There's been a popular misconception
that yoga only means the physical postures. In fact, yoga is a whole
lifestyle that includes yoga postures as one of its many components.
Yoga postures have physical benefits, including curing disease, but the
main benefit is mental - they balance the emotions and calm the mind.
That's because of their effect on the glands, because it's the hormones
produced by the glands that determine the way we feel.
Benefits of Yoga Postures:
the hormone secretions from the glands (and therefore the mind and
flexibility to the body, especially the spine.
respiration, as well as blood and lymph circulation.
the internal organs.
the nerves and muscles.
Yoga postures are called asanas in the yogic system. "Asana"
means a position giving physical comfort and mental composure. Yogis
first developed asanas after observing the posture of animals and
comparing them with their mental characteristics. They found there was a
link between the posture and the characteristic, so they developed a
system that can balance the emotions of the mind through asanas.
Generally asanas are practised before breakfast (and before or after
meditation), because it's the time of the day when there's the least
food in the stomach. They also help to prepare you for the stress of the
If you have time, practice them also before dinner. You can practice
asanas without warming up, but if you like you can do some warm-ups like
rotating the head gently around the neck, shoulder shrugs and rotations,
swinging the arms while rotating the trunk, rotating the hips with the
hands on them, loosening up the legs, etc.
A good stretching asana for the liver and
Stand straight with your feet
shoulder width apart. Extend the arms horizontally forwards at shoulder
level with your palms facing. Now without moving your feet, twist
towards the left as fast as is comfortable, giving a jerk. Come back to
the centre and repeat to the right. Repeat the movement 8 times on each
Out of the many asanas known, only a few are necessary for general
health. Here are three basic ones. They have a positive general effect
on the health of both body and mind (more than enough to cover basic
health and fitness), and they're quick and easy to do.
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. Put
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.
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 on
your heels all the time. 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
You may find it difficult to hold your breath for eight seconds at
first. If so, hold it for less time, or take a quick breath in between.
If you don't have time to repeat each asana eight times, repeat at least