Yoga Asanas

yoga asanas
Image courtesy of Unsplash

For thousands of years, Yoga has been practiced around the world. Today it has transcended boundaries and has been accepted by the East and the West alike. There are numerous styles of Yoga that have evolved over time. In today’s world of social media frenzy, there is no wellness and fitness influencer that does not fall back on the benefits of Yoga and its multiple Asanas.

The popularity of Yoga Asanas perhaps may be pinned down to the dual benefit to both body and mind. The acclaimed advantage of mental as well as physical health. 

Yoga Asanas originated in India about 5,000 years ago and the literal meaning of Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word which means ‘Union’. It is actually a union of mind and body derived by the use of the various Asanas and breaths.

Yoga Asana or posture is the physical practice of yoga and relates to the body. Asana, in Sanskrit, also translates as “seat,” specifically for meditation. Today Asana is synonymous with yoga, but it is only one component. Yoga Asanas are often mistaken to be body twisting and difficult postures or poses. However, the Yoga Asanas are, on the contrary, simple poses that can be practiced by anyone be it a beginner or an advanced practitioner. 

What are Yoga Asanas or poses and how many types of them are practiced? The 10 most basic Yoga Asanas that are recommended for a beginner are: 

Tadasana or the Mountain Pose: This pose teaches one to stand with steadiness like a mountain. It involves the major groups of muscles and improves focus and concentration. 

Vrikshasana or the Tree Pose: Beyond helping improve your balance, it can also strengthen your core, ankles, calves, thighs and spine. This pose is great for working on your balance and posture.

Adho Mukho Svanasana or the Downward facing Dog Pose: This pose strengthens the arms, shoulders and back while stretching the hamstrings, calves and arches of your feet. It can also help relieve back pain.

 Trikonasana or the Triangle Pose: Is a part of many yoga sequences and helps to build strength in the legs and stretches the hips, spine, chest, shoulders, groins, hamstrings and calves. It can also help increase mobility in the hips and neck. This pose is great for building strength and endurance.

Kurisasana or the Chair Pose: This Asana will strengthen your thighs, helping to stabilize your knees. Your ankles will become more limber and sturdy, and your arms and shoulders will gain power and flexibility.

Naukasana or the Boat Pose: Strengthens the back and abdominal muscles. Tones the leg and arm muscles. This Asana is very useful for people with hernia.

Bhujangasana or the Cobra Pose: This back-bending pose can help strengthen the back muscles, increase spinal flexibility and stretches the chest, shoulders and abdomen. This Asana is great for strengthening the back.

Paschimottanasana or Seated Forward Fold: It is essential to practice this Asana to stretch the hamstrings, lower and upper back and sides. This is also the perfect yoga pose for beginners to start to open the body and to learn how to breathe through various positions.

Child’s Pose: It gently stretches your lower back, hips, thighs, knees and ankles and relaxes your spine, shoulders and neck. Do it when you want to get a nice gentle stretch through your neck spine and hips.

Sukhasana or the Comfort Pose: It is used for seated meditation. This posture requires hip flexibility and back strength. Perfect for people who spend long hours sitting in chairs.

Many of the Yoga Asanas are named after saints and sages of India or named after animals or nature. 

Yoga Asanas can bridge the disconnect between the body, mind and breath caused by today’s fast paced life. It also helps your physical body in terms of increasing flexibility and strength and also to increase the core strength.

FAQs

What are different types of Yoga Asanas?

There are a total of 84 Asanas according to the Goraksha Satakas (an early Yogic text) of the 10th or 11h century. Out of these 84 Asanas the four most important are the seated poses – Siddhasana, Padmasana, Bhadrasana and Simhasana.

What is the practice of Asanas?

Asana is the physical practice of Yoga and relates to the body.

What are the 84 basic Yoga poses?

The main 10 postures which are much most common are mentioned above and are more than just stretching. They open the energy channels and the chakras (energy centers) of the body while increasing flexibility of the spine, strengthening the bones and stimulating the circulatory and immune systems.

What is Yoga Asana and its benefits?

The benefits are immense. They stretch and relax nerves, muscles and joints, creating a pleasant feeling of relaxation, increasing flexibility and promoting the free flow of energy through the body. 

How many Asanas are there?

The traditional number is the symbolic 84, however different texts mention different selections, sometimes listing their names without describing them.

For more yoga content, check out Kapalbhati Yogic Breathing.