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Categories of Yoga poses

The asanas can be classified or catagorized in various ways, depending on the application of the asanas, usefulness to various physical conditions, level of practice.

Meditative asanas - Some asanas are specially for practice of meditation, they provide a firm support to the posture and help maintain the body posture for longer time. These yoga poses regulate the blood flow to the legs and make available more blood in the pelvic region and lower abdominal region. These positions allow the mind to be peaceful and focused. Yogasana like Padmasana (Lotus pose), Siddhasana (Perfect pose), Swastikasana( Auspicious pose) Vajrasan (thunderbolt pose), Samasana (balance pose) etc are called as meditative asanas. The purpose of this asana is to stabilize the body for advanced practices of Pranayama and Meditation.

Asanas for Improving health - Asanas have a good effect on various systems in the human body, such as Matsyendrasana (spinal twist pose) has a good effect on the digestive system and a good effect on the pancreas for improving the insulin production, Sarvangasana (shoulder stand pose) has good effects on the hormones affecting various endocrine glands particularly the thyroid glands. So the asanas which have a complementary effect on various organs can be classified in this category.

Relaxing asanas - Shavasana (corpse pose) and Makarasana (crocodile pose) are relaxing asanas, which give complete rest to the body and mind.

Another way to classify the asanas is considering the position of the body in a Yoga pose.

Forward Bends

Back Bends

Side Bends

Twisting Positions (Twists)

Stretching Poses

Inversions Bends

Relaxing Poses

Meditative Poses

Another way of classifying the asanas is depending on the preposition required for a particular asana, for example shoulder stand is performed from supine position so it can be classified under supine position.

  • Supine position - Lying on back in sleeping position, asanas like Sarvangasana (shoulder stand), Halasana (plough pose), Chakrasana (wheel pose) etc.
  • Prone position - Asanas like Bhujangasana (cobra pose), Shalabhasana (locust pose), Noukasana (boat pose), Dhanurasana (Bow pose)
  • Sitting position - Asanas like Padmasana (lotus pose) Matsyendrasana (spinal twist pose), Paschimottasana (forward bend pose), Vajrasana (thunderbolt pose) etc.
  • Standing position - Trikonasana (triangle pose), Veerasana (warrior pose), Vrikshasana (tree pose) etc.

There can be many other ways to classify asanas. There are in all 8.4 millionsasanas as per GherandSanhita (a text of Hatha Yoga), but the book describes 32 asanas, Hatha Yoga Pradipika describes 15 asanas, Hatha Ratnavali mentions 34 asanas, GorakshaSamhita talks about 84 asanas etc.

So studying the asanas is a subject of research, this is just an introduction to the views on asanas to encourage more and more efforts in this field.

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