Asana 1

IMPORTANT YOGA POSTURES AND ITS BENEFITS

BHUJANGASANA (Cobra Posture)

`Bhujariga’ means cobra. The final position of this Asana resembles the shape of a cobra.

Technique

  • Lie down on stomach with legs together, toes pointing outwards, hands by the sides of the thighs, palm facing upward and forehead resting on the ground.
  • Fold hands at the elbows, place palms on the ground to the sides of the shoulder; thumbs should be under the armpit.
  • Bring chin forward and place it on the ground, gaze in front.
  • Slowly raise the head, neck and shoulders. Raise the trunk up to the navel. Raise the chin as high as possible.
  • Maintain the posture for as long as comfortable. Then slowly bring the body down on the ground, starting from upper part of the navel region, thorax, shoulder and chin; and lastly, place the forehead on the ground.
  • Place the hands by the sides of the thighs; and relax.

Benefits

  • This posture affects the muscles of the back.
  • It is beneficial for relieving flatulence after meals.
  • It can relocate slipped disc, removes backache and keeps spine supple and healthy.
  • It tones the ovaries and uterus, and helps alleviate menstrual and other gynaecological disorders.

Precaution

  • It is strictly prohibited for the patients of hernia and in case of abdominal injuries.

SALABHASANA (Locust Posture)

The meaning of ‘Salabha’ is locust. In the final position of this Asana, body resembles the shape of a locust, hence the name.

Technique

  • Lie down in prone position, place the palms below the thighs, join the heels.
  • While inhaling press the palm downward and lift the legs as high as possible. Look upward and breathe five times.
  • Exhaling bring down the legs. Release the hands.

Benefits

  • Salabhasana is beneficial for the lower back pain.
  • It purifies blood and improves its circulation.

Precaution

  • Those suffering from high blood pressure, heart disease and asthma should not practice it.

DHANURASANA (Bow Posture)

In Sanskrit, Dhanu’ means bow. In the final pose of this Asana, the body takes the shape of a bow; hence the asana is named as Dhanurasana.

Technique

  • Lie down in prone position.
  • Exhaling bend the knees and hold the ankles with hands.
  • While inhaling raise the thighs, head and chest as high as possible.
  • Try to maintain weight of the body on lower abdomen. Join the ankles. Look upward and breathe normally.
  • While exhaling bring down the head and the legs up to knee joint. Maintain this position for some time and slowly come back to the original position.

Benefits

  • Dhanurasana decongests the entire abdominal region and its organs.
  • The liver and pancreas are massaged in this Asana. It is therefore, useful in diabetes mellitus.
  • The ligaments, muscles and nerves in the back are given good stretch and the spinal column is rejuvenated. It is beneficial for treating back pain.
  • It helps to alleviate constipation, dyspepsia and sluggishness of the liver.
  • It straightens the hunched back and drooping shoulders.
  • It helps restoring the displaced navel to its normal position.
  • It regulates the digestive, excretory and reproductive organs in the body.
  • It is useful in treatment of chest ailments.
  • It stimulates and regulates the thyroid and adrenal glands.

Precaution

  • People suffering from hernia, peptic ulcer or duodenal ulcer, appendicitis, colitis, high blood pressure should consult a Yoga expert before practising this asana.

HALASANA (Half Plough Posture and Plough Posture)

This posture is known as Halasana because in its final position, the body resembles the shape of an Indian plough. Those who cannot perform Halasana are advised to do Ardhahalasana.

Technique

  • Take supine position, hands by the sides of thighs, palms resting on the ground.
  • Slowly raise your legs together without bending at knees and stop at 30 angle.
  • After few seconds, raise your legs further up to 60 angle and maintain the position.
  • Now slowly raise the legs at 90 angle. This is the final position of the Ardhahalasana.
  • Pressing the hands on the ground, lift the buttocks rolling the back away from the floor; bring the legs towards the head and touch the floor with the toes behind the head.
  • The body from the hips to shoulders should be kept straight.
  • Maintain this position for as long as comfortable.
  • Stretch the hands straight keeping them on the ground behind the back. This is Halasana. Maintain the posture for as long as comfortable.
  • While returning back to the original position, lower the waist and raise the legs from the ground.
  • Slowly let the waist rest on the ground and bring the legs first at 90 angle and then on the ground without lifting the head.

Benefits

  • This Asana is beneificial in cases of dyspepsia and constipation.
  • The practice of this Asana is useful in cases of diabetes, piles and throat related disorders.
  • Maximum benefits of Halasana can be derived, when Bhujaingasana is also practised immediately after Halasana.

Precaution

  • Those suffering from cervical spondylitis or stiffness in spine, hypertension should avoid this practice.

MATSYASANA (Fish Posture)

In Sanskrit ‘Matsya’ means fish. In the final position of this asana, the body takes the shape of a fish; hence the Asana is known as Matsyasana.

Technique

  • Sit in Padmasana.
  • Slowly bend backward and lie on your back completely. Lift the upper back with support of elbows and palms and place the crown of your head on the ground.
  • Hold the left foot with the right hand and subsequently the right foot with the left hand, resting the elbows on the floor.
  • The knees must touch the ground and the back should be arched to the extent that the body is supported on the head and the knees. Maintain the final posture.
  • While returning release the toes; place palms on the ground; straighten the head with the help of hands and come up slowly.
  • Relax in Savasana.

Benefits

  • Matsyasana gives an excellent massage to the abdominal organs and cures constipation.
  • It is effective in treatment of throat diseases.
  • It expands the chest and is useful in lungs and respiratory disorders.
  • It relaxes the muscles of upper back and makes the spine resilient.
  • It is beneficial in cases of knee and back pain.
  • The pelvic region is given a good stretch.
  • It is useful for ladies in preventing and curing various forms of sexual malfunctioning.
  • It is good for the women suffering from uterus problems and diabetes.

Precaution

  • People who are suffering from peptic ulcer, hernia or any serious spinal ailments should not do this asana without expert advice.

CHAKRASANA (Wheel Posture)

`Cakra’ means wheel. In the final position of this asana, body takes the shape of a wheel, hence the name.

Technique

  • Lie on the back with knees bent and heels touching the buttocks and feet 12 inches apart.
  • Raise the arms; bend the elbows; place the palms on the floor above the shoulders beside the head.
  • Inhale and slowly raise the trunk and arch the back.
  • Gently drop the head and straighten the arms and legs as much as possible.
  • Remain in this posture for as long as comfortable; then come back by slowly lowering the body. In such a way that the head rests on the floor. Lower down the rest of the body also and relax.
  • A variation consists in raising the body on the toes instead on the feet.

Benefits

  • It is claimed that practice of this asana delays senescence (effects of old age).
  • It makes the vertebral column resilient and supple, the waist slim and the chest broad.
  • This asana is good for knees, upper limbs and shoulders.
  • It is especially useful in removing rigidity of the bones and joints of the thoracic cage.

Precaution

  • People suffering from severe cardiac problems, high blood pressure, vertigo, abdominal inflammation and hernia should not practise it.

SARVANGASANA (All Limbs Posture)

Sarvangasana means the Asana which influences all limbs of the body.A shoulder stand position is adopted in this asana.

Technique

  • Take supine position, hands straight by the side of the thighs, palms resting on the ground.
  • Slowly raise the legs together without bending at the knees by pressing the hands. Stop at 30 angle.
  • Raise the legs little more and stop at 60 angle.
  • Now slowly bring it to 90 angle.
  • Pressing the hands, bring the legs towards head by raising the buttocks up. Raise the legs, abdomen and chest. Form a straight line. Place the palms on your back for support.
  • Place the chin against the chest. Maintain the position for as long as comfortable.
  • Slowly return back to the original position. While doing this, first lower the buttocks with hands supporting the back; slowly place the buttocks on the ground and bring the legs at 90 angle.
  • Gradually bring the legs down; place them on the ground without bending them at the knees; and return to the starting (Supine) position.

Benefits

  • This Asana removes the symptoms of immature old age and early greying of hair.
  • It is helpful in treatment of diseases like dyspepsia, constipation, hernia and visceroptosis, piles, uterus prolepses and problems related to endocrine glands.

Precaution

People suffering from high-blood pressure, epilepsy, neck pain, sciatica and lumbar pain should not practice it.

UTTANAPADASANA (Raised Feet Posture)

`Uttana’ in this context means raised-upward and ‘Pada’ means leg. In this Asana, the legs are raised upward in supine position, hence, the name.

Technique

  • Lie comfortably on the ground with legs stretched out. Hands should be placed by the sides.
  • While inhaling slowly raise both the legs without bending them at the knees and bring them to 30 angle.
  • Maintain the position with normal breathing.
  • Exhale and slowly bring both the legs down and place them on the ground.

Benefits

  • It balances the navel centre (Nabhimanipuracakra).
  • It is helpful in relieving abdominal pain, flatulence, indigestion and diarrhea.
  • It builds up the abdominal muscles.
  • It is also effective in overcoming the nervousness.

PAWANAMUKTASANA (Anti-flatus Posture)

Pawana’ means wind and `Mukta’ means released. As the name suggests the practice of this asana helps in releasing excessive gas from the body. This asana when performed with one leg, is called Ekapada Pawanannuktasana.

Technique

  • Lie flat on your back. Stretch out both the legs.
  • Now, lift the right leg and bend it at the knee.
  • Hold the knee by locking both the arms.
  • Exhale and hold your breath; slowly press your knee and bring it down towards the chest.
  • While exhaling raise the head and pull the knee closer to the chest so that the nose touches the knee.
  • Stay in this position for as long as possible.
  • Exhaling bring the head, and then leg back to the floor.
  • Repeat the practice with the left leg. This is one round of Ekapada Pawanamuktasana.
  • Now lift both legs; bend them at the knees and encircle the knees with both arms. Press the knees and bring them towards the chest. Raise the head and pull the knees closer to the chest so that the chin touches the knees. This is Pawanamuktasana.

Benefits

  • The practice of this Asana helps in eliminating toxic gases from abdomen.
  • This Asana relieves constipation and feeling of heaviness in the stomach.
  • Extra fat in the abdominal area is dissolved.
  • The spine becomes strong and flexible.
  • It is good both for the lungs and the heart.

Precaution

  • Never practise it soon after taking the meal.

SAVASANA (Corpse Posture)

In Sanskrit ‘Sava’ means ‘dead body’. The posture is called Savasana as the body in this Asana resembles a dead body.

Technique

  • Lie down on the back with the hands comfortably away from the body.
  • Make a distance of one to two feet between the feet with toes pointing outward.
  • Place both the hands on the ground, 10 inches away from the body with fingers in a semi-flexed position and palms facing upwards.
  • Keep the head in a most convenient position.
  • Gently close the eyes; breathe normally or practice moderately deep abdominal breathing.
  • Attend to the flow of the breath without moving the body.
  • Try to relax all parts of the body by diffusing the tension in each part of the body.

Benefits

  • It helps to reduce stress and removes physical and mental fatigue.
  • It relaxes all muscles and nerves of the body.
  • It is helpful to overcome psychological disorders.
  •  It is very beneficial for managing high blood pressure, cardiac diseases and anxiety disorders.

VIPARITAKARANI MUDRA (Reverse Posture)

The Sanskrit word ‘Viparita’ means ‘reverse’ and ‘Karam’ means ‘by which’. In this Asana the legs are raised upward in lying position.

Technique

  • Lie in relaxed supine position with legs together.
  • Raise the legs up keeping them straight.
  • Push down on the arms and hands and raise the buttock.
  • Support lower back with hands, keeping elbows on the floor.
  • Remain steady for some time.
  • Inhale and exhale completely, hold the breath and pumping of the stomach; this is Viparitakaranimudra.

Benefits

  • Its regular practice improves digestion; stimulates appetite and helps in relieving constipation.
  • This practice improves blood circulation to the brain and increases mental alertness.
  • It brings the brightness to the skin and helps in preventing hair fall.
  • It balances functioning of the thyroid and helps in alleviating the problems caused by hypoactive thyroid.

Precaution

  • People suffering from high blood pressure, heart diseases, enlarged thyroid should not perform this practice.

SETUBANDHA SARVANGASANA (Bride Formation Posture)

`Setubandha’ means formation of bridge. The body, in this posture, is positioned like a bridge. Hence, it is called Setubandhsarvangasana.

Technique

  • Come graduallyto the position of Sarvangasana.
  • Keeping the palms on the back, bring the legs down to 45.
  • Lower the legs gradually so that the feet approach the floor. Let the feet rest on the floor.
  • Raise the spine. Resting on the back of the head, shoulders, upper arms, elbows and soles of the feet; whole body forms a bridge.
  • Stay in this final position with normal breathing initially up to 30 seconds.
  • Come back gradually to the Sarvaligasana, then to Savasana and relax.

Variation

  • Come gradually to the Sarvangasana.
  • Keeping the palms on the back bend the legs at knees; bring the legs further down with the bent knees so that the soles may touch the floor.
  • Remove the hands from the back and hold the ankles with hands. The body now forms a bridge.
  • In the final position, back of the head and neck, the shoulders, arms and the feet will be in contact with the floor.
  • Stay in this position for 30 seconds; the duration can be increased gradually.
  • Gradually, come back to the Sarvangasana by reversing the steps; and then come to Savasana.

Benefits

  • It removes strain on the back and neck.
  • It stretches and massages the colon and other abdominal organs.
  • It tones female reproductive organs.

SIRSASANA (Head Stand Posture)

`Sirsa’ means ‘head’. In this Asana, one has to stand on head so it is called STrsasana.

Technique

  • Put a folded cloth on the floor and kneel near it.
  • Interlock the fingers tightly, palms forming a cup and place them on the folded cloth.
  • Place the head on the cloth so that the crown of the head touches the palms.
  • Raise the knees from the floor by pulling the toes towards the head. Gently swinging from the floor lift the legs with bent knees off the floor.
  • After the body gets properly balanced in this position, gradually and slowly straighten the legs. A sudden attempt at straightening the legs without attaining equilibrium may result in a fall. It may take a little time to balance in the Asana.
  • Stay in this position as per the capacity. Come back by flexing the knees and sliding them down to the floor in reverse order.

Benefits

  • It increases blood circulation to head, thereby, improves memory.
  • This Asana strengthens the nervous system and maintains endocrine glands healthy.
  • This Asana is beneficial for digestive system.
  • It is beneficial for congested throat, diseases of liver and spleen.
  • It improves functioning of pituitary and pineal glands.
  • It improves the power of concentration and is helpful in insomnia.

Precaution

  • Those suffering from high blood pressure, chronic cold, running ear, heartdisease and cervical spondylitis should not practise it.
  • In the beginning, one should practise it for shout duration.

NAUKASANA (Boat Posture)

Nauka means boat. This posture resembles the shape of a boat, hence the name.

Technique

  • Sit on the ground with legs stretched straight in front.
  • Keep the palms on the floor by the side of the hips, with arms straight, the fingers pointing towards feet. Keep the hands straight.
  • Recline the trunk slightly back. Simultaneously, raise the legs from the floor up to 60 degree. Keep the legs stiff and knees tight.
  • Remove the hands from floor bring the arms in front; and stretch them straight parallel to the floor at the level of shoulders. Palms should be facing each other.
  • Balance the body on the buttocks only and stay in this pose with normal breathing.
  • Exhale; lower the hands, bring the legs back to the floor and lie down and relax.

Benefits

  • It reduces fat over the waist.
  • It tones up the kidneys.
  • It is beneficial for the gastric problems. Precaution
  • People suffering from hernia should consult an expert before practising it.

BAKASANA (Crane Posture)

In Sanskrit, `Baka’ means ‘crane’. The final posture of the body in this Asana resembles a crane, hence, the name.

Technique

  • Squat on the floor.
  • Place the hands flat on the ground in front of the feet.
  • Press the arms and raise the feet with bending knees above the ground.
  • Hold the body above the ground, keeping the hands on the ground.
  • Maintain the position as long as comfortable.

Benefits

  • It develops the faculty of balancing the body.
  • It relieves ailments of shoulders.
  • It builds up cardiac reserves also.
  • This asana is good for increasing concentration.

Precaution

  • People with high blood pressure and heart disease should not practise this Asana.

MAYURASANA (Peacock Posture)

`Mayura’ means peacock. In this Asana, the body takes the shape of a peacock.

Technique

  • Sit in Vajrasana. Open the knees and come to the kneeling position by placing the knees on the floor.
  • Bend forward, stretch out the fingers of your hands and place the palms on the ground with fingers pointing towards the feet.
  • Bend the elbows keeping forearms together. Place elbows gently on either side of the navel with chest resting on the back of upper arms.
  • Stretch both the legs; keeping the legs together slowly come forward very cautiously.
  • Supporting the weight of body on hands and wrists, raise the legs from the floor.
  • Stretch the head and trunk forward.
  • Maintain this position as long as comfortable. In the final position body remains parallel to the ground with legs stretched out and feet together.
  • Come back by lowering the head; place the knees on the floor and then legs on the ground.

Benefits

  • The practice of this Asana relieves the indigestion, constipation and flatulence. It is useful for removing maladies of the abdomen.
  • This asana is useful for treating defective eyesight.
  • It strengthens the hands and arms.
  • It is beneficial also for the lungs.
  • It cures diabetes also.

Precaution

  • Person suffering from hernia and abdominal injuries should not practice it.
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