Asana is the third limb of Ashtang Yoga. In the 21st century, it is the most practiced part of yoga. Even most of the people think them (yoga as well as asana) as synonymous.
It is derived from a Sanskrit word which means to sit in a steady and comfortable position at one place. Since while practising the inner limbs of yoga, i.e., Dharna, Dhyana, and Samadhi, one has to sit for hours in a fixed position.
Since in ancient times, yogis used to sit in meditation for an extended period. Because of this, their muscles and joints started aching with time and they suffer from many health issues. In order to avoid these health issues, yogis included several stretching and poses which helps in keeping their body active. Later on, these postures are called Asana.
The characteristic of a good asana is:
Translation: sthira sukham āsanam
Meaning: Asana means a steady and comfortable posture.
Types of Asana
The 10th and 11th-century Goraksha Sataka and the 15th century Hatha yoga Pradipika identify 84 asanas. Today more than 84 asanas are known. Asanas can be done in different ways: sitting, reclining, inverted, standing, bending, twisting, etc.
|Type of Asana||Name of Asanas|
|Standing||Adho mukha shvanasana, Ardha chandraasana, Durvasasana, Parighasana, Parshvakonasana, Parshvottanasana, Tadasana, Trivikramasana, Trikonasana, Utkatasana, Uttanasana, Utthita Hasta pasangusthasana, Utthita Parsvakonasana, Viparita virabhadrasana, Virabhadrasana|
|Sitting||Akarna dhanurasana, Bhadrasana, Bharadvajasana, Dandasana, Garbha Pindasana, Gomukhasana, Gorakshasana, Hanumanasana, Janushirasana, Kraunchasana, Kurmasana, Mandukasana, Marichyasana, Matsyendrasana, Muktasana, Padmasana, Paschimottasana, Rajakapotasana, Samakonasana, Siddhasana, Simhasana, Sukhasana, Svastikasana, Upavishta konasana|
|Balancing||Adho mukha vrikshasana, Astavakrasana, Bakasana, Bhujapidasana, Garudasana, Kaundinyasana, Kukkutasana, Lolasana, Mayurasana, Natarajasana, Navasana, Pincha mayurasana, Tittibhasana, Tulasana, Vashishtasana, Vrikshasana|
|Reclining||Anantasana, Ashtanga namaskar, Bhairavasana, Bhekasana, Bhujangasana, Chaturanga Dandasana, Dhanurasana, Jathara Parivartanasana, Makarasana, Matsyasana, Shalabhasana, Shavasana, Supta padangusthasana, Supta Virasana, Viparita karani, Urdhva mukha shvanasana, Yoganidrasana|
|Kneeling||Bidalasana, Ushtrasana, Vajrasana, Virasana, Balasana|
|Inversion||Halasana, Karnapidasana, Sarvangasana, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, Shirshasana, Chakrasana, Viparita Dandasana, Vrischikasana|
Benefits of Asana
Asanas were claimed to provide both spiritual and physical benefits in medieval hatha yoga texts.
More recently, studies have provided evidence that they improve flexibility, strength, and balance; to reduce stress and conditions related to it, and specifically to alleviate some diseases such as asthma and diabetes.
All asanas have the potential to free up the spine, limbs and breathing so that the yogi can spend an extended period of time in a seated position.
Yoga also targets various body pains such as back pain, migraines, headache and spinal pain. It tightens the body muscles and also increases a person’s ability to bear the pain. By providing mental relaxation, yoga helps to overcome any kind of physical and mental pain.
Yogasanas are very useful to treat high blood pressure and cholesterol. It is highly beneficial for cardiovascular and neurological functioning of the body. It maintains the overall blood and oxygen circulation. It also manages the flow of tissue fluids and prevents any tissue leakage.
Yoga is highly beneficial to treat immune diseases and any memory-related disorders. It is a natural treatment for sleeplessness and post-menstrual disorders in women.
The benefits of Yogasana are uncountable. It affects our life so much.
Different Asana will be discussed in upcoming posts. Hope you like this series also.