Asana is one of the most popular aspects of Yoga followed across the world in order to achieve perfect physical and mental health. Asana is also the popular gateway for majority of people to embrace the spiritual dimension of life that Yoga propounds. Considering the psycho-physiological nature of Asana, a basic knowledge about classification of asanas can greatly help a practitioner to explore not only one’s physical body but also to elevate one’s consciousness.
Froward Bending: forward bending uses gravity to achieve the posture and hence is a passive process. It is a process of introversion associated with chest compression, exhalation and relaxation. Forward bending asanas keep the spine flexible and massages the abdominal organs. Pashchimottanasana, Janushirshasana, Padhastasana are some of the forward bending asanas.
Backward Bending: asanas in this group act as counter-pose to the asanas in the forward bending group. These asanas are stimulating and extroverting because they expand the chest and encourage inhalation. These asanas stretches the abdominal muscles and strengthens the back muscles, helping to relieve various back conditions. Bhujangasana, Shalabhasana, Ushtrasana are some of the backward bending asana.
Twisting: any asana program will be incomplete without the inclusion of twisting asana. Twisting asanas play an important role in maintaining the spinal health. They stimulate the navel region and keep the digestive system healthy for total health and vitality. Vakrasana, Ardhamatsyendrasana comes under twisting asana.
Inverted: these asanas reverse the action of gravity on the body. The venous blood return very easily to the heart. Inverted asanas ensures rich supply of blood to the brain and refreshes the whole central nervous system. They help to improve mental stability and concentration. Shirshasana, Sarvangasana are inverted asanas.
Relaxation: these asanas bring physical and mental relaxation. They involve a process of conscious relaxation. Conscious relaxation makes individual fresh and energetic and helps in overcoming physical and mental fatigue. Shavasana and Makarasana are the two asanas for relaxation.
Meditative: meditative asanas facilitates in the process of meditation. The main purpose of these asanas is to allow the practitioner to sit comfortably for prolonged periods of time without any discomfort at the body level. Meditation requires the spinal column to be straight and only few asanas satisfy this condition. Meditation culminates in Self-realization. Padmasana, Siddhasana and Vajrasana are meditative asanas.