An Introduction to Yoga Postures

Yoga is a favorite sport for many body conscious people. It also serves those who enjoy quiet and peaceful scenery as well as those who have limited physical abilities. You can entertain a yoga regime even if you have limited physical ability because many of the postures and poses are not as strenuous or complex as some modern work-out schedules or modern work-out ‘state-of-the-art’ equipment. The stretching techniques imposed in yoga work-outs are amazingly efficient in strengthening the body and in getting it into better shape; so much that practitioners of the art have a name for themselves which is Yogi. ‘Yogis’ are those (men) who practice yoga (although women are known as ‘yogini’), almost as if it were their religion, which in a sense it is.

Meditation

Image by Gurumustuk Singh via Flickr

Yoga postures are often very simple and are particularly helpful at stressful times in a person’s life. The simpler postures and poses can be used without any major conditioning beforehand and are essentially good at reducing stress, anxiety, minor pain, and are also said to improve circulation in our body. The simpler yoga postures are great for recovering after surgery or physical trauma to the body like when you sustain various injuries, and for elevating the mood during bouts of unhappiness or depression. Emotional unhappiness can be further remedied by working your way up to the more advanced postures, each level of achievement let’s its followers find a more and more enhanced level of optimism and peace, or, that is what those who practice yoga are always saying.

Gentle yoga, restorative yoga, Kundalini yoga and Iyengar yoga are the less strenuous yoga disciplines that teach things like breathing, position, meditation, stretches and alignment to the one who participates in yoga. More specifically, gentle yoga is the easiest type of yoga with emphasis on stretching and deep breathing. Next is restorative yoga which is the yoga style that lets you hold simple postures while maintaining a passive mood for the duration of the exercise to aid in restoring the body and for relaxing to the highest standard.

It is very important to learn the proper position of every section of the body and proper movement that is involved in either reaching a position or in any of the stretching activities. Since yoga is meant to be a gentle endeavor that unites your body, mind and soul, especially in its beginners’ forms, you will have alternate positions to choose if you feel strain, pain or uncomfortable sensations of any kind. Those who practice yoga who overcome their discomforts can graduate into choosing the more difficult positions if they choose to do so.

Yoga that involves posture, position and posing is called Hatha Yoga. Within Hatha Yoga, you are expected to experience the birth or awareness of two separate energies, namely the Pranic or ‘vital’ force and the mental force known in Hindi as Chitta. The pranic force is the one that rules the whole physical body and the ‘Ha’ at the first of the word Hatha is synonymous with it while ‘tha’ means the same as chitta or mental force. When the two forces work together in harmony, they serve to render the body as pure and lead the mind into the proper focus for accepting the next yoga disciplines, the more advanced ones such as Kundalini or Chakra. Chakra being the meditation you hear of so often with seven connections or areas of insight, kindness, sexuality, self-confidence, assertiveness, wisdom and speaking ability.

Hatha Yoga or ‘asana’ yoga not only assigns postures for various enlightenments or healing but also includes detox techniques, psychological release and Pranayama. Detox techniques involve six different shatkarmas that involve the stomach and techniques that increase the movement within the stomach, cleanse the windpipe, the nasal passages and the technique of Nasagra Drishti which improves the person’s abilities concerning the act of concentrating within his or her mind.

There are four positions to choose when practicing Hatha Yoga. These include the supine position which is where you lie down on your back while holding your legs straight and together with your arms straight down at your sides and the palms resting on the floor face down, the prone position where you will be lying on your stomach with your arms extended down to your thighs and the palms placed flat on the floor with your chin holding your head up and the sitting or standing positions. The sitting position requires particular alignments, too, just as the supine and prone positions are very specific. In the sitting position for Hatha Yoga, the legs will extend straight in front of you with the heels flush to the floor while the toes and spine are held erect and the arms run straight down the sides with the palms face down on the floor beside of you. In the standing position, the yoga participant stands erect with the feet held close together so that both the big toes and heels of each foot actually touch one another and with the arms straight down the sides with the palms resting on the outer thigh area.

Each of the yoga positions carries a selection of traditional yoga poses with it. Many of the best known poses or ‘postures’ that you have probably heard of or even know how to perform are not in the supine or prone position, but instead in the standing position. This particular position allows for the proper breathing that is so important in yoga and optimum travel of  the intake of this air through the entire length of the body, it is a good starting point for beginning a yoga session. You can even incorporate the poses into your day while doing various other activities if you are serious about yoga and the benefits it has for you. Postures such as the Warrior II, the High Lunge, the Mountain Pose, the Eagle Pose, the Big Toe Pose or the Upward Salute Pose (also called the Palm Tree Pose) take up little floor space and still give you many benefits. The Half Standing Forward Pose, the Intense Side Stretch Pose and the Chair Pose are some more standing poses that strengthen the body’s various muscles such as those in the legs or arms, improve breathing or digestion or prepare the body for more difficult posing. The Chair Pose also stimulates the diaphragm and the heart.

Seated Poses as well as those in the prone or supine positions might require more privacy and more floor space, yet once you are used to them you can probably do these in strategic locations, too, meaning you can enjoy a little yoga stretch, pose or breathing exercise throughout your day, if you like. Yoga is a peaceful activity; there is no noisiness that could play havoc on the environment around you. Seated poses include the Staff Pose, the Lion Pose, the Hero Pose, the Lotus Pose (very well known), the Heron, the Fire Log, and the Cow Face Poses and many others.

There are many websites that include the proper positioning of the body and limbs together with the proper breathing techniques expected to be used for yoga. Sites like www.yogajournal.com show pictures as well as verbal descriptions of the each of the poses. To get you started, the Staff Pose requires that you sit on the floor with your legs straight ahead and close together and with tightened thighs pulling inward toward one another while the inner groins are going inward toward the sacrum. Your lower back should be flexed; your ankles should be flexed and pressing out through the heels of your feet. You should have your back erect and you should think of your spine as a staff at the core of your torso that draws its roots to the earth. This pose is held for at least one minute. The Lotus starts with the legs straight in front of you in the seated position, you then bring your lower right leg up by bending the knee and bringing the foot to the left elbow so that the outside edge of the foot is inside of your elbow where it bends at and at the same time your knee should be wedged into your right elbow. The lower back should stay perfectly straight and you will now raise your left leg and bend it at the knee, take the foot to your inner groin so that it rests in the left groin.

The Locust Pose is a yoga posture or pose that is done in the prone or front down position. It is a back bending position that is a beginner’s pose and supports the more advanced back bend poses you can learn later after you have mastered this one. The Locus is enjoyable in its ability to teach focus and elevate your alertness at the same time it leaves you with tranquility. You will be on your stomach with your legs elevated on the floor as far as you can bring them up and with your arms down your sides but not touching the floor. The feet and hands are parallel to the floor and the head is arched back as far as possible while the chest is lifted off the floor all at the same time forming a deeply arched back. This position is great for building up strength in the back and the abdomen. Each of these yoga postures help in conditioning your body at the core and help the muscles, plus, key mental awareness are involved in each one of them. The names for yoga poses are interesting, mystical, fun, inspirational and memorable. You can and, perhaps, should make yoga a hobby considering all of its feel good wisdom and health benefits.

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  1. […] Yoga at home is a great way to keep fit and do something for yourself.  You should feel proud of yourself if you do yoga at home.  Even if you have had the worst day of your life, if you started the day by doing yoga at home, you have at least one thing to pat yourself on the back for.  Yoga at home is taking the time out to do something special for yourself, and you should feel proud of yourself for doing so. Written by Mary Cooke on October 5, 2011. […]

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