique being. If your thumbprint is so different from others’, your body, the whole body, has to be different.
So never listen to anybody’s advice. You have to find your own posture. There is no need to go to any teacher to learn it; your own feeling of comfort should be the teacher. And if you try – within a few days try all the postures that you know, all the ways that you can sit – one day you will fall upon, stumble upon, the right posture. And the moment you feel the right posture, everything will become silent and calm within you. And nobody else can teach you, because nobody can know how your body harmony, in what posture, will exactly be steady, comfortable.
Try to find your own posture.
Try to find your own Yoga, and never follow a rule, because rules are averages. All rules exist for averages. They are good to understand a certain thing, but never follow them. Otherwise you will feel uncomfortable. Four feet eight inches is the average height! Now you are five feet, four inches longer – cut it. Uncomfortable...walk in such a way so you look like the average: you will become an ugly phenomenon, an ashtha walker. You will be like a camel, crooked everywhere. One who tries to follow the average will miss.
How you feel should be the determining factor. That’s why Patanjali gives this definition, so that you can find out your own feeling.
There cannot be any better definition of posture: “Posture should be steady and comfortable.”
In fact I would like to say it the other way, and the Sanskrit definition can be translated in the other way: Posture is that which is steady and comfortable. We would like to make a rule out of it, [but] it is a simple definition, an indicator, a pointer. It is not a rule. And remember it always: that people like Patanjali never give rules; they are not so foolish. They simply give pointers, hints. You have to decode the hint into your own being. You have to feel it, work it out; then you will come to the rule, but that rule will be only for you, for nobody else.
If people can stick to it, the world will be a very beautiful world – nobody trying to force anybody to do something, nobody trying to discipline anybody else. Because, your discipline may have proved good for you, it may be poisonous for somebody else. Your medicine is not necessarily a medicine for all. Don’t go on giving it to others.
But foolish people always live by rules.
Osho, The Essence of Yoga, Talk #7