By Bhavan Kumar
“Asana” is a Sanskrit word, meaning “sitting down.” It originally referred to the act of sitting still with a straight spine for meditation. Over time, the meaning of the word “asana” has grown to encompass all yoga postures, including standing, sitting, or lying down postures. Most yoga classes feature common asanas which are performed to provide full-body stretching and strengthening. Asanas are often paired with pranayama, or deep breathing, to produce a well-rounded yoga class which engages the body as well as the mind. The following list describes some common asanas for a yoga training session.
Bound Angle Pose
Bound angle relieves lower back pain, and stretches the inner thighs, groin, hips, and knees. Place the soles of the feet together, pressing down on your knees with your elbows to enhance the stretch. Hold your ankles or feet with your hands, and pull the feet as close to the body as is comfortable.
The bridge can relieve stress and headaches by increasing blood flow to the brain. It stretches the spine and the chest as well. Lie on your back with your arms at your sides. Then, push the pelvis up, knees shoulder-width apart, forming a bridge with the lower body. Clasp hands together under your bottom, keeping the shoulders on the mat.
This pose stretches the back and engages the spine. Begin on all-fours with hands and wrists under the shoulders, knees under the hips, and a flat spine. Pull the tailbone in and up, rounding the back like a cat. To transition to cow pose, slowly sink back to a straight spine, then continue curving the spine by lifting the tail bone, head and chin, forming a deep curve in the spine.
Triangle engages the entire body, including the core. Begin in a standing position on the mat, then step into a wide-legged stance with your feet facing forward. Turn one foot out 90 degrees, and the other in about 45 degrees. Extend the arms out, raising them to shoulder height. Fall forward from the hips, keeping arms extended. Rest the bottom arm on the calf, ankle, or floor while extening the opposite arm up toward the ceiling. Allow your gaze to follow the extended arm up to the ceiling.
Forward bends are beneficial to the entire body. They stretch the hamstrings, relieve pressure from the lower back, and stimulate digestion and detoxification. Stand with feet facing forward. Reach out with the arms, bringing your head towards your feet. Keep a slight bend in the knees. Allow your head, arms, and shoulders to hang and relax. When ready, slowly come back to a standing position.
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