In Sanskrit asana means posture/pose. Asana is the third limb of Ashtanga yoga. There are 840,000 poses mentioned in the Yoga Shastras.
Asanas include all kind of forward bending, backward bending, turning, twisting and inverted positions in a systematic way. Each asana is dependent on the preceding asana in one or the other way. For example, if you do forward bending asana, your next asana should be backward bending asana. This way counterposing asanas help to keep the balance of all the organs in the body.
Before you begin, keep in mind.
- Don’t push yourself too hard.
- Always listen to your body rhythm.
- Be patient and practice every day.
- Remember doing Yogasana is not a competition.
- Do asanas within your limitations.
Daily practice makes you improve and perfect your postures and make you feel better. Overall health benefits are immense and you will see the benefits especially if you practice pranayama.
Pranayama is the fourth limb in Ashtanga Yoga. Pranayama is the science of cleansing, balancing and gaining control over the Prana in the human system.
So what is Prana? Prana is the basic entity from which the universe is made. It cannot be explained or controlled. It must be experienced by continuous practice. The meaning of Prana is ‘energy’ or ‘life force’ and Ayama means ‘extension’ or ‘stretch’. In another way, pranayama is energy management.
According to Patanjali, Pranayama is the science of harnessing the breath for gaining control over the Prana and thereby, on the mind. Five identified types of prana are Vyana, Udana, Samana, Prana, and Apana.
Pranayama practice has lots of benefits. At the same time if it is not done properly it could be dangerous. So it is always advised to learn pranayama from a well-known practitioner or teacher who knows the correct method. Then you can go to a higher level by reading books and practicing.
The concept of Pranayama: In a simple way, mastery over Prana is Pranayama. Pranayama itself is a huge subject and under this, different yoga techniques are performed. Also, Prana involves other five pranas or Pancha pranas. They are as follows.
- Prana ——–> Conventional Pranayama and Trataka
- Samana ——–> Kriyas and Bandhas
- Apana ——–> Kriya Yoga and Bandhas
- Vyana ——–> Shavasana, Yoganidra, and Mudras
- Udana ——–> Kundalini Yoga
Before starting the practice of Pranayama, these following points to be noted.
Pranayama can be practiced before or after taking bath.
Have a light stomach while practicing Pranayama. Or wait for at least four hours after meals before you begin Pranayama.
Wear loose clothing.
Always spine, neck, and head should be kept erect and centered. Vajrasana or Padmasana are the best poses for pranayama.
Always practice Pranayama with a relaxed mind. Be sure to practice regularly and don’t stop the practice unless you are seriously ill.
Kriya is meant for cleansing and purification. For that matter bathing, brushing the teeth, washing face are all kriyas. But Yogic Kriyas are some special techniques which are meant for cleansing inner organs of the body.
Among the several kriyas available, six kriyas are considered to be major kriyas. They are,
- Trataka for eyesight
- Neti for the upper nasal tract
- Kapalbhati for lower respiratory part
- Dhauti for cleaning stomach
- Nauli for abdominal muscles
- Basti for lower intestines
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