The word yoga in Sanskrit means union, it signifies the union of the physical and spiritual being. Asana is a Sanskrit word which means comfortable seat. Thus Yoga asana is the practice of using specific body postures to improve physical, mental and spiritual strength.
Yoga asanas work on improving the overall health of the body through exercise, breathing regulation and purification of the body through elimination of waste matter.
All of the asanas listed below have amazing benefits for improving the holistic health of the human body. Some of these benefits have been given in detail.
Yogasanas can be classified into 8 categories:
1. Sitting Postures
The most common sitting posture is Padmasana, its benefits are â€“ useful for japa, Pranayama, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi. This asana stimulates the glands in the endocrine system and is beneficial in curing diseases like asthma, insomnia and hysteria. This asana relieves the body of excess fat and increases the vitality.
A few other sitting postures are - Baddha padmasana, Parvatsasana, Utthita Padmasana, Kukkutasana, Garbhasana, Siddhasana, Simhasana,Mandukasana, Gomukhasana, Padangushthasana, Kandapeedanasana, Veerasana, Pashchimotanasana, Janu Shirasana, Ardha Matsyendrasna, Purna Matsyendrasana, Ardha Vakrasana, Vakrasana, and Akarna Dhanurasana.
Sitting postures are beneficial for digestive systems, nervous systems as well as reproductive systems, especially in women. These asanas also help in reducing body fat and maintaining a healthy figure. They also increase one's vitality and health.
2. Supine postures
Supine postures include Shavasana, Ekapada Uttanasana, Uttanapadasana, Pavanamuktasana, Setubandhasana, Tolangulasa, Matsyasana, Katiasana, Suptabhadrasana, Viparitkarni Mudra, Sarvangasana, Halasana, Vartulasana.
These asanas have a positive effect on all systems in the body. They are useful in getting rid of excess fat, maintaining overall health and improving digestion and excretion of waste and gasses.
3. Abdominal Postures
Ardha shalabhasana, Purna Shalabhasana, Bhujangasana, Dhanurasana, Makarasana, Viparita Matsyasana
Theses asanas aid in relieving lumbar pain. Getting rid of excessive fat, curing edema, tumor, lung diseases, relief from spinal pain, as well as curing tuberculosis, dysentery, and asthma.
4. Hand Postures
Mayurasana, Vrishchikasana, Bakasana, Tolasana, Utthita Ekapadashirasana, Utthita Dwihastabhujasana, Uttamangasana, Konasana.
These asanas are beneficial in strengthening the body, providing sufficient exercise, they stimulate the digestive, the respiratory and nervous systems. These asanas also benefit the eyes, the digestive system, and the spine.
5. Kneeling postures
Vajrasana, Supta vajrasana, Bhoo-Namana-Vajrasana, Ushtrasana, Vrushasana.
These asanas aid the endocrine system, they help improve the joints and the muscles, alleviating weakness of the intestines, liver, laxity of pancreas etc. They can also cure disease like lumbago, insomnia, cardiac trouble, asthma etc.
6. Standing postures
This asana strengthens the legs. The blood vessels get stretched and strengthened. It removes swelling of the cells of the testicles. It cures rheumatism of the arms and the legs and alleviates pain in the thigh and calf muscles.
Vrukshasana â€“ This poses tones up all the joints of the body and improves blood supply to the toes, the knees, the elbows etc. in sufficient quantity.
Vatayanasana â€“ This asana strengthens the legs and removes pain in the ankles and the knee joints.
Santulasana â€“ This asana exercises every joint in the body and improves balance.
Natrajasana â€“ This asana exercises all the joints of the body, giving sufficient exercise to shoulders, the hips, the knees, the ankles, the palms, the fingers, and the spine.
Utkatasana â€“ This asana strengthens the muscles of the wrists and the feet, as well as all the joints and the muscles of the legs. It cures fistula, dropsy, constipation, abdominal disease, impurification of blood, skin disease, flatulence, heart-trouble, arthritis and other diseases. It is beneficial for elephantiasis as well.
This asana is a blessing for the respiratory system. It strengthens the lungs and the chest.
Trikonasana â€“ This asana is beneficial for the joints of the neck and the shoulders, spinal cord, the hips, the thighs, the arms the fingers, and the eyes.
Padahastasana â€“ This asana removes superfluous fat from the body. It can also rectify unevenness in the length of the legs owing to the fracture of any bones either in the leg or the thigh.
Chakrasana â€“ This asana gives the spine better elasticity and this, in turn, preserves youth for a very long time.
7. Head Postures
This asana is a panacea for all diseases. It stimulates digestive juices and Kindles gastric fire. It cures diseases of the eyes, the nose, the head, and the throat. It also cures diseases like diabetes and asthma.
b) Urdhva Padmasana
This asana has all the advantages of Sheershasana and padmasana. It gives one perfect control of the body. It strengthens the brain by supplying it with an abundant flow of blood. This in turn increases the power of meditation and sharpens the intellect. It improves eye sight and removes weakness of the ears, the chest, the heart and other organs. It supplies arterial blood to all the internal glands. It strengthens and nourishes all the muscles, bones and sense organs.
C) Urdhva Samyukta Padasana
This asana belongs to the category of Urdhva padmasana. So, it has all the advantages of Urdhva padmasana. In this asana, the body stands on the head, the veins begin to function smoothly. The regular practice of this asana increases the memory power, prolongs life and keeps the body in sound health.
8. Surya Namaskara
Surya Namaskara is a graceful combines sequence of twelve positions. Through this sequence of twelve positions, the whole body is well exercised. Surya Namaskara also improves eye luster. It is a combination of 10 asanas and the two initial and final positions. As all these exercises are simple, everyone can easily do them. These 12 positions make one complete Surya Namaskara and twenty-five such Surya Namaskaras make one round.
The regular and prolonged practice of Yoga asanas can lead to a long, healthy and happy life. Yoga asanas lead to better mental health and well-being. Research has proven that the people who practice yoga regularly face the lesser risk of lifestyle diseases like diabetes, hypertension, thyroid etc. as compared to those who don't. Longitudinal studies also show better longevity in yoga practitioners. This gift of Ancient India is the miracle we can all work for ourselves, one asana at a time.