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Yoga Postures & Related Exercises

List of yoga postures, explained in a step-by-step approach.

Yoga (Hatha Yoga) is practiced by performing various "yogasana", or simply "asana". In Sanskrit, the word "pose" is "asana". Each asana, or posture, helps you become more aware of your body, mind and environment. As you begin your yoga practice, allow yourself to experiment with the poses, moving into or out of the poses as you feel comfortable. Also, try to approach the poses with playful curiosity and without frustration or competitiveness. You should also never feel pain or discomfort when practicing a pose.
Breathing is an essential part of practicing yoga poses. You should never hold your breath during a pose. Also, make sure your breath never feels forced or strained. Labored breathing is a strong indication that you are working too hard and should come out of the pose slightly.
This section includes almost 100 yoga poses you can try at home. Each pose described in this section provides a guideline for how long to hold the pose. It is not necessary to follow this guideline exactly. When you begin practicing yoga, you can hold most poses for three full breaths and then evaluate how your body feels. If you feel comfortable in the pose, hold the pose for longer. If you feel uncomfortable, you should come out of the pose.
Practicing or performing yoga postures require an understanding of the types of postures or asanas:
Seated Postures
Seated poses are useful for practicing breathing exercises and relaxation or meditation techniques. Seated poses are also often used as a warm up or as a starting point for other poses. Performing seated poses can help improve your posture and open your hips.
Standing Postures
Standing poses are often used as a warm-up or as a starting point for other poses. Standing poses are beneficial for strengthening your legs, opening your hips and improving your sense of balance.
Inversions are excellent poses to perform to improve your blood circulation, quiet your mind and improve your overall health. Inversions are also believed to reverse the aging process and reduce the effect of gravity on your body.
Relaxation and Restorative Postures
It is important to take time to perform relaxation or restorative poses at the end of each yoga practice. You can use this time to relax your body and mind and allow energy released by the poses in your practice to move freely throughout your body.
Counter Postures
A counter pose is a pose that stretches your spine in the opposite direction from a previous pose or returns your spine to a neutral position. For example, after performing a back bend, such as Cobra Pose, you may want to perform a forward bend, such as Child's Pose, as a counter pose.
You can perform twists to stretch and strengthen your back and abdominal muscles, increase the flexibility of your spine and improve your circulation. Twists improve the functioning of your internal organs by providing them with a fresh supply of blood as you twist and release your body.
Balancing Postures
Balancing poses are great for improving your balance and coordination, as well as developing your ability to remain grounded in a pose. Keeping your body balanced encourages you to focus, quiet and balance your mind.
Forward Bends
Forward bends stretch the entire back of your body, especially your hamstrings. Forward bends are also often used to release tension, calm your mind and soothe your nervous system. Similar to back bends, forward bends help keep your spine strong and supple.
Back Bends
Back bends are among the most challenging poses in yoga. Bending backward helps strengthen your back and keep your spine strong and supple. Back bends also open the front of your body, especially your chest.
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