Asana is derived from the Sanskrit word “asanam” which means “a sitting posture”. It is used in the practice of yoga and is estimated to have thousands of them around the world. Asanas are described as simple and relaxed, allowing people with average to complex abilities to execute the exercise.
A yoga session usually involves a series of Asanas holding them for a definite period of time and sometimes longer than usual. Asana postures focuses on the mind and body meant to promote health, stillness, and inward reflection. Some of these Asanas can be quite physically challenging while there are also those widely used for meditative practices. In most cases, the longer the Asana is held the greater benefits it provides (way of traditional hatha yoga). There are also specific Asanas working on building Prana (vital energy) and Chakras.
There are three main Asana postures with different purposes widely practiced today called Meditative Asanas, Asanas for Improving Health, and Relaxing Asanas. All three of them has great benefits to offer and has been an important factor for Yoga practice.
There are Asanas that are specifically practiced for meditation purposes providing a firm support and maintaining the body’s posture for a longer time. These poses of Yoga helps to circulate the blood flow down to the legs, makes more blood in the pelvic region and at the lower abdominal region. Meditative Asanas include Padsamana or Lotus Pose, Siddhasan or Perfect Pose, and Samasana or Balance Pose. These postures help the mind to be peacefully and mentally focused. They are used to alleviate the body for advanced practices on Pranayama and meditation.
Asanas for Health Improvement
There are numerous good effects that Asanas offer to the human body systems. The Matsyendrasana or Spinal Twist Pose for instance has a great effect on the digestive system and the pancreas for insulin production improvement. The Sarvangasana or the Shoulder Stand Pose on the other hand, affects the hormones of our endocrine glands primarily the thyroid glands. There are Asanas that particularly promotes good health to our body organs and are classified according to their categories; yoga for obesity, diabetes, and hypertension are few examples of these Asana categories.
Two examples of relaxing Asanas are Shavasana or Corpse Pose and Makarasana or Crocodile Pose. Both of them, among other types of relaxing Asanas are good for complete rest to the physical body and mind. More of these relaxing Asanas include Dradhasana or Firm Pose that is considered best for sleeping, and Bhujangasana or Cobra Pose good for spinal exercise.
Overall, Asanas provide a full training of body and mind and can be practice at any time. Yoga is a very old practice which is today more and more understood and recognized scientifically. Everybody can practice Yoga, at any age !