Importance of Asanas
The science of Yoga considers every aspect of human life. While considering an individual, Yoga has thought of both the body as well as the mind. As an individual is a subject belonging to the society, Yoga as a science, has considered the society as well. Though, this science maintains that a seeker has to shun all his requirements and pursue the sadhana in a remote place like a cave in a mountain, to achieve the ultimate goal of Samadhi, it has also admitted that such a seeker is basically a common human being. Like all others, he too has his own requirements. Apart from food, clothing and shelter, he too needs company and wants to live in a society. In fact, he relates and reacts to the society emotionally. The yoga intends to teach sadhana to such a common human being and leads him to the samadhi. Accepting this as a basis, the eight stages of progress are defined in the science of yoga, state Yam and Niyam as the first two stages. Yam and Niyam are the first two aspects of the eightfold Yoga. Rishi Patanjali has mentioned this in the second pada, Sadhana Pada in the following aphorism:
Yamniyamsanpranayampratyahardharanadhyansamadhayoshtavangani || P Y S 2.29 The third and the fourth steps in Yoga are Asanas and Pranayam. Yam and Niyam come before that. That also shows that the starting point of Yoga studies is not Asanas and Pranayam, but the study of Yam and Niyam. If one starts the study of Yoga ignoring these Yam and Niyam, he will not be in a position to experience the results of the studies as expected. Hence, to seek the desired results from the Yoga Studies, these Yam and Niyam should be faithfully observed. One cannot negotiate in this aspect. If the Yam and Niyam are not observed fully, the benefits of the studies will also fail to accrue fully. This is true regarding any science.