If you go to a yoga class, open a yoga magazine or even go through Instagram yogic accounts you will definitely hear or read the word “Asana”. For beginners, it can be really hard to understand long Sanskrit words, but for advanced students it may possibly provide a deeper level of meaning to their yoga practice and make them keener to delve into the history and philosophy of yoga.
What does Asana yoga mean?
Yoga positions = Asanas
This is part of most of the Sanskrit position names. Any Asana is a Sanskrit expression for a physical position, generally Asana means taking up a certain physical position, but it literally translates to “sitting position.”
Where do the position names come from?
Most of the positions are named after animals, mythological characters, Hindu gods or religious figures. To understand and develop these positions can help us to learn about where yoga comes from, why we practice it, and how to move beyond just its physical aspect.
What kind of Asana do we have in yoga?
Abdominal and/or arm strengthening positions
Supported Shoulder stand
Twists and/or forward bends
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
What is my favorite Asana?
One of my favorite challenging yoga positions is called the Tree Pose, in Sanskrit it’s called Vriksasana, where you have to stand on one leg. This is both a balancing and standing yoga position. Its Sanskrit name, “Vrksasana” (vrik-SHAHS-anna), comes from two words:
- “Vrksa” which means “tree”
- “Asana” which means “pose”
The Tree Pose improves focus and concentration while calming your mind. It is like a standing variation of a sitting meditation position. Keeping calm and focused while balancing on one foot will teach you to sway gently like a tree in the wind, steady and sure no matter what your outside situation may be.
I like this pose because it improves my balance and if I practice this Asana with my eyes closed it can be really challenging. This position helps me to calm down and have lots of fun.
How to do this pose?
- Stand in the Mountain Pose – Tadasana, with your arms at your sides
- Shift your weight onto your left foot. Bend your right knee, then reach down and clasp your right inner ankle. Use your hand to draw your right foot alongside your inner left thigh. Do not rest your foot against your knee, only above or below it. Adjust your position so the centre of your pelvis is directly over your left foot, then move your hips so your right hip and left hip are aligned.
- Rest your hands on your hips and stretch your tailbone toward the floor. Now press your palms together at your chest in a prayer position, with your thumbs resting on your breastbone.
- Fix your gaze gently on one unmoving point in front of you.
- Inhale as you extend your arms overhead, reaching to the sky with your fingertips. Rotate your palms inward to face each other. If your shoulders are more flexible, you can press your palms together in a prayer position, overhead.
- Hold for up to one minute. To release, step back into the Mountain Pose.
- Repeat for the same amount of time on the opposite side.
This position is super challenging for your balance if you practice it with your eyes closed.
This Pose is Level: 1
Contraindications and Cautions
- Low blood pressure
- High blood pressure: Don’t raise your arms overhead
Modifications and Props:
You can stand with your back braced against a wall if you feel unsteady.
- Strengthens thighs, calves, ankles, and spine
- The Tree Pose has calming and meditative benefits
- Improves sense of balance
- Relieves sciatica and helps with flat feet
- Stretches the groin and inner thighs, chest and shoulders
Enjoy your practice and don’t forget to share my blog post and follow me on Instagram!
PS: if you are looking for a perfect yoga vacation, don’t miss out on your spot – sign up now for my yoga retreat in the middle of Bali, October 2018.
Made with love by Martina