From time to time, we'd like to highlight some basic yoga terms here on our blog. We think learning the proper terms for your yoga practice will deepen your understanding of and appreciation for this discipline.
Let's start with the basics. A commonly used and useful-to-know term is asana. The word asana is a Sanskrit word, meaning "to sit down." This term dates back to the origins of yoga, when it was originally practiced as a discipline of sitting still, allowing the spine to act as a conduit of unity between body and spirit. While some asanas, like padmasana, also known as "lotus pose" (pictured left), do still involve some form of sitting, there are now many other asanas that can put you in all kinds of different positions, from sitting and even lying down to standing on one leg and even a headstand.
There are many different asanas, and some even believe that there are an infinite number. But there are some common ones that you'll learn to master as you continue to improve in your practice. Here are a few of the most common ones. You'll notice that the proper terms for many asanas actually have the word asana in them.
Padmasana, lotus pose (pictured above)
Pranamasana, prayer pose
Adho Muksha Svanasana, downward-facing dog pose
Vriksasana, tree pose
Virabradrasana, warrior pose
Chaturanga Dandasana, plank pose
Vasisthasana, side plank pose
Bhujangasana, cobra pose
Balasana, child's pose
Savasana, corpse pose
We'll define some of these (hopefully all of these, eventually) in the coming weeks.
The practice of yoga consists of flowing from pose to pose as seamlessly as possible. You may not be able to do them perfectly at first, so don't worry if you're not as flexible as the experienced yogi at the front of the class. Listen to your body and stop when it tells you to stop.
In the beginning, it can be very difficult to hold your poses steady. But your ability, strength, and flexibility will increase with time and practice. You can speed up your progress a bit by investing in equipment that will make it easier for you to find a comfortable position in your practice. That's exactly what the Maji Mat is designed to do. It takes painful pressure off your joints so that you can stretch yourself to your limit without injury to yourself, and without pain, which can distract you from your practice.
We hope that knowing understanding what an asana is will enrich your yoga practice. And if there are any other questions you have about yoga terms, or if you have a yoga term you'd like us to cover, please feel free to leave a comment!