Yoga Asanas

In the West we have come to equate the term “yoga” with yoga postures, but in fact they form only a small – albeit important – part of the whole system. The term “yoga” in fact implies a whole way of life which includes yoga postures as one of its many facets.

In Sanskrit, yoga postures are called asanas. Asana means “a posture giving physical comfort and mental composure.” Asanas affect the glands, nerves, muscles and all the organs of the body. There are many physical benefits, but the most important effect is on the mind. The practice of asanas places pressure on the endocrine glands, and this results in the regulation of hormones secreted from those glands. The hormones affect the emotions, and the resultant emotional balance facilitates concentration and meditation. So asanas help prepare the mind for meditation.

Benefits of Asanas

• Balance the hormone secretions from the glands.
• Give flexibility to the body.
• Improve respiration, as well as blood and lymph circulation.
• Massage the internal organs.
• Detoxify the joints.
• Relax the nerves and muscles.
• Cure diseases.

While practicing asanas the body should be cool and calm. The stomach should not be full. The room should be clean and warm, and there should be no smoke in the air. Except for the meditation postures, asanas should not be practiced during menstruation or pregnancy. In general, asanas should only be practiced on the advice of a proper teacher.

Spread a blanket or mat on the floor and try these simple and effective asanas:


Sit cross-legged. Hold your left wrist with your right hand behind your back. Slowly lowering your chin, then your neck, bend down as far as you can go, breathing out as you go down. Stay there for 8 seconds with your breath held out, then rise up breathing in. Practice eight times.


Lie on your stomach. Place your hands facing down on the floor beside your ears. Supporting your weight on your palms, push up and raise the chest, looking up towards the ceiling. Breathe in while rising, and hold your breath in that position for 8 seconds. Come down to the original position while breathing out. Practice eight times.

Long Salutation

Kneel down with your buttocks resting on your heels and your toes pointing forward. With your palms together, extend your arms up vertically next to your ears. Slowly bring your arms and head down as one, first bending your neck, then the whole upper body, until your fingers hit the floor, keeping your buttocks as close to your heels as possible. Now stretch out with your forehead and nose resting on the floor. Breathe out as you go down, and stay there with your breath held out for 8 seconds. Then rise up breathing in. Practice eight times.


Good to do after asanas is kaoshikii, a unique exercise which is beneficial for the body, mind and spirit, especially for women. Among other things, it exercises all the limbs, loosens up the spine and joints, increases longevity, eases menstruation and childbirth, strengthens the mind, regulates the glands, increases the lustre of the skin, removes wrinkles, dispels lethargy, cures insomnia, spinal and nervous conditions and numerous other diseases, gives confidence, dispels hopelessness, and generally helps in self-expression and the development of one’s potentiality. Here’s how to practice it: