Yoga Positions & Their Benefits

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Yoga is done through positions (asanas) and breath-control (pranayama)
Yoga is done through positions (asanas) and breath-control (pranayama)

Iyengar Yoga reports that yoga's aim is to reach "kaivalya," a deep sense of unrestrained freedom. This is considered being connected to the inner self or soul. Spiritually, it breaks "karma" and sets us free of the cycle of birth and rebirth. Regardless of spirituality, yoga positions strengthen and help improve endurance, flexibility, strength, and overall health. In addition, a Harvard study showed that yoga promotes a decrease in stress response, anxiety, and depression.

  1. Locust (Shalabhasana)

    • This position has the person laying face down, lifting their legs up. This position is held 10-15 seconds at a time. It exercises lower back muscles and promotes lower back strength and improved posture.

    Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

    • One of the most well known positions, downward facing dog is done by placing both hands on the ground out in front of you and bending at the hips, keeping a straight back and legs, to create a triangular body shape. This form strengthens the arms, improves circulation, and helps alleviate pain in the shoulders. It is also thought to alleviate carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms.

    Half-Moon (Ardha Chandrasana)

    • Place one hand on the ground to the side of your body and place it on the floor, about a foot in front of your toes. Lift the opposite leg off the floor and point it straight out. Point the other hand straight up. This position strengthens muscles and gently stretches many normally inert muscle groups, encouraging full-body detoxification of the muscles and tendons.

    Tree (Vrksasana)

    • One leg is bent out to the side and brought up to rest on the inside thigh of the other leg. A modification of the position entails a body standing straight up with both palms together, raised in prayer above the head. This position encourages strength of the adductor muscle groups, which in turn promotes posture, strength, and balance.

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References

  • Photo Credit yoga image by Jiang Bin Ping from Fotolia.com

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