Yoga has caught the imagination of the world. Whilst it originated in India, there is possibly no country on the planet where it is not practiced today. Asana refers to the physical aspect of yoga as well as to particular postures. Though the postures are mostly inspired by nature, there are also those that depict revered deities.
However, Yoga is much more than something one does on a mat. It is a philosophy. Besides asanas, it encompasses pranayama (breathing exercises), dhyana (meditation), yamas (codes of social conduct), niyamas (self observances), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), and samadhi (bliss). Simply put, Yoga nurtures all aspects of the human personality to help us make the most of our lives.
Bhagwaan Shiva is believed to have been the first exponent of Yoga, the reason why he is also known as Adiyogi. Ma Parvati, his consort, was his first disciple.
What does Asana mean?
Asana means a state of being in which one remains physically and mentally steady, calm and comfortable while in a specific physical posture.
Mind Body Connection
Asana helps to steady an otherwise restless or lethargic body. In turn it helps to steady the mind since the two are interconnected. Any blockages or knots in one manifest in the other. Asana combined with pranayama (breathing exercise), and yogic relaxation, can tackle such knots and blockages. The results are the release of dormant energy; the body becoming full of vitality; the mind becoming calm, creative, joyful and balanced.
Yogasana vs Exercise
Yogasana is often thought to be an exercise. This is far from the truth. Asana is a specific body posture designed to have specific effects on the endocrine glands, internal organs, and the nervous system. Exercises, on the other hand, impose a beneficial stress on the body to prevent muscles wastage, strengthen bones, increase oxygen absorption capacity, and improve agility.
Typically during exercise, respiratory and metabolic rates increases and the body becomes heated. In the practice of yogasana the respiratory and metabolic rates fall, and the body cools down.
Chakras in the Human Body
Dhanur Asana or Bow Pose
- Reconditions the entire alimentary canal, leading to improved functioning of the digestive, excretory and reproductive organs.
- Helps remove gastrointestinal disorders, dyspepsia, chronic constipation and sluggishness of the liver.
- Tones pancreas and adrenal glands, balancing their secretions.
- Helps reduce excess weight around the abdomen.
- Helps in management of diabetes and menstrual disorders.
- Realigns the spinal column and the ligaments. Activates muscles and nerves, removing stiffness. It helps to correct hunching of the upper back. It strengthens leg muscles, especially the thighs.
Vriksh Asana or Tree Pose
- Strengthens the spine and improves body posture.
- Strengthens thighs, knees, and calf muscles.
- Improves balance.
- Can help relieve sciatica pain.
- Helps in improving concentration.
Parvat Asana or Mountain Pose
- Strengthens the nerves and muscles in the limbs and back.
- Helps to increase height in children by stretching muscles and ligaments, enabling growing bones to grow longer.
- Stimulated blood circulation, especially in the upper spine between the shoulder blades.
Nataraja Asana or Lord of the Dance Pose
- This asana strengthens the back, shoulders, arms, hips and legs.
- It helps develop a sense of balance and coordination and improves concentration.
- Due to the intense focus required to practice this pose, it is excellent for those people who have a busy mind that will not shut off.
Bhujanga Asana or Cobra Pose
- Improves and deepens breathing.
- Helps to remove backache and keep the spine supple and healthy.
- It tones the ovaries and uterus, and helps in menstrual and some other gynaecological disorders.
- Stimulates the appetite, alleviates constipation