It is next to impossible to find the names of the numerous asans that exist, but about one hundred and eight of them are easily available. Out of the one hundred and eight asans, there are some whose practice is neither possible, nor required for an average person. Some of the asans are only for demonstration purposes, and they shall not be given in this section. Some of the easier and very beneficial asans shall be included here from time to time. Out of these, some shall be such that not everybody can practice them, and only the people whose bodies are flexible and who are healthy should do them.
How do asans work-When we do a particular posture, the involved body parts are stressed upon and stretched. As a result, the nerves in those areas receive a low supply of blood, and go numb. When the body comes back to the normal position, blood rushes to the parts of body that had been previously stretched and stressed upon. This flow of blood to different parts of the body results in the body feeling extra-ordinarily strengthened. Therefore, an asan should involve all the body-parts, so that the whole body receives fresh blood. Asans involving the same body parts should not be practiced in the same session, for this causes unreasonable stress on the concerned body-parts, causing problems in the flow of hormones and blood to those body-parts and at the same time such a practice will cause problems in the flow of fresh blood to the non-involved body-parts.
How to breath while practicing the asans-As a principle, unless mentioned otherwise, the breath should be smooth and with no jerks. On contraction of the body, exhalation should take place, while expansion should be accompanied by inhalation. Sometimes, practitioners hold their breath, or increase the speed of breathing while doing the asans. However, both of these cause immense stress for the lungs and the heart, which tires these vital organs. Therefore, the breath-flow should be natural in the course of doing the asans.
Where to Practice the Asans-Practicing asans out in the open is considered to be the best. However, if it is not possible to do the asans outside during winters or during the rainy season or any other cause, a well-ventilated room is essential because while the asan is in progress, or while the shavasan is being done, the rate of breath increases. In a closed, non-ventilated room, one doesn’t get sufficient amount of oxygen, due to which, the heart and the lungs have to work harder than under normal circumstances. Both these organs are vital and therefore, they shouldn’t be unnecessarily stressed.
When to Practice the Asans-Although, performing the asan practice at any time during the day is very beneficial, the Brahmamuhurta (around two hours before sunrise) is considered to be the best time for it, so that by the time the practice ends, the sunrays are imbibed in the body. Also, it is necessary that the stomach be empty at the time of the asan practice, which is another reason for the Brahmamuhurta being considered the best time for it. If one wants to do the practice at any other point of time, it should be done at least 1 hour after a light meal, and 3 hours after a heavy meal and one should wait at least half an hour after the practice before eating anything. A moderate amount of water can, however, be taken before the practice and after.
Preparation for the Asan-Waking up early in the morning should ideally be followed by a bath. If it is not possible to bathe that early due to the cold, one should wait for at least 1.5-2 hours after the practice before having a bath. Clothes that are comfortable, suitable and made, preferably, of natural fabrics like cotton or silk are the best for wearing during the practice.Asans are not mere physical exercise or acrobatics; asans are an important step towards Samadhi, and the third rung of Ashtang Yoga, preceded by Yama and Niyama. Although the asans are for health purposes, the psychological and spiritual aspects of asans can certainly not be overlooked. Therefore, while doing the asans, the mind should be turned inwards. Focus and concentration are of utmost importance while doing the asans.Although the recommended time for which an asan should be done shall be specified, the viewers are requested not to over-exert themselves. Practice of shavasan for sufficient time before and after every asan practice is vital. And at the end, however well the description of an asan might be written, nothing can substitute a qualified instructor. The viewers are requested not to do asans after simply reading their description on our website. Please do find an instructor, and practice only under his/her guidance.