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Top 14 Yoga Asanas For Better Health – Which One Is For You ?

Neelofar Rasool 

Received : 15th June 2021

What is Yoga ?

Yoga is a practice that connects the body, breath, and mind. It uses physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation to improve overall health. Yoga was developed as a spiritual practice thousands of years ago. 

What is Asana ?

Asana is traditionally defined as the seated posture, used for meditation, from the Sanskrit meaning “seat.” 

Benefits Of Yoga

Yoga can improve your overall fitness level and improve your posture and flexibility ; also:

  • Yoga improves strength, balance and flexibility.
  • Yoga helps with back pain relief.
  • Yoga can ease arthritis symptoms.
  • Yoga benefits heart health.
  • Yoga relaxes you, to help you sleep better.
  • Yoga can mean more energy and brighter moods.
  • Yoga helps you manage stress.
  • Yoga connects you with a supportive community.
  • Lower your blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Improve your self confidence
  • Improve  your coordination.
  • Improve your concentration
  • Aid with the digestion

Top 14 Yoga Postures And Their Benefits

  1. Tadasana (also called Samasthiti) or mountain pose :
  • This is the basic standing pose. It teaches you the art of standing correctly and increases your awareness of your body.
  • Stand with your feet together. Tighten the knees, keep the navel drawn into the spine with a neutral pelvis, and chest lifted but with shoulders relaxed and pressed down away from the ears.
Different steps in performing Tadasana

Benefits :

It corrects bad posture and improves the alignment of your body.

2. Uttanasana or intense forward stretch :

Start from Tadasana and inhale while stretching the hands up and exhale reaching down with your hands. Try to press down with your palms.

Different steps in performing Uttanasana

Benefits :

Tones the liver, spleen, kidneys and the abdominal region. Stretches the hamstrings and the spine.

3. Adhomukha Svanasana or downward-facing dog stretch :

Lie down on the floor on your stomach and face downward. Place the palms next to the chest. Exhaling, raise your trunk from the floor. Straighten the arms, move the head inward towards the feet and extend the back, trying to press the heels firmly into the ground keeping the knees straight making an inverted ‘V’ with the body.

Different steps in performing adho mukha svana asana

Benefits :

Calms the brain, reduces stiffness in the shoulder region and tones the legs.

4. Urdhva mukha svanasana or upward-facing dog stretch :

Lie on the floor with face downward and toes pointed. Inhale raising the head and trunk and stretch the arms completely. Push the head and trunk as far back as possible, without resting the knees on the floor.

Benefits :

  • Rejuvenates the spine
  • Relieves stiffness of the back
  • Significantly increases your stamina

5. Utthita Trikonasana or extended triangle pose :

Stand in Tadasana pose. Keep your feet around three feet apart and turning the right foot to 90 degrees, turn the left foot slightly to the right, raising the arms sideways. Bend to your right, bringing the right palm towards the right ankle keeping both legs absolutely straight. Repeat on the other side.

Benefits :

  • Improves flexibility of the spine and relieves backache.
  • Massages and tones the pelvic region
  • Relieves gastritis, indigestion and acidity

6. Utthitaparsvakonasana or extended side stretch :

Stand in Tadasana pose. Keep your feet around four feet apart. Stretch the hands sideways, bend the right knee at a 90-degree angle, not pushing the knee beyond the ankle. And while exhaling, place the right palm on the ground outside the right foot and stretch the left arm in a diagonal line over the left ear. Repeat on the other side.

Benefits :

  • Tones and strengthens the legs
  • Improves lung capacity
  • Relieves arthritic pain

7. Dandasana or staff pose :

Sit on the ground with your legs straight ahead of you. Keep them straight without hyper-extending the backs of your knees. Keep the chest lifted, shoulders relaxed. Place your palms next to your hips.

Benefits :

  • Tones the abdominal organs, the spinal cord, leg and chest muscles
  • Good for those suffering from asthma

8. Paschimottanasana or intense back stretch :

From the Dandasana pose, stretch the hands forward and grab your toes, stretch the spine forward reaching towards the legs with your head. Try to stretch the spine from the buttocks.

Benefits :

  • Soothes the adrenal glands
  • Activates a sluggish liver
  • Stimulates the ovaries and uterus.
  • Tones the abdominal organs and
  • Helps detox the body.

9. Janu Sirsasana or head-on-knee pose :

From Dandasana, bend the right knee, placing the right foot near the perineum. Stretch the hands up, reach forward and hold the toes of the left foot. Try extending the spine from the buttocks to the back of the neck – lengthening the spine.

Benefits :

  • Stabilises blood pressure
  • Helps correct curvature of spine.
  • Tones abdominal organs,
  • Stretches the spine, hamstrings and hips.

10. Baddhakonasana or bound angle pose :

From Dandasana, bend the knees and bring the feet together towards the pelvis. Use your hands to grab your feet and try pushing both your knees down by pressing your thighs firmly down on the floor.

Benefits :

  • Relieves stiffness of the hips
  • Prevents hernia
  • Keeps the ovaries healthy
  • Corrects irregular menstruation and helps to treat urinary tract disorders.

11. Marichyasana 3 :

From the Dandasana pose, bend the right knee and press the foot on the floor in line with the right hip. Extend the left arm and wrap it around the right knee, keeping the right hip pressed down, twist and try grabbing the right hand from behind.

Benefits :

  • Tones and massages the abdominal organs
  • Helps detox the body,
  • increases energy levels,
  • relieves backache,
  • stimulates the functioning of the liver, kidneys and pancreas.

12. Sarvangasana or the shoulder stand:

Lie down on the floor on your back. Lift the legs straight up and supporting the hips, keeping the elbows inward try to straighten the legs up towards the ceiling. Eventually the chest should be pressed into the chin. The body weight should be extending upwards not falling into the neck and shoulders, if it feels uncomfortable, do the pose while resting against the wall.

Benefits :

  • This helps in the proper functioning of the thyroid and parathyroid glands.
  • It helps to rejuvenate and detox the body.
  • This is known as the ‘Queen of Asanas’.
  • (Note: People suffering from high blood pressure, cervical ailments, cardiac condition should not practice this pose. Women should not practice during menstruation.)

13. Halasana or plough pose :

From Sarvangasana pose, bring the legs down till the toes touch the ground behind you. Interlock the fingers, keep the hips lifted, stretch the arms away from the armpits and extend the legs from the buttocks to the heels.

Benefits :

  • Relives fatigue and rejuvenates abdominal organs.
  • Helps in the proper functioning of the thyroid and parathyroid glands.
  • (Note: People suffering from high blood pressure or cervical spondylosis should not practice this pose. If you are overweight practice with props. Women should not practice during menstruation.)

14. Savasana or corpse pose :

Lie down on the floor like a corpse – completely relaxed and on your back. Keep your legs apart and hands away from your body with the palms facing upwards. Shut your eyes and concentrate on relaxing each and every muscle in your body.

Benefits :

  • Helps reduce stress, insomnia.
  • Soothes the nervous system, gives the entire body and mind rest.
  • Makes one feel peaceful, calm and blissful.

(Note: All yogasanas must be done on an empty stomach and under the supervision of a qualified teacher from a reputed yoga institute/school. Also, in case of any medical issues please consult your doctor before attempting the above mentioned yoga poses.)

[The author is currently an Ayurveda Scholar at GAMC-Jammu]

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