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Yoga Poses, Postures Yoga Exercises



There are many great reasons to add yoga to your exercise routine. Yoga improves muscle tone, flexibility, and balance, and it helps you relax and reduce stress, thanks in part to its signature pranayama breathing. Research have also shown that yogic practices also reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain; help you sleep better; and enhance overall well-being and quality of life.




Yoga Poses, Postures Yoga Exercises


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"This is a great pose for beginners to use as an assessment," says Gwen Lawrence, yoga coach for the New York Knicks and other sports teams, athletes, and celebrities. "Just sitting on the floor gives you a perfect way to see and feel the external rotation on the legs." This pose also boosts back flexibility and can help relieve stress.


This is a great ending pose for beginners and those experienced at yoga alike. Lie on the floor with your butt right up against a wall. "Walk" your legs straight up the wall so that your body is in an L shape with your torso flat on the floor and perpendicular to the wall. You may want to place a rolled-up blanket under your lower back for support; keep your elbows out to the sides on the floor for additional support. Flex toes to feel a stretch in the backs of your legs. Breathe deeply and hold the position for as long as you like. To release, bring your knees to your chest and roll over to your side.


If you are completely new to exercise, a daily practice may seem overwhelming. Try do some yoga three days per week. But with easy poses like the ones listed here, there is no harm in doing yoga every day.


An āsana (Sanskrit: आसन) is a body posture, originally and still a general term for a sitting meditation pose,[1] and later extended in hatha yoga and modern yoga as exercise, to any type of position, adding reclining, standing, inverted, twisting, and balancing poses. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali define "asana" as "[a position that] is steady and comfortable".[2] Patanjali mentions the ability to sit for extended periods as one of the eight limbs of his system.[2] Asanas are also called yoga poses or yoga postures in English.


The 10th or 11th century Goraksha Sataka and the 15th century Hatha Yoga Pradipika identify 84 asanas; the 17th century Hatha Ratnavali provides a different list of 84 asanas, describing some of them. In the 20th century, Indian nationalism favoured physical culture in response to colonialism. In that environment, pioneers such as Yogendra, Kuvalayananda, and Krishnamacharya taught a new system of asanas (incorporating systems of exercise as well as traditional hatha yoga). Among Krishnamacharya's pupils were influential Indian yoga teachers including Pattabhi Jois, founder of Ashtanga vinyasa yoga, and B.K.S. Iyengar, founder of Iyengar yoga. Together they described hundreds more asanas, revived the popularity of yoga, and brought it to the Western world. Many more asanas have been devised since Iyengar's 1966 Light on Yoga which described some 200 asanas. Hundreds more were illustrated by Dharma Mittra.


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[3][4] and diabetes.[5]


Asanas have appeared in culture for many centuries. Religious Indian art depicts figures of the Buddha, Jain tirthankaras, and Shiva in lotus position and other meditation seats, and in the "royal ease" position, lalitasana. With the popularity of yoga as exercise, asanas feature commonly in novels and films, and sometimes also in advertising.


Asanas originated in India. In his Yoga Sutras, Patanjali (c. 2nd to 4th century CE) describes asana practice as the third of the eight limbs (Sanskrit: अष्टङ्ग, aṣṭāṅga, from अष्ट् aṣṭ, eight, and अङ्ग aṅga, limb) of classical, or raja yoga.[12] The word asana, in use in English since the 19th century, is from Sanskrit: आसन āsana "sitting down" (from आस् ās "to sit down"), a sitting posture, a meditation seat.[13][14][15]


The eight limbs are, in order, the yamas (codes of social conduct), niyamas (self-observances), asanas (postures), pranayama (breath work), pratyahara (sense withdrawal or non-attachment), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (realization of the true Self or Atman, and unity with Brahman, ultimate reality).[16]Asanas, along with the breathing exercises of pranayama, are the physical movements of hatha yoga and of modern yoga.[17][18] Patanjali describes asanas as a "steady and comfortable posture",[19] referring to the seated postures used for pranayama and for meditation, where meditation is the path to samadhi, transpersonal self-realization.[20][21]


By the 17th century, asanas became an important component of Hatha yoga practice, and more non-seated poses appear.[33] The Hatha Ratnavali by Srinivasa (17th century)[34][35] is one of the few texts to attempt an actual listing of 84 asanas,[e]although 4 out of its list cannot be translated from the Sanskrit, and at least 11[f] are merely mentioned without any description, their appearance known from other texts.[35]


The Gheranda Samhita (late 17th century) again asserts that Shiva taught 84 lakh of asanas, out of which 84 are preeminent, and "32 are useful in the world of mortals."[g][36] The yoga teacher and scholar Mark Singleton notes from study of the primary texts that "asana was rarely, if ever, the primary feature of the significant yoga traditions in India."[37] The scholar Norman Sjoman comments that a continuous tradition running all the way back to the medieval yoga texts cannot be traced, either in the practice of asanas or in a history of scholarship.[38]


From the 1850s onwards, a culture of physical exercise developed in India to counter the colonial stereotype of supposed "degeneracy" of Indians compared to the British,[41][42] a belief reinforced by then-current ideas of Lamarckism and eugenics.[43][44] This culture was taken up from the 1880s to the early 20th century by Indian nationalists such as Tiruka, who taught exercises and unarmed combat techniques under the guise of yoga.[45][46] Meanwhile, proponents of Indian physical culture like K. V. Iyer consciously combined "hata yoga" [sic] with bodybuilding in his Bangalore gymnasium.[47][48]


In 1924, Swami Kuvalayananda founded the Kaivalyadhama Health and Yoga Research Center in Maharashtra.[51] He combined asanas with Indian systems of exercise and modern European gymnastics, having according to the scholar Joseph Alter a "profound" effect on the evolution of yoga.[52]


In 1925, Paramahansa Yogananda, having moved from India to America, set up the Self-Realization Fellowship in Los Angeles, and taught yoga, including asanas, breathing, chanting and meditation, to tens of thousands of Americans, as described in his 1946 Autobiography of a Yogi.[53][54]


In 1960, Vishnudevananda Saraswati, in the Sivananda yoga school, published a compilation of sixty-six basic postures and 136 variations of those postures in The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga.[61]


The asanas of hatha yoga originally had a spiritual purpose within Hinduism, the attainment of samadhi, a state of meditative consciousness.[88] The scholar of religion Andrea Jain notes that medieval Hatha Yoga was shared among yoga traditions, from Shaivite Naths to Vaishnavas, Jains and Sufis; in her view, its aims too varied, including spiritual goals involving the "tantric manipulation of the subtle body", and at a more physical level, destroying poisons.[89] Singleton describes Hatha Yoga's purpose as "the transmutation of the human body into a vessel immune from mortal decay", citing the Gheranda Samhita's metaphor of an earthenware pot that requires the fire of yoga to make it serviceable.[90] Mallinson and Singleton note that the purposes of asana practice were, until around the fourteenth century, firstly to form a stable platform for pranayama, mantra repetition (japa), and meditation, practices that in turn had spiritual goals; and secondly to stop the accumulation of karma and instead acquire ascetic power, tapas, something that conferred "supernatural abilities". Hatha Yoga added the ability to cure diseases to this list.[91] Not all Hindu scriptures agreed that asanas were beneficial. The 10th century Garuda Purana stated that "the techniques of posture do not promote yoga. Though called essentials, they all retard one's progress," while early yogis often practised extreme austerities (tapas) to overcome what they saw as the obstacle of the body in the way of liberation.[92]


Sjoman argues that the concept of stretching in yoga can be looked at through one of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, 2.47, which says that [asanas are achieved] by loosening (śaithilya) the effort (prayatna) and meditating on the endless (ananta). Sjoman points out that this physical loosening is to do with the mind's letting go of restrictions, allowing the natural state of "unhindered perfect balance" to emerge; he notes that one can only relax through effort, "as only a muscle that is worked is able to relax (that is, there is a distinction between dormancy and relaxation)."[101] Thus asanas had a spiritual purpose, serving to explore the conscious and unconscious mind.[102]


In a secular context, the journalists Nell Frizzell and Reni Eddo-Lodge have debated (in The Guardian) whether Western yoga classes represent "cultural appropriation". In Frizzell's view, yoga has become a new entity, a long way from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and while some practitioners are culturally insensitive, others treat it with more respect. Eddo-Lodge agrees that Western yoga is far from Patanjali, but argues that the changes cannot be undone, whether people use it "as a holier-than-thou tool, as a tactic to balance out excessive drug use, or practised similarly to its origins with the spirituality that comes with it".[110] 041b061a72


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