ASANAS
  • Introduction

  • Dandasana

    Asana is an important component of yoga. Yoga Sutra defines asana as that which is comfortable and easy, as well as firm. Asanas contribute to make the body steady, healthy and light. They also produce mental equilibrium and make the mind steady. It is not only the physical exercises but the postures that help in a healthy way of living Asana is a dynamic position, in which the practitioner is perfectly poised between activity and non-activity, between, doing and “being done by” the posture. A corresponding mental balance exists between movement and stillness. Each posture in a yoga exercise reflects a mental attitude, whether that attitude be one of surrender, as in a forward bending asana, or the strengthening of the will, through backward bending postures, or the creation of a physical prayer or meditation with the body, as in the practice of padamasana (lotus posture). For centuries asanas have been used to exercise every gland, muscle and nerve in the body. The body, which has been described as a temple of the soul, should be fit. If one wants to move on his spiritual journey, one will have to make a temple of one’s body by practising yoga postures. Though asanas are very beneficial for the body their real value lies in training the mind and thus making oneself a fit and a healthy vehicle for the soul.


    Shithiladandasana

    There are eighty-four asanas commonly used by yogis. However, one can get sufficient benefits from a dozen of them which are commonly used by the practitioners.

    Asanas are the third link of “astang yoga” and are called postures. The main purpose of asanas is to purify the body and keep it strong and disease free. By ending and flexing and staying in a particular asana for a considerable time the body becomes clean and stable. There are a number of asanas introduced by rishis and munis like Patanjali over the years. Most of the names of the asanas are coming from the nature. Rishi munis used to observe plant, trees, animals, birds and tried to adopt their way of life. (That is why the name vrikshasand (tree), padmasana (Lotus) or magrasana (cat pose) are usually given to these asanas. )


    Makrasana

    They practised them in their day to day life (got themselves healed and got a happier and healthier life. There are 84 lacs asanas, out of which 84 are being used by recent yogis. Out of these asanas some are useful for schoolchildren and people at large. We will begin the asana session with relational postures and with the ‘suryanamaskar. It is a technique being used to prepare the body for yogic postures. It is not a part of asanas but a preyogic asana.

    Stability in a particular posture gives comfort. The more time you keep stable in one asana, the more benefit you desire from the posture you are preparing.


    Shavasana

    There are different asanas for different diseases. Therefore one has to know the technique properly before undergoing training eg. If people suffering from hypertension are taught sarvang asana or shishasana they can get into trouble and then blood pressure will shoot up. So one has to know perfectly well “do’s and don’t” while teaching yogic asanas for the benefit of students. Suryanamaskar and asanas is ideal for diabetics, pranayamas. Mudras and bandas together with yoga mityra is beneficial.

  • Asanas and their names.

  • Padmasana

    Asanas have strange names. They are significant as they illustrate many natural principles. While performing postures the human body takes shapes resembling many creatures. Many of the asanas have names like lotus (padmasana) or vriksha (tree). They are also named after legendary heroes like Virbhadra and Hanuman. Some of the asanas even have bird or animal names, such as the fish posture (matsya), the cobra posture (bhujangasana), peacock (mayurasana) etc. This is because yogis devised their asanas partly by observing how animal instincts work in the wild. When animals are sick they would eat only certain herbs and grasses. Similarly, they would stretch and contract their muscles in various postures instinctively.

    Yogis also observed how animals relaxed. Cats, especially, are experts in relaxing. On awakening from sleep, they instinctively stretch, arch the spine in both directions and then relax. Asanas are also based on a sound knowledge of human anatomy and physiology. The yogis knew that placing the body in certain positions would stimulate specific nerves, organs and glands. For example, the shoulder-stand posture causes the blood to be directed by gravity to the thyroid gland, and the tucking in of the chin causes a gentle squeezing action on the gland. These two actions have a profound effect on the thyroid gland.

  • How asanas work.

  • Sukhasana

    Asanas have wonderful effects on a person’s entire body. Flexing, bending and twisting the body with inhalation, retention and exhalation makes the body clean. It takes out all toxins from the body, opens up the pores through which the toxins go out and the body is cleaned. It makes the body strong, pure and disease free. The person experiences lightness in his body. After becoming healthy he feels happy, his desires become fever and mind calm.


    Vajrasana

    ‘Yoga chittavritti nirodhah’ ( yoga makes one’s mind calm and stable) no more worries and tensions, no more medicines. This is what a true yogi is. A person in tadasana experiences the pull of his lungs and kidneys, experiences strength in calf muscles, thighs, chest, and arms. Similarly in pavanmuktasana one feels all poisonous gases going out of his body. His bowels go easy, no more constipation, no more obesity. Increased hunger, sound sleep, active life and freshness are the result. Thus a person can achieve more success in whatever work he does than the non-yogi. It is a blessing for a child if he is initiated in the suryanamaskar technique at the age of eight. His adulthood can be prolonged and the problems arising in early adulthood can be avoided. The low height of children is a general complaint these days. Regular practice of tadasana, chakrasana and suryanamaskara right from the age of eight increases the height by two to five inches. These are time-tested techniques, which every child and adult should follow.


    Ardhapadmasana

    The inverted postures such as the headstand, shoulder stand etc. increase the flow of blood to the desired parts of the body. Besides the position of asanas cause a squeezing and stretching action on the organs and glands which internal massage to them. This relaxes the muscles and ligaments. It also takes the pressure of the nerves off. Deep breathing during yoga gives more oxygen or prana to the organ or gland, and thus strength to it. It also concentrates a persons mind on the organ and gives strength to it.

    The concentration has the second benefit of increasing one’s general powers of mental concentration through regular practice. This is beneficial in every aspect of life. By proper practice of concentration the mind is less distracted and swayed by external events and therefore remains calm and without worry. It increases the ability to solve the day-to-day problems in a better manner and leads to success in every activity of life.