Basic Yoga Poses (Asanas)
In most forms of Yoga there are three components to the practice; breathing, concentration and physical poses also known as asanas. The two poses below are the most common asanas used in Western Yoga practice today.
Padma-Asana: Probably the most famous and well-known pose; the Padma-asana is referred to as the Lotus Position. The root of the words to this pose mean to "bend", and "snake". Think of it as the maneuvering of the body into a position that requires the flexibility and smoothness of a snake.
To practice this pose, sit down and place the right foot on the left thigh and the left foot on the right thigh. The soles of the feet should be facing towards the sky. Next, the palms of the hands are also turned toward the sky and placed on the corresponding thigh. It is a difficult pose to retain for long periods of time if the body is not properly conditioned. It is therefore paramount to begin with short periods and work into a longer time frame.
Sirsha-Asana: The Headstand Pose. The benefits of the notorious head stand pose are to increase the physical and mental health of the person practicing it. The pose encourages balance and stability on the physical level and mental acuity on the intellectual level. Additionally, it improves blood flow throughout the body and helps to decrease tension and stress in the lower limbs.
To practice this pose, begin in a kneeling position. Lean forward to place the arms, from hands to elbows, flat on the floor, and interlock the fingers of both hands. The head should be placed between the hands, flat on the floor. Push up from the kneeling position on the tips of the toes keeping head on the floor. Slowly bring the legs into an extended, upright hand stand position, keeping the entire body aligned, straight and balanced. Special breathing techniques are also employed during this pose which enhances the overall effect of the asana.