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Asanas: Seated & Twist Poses

child's pose
All Levels

Child's Pose | Balasana / Garbbasana

Form: Hatha

Description: The name comes from the Sanskrit words bala (child) and asana (pose). Balasana is also known as Child's Resting Pose.

In this pose, the body faces the floor in a fetal position. The knees and hips are bent with the shins on the floor. The chest can rest either on the knees or the knees can be spread to about the width of a yoga mat, allowing the chest to go between the knees. The head is stretched forward towards the ground - the forehead may touch the ground. The arms may be stretched forward in front of the head or backwards towards the feet.

Balasana is a simple relaxation position in yoga. The pose can become active through breath. Many yoga instructors recommend using this pose if a rest is needed and allow students to substitute this pose for Downward Dog during a sun salutation. It is usually practiced before and after Sirsasana/Headstand.


Lotus Pose
Intermediate

Lotus Pose | Padmāsana

Form: Hatha

Description: Padmāsana means "Lotus throne" and is also a term for actual thrones, often decorated with lotus foliage motifs, on which figures in art sit. In Balinese Hinduism, a prominent feature of temples is a special form of padmasana shrine, with empty thrones mounted on a column, for deities, especially Acintya.

From a seated posture, one foot is placed on top of the opposite thigh with sole facing upward and heel close to the abdomen. The other foot is then placed on the opposite thigh in a symmetrical way.

The knees are in contact with the ground. The torso is placed in balance and alignment such that the spinal column supports it with minimal muscular effort. The torso is centered above the hips. To relax the head and neck, the jaw is allowed to fall towards the neck and the back of the neck to lengthen. The shoulders move backwards and the ribcage lifts. The tongue rests on the roof of the mouth. The hands may rest on the knees in chin or jnana mudra. The arms are relaxed with the elbows slightly bent.

The eyes may be closed, the body relaxed, with awareness of the overall posture. Adjustments are made until balance and alignment are experienced. Alignment that creates relaxation is indicative of a suitable posture for the asana. The posture should be natural and comfortable, without any sharp pains.

In most cases, a cushion (zafu) or mat (zabuton) is necessary in order to achieve this balance. One sits on the forward edge of the cushion or mat in order to incline one's pelvis forward, making it possible to center the spine and provide the necessary support. Only the most flexible people can achieve this asana without a support under their pelvis (and The Dalai Lama has explicitly advised against doing so).

Those without sufficient flexibility to place both knees on the ground when in full lotus position should not use it, as it strains the knees and lower back of such people. Other meditation asanas are indicated until sufficient flexibility has been developed to sit comfortably in the Lotus. Sciatica, sacral infections and weak or injured knees are contra-indications to attempting the posture.

The Lotus position is adopted to allow the body to be held completely steady for long periods of time. As the body is steadied the mind becomes calm, the first step towards meditation. The flow of prana from muladhara chakra in the perineum is directed to sahasrara chakra in the head, heightening the experience of meditation. The posture applies pressure to the lower spine which may facilitate relaxation. The breath can slow down, muscular tension decrease and blood pressure subside. The coccygeal and sacral nerves are toned as the normally large blood flow to the legs is redirected to the abdominal region. Digestion may also be improved.


sphinx pose
All Levels

Sphinx Pose (Half-Cobra Pose) | Ardha Bhujangasana

Form: Hatha

Description: The name comes from the Sanskrit words bhujanga (snake, serpent) and asana (pose).

Bhujangasana may strengthen the spine stretch the chest, shoulders, and abdomen, firm the buttocks, and relieve stress and fatigue.

Traditional texts say that Bhujangasana increases body heat, destroys disease, and awakens kundalini. Bhujangasana is often followed by Salabhasana.

Common postural errors during this pose include over-arching the neck and lower back. One recommendation is to keep the gaze directed down at the floor and focus on bringing movement into the area between the shoulder blades (the thoracic area, or middle back).


Cobra Pose
All Levels

Cobra Pose | Bhujangasana

Form: Hatha

Description: The name comes from the Sanskrit words bhujanga (snake, serpent) and asana (pose).

Bhujangasana may strengthen the spine stretch the chest, shoulders, and abdomen, firm the buttocks, and relieve stress and fatigue.

Traditional texts say that Bhujangasana increases body heat, destroys disease, and awakens kundalini. Bhujangasana is often followed by Salabhasana.

Common postural errors during this pose include over-arching the neck and lower back. One recommendation is to keep the gaze directed down at the floor and focus on bringing movement into the area between the shoulder blades (the thoracic area, or middle back).


Diamond Cobra Pose
Advanced

Diamond Cobra Pose | Vajra Bhujangasana

Form: Hatha

Description: The name comes from the Sanskrit words bhujanga (snake, serpent) and asana (pose).

Bhujangasana may strengthen the spine stretch the chest, shoulders, and abdomen, firm the buttocks, and relieve stress and fatigue.

Traditional texts say that Bhujangasana increases body heat, destroys disease, and awakens kundalini. Bhujangasana is often followed by Salabhasana.

Common postural errors during this pose include over-arching the neck and lower back. One recommendation is to keep the gaze directed down at the floor and focus on bringing movement into the area between the shoulder blades (the thoracic area, or middle back).


Extended Half Bow Pose
All Levels

Extended Half Bow Pose | Utthita Ardha Dhanurasana

Form: Hatha

Description: Backward extension of the spine is achieved with the back muscles, not by leverage with the arms. The spine is extended fully from the hips to the head before moving into this — or any — pose.


Half Bow Pose
All Levels

Half Bow Pose | Ardha Dhanurasana

Form: Hatha

Description: Backward extension of the spine is achieved with the back muscles, not by leverage with the arms. The spine is extended fully from the hips to the head before moving into this — or any — pose.


Bow Pose
All Levels

Bow Pose | Dhanurasana

Form: Hatha | a.k.a Urdva Chakrasana

Description: Backward extension of the spine is achieved with the back muscles, not by leverage with the arms. The spine is extended fully from the hips to the head before moving into this — or any — pose.


Head to Knee Forward Bend Pose
All Levels

Head to Knee Forward Bend Pose | Janu Sirsasana

Form: Hatha

Description: Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee Pose). The Sankrit name is pronounced JAH-noo sheer-SHAHWS-anna.

Janu means knee, sirsa means the head, and asana means pose in Sanskrit.

Janu Sirsasana is a spinal twist. It is a pose to enjoy asymmetry. The potential is to free up constriction in different parts of the back and to loosen the hamstrings. Janu Sirsasana differs from Pascimottanasana in its asymmetry in the legs and hips, and in the twisting action this asana imparts to the spine.


Marichi I Pose
All Levels

Marichi I Pose | Marichyasana I

Form: Hatha

Description:


Seated Gate Pose
All Levels

Seated Gate Pose | Parighasana

Form: Hatha

Description:(par-ee-GOSS-anna)


Split
Intermediate

Splits Pose | Hanumanasana

Form: Hatha

Description: Hanumanasana, or Monkey pose (Sanskrit: हनुमन्सन), is an advanced hatha yoga posture. The name comes from the Sanskrit words Hanuman (a divine entity in Hinduism who resembles a monkey) and asana (posture), and commemorates the giant leap made by Hanuman to reach the Lankan islands from the mainland of India. Hanumanasana is also known as the Splits.

The yogi pushes one leg forward and one leg backwards until they are in the splits position. Once the yogi has moved the legs into position, there are several variations of arm and upper body position including Añjali Mudrā.

This asana is of utmost spiritual significance, as well as requiring significant physical flexibility. It stretches the hamstrings and groin.


Bound Angle Pose
All Levels

Bound Angle Pose | Baddha Koṇāsana

Form: Hatha

Description: Baddha Koṇāsana from Sanskrit baddha (bond, chain, caught or restrained), kona (corner or angle), is also known as the Cobbler pose or the Bound Angle pose after the typical sitting position of Indian cobblers.

From sitting position with both the legs outstretched forward, hands by the sides, palms resting on the ground, fingers together pointing forward, the legs are hinged at the knees so the soles of the feet meet. The legs are grasped at the ankles and folded more until the heels reach the perineum. The knees remain on the ground, the body erect and the gaze in front. The pose is held before coming back to the starting position. The thighs are stretched with care. It is a strong groin and hip-opener and one of the few asanas that can be practiced comfortably soon after eating. Regular practise of this posture may be beneficial for the lumbar region, flat feet, high blood pressure, infertility and asthma.


Corpse Pose
All Levels

Corpse Pose | Savasana

Form: Hatha

Description: Alternately spelled shavasana, and also known as mrta-asana, savasana is a yoga asana often used to begin and conclude a yoga session. It is a relaxing posture intended to rejuvenate body, mind and spirit. While savasana is a good way to reduce stress and tension, it is not recommended for meditation as it has a tendency to induce sleepiness. Drowsiness or restlessness of the mind while in savasana may be counteracted by increasing the rate and depth of breathing.

As a relaxation posture which may involve cooling after exertion, extra clothing or covering may be necessary. Lying on the back, the arms and legs are spread at about 45 degrees, the eyes are closed and the breath deep, using dirga pranayama. The whole body is relaxed onto the floor with an awareness of the chest and abdomen rising and falling with each breath. All parts of the body are scanned for muscular tension of any kind, which is consciously released as it is found, optionally with a small repetitive movement of the area. All control of the breath, the mind, and the body is then released for the duration of the posture, typically 20-30 minutes.

The posture is released by slowly deepening the breath, flexing the fingers and toes, reaching the arms above the head, stretching the whole body, exhaling, bringing the knees to the chest and rolling over to the side in a fetal position. After a short time and a slow inhalation, the practitioner takes a seated position.

Following an asana practice ending in savasana, the body may be in the anabolic state of metabolism during which organ and muscle repair and development is occurring[citation needed]. Activities requiring the body to switch back to the highly active catabolic state of metabolism are therefore reintroduced sensitively, as the two states do not coexist well.


Salutation Seal
All Levels

Salutation Seal | Añjali Mudrā

Form: Hatha

Description: Añjali Mudrā is a hand gesture which is found throughout Asia. It is used as a sign of respect and a greeting in India and amongst yoga practitioners and adherents of similar traditions. The gesture is incorporated into many yoga asanas.

Anjali mudra is performed by pressing the palms of the hands together. The fingers are together with fingertips pointing up. The hands are pressed together firmly and evenly.

In the most common form of anjali mudra, the hands are held at the heart chakra with thumbs resting lightly against the sternum. The gesture may also be performed at the brow chakra with thumb tips resting against the "third eye" or at the crown chakra (above the head). In some yoga postures, the hands are placed in anjali mudra position to one side of the body or behind the back.

Anjali mudra is normally accompanied by a slight bowing of the head.

Anjali mudra has the same meaning as the Sanskrit greeting Namaste and can be performed while saying Namaste or Pranam, or in place of vocalizing the word.

The gesture is used for both greetings and farewells, but carries a deeper significance than a simple "hello" or "goodbye". The joining together of the palms is said to provide connection between the right and left hemispheres of the brain and represents unification or "yoking". This yoking is symbolic of the practitioner's connection with the divine in all things. Hence, performing anjali mudra is an honouring of both the self and the other as the gesture acknowledges the divinity of both practitioner and recipient.


Ear Pressure Pose
All Levels

Ear Pressure Pose | Karnapidasana

Form: Hatha

Description: This yoga pose is a complete extension of the spine, allowing the therapeutic fluids to bathe each vertebrae. Knee to Ear Yoga Pose is an advancement of the Plough Pose, the length from the knees to the toes is parallel to the ground. The skull becomes the root of the posture and allows for a gentle stretch of the neck.


Cow Face Pose
All Levels

Cow Face Pose | Gomukhāsana

Form: Hatha

Description: Gomukhasana or the Cow-face Pose derives its name from the Sanskrit "Go" meaning cow and "Mukha" meaning face. The word "Go" also means light, so "gomukh" may refer to the light in or of the head, or lightness of the head. The posture gets its name because the thighs and calves of the person performing it resemble a cow's face, wide at one end and tapering toward the other (not apparent in image used here).

The pose stretches several parts of the body simultaneously, including ankles, thighs, hips, chest, neck, arms and hands.


Diamond Pose
All Levels

Diamond Pose | Vajrasana

Form: Hatha

Description: The practitioner sits on the heels with the calves beneath the thighs. There is a four finger gap between the knee-caps and the first toe of both the feet touch each other.

See also Seiza, a similar Japanese sitting position.


Boat Pose
All Levels

Boat Pose | Navasana

Form: Hatha

Description: In Sanskrit, nava means boat, thus the literal translation is "boat pose", in which the body could be imagined to resemble a boat, entirely balanced on the buttocks.

The asana strengthens the abdominal muscles, the legs and the lower back. Regular practise is also claimed to relieve stress and kidney, thyroid, prostate and intestinal problems, as well as improve digestion.


Both Feet Big Toe Pose
Intermediate

Both Feet Big Toe Pose | Ubhaya Padangusthasana

Form: Hatha

Description: oub-HA-ya pod-awng-goosh-TAWS-ahna


Happy Baby Pose
All Levels

Happy Baby Pose | Ananda Balasana

Form: Hatha | a.k.a Blissful Baby, Dead Bug

Description: Lie on your back and bend your knees into your chest. Take hold of the outer edges of your feet with your knees at your armpits. Pull the feet down so that the knees come closer to the floor. Relax the shoulders and head on the floor.


Hero Pose
All Levels

Hero Pose | Vīrāsana

Form: Hatha

Description: Vīrāsana -Translation: In Sanskrit, Vira means hero. Asana means pose or posture.

Virasana is one of the basic seated yoga poses, that is a Hatha yoga posture. It is the starting pose for several forward and backwards bends and certain twists. The Virasana may also be used as an alternative to other seated poses such as the Padmāsana (Lotus Pose).

Variations: As is common with most yoga poses, there are many variations to the Virasana, depending on the school of yoga that is followed. Some of the more popular variations include Downward Facing Hero Pose (Adho Mukha Virasana) and Reclining Hero Pose (Supta Virasana), shown in the photo.


Frog Pose
Intermediate

Frog Pose | Bhekasana

Form: Hatha

Description:


Reclining Hero Pose
All Levels

(Reclining) Hero Pose | Supta Vīrāsana

Form: Hatha

Description: Vīrāsana -Translation: In Sanskrit, Vira means hero. Asana means pose or posture.

Virasana is one of the basic seated yoga poses, that is a Hatha yoga posture. It is the starting pose for several forward and backwards bends and certain twists. The Virasana may also be used as an alternative to other seated poses such as the Padmāsana (Lotus Pose).

Variations: As is common with most yoga poses, there are many variations to the Virasana, depending on the school of yoga that is followed. Some of the more popular variations include Downward Facing Hero Pose (Adho Mukha Virasana) and Reclining Hero Pose (Supta Virasana), shown in the photo.


Half Spinal Twist Pose
All Levels

Half Spinal Twist Pose | Ardha Matsyendrāsana

Form: Hatha | a.k.a Half Lord of the Fishes Pose

Description: The half spinal-twist posture translation from Sanskrit. Ardha means Half; Matsya means Fish; Eendra means King; Asana means Posture.

Ardha Matsyendrāsana allows the spine to be twisted all the way from the base of the spine to the very top. The pose is named after the great yogi, Matsyendranath, who according to some texts is considered the father of modern yoga practices. This asana tones the spinal nerves and ligaments, and improves digestion.


Lotus Cobra Pose
Intermediate

Lotus Cobra Pose | Padma Bhujangasana

Form: Hatha

Description: The name comes from the Sanskrit words bhujanga (snake, serpent) and asana (pose).

Bhujangasana may strengthen the spine stretch the chest, shoulders, and abdomen, firm the buttocks, and relieve stress and fatigue.

Traditional texts say that Bhujangasana increases body heat, destroys disease, and awakens kundalini. Bhujangasana is often followed by Salabhasana.

Common postural errors during this pose include over-arching the neck and lower back. One recommendation is to keep the gaze directed down at the floor and focus on bringing movement into the area between the shoulder blades (the thoracic area, or middle back). Legs are in lotus position.


Heron Pose
Intermediate

Heron Pose | Krounchasana

Form: Hatha

Description:


Noose Pose
Intermediate

Noose Pose | Pāśāsana

Form: Hatha

Description: The literal meaning of pasa (or pasha) is snare, trap, bond or noose. The human body creates a noose by wrapping the arms around the squatting legs with the hands clasped behind the back.This asana is said to be therapeutic for mild back, shoulder and neck tension, asthma, indigestion, flatulence, menstrual discomfort and sciatica.

Also known as Badha Vakra Pada Utkasana.


Child's Pose (variation)
Advanced

Child's Pose (variation) | Garbhāsana

Form: Hatha

Description: The Sanskrit word "Garbha" means "foetus". Garbhāsana is a Hatha yoga posture. During the performance of this asana, the body takes on the shape of a foetus. Therefore, this asana is called Garbhasana.

This Asana Helps To Cure Diseases Like Colic Pain, Flatulence, Enteritis, Chronic Fever, Constipation.

This Asana keeps the abdominal organs trim. It cures gas-trouble and increases the digestion-power.

The abdominal organs, the breast and the joints of the arms and the legs get sufficient exercise through this asana and their ailments disappear.