Yoga Poses

Yoga poses are probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of yoga, but the poses are actually just one of the three vital cornerstones of a yoga practice – breathing and meditation being the other two.  While there are over 100 types of yoga, hatha yoga and bikram yoga are two of the most popular forms.

The Beginnings of Yoga
Over 5,000 years ago, yoga was inspired by the desire to live a longer and healthier life, while accomplishing a deeper level of self-realization. The word yoga means “yoke” or “join,” because the yoga student seeks to achieve a powerful mind-body connection.  

 

The Three Cornerstones of Yoga
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Yoga poses (Asanas):  Yoga poses provide exercise for the body, which allows humans to function in the world.  Through exercise, it is revered and well cared-for.
 

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Breathing (Pranayama):  Yoga asserts that breath gives rise to life in the body; breath control gives the student improved health of body and mind.

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Meditation:  Through yoga poses and breathing, the yoga student can achieve a meditative state that allows for relaxation and escape from worldly stresses.

Yoga Poses
In yoga, the poses are referred to as “asanas.”  Yoga poses are thought to be beneficial to the body by stimulating pressure points (much like acupressure, massage and reflexology).  With each asana, the resultant deep compression and massage brings about better function to every body system.

Some common yoga poses:
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Child pose

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Eagle pose

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Tree pose

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Salutation pose

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Triangle pose

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Downward Facing Dog pose

Hatha Yoga
Chances are, when you think of yoga, you are picturing the hatha type of yoga.  This type of yoga, introduced in the 15th century, comes from the root words “Ha” and “Tha,” meaning sun and moon; this refers to the opposite types of energy in the body, which hatha yoga seeks to balance and unify.  Hatha yoga is a relatively mellow type of yoga, good for beginners, and perfect for winding down at the end of a busy day.  Each hatha yoga student is encouraged to perform the asanas at his/her own pace, while focusing on control and breathing, in order to balance the mind and body.

Bikram Yoga
Bikram yoga, also known as “hot yoga,” is a newer form developed in California by Bikram Choudhury.  It is practiced in a room that is heated to at least 105 degrees Fahrenheit, and results in a high intensity workout.  Bikram yoga is characterized by a 90-minute sequence of yoga poses and teacher dialogue that do not vary between sessions. 

Who can practice yoga?
One of the most appealing factors of yoga is that almost any adult can benefit, regardless of age and physical condition.  Each of the yoga poses has modifications which make various levels of difficulty possible, thus retaining the ability to benefit equally the very fit individual and the person with health limitations.

While yoga poses are not recommended for women during menstruation or pregnancy, or for children under 16 years old, all people can benefit from the breathing exercises and meditation practiced in yoga. 

Beginning a yoga practice
If you are new to yoga, do not feel daunted by the many poses and terminology.  Even the best yoga teachers were once beginners, and a good teacher knows how to teach expert and novice alike.  Many beginners choose to find a good instructional book or a DVD to practice along with, while others seek a qualified yoga teacher and attend classes.

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                    More than yoga poses on our yoga information page

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