International Yoga Day: Easy asanas for beginners

June 20, 2021 1:30 AM

A strong immunity, proper exercise, the right breathing techniques, everything is important in the fight against the deadly virus.

Yoga is one way you can heal both the body and mind.Yoga is one way you can heal both the body and mind.

By Reya Mehrotra

The pandemic has taught us the importance of both mental and physical health. A strong immunity, proper exercise, the right breathing techniques, everything is important in the fight against the deadly virus. Yoga is one way you can heal both the body and mind. With Yoga Day on June 21, we bring to you some easy asanas you can begin your yoga journey with.

Also called the Tree Pose, Vrikshasana is a balancing pose and is one of the few standing poses in hatha yoga. In ancient times, sadhus are believed to have disciplined themselves with this pose. It has also been described in the Sanskrit yoga text Gheranda Samhita in the 17th century. But even before that, a figure standing on one leg, indicating the asana, was seen on a 7th-century stone carving in Mahabalipuram.

Also called Utthita Trikonasana, the triangle pose is a standing asana, which is a part of modern yoga. It was first described in the teachings of Indian yoga teacher Tirumalai Krishnamacharya in the 20th century. His book Yoga Makaranda—which was written in 1934, as well as the writings of his students—describes the pose. The term utthita in Sanskrit means ‘extended’. Its two parts include facing left and facing right. With feet apart, the practitioner has to stand with knees unbent and right foot facing outside and left foot less than 45 degrees to the inside. The palms face down as the arms remain parallel to the floor.

Adho Mukha Svanasana
Also called downward dog pose, this posture is about the head touching the floor with the bodily weight on the palms and feet. While the legs are straight, the hips are raised high. It is mostly practised as a sequence of poses, especially surya namaskar. It is named so as the posture resembles a stretching dog getting up. The pose helps the musculoskeletal system, stretches the calf muscles, shoulders and hamstring.

It is also called samasthiti or the mountain pose and is a standing pose in modern yoga. It forms the basis for many other asanas in yoga. It is believed that it was adopted into modern yoga by Krishnamacharya and then became a foundation for smooth transitions between asanas. It includes standing on both feet together with hands at the sides. A basis of many asanas, it is entered into by standing with the feet together, and lifting the body up through the head’s crown. The thighs and the waist are lifted and the spine is elongated.

The warrior pose is a standing lunging asana that commemorates the exploits of Virabhadra, a mythical warrior. Ancient rock sculptures at Ellora Caves show the warrior Shiva in a pose similar to Virabhadrasana while fighting demons and wooing goddess Parvati. It can be entered from a standing position by jumping with the feet wide apart. There are three types of Virbhadrasanas with the third one being the most difficult of all three, requiring the body to balance on one foot. The Virabhadrasana is called the most recognisable and iconic pose of yoga.

The seated forward bend is an asana in hatha yoga that requires one to bend forward while sitting with the legs stretched out. The 15th-century manual on hatha yoga called Hatha Yoga Pradipika describes the pose. Its variations include urdhva mukha paschimottanasana (balancing form of the pose), parivritta paschimottanasana (reverse form of the pose), trianga mukhai paschimottanasana (one leg bent) and ardha baddha padma paschimottanasana (one leg crossed over the other).

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Supported by the shoulder, this is an inverted back-bending asana where the back and hips are lifted while balancing the weight on the head and feet. The knees remain bent and the ankles are caught by hand. In the 19th-century Karnataka treatise, the pose appears as kamapithasana. It is exited by jumping back into the shoulder stand or lying down.

This hatha yoga asana is called the corpse pose and is often meant for relaxation at the end of a yoga session to calm the mind and eliminate tiredness. The 15th-century hatha yoga manual Hatha Yoga Pradipikaa mentions the pose. It is performed by lying on the back with legs as apart as the mat, while arms are relaxed on the side. The eyes remain closed.

Also called a child’s resting pose, balasana is a kneeling asana. It can be entered by kneeling and bringing the head forward to touch the ground with the arms alongside the body and palms facing upward. Some of its variations include ananda balasana (happy baby pose), uttana shishosana (extended puppy pose) and shasangasana (rabbit pose).

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