Category: Eight Limbs of Yoga
Asana (yoga postures) is the third limb of Raja yoga (a.k.a. Ashtanga or classical yoga). In Sanskrit, asana literally means “seat” and originally stands for either the sitting posture or the place to sit for prolonged prayer or meditation.
Asana is based on a sound knowledge of human anatomy and physiology. It offers a tremendous benefit to your body by creating the essential qualities of a healthy life such as steadiness, flexibility, and vigor.
Why Do We Need To Practice Asana?
The people who developed the asanas knew that by placing the body in certain positions, they could stimulate specific nerves, organs, and glands. This knowledge gave them the ability to be in command of the functions of their own bodies.
For example, we all know today that the endocrine glands play an important role during stress by secreting hormones that promote the maintenance and adaptation of the other systems of the body. Practicing asanas enable you to provide stimulation to these glands which would otherwise remain dormant through a lifestyle of goofing around in Facebook or Twitter.
More than just physical stimulation, asana is also a method that allows the activation of the energy channels, chakras, and psychic centers of the body. Through the asanas, you become consciously aware of the flow of life energy not only in your physical body, but in your subtle body as well. [See 7 Chakras: The Spiritual Energy Centers Of Man.]
The Yoga Postures (Asanas)
What you see below is a list of the well-known asanas in yoga. Although some of these poses are quite easy even for beginners, please make sure that you consult a physician before attempting to perform these exercises.
|Adho Mukha Śvānāsana||Downward-Facing Dog Pose|
|Adho Mukha Vṛkṣāsana||Handstand (Downward-Facing Tree)|
|Anantāsana||Posture of Ananta one of the names of Vishnu|
|Añjali Mudrā||Salutation hand posture|
|Ardha Candrāsana||Half Moon|
|Ardha Matsyendrāsana||Half Spinal Twist|
|Ardha Navāsana||Half boat posture|
|Baddha Koṇāsana||Bound Angle|
|Caturaṅga Daṇḍāsana||Four-Limbed Staff|
|Dvi Pāda Viparīta Daṇḍāsana||Two-Legged Inverted Staff Pose|
|Eka Pāda Rājakapotāsana||One-Legged King Pigeon|
|Ekapādaśīrṣāsana||Head stand one foot|
|Ekapādaprasāraṇa-sarvāṅgatulāsana||Balance posture for the whole body, by extending one leg|
|Jānuśīrṣāsana||Head-to-Knee Forward Bend|
|Naṭarājāsana||Lord of the Dance or Dancer|
|Paścimottānāsana||Seated Forward Bend|
|Uttānāsana||Standing Forward Bend|