ASANA – THE YOGA POSTURES

Asana are the Yoga Postures. The Patanjali Yoga Sutras define Yoga Asana as – ‘Sthiram Sukham Asanam’, which means Asana is a yoga pose that is steady and comfortable. Asana is the third step in the eight rungs of yoga, known as Ashtanga YogaYoga Asanas or Yoga Poses can be meditative poses or they can be postures aimed towards attaining strength, balance and steadiness. Apart from the spiritual benefits, each Yoga Pose or Asana also has its specific health benefits.

YOGA ASANA / POSES LIST

Here is a list of common yoga poses in alphabetical order. Click on the image of the Asana or Yoga Pose to see the detailed text.

 

How to learn Yoga Asanas or Yogic Poses?

The Yoga Asanas or Yoga poses vary in difficulty from beginner to advanced levels. It is always advisable to learn Yoga postures from a qualified yoga instructor. Also, make sure you consult a doctor for any pre-existing health conditions before taking up yoga practice. Make sure that you do not cross your physical limits and cause any injury. Practice Yogic postures on an empty stomach, unless otherwise mentioned. Wear comfortable and loose clothing during the practice.

Benefits of Yoga Asana or Yogic Poses

According to Maharishi Patanjali, Yoga Asanas or yoga poses when perfected gives freedom from pairs of opposites such as heat and cold, good and bad, pain and pleasure, etc. This leads to stability of the mind. The mind maintains equanimity in all situations. Hence, yoga poses start working from the gross physical level to the subtle levels of the mind.

Relaxation Poses like Shavasana, Jyestikasana, Advasana, Makarasana, Matsya kridasana are used for relaxing the body and mind. Use them as resting poses before/after or between other asanas.

Meditative Poses like Padmasana, Siddhasana, Ardha Padmasana, Vajrasana and Bhadrasana are used for sitting still in meditation for a prolonged duration.

Most of the other asanas are classified under the cultural category which build strength and flexibility. Sirsasana, Bhujangasana, Halasana, Sarvangasana, Ustrasana, Paschimottanasana, Ardha Matsyendrasana, Chakrasana, Dhanurasana, Simhasana, Trikonasana, Naukasana, Ardha Kapotasana, Gomukhasana, Marjariasana, etc. are commonly listed into the cultural category. Each yoga asana or yoga pose has its own physical and spiritual benefits. For example: Peacocks have good digestive power. Hence by performing Mayurasana or the peacock pose, one gets good digestive power and relieves constipation.

There are also yogic poses to improve balance of the body like Tadasana, Vrikshasana, Natarajasana, Virabhadrasana, Ardha Chandrasana, Garudasana, Vasisthasana, etc.

Other series of poses like the Surya Namaskara or sun salutation gives a good workout to the entire body and burns enough calories and hence good for weight management.

OTHER BENEFITS OF YOGA ASANAS

Most yogic postures help to develop strength, flexibility and Balance. They also tone the internal organs and maintain optimum physiological health. Yoga therapy uses some of the asanas to cure mild as well as chronic disorders. It is a known fact that Yoga Asanas can help to relieve medical conditions like lower back pain, sciatica, spondylitis, hypertension, diabetes, anxiety, obesity, allergies, headaches and migraines, depression, constipation, reproductive disorders, seminal weakness, hernia, piles, insomnia, etc.

Yoga asanas are different from exercises. Practice Yoga asanas slowly and maintain the position for comfortable duration. By doing so, there is reduction in muscle tone and leads to deep relaxation. There is reduction in the metabolic rate. Gentle practice of yoga reduces the the breathing rate and heart rate. Yoga practice conserves energy. It reduces the excessive speed of the mind, leading to removal of stress, worries and tensions. Asanas eliminates  life style diseases caused by a sedentary life style.

Yoga Asana form an important limb of the eight steps of Ashtanga yoga. Yogic poses along with breathing exercises or pranayama prepares the practitioner for higher practices of meditation and Samadhi.

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