Asanas and their Benefits

Regular Yoga practice promotes both mental and physical wellbeing. With this aim in mind, each Asana was designed to stimulate, exercise and massage specific areas of the body. A balanced programme of Asanas reconditions the whole body, working on every muscle, nerve and organ. The basic and advanced Asanas listed here are some of the core exercises of Hatha Yoga practice.

BASIC ASANAS

• The Mountain (Tadasana) is the first Asana, and is often used as a starting point for other Asanas; it aids peace and concentration and develops a sense of balance and alignment.

• The Tree (Vrksasana) develops the powers of concentration and sense of balance; it also strengthens the ankles and the muscles in the legs, back and chest.

• The Triangle (Trikonasana) stretches the spine laterally and helps proper functioning of the digestive system; regular practice results in a trimmer waistline and toned leg muscles.

• The Reverse Triangle (Parivrtta Trikonasana) lengthens and twists the sides, stretching the spine laterally and promoting flexibility in the chest and shoulders; it also develops the sense of balance.

• The Lotus (Padmasana) is the classic pose for meditation and Pranayama; it clears the mind, enhances concentration and increases flexibility in the hips, knees and ankles.

• The Warriors I and II (Virabhadrasana) strengthen and tone the legs and hips, and firm the muscles of the back, chest and arms; they also promote improvements in balance and concentration.

• The Bow (Dhanurasana) strengthens the abdominal muscles, expands the chest, increases the elasticity of the spine and stimulates the internal organs; it also promotes the circulation.

• The Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana) was named after Matsyendra, one of the first teachers of Hatha Yoga; it encourages flexibility in the spine and stimulates the internal organs.

• The Camel (Ultrasana) improves flexibility in the back and shoulders, strengthens the thighs and tones the waist and abdomen; it can also help to correct rounded shoulders.

• The Cobra (Bhujangasana) flexes and strengthens the spine and stretches the muscles in the legs, abdomen and jaw; it also benefits the digestive system and can relieve constipation.

ADVANCED ASANAS

• The Plough (Halasana) promotes suppleness in the spine and stretches the whole body; the compression of the abdomen massages the internal organs, aiding digestion and bowel action.

• The Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana) is called the Queen or Mother of Asanas because it soothes the entire body; it strengthens the spine and promotes circulation, preventing or relieving varicose veins. It also has a beneficial effect on the thyroid and parathyroid glands and calms the nervous system.