Knowing Yoga Asanas
The Sanskrit term ‘Yoga’ translates to ‘union’. Yoga is defined as the integration of the ‘being’ with the ‘divine’. Indeed, it is the science of the physical and the spiritual body. The practice of Yoga originated in India and the earliest reference about Yoga is found in the Hindu scriptures such as the Rig Veda, the Upanishads, and Patanjali’s ‘Yoga-sutra’.
Patanjali described the various Yoga Asanas as a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices in the form of ‘Sutras’ or aphorisms. Moreover, an ‘asana’ translates to ‘a sitting position’ which is steady and comfortable and enables you to sit in it for a long duration of time.
The Surya-Namaskar or Sun Salutation is a combination of 12 powerful yoga asanas. Besides being an unexcelled cardio-vascular exercise it is also an opportunity to express gratitude to the Sun for sustaining life on this planet. Ideally, it is practiced at the beginning of the practice of yoga asanas.
You can perform the Surya-Namaskar in the following way. In ‘Hastauttanasana’ – As you breathe in, lift both arms from the sides keeping the biceps close to the ears and try to deepen the stretch. In ‘Hastapadasana’ – Breathing out, bend forward and bring the hands down to the floor from the waist keeping the spine erect.
‘Ashwa Sanchalanasana’ – Breathing in, push your right leg back as much possible. Bring the left foot to the floor exactly between the palms. Next, perform the ‘Dandasana’ – Take the left leg back and bring the whole body in a straight line, keeping the arms perpendicular to the floor as you breathe in.
‘Ashtanga Namaskara’ – Now gently bring the knees down to the floor and exhale. Take the hips back slightly and touch the floor with the two hands, two feet, two knees, chest, and chin. ‘Bhujangasana’- Slide forward and raise the chest up into a Cobra pose.
‘Adho Mukha Svanasana’ – As you exhale, lift the hips up to bring the body into an inverted ‘V’ pose.
Now perform the ‘Ashwa Sanchalanasana’ followed by ‘Hastapadasana’ and ‘Hastauttanasana’. As you exhale, straighten the body and bring the arms down in Tadasana.
Tadasana or the ‘mountain pose’ is a standing pose that forms the basis for several other yoga asanas. It improves posture, balance, and helps to establish focus. To perform the ‘Taad asana’ – Stand still with your feet together and arms at the sides.
Breathe in as you put your body-weight on the toes and raise your arms slowly and hold the posture for a few seconds. Now, slowly bring your arms and goes back to the initial posture as you exhale. Moreover, you can perform the Tadasana in different variations keeping the inhaling and exhaling process the same.
Shavasana is known as the ‘corpse pose’ is performed at the end of the practice of all yoga asanas. To practice a Shavasana, lie flat on your back with your legs together and arms close to the body, palms facing upwards. Stay relaxed and consciously bring your attention to each part of the body from your feet to the head. The Shavasana helps regain the relaxed state of the body.
With regular practice of yoga asanas, a harmonious relationship between mind and body can be established. Indeed, ancient mystics have practiced yoga as a strict discipline for time immemorable and been able to unlock greater horizons of self. Therefore, we can truly say that Yoga liberates the mind from the restraints of the physical body.