Types of Yoga Asanas and Poses

Types of Yoga Asanas and Poses

Posted On : 22 April 2017.

Posted By : Yogi Mahesh Chetan.

Yoga poses can be quite overwhelming if you just wander into a class. If you have a sports background, you may be familiar with some of the stretching poses that's done during warm up and cool down. Here, we will look at the 6 basic types of asanas practiced in yoga and their benefits.

Standing asanas (Utistha Sthithi)

Standing asanas (Utistha Sthithi)

Standing poses breaks the lazy, (innate) lazy nature of the body and brings activeness in the practitioner. These poses also correct the structure and the posture of a person by improving the sense of balance. It forces the practitioner’s body to enhance proper weight distribution. It’s also a foundation for most of the yoga asanas. Standing asanas build base intelligence for other poses and strengthens the body and improves stamina. The active nature of the poses stimulates the body and creates heat in the body.

Sitting asanas (Upavistha) stithi

Sitting asanas (Upavistha) stithi

These are introduced after the standing asanas as they give rest and reduce strain on the legs. They create freedom in the movements of the knees, groins, ankles and feet. It’s always better to work on the gluteus before attempting forward extension, as origin of action in forward extension is in the gluteus area. The pain in forward extension can be from lack of movement in the gluteus. Doing standing and seated forward extension asanas to bring freedom of movement, in sacral, coxigial, gluteus muscle can help with improving flexibility.

Furthermore, wide-legged forward fold and triconasan are helpful poses to stretch the hamstring before attempting forwardfold.

Forward extension (paschima pratana)

Forward extension (paschima pratana)

The heart faces the floor in all the forward extensions. This gives rest and helps one recover from fatigue. Forward extension also brings calmness and quietness to the mind. It’s a passive pose compared to other yoga poses. These pose can build endurance and mental strength. If you find your mid to be agitated, forward extensions could help you calm it down.

Lateral extension (parivarta)

Lateral extension (parivarta)

These asanas are introduced after achieving the concave and forward extensions of the spine. The rotational extension of the spine gradually brings it to a neutral position, from forward as well as backward extensions.

Backward extension

Backward extension

These poses should be introduced gently, with simple asanas such as downdog.

It's ideal for down dog to be taught before back extension, so that freedom is created, in the lumbar, sacral, and coxigial region. In advanced backward extensions, freedom in the dorsal, lumbar and sacrum is the primary and essential requirement. Here, the adrenal glands are activated / stimulated, which is opposite to forward extension.

Inversions

Inversions

Inversions maintain the hormone balance it also stimulates pituitary and thyroid glands and maintain hormonal balance. The variations of headstand or supported headstand and supported shoulder stand are done along with the main asanas as inversions. Variations of shoulder stands and plough, pacifies the system, cools the body and relaxes the nerves. One cannot do the asanas, which activate or stimulate the body mind, immediately after these asanas; as this may irritate the nerves, and agitate the mind, breaking the inner peace.

One can however, continue with forward, lateral or supine extension poses.
The process is reversed after the headstand. After headstand, one can choose stimulating asanas such as standing asanas or backward extensions or other pacifying asanas.

Halasana, bridge or headstand are ideal to be taught before teaching handstands. Why halasana (plough pose) is thought first? In halasana, one learns to balance, and bear the weight of the body on the shoulders. It brings about freedom of the neck and shoulders, which paves the way to shoulder stand through one-legged shoulder stands. At this stage, one begins to sense and feel the inversions.