Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Karna Mean?

Karna is one of the most famous heroes in the epic, “Mahabharata.” He was adored for his charitable nature — even by his rivals, who later exploited his charity in order to kill him during the famous Kurukshetra war. He was such a skilled and powerful warrior that, supposedly, he was the only one who could kill Arjuna, one of the five Pandava brothers who were protected by the Hindu god, Krishna.

Karna was originally called Vasusena. After he peeled of his skin to give his natural armor to Lord Indira, he was called Karna, or “the one who peeled his own skin.” Derived from Sanskrit, the term also means “ear.” In yoga, the pose called karnapidasana (knee-to-ear pose) involves putting pressure on the ears.


Yogapedia Explains Karna

Karna was born to Kunti and a sun god. His unparalleled skills as a warrior earned him the friendship of Duryodhana (the eldest of the Kauravas) and made him the king of Angadesh. In order to save the Pandavas, who were related to Karna by his mother’s lineage, Lord Krishna exploited Karna’s big heart. He stripped him of all his armor and the boons that made him invincible — which Karna gave willingly because he was so generous. Thus, the Pandavas won the battle. Karna also refused Krishna’s offer to ascend the throne and take what was rightfully his, as the eldest of all the Pandavas.

In yoga, karnapidasana is a posture that requires a fair amount of flexibility. To enter the asana, the practitioner assumes halasana, or plow pose. But rather than extending the legs, they are bent so that the knees rest on the floor beside the ears.

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