Every yoga practice compromises a combination of asanas from different groups. They all come together to form a safe yoga sequence. A balanced yoga practice includes all the important aspects of yoga. Keeping in mind the shortage of time, most yoga classes aim for an hour of practice. Therefore a careful selection of poses from all groups of yoga is important. A general yoga class includes most effective poses from all groups of asanas. Different yoga poses affect and develops the body in different ways. Each group of yoga asanas has something unique to offer to the practitioner.
The major groups of yoga asanas are:
- Backward Bending
- Forward Bending
- Spinal Twisting
A sequence including poses from all the groups is most beneficial. Such a sequence not only enhances the benefits of poses but also makes the practice safe. Performing Halasana is often recommended right after practicing Sarvangasana as it increases the benefits. Each forward bending pose is followed by a backward bending pose or vice versa. Let’s progress towards the general goals and benefits that fall under each group of asanas, one by one.
Standing poses target the shoulders, back and legs. All these areas stretch during the practice and therefore gets strong. The group of standing asanas is useful for people who work on a desk and sit for long hours. These poses effectively remove pain or stiffness from the back. As the back becomes strong the posture improves. They enable you to sit straight during meditation poses. The capacity of lungs and muscular coordination improves through the practice of standing yoga poses.
Forward Bending Asanas
Bending forward compresses the chest encouraging exhalation. They work towards the gravity bringing relaxation in the body. The group of forwarding bending asanas has calming effects on the mind. Modern lifestyle is sedentary and leaves people with no time to exercise. Over the years, stiffness develops in the body making muscles weak gradually. Forward bending poses removes that stiffness and makes the back healthy. During the practice, spinal vertebra separates from each other releasing accumulated tension. Blood circulation increases in the back providing nourishment to the spine. The spine becomes strong and flexible, increasing the vitality of the practitioner.
Backward Bending Asanas
Bending backward expands the chest and deepens inhalation. The body moves against gravity, thus requiring a strong and energetic practitioner. The muscles supporting the spine engages the most as the body goes backward. The group of backward bending asanas leads to the decompression of the spinal nerves. It is beneficial for all the muscles and organs of the body. These poses remove the stagnant blood from the back. Backward bending poses can completely eliminate the chances of any serious spine ailment. However, it is necessary to practice a safe sequence of backward and forward bending poses. Backward bending poses massages the organs of abdominal and pelvic region retaining their health.
Spinal Twisting Asanas
Spinal twisting poses are most effective after practicing forward and backward bending poses. They stimulate the spinal nerves and are gentle to the spine. The group of spinal twisting asanas stretches all the muscles of the torso improving the flexibility of spinal column. The stretching and compression of the abdominal muscles are beneficial for the intestines. Liver, pancreas, kidney, small intestines and stomach rejuvenates by practicing these poses. Be careful not to push the body beyond your natural flexibility. A gentle twisting will be more effective than pushing yourself in the pose.
Inverted AsanasImage Source
Inversions are the most impactful part of yoga asanas. Reversing the body brings positive changes in the body on physical, emotional and psychic levels. The group of inverted yoga asanas effectively reduces mental and emotional stress and anxiety. They make the practitioner mentally strong and improves concentration. When the body is upside down, blood flow increases in the brain. Stagnant blood from the lower parts of the body moves down to the moves towards the heart. The blood purifies and circulates back to the body again and again as long as you practice. This process nourishes the cells of the whole body.
Breathing becomes deep and slow, exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen increases. The efficiency of all the organs of the body increases. The practice of inverted poses stimulates the chakras. They improve the ability to meditate more effectively. Inverted yoga poses are strenuous and need to be done with proper care. They must be attempted only when a certain level of strength and flexibility has been attained. It takes years to master these poses, therefore, patience is important.
The part of the brain known as cerebellum controls the function of balancing in the human body. The balancing group of asanas improves the functioning of the cerebellum. The body posture and muscle coordination enhance by practicing these poses. The ability to focus increases as one gets better in the practice. They are also helpful in reducing stress and anxiety. The balance develops at physical, mental and emotional level. To balance well in such poses, the gaze at a fixed point proves to be very beneficial. Balancing may seem very hard initially but it is just a matter of regular practice.
There is one rule for meditation, ‘to be still’. Meditation can’t be effective until the practitioner is not able to stay still. This is the purpose that group of meditation poses serve. A small movement is enough to break the concentration of the mind. meditation poses help one to gain the control over the body. To experience meditation effectively the spine needs to be straight. Very few yoga poses can help one achieve that. It takes a very long time to be able to sit still effortlessly for a long duration of time. Regular practice and some preparatory poses are beneficial to loosen up the joints to sit in meditation poses.
Relaxation is an important aspect of life. After a hard working day, the body is in dire need to relax. In yoga whereas, relaxation is important at the beginning, after each pose and at the end of the practice. Relaxation can be done in many ways, standing, sitting, lying on the back or stomach. After each poses a few relaxing breaths slow down the heartbeats. It prepares us to move ahead in the practice while maintaining energy. Relaxation poses seem very easy to perform but they are not. The practitioner has to be consciously aware of the body in order to release stress and tension from each part of the body.Image Source
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