Benefits of Yoga Asanas

The various yoga asanas or postures are known to provide the individual with multifold benefits physically, mentally and also spiritually.

In fact yoga asanas are also known to be one of the best ways to lose weight as this form of exercise is known to help one to lose weight in a uniform manner and that too without any harmful side effects that one may face while trying to lose weight or reach an optimal weight through the various commercial options.

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Except for some of the advanced yoga asanas, yoga can be performed by almost every person at any age. There are also certain specially designed yoga asanas which can be practiced by pregnant women as part of their pre natal exercise program. There are also various cleansing yoga asanas such as Laghu Shankha Prakshalan (digestive system cleansing technique), Basti (colon cleansing) and the Baghi (tiger exercise) which tend to help in maintaining optimum health as they influence the metabolism of an individual by acting upon the various types of hormonal secretions that tend to occur at any given point of time in the body of an individual. The various yoga asanas are not only beneficial to losing weight and to maintaining good health but also help the individual in de-stressing and getting over the various symptoms of that depression and anxiety that one tends to face in their day to day life. It has been observed that by practicing the various yoga asanas an individual is also known to get alleviated from various medical issues such as arthritis, chronic fatigue, AIDS, asthma and even obesity. Some of the advanced yoga asanas also tend to set the individual on a path of discovering themselves as they involve meditation and various breathing techniques. These forms of yoga asanas also make the individual aware of their various levels of consciousness thereby bringing them various psychological and spiritual benefits. It has been medically researched and proven that yoga asanas if practiced correctly on a regular basis are known to help people overcome various respiratory problems. One of the yoga asanas is known as the hatha yoga asanas which is known to be very beneficial for people who are suffering from prostate problems such as an enlarged prostrate. The hatha yoga asanas involve deep breathing, meditation, various strengthening exercises and even stretrching. Nowadays there are also plenty of yoga studios that have come up that train the students on various forms of yoga asanas. These yoga centres or studios also train their students in hatha yoga asanas which besides concentrating on ones breath also gets the individual to concentrate on their alignment. The hatha yoga asanas are known to be one of the best yoga asanas to be practiced by both beginners as well as intermediate level yoga students. Another form of yoga asanas are the Bikram yoga asanas which are relatively more vigorous and hence result in the burning of more calories. Bikram yoga diet also promotes eating of foods that are light, non spicy and hence easy to digest. Bikram yoga asanas are practiced in a room with high temperatures.

A lot has been said and written about yogasanas as part of Yoga. In fact, unfortunately, to man, yoga still means just asanas. Pity, for Yoga is a way of life comprising eight limbs leading to holistic living.

The word asana is derived from its Sanskrit root 'asa - upaveshane', literally meaning, 'to sit'. From which it follows that initially the yogasnas was meant for meditative purposes. Over time though, various rishis and connoisseurs of yoga discovered various ways and means of implementing meditation in a variety of postures in daily life. Not just that, as time passed, they even came to realize the therapeutic benefits of this limb of yoga.

The comprehensive list of asanas was not compiled by any one individual. And even though the sage Patanjali is credited with being the father of Ashtanga yoga and many, if not all people, attribute the entire body of yoga to him, it would be a fallacy to fall for. Truth is, yoga evolved over centuries and many great seers and sages contributed their mite to the subject. When and how exactly it came to be compiled in one volume still remains ambiguous, but today we at least have a comprehensive text, the Hathayoga Pradipika of Svatmarama that contains a more or less complete list and description of the whole body of asanas, pranayamas and yogic kriyas, give or take a few.

Yoga Maharshi Patanjali, in his Yogasutras has defined Yoga as 'Steady and comfortable state means Asana'. (Sthirsukham Asanam). So in essence asana still means being 'in a state of ease and stability'. In any posture. Besides being able to meditate in any position, which was the primordial intent of yoga, down the ages, asanas were discovered to have abundant health benefits and hence their practice came to be a part of the regimen of daily living for ancient Indians. Thankfully, the tradition is seeing a significant revival the world over.

Benefits of Yogasanas

The regular practice of yogasanas has proven to be of immense health and therapeutic value. In addition to their various physiological benefits, research down the decades has proven that they positively affect our minds, as well. Why, our life force energies as well as our creative intelligence can be molded and augmented by their regular practice.

The regular practice of yogasanas helps to keep us physically fit, reduces weight, normalizes blood pressure, controls stress and cholesterol levels and improve overall performance of the body and mind. The resultant physical fitness bring about reduction in stress levels while enhancing vitality. Asana is the only known workout known to tone up the internal structure of the body, be it the organs, blood or blood vessels, while simultaneously bringing about synchronization in levels of vata, pitta and kapha in the body, better explained in detail in Ayurveda.

There are literally hundreds of asanas, generated over the centuries. However, for understanding and actual practice a few will suffice. After all, no one can practice all even in a whole lifetime. For purposes of simplification the different categories of asanas have been classified as follows:

  1. Standing Postures
  2. Sitting Postures
  3. Supine Postures
  4. Prone Postures
  5. Inverted Postures
  6. Balancing Postures

In summation, while yogasanas are a set of postures designed to enhance health and put us in harmony with our inner consciousness, their ultimate aim and purpose is the attainment of a sustained and comfortable sitting posture to facilitate meditation. To achieve this asanas help in balancing and harmonizing the basic structure of the human body. Which is why, if performed regularly and consistently, they have a wide range of therapeutic benefits, both physical and mental.

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