In typically colourful Hindu lore, Anata is one of the names of Vishnu and, as well, his serpent. Vishnu sleeps on the ocean floor on his couch, the thousand headed serpent. While Anata is asleep, a lotus grows from his navel and that is where Brahma is born. Brahma then creates the world.
In the photo above taken in Myanmar in 2007, you see the reclining Buddha arranged in Anatasana pose. The temple this Buddha occupies is as big as a hangar to accommodate his massive size.
I think of physical balance as being reflective of poise or an equanimous state of mind. It’s fun to play with balance in this pose. You might end up rolling about inelegantly on the floor if you don’t cultivate what this pose requires – strength in your abdomen and hip stabilisers. For those with tight leg muscles, Anatasana will cultivate more suppleness.
For novices, use the wall to plant your foot on, a belt to hold your foot and a bolster behind you to keep from keeling over:
As a yoga teacher, you can give a great adjustment to this pose just standing side-on behind the student so he or she can lean on you a little and get a feel for switching on the muscles required to free balance.
Anatasana is a good pose for people like me with a busy mind. If you don’t let go of thought activity and concentrate, you’ll end up falling over. It’s as simple as that.