Six Standing Yoga Asanas for Beginners

‘Yoga’ embraces a combination of physical postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), meditation, and ethical principles. Yoga aims to achieve physical and mental well-being, inner peace, and spiritual insight. This ancient practice of holistic well-being offers numerous types of yoga poses or asanas when it comes to yoga for beginners and daily practice.

Some asanas are the perfect way to start your mornings if you are a beginner looking to indulge in yoga. These have been identified as beginner friendly and can be quickly done by yourself or under the guidance of a yoga practitioner or trainer. Here are the six basic yoga poses to practice in the following positions.

1. Virabhadrasana (Warrior Pose) – ‘Virabhadrasana’ is an asana that involves standing in a lunge position with one leg forward and the other leg back while the arms get extended overhead. ‘Virabhadrasana’ increases stamina, strengthens arms, and brings courage and grace. It is an excellent yoga pose for those in seated jobs. It is also very beneficial in the case of frozen shoulders. Individuals with recent or chronic injury to the knees, legs, hips, or back, high or low blood pressure, and heart problems should avoid practicing this asana.

2. Ardha Chakrasana (Standing Backward Bend Pose) – It involves balancing on one hand while extending the other arm and leg, creating an arc shape with the body. It stretches the front upper torso and tones the arms and shoulder muscles. Individuals with recent or chronic injury to the arms, wrists, shoulder, neck, back, or hips or any medical conditions that make inversion or balancing poses challenging should avoid practicing ‘Ardha Chakrasana.’

3. Vrikshasana (Tree Pose) – ‘Vrikshasana’ strengthens the legs and improves balance and stability. In this pose, one foot is rooted to the ground while the other is placed on the thigh of the standing leg, resembling a tree trunk. The arms get usually raised overhead to complete the pose. ‘Vrikshasana’ is an excellent yoga pose to increase focus. It makes the legs strong, improves balance, and opens the hip. It also helps those suffering from sciatica, a pain that travels from the pelvic region through the hips and thighs. Individuals with knee, ankle, or hip injuries or those who suffer from high blood pressure or vertigo should avoid practicing this asana.

4. Utkatasana (Chair Pose) – One of the yoga poses for beginners, Utkatasana or Chair Pose, is a strengthening yoga posture that targets the legs, back, and core muscles. The knees are bent, and the hips get lowered as if sitting in an imaginary chair in this pose with the arms raised overhead to complete it. It strengthens the lower back and torso, balances the body, and helps develop willpower. Individuals with knee injuries, ankle injuries, or any lower back issues should avoid practicing this asana.

5. Hastapadasana (Standing Forward Bend Pose) – ‘Hastapadasana,’ also known as Standing Forward Bend Pose, is one of the basic poses in yoga for beginners that involves a forward bend of the torso and legs. It invigorates the nervous system, makes the spine supple, and stretches all the back muscles. People with recent or chronic back, neck, or leg injuries or severe spinal conditions should avoid practicing ‘Hastapadasana.’

6. Katichakrasana (Standing Spinal Twist Pose) – It helps to stretch and twist the spine, hips, and waist. This yoga pose helps relieve constipation and strengthen the spine, neck, and shoulders. It is incredibly beneficial for people with deskbound jobs. People with hernia or spinal conditions, knee injuries, high blood pressure, or heart conditions should avoid practicing ‘Katichakrasana.’

Importance of ‘Pranayama’ in Yoga Sutra

‘Pranayama’ regulates the incoming and outgoing flow of breath with retention. It is to be practiced only after attaining perfection in ‘asana.’ Pranayama is considered the heart of yoga. Usually, the flow of breath is unrestrained and irregular. Observing the variations of breath and conditioning the mind to control the inflow, outflow, and retention of the breath in a regular, rhythmic pattern is ‘pranayama.’ ‘Prana’ is an auto-energizing force that creates a magnetic field in the universe and plays with it to maintain and dismantle it for further fabrication. It impregnates each individual as well as the universe at all levels.

It acts as physical and mental energy, where the mind gathers information. It also acts as an intellectual energy with a discriminative faculty where information is examined and filtered. The same ‘prana’ in different contexts also acts as sexual, spiritual, and cosmic energy. Heat, light, gravity, magnetism, power, vigor, vitality, electricity, life, and spirit are different forms of ‘prana.’ All that vibrates in the universe is ‘prana.’ It is the extramundane personality, formidable in all beings and non-beings. It is the principal mover of all activity and the wealth of life.

The self-energizing force in ‘Pranayama’ is the principle of life, consciousness, and the creation of all beings in the macrocosms. All beings are born through it and live by it. When they die, their breath disintegrates into the cosmic vital force. ‘Prana’ is the hub of the wheel of life and yoga because everything gets established in it, and a yogic practitioner can get closer to the cosmic energy through ‘Pranayama.’ It is routed to the genesis of life, bringing the sun’s warmth, the moon’s gentleness, the beauty of clouds, the power of wind, the amazement of rain, the significance of earth, and all forms of matter into existence. Everything, including the man, takes shade under it. ‘Prana’ is the fundamental vivacity and the source of all knowledge.

Ayurveda says the human body contains seven constituents and three permeating humors. The seven elements – chyle (rasa), blood (rakta), flesh (mamsa), fat (meda), bones (asthi), marrow (majja), and semen (sukra) sustain the body. They keep the body immune from infection and diseases. The seven elements get churned together in ‘pranayama’ to produce the nectar of life. The spinal column acts as a whisk to churn the breath to produce energy and stabilize consciousness. And the body becomes the fountain for producing the nectar of life (Amrit), and the lord of the body (parmatma) becomes its generative force.

The generation and distribution of ‘prana’ in the human body mechanism get compared to the production and functioning of electrical energy. ‘Prana’ is like the falling water or the rising stream, similar to the energy of falling water or rising steam, which gets to rotate the turbines within a magnetic field to generate electricity. In the human body, the thoracic area is the magnetic field.

The practice of ‘pranayama’ makes the spindles act as turbines and transmit the drawn-in energy to the remotest cells of the lungs for generating energy. The energy is accumulated in the ‘chakras’ and gets distributed throughout the body through the transmission lines of the circulatory and nervous systems. ‘Pranayama’ uses in-drawn energy to maintain the entire human system, comprising the respiratory, circulatory, nervous, digestive, excretory, and reproductive systems, with optimum harmony and efficiency.

In ‘pranayama,’ the carpet of the mucous membrane of the nostrils filters and cleanses the breath as it enters inhalation. Upon exhalation, sufficient time is given for the system to absorb the in-drawn energy so that the breath may mingle with the blood. The purified blood, filled with chemical properties and hormones, is called a ‘constituent full of jewels’ or ‘the jewel of blood’ (“ratna purita dhatu”). Full use of the absorption and re-absorption of energy will allow one to live a hundred years with perfect health of body, clarity of mind, and equipoise of spirit. Henceforth, the effective practice of ‘pranayama’ is considered to be a great science and art.

Importance of Asana in Yoga Sutra

‘Asana’ is the quintessential firmness of body, steadiness of intelligence, and benevolence of spirit. In the world of yoga, it should be, practiced and experienced with a feeling of firmness and endurance in the body, goodwill in mindfulness, and awareness and delight in the intelligence of the heart. Performing the ‘asana’ should be illuminative and nourishing. The performer must solicit discipline and attention to implement each ‘asana’ to perforate its intense depths in the remotest parts of the body. Even the meditational ‘asana’ has to be cultivated by the fibers, cells, joints, and muscles in cooperation with the mind. If ‘asanas’ are performed incorrectly in yoga, they become stale, and the performer becomes diseased rather than a yogi. In any ‘asana,’ the body has to be toned, and the mind tuned to stay longer with a firm body and a serene mind.

The essential factor is performing ‘asanas’ without creating aggressiveness in the muscle spindles or the skin cells. Space must be created between muscle and skin so that the skin receives the actions of the muscles, joints, and ligaments. The skin then sends messages to the brain, mind, and intelligence, which judge the appropriateness of all those actions. In addition, various asanas purify the body’s nervous system, cause the energy to flow without obstruction, and ensure an even distribution of that energy during the ‘pranayama.’ Usually, the mind is closer to the body and the organs of action and perception than the soul. As ‘asanas’ are refined, they automatically become meditative as intelligence and mindfulness emphasize penetrating toward the core of being.

Each ‘asana’ has five functions in the yoga sutra – conative, cognitive, mental, intellectual, and spiritual. Conative action is the exertion of the organs of action. Cognitive action is the perception of the results of that action. When the two are fused, the discriminative faculty of the mind acts to guide the organs of action and perception to perform the ‘asanas’ more correctly; the rhythmic flow of energy and awareness is experienced evenly and without interruption both centripetally and centrifugally throughout the channels of the body. The body cells and the mind get energized, rejuvenated, and rekindled with joy. Then the practitioner truly feels that the body, mind, and soul are one. The feeling ultimately leads to the manifestation of ‘dharana’ and ‘dhyana’ in the practice of an ‘asana.’ ‘Dharana’ is defined as focusing attention on a chosen point or area within and outside the body. It is also termed ‘concentration.’ Maintaining the intensity of awareness leads from one-pointed attention to non-specific attentiveness.

‘Dhyana’ is defined as the state when the attentive awareness between the consciousness of the practitioner and his practice is unbroken. The pairs of opposites do not exist in the correct performance of any ‘asana.’ Perfection in ‘asana’ is reached when effort ceases, instilling infinite poise and allowing the finite vehicle – the body to merge with the seer.

The performer of the ‘asanas’ can be considered firm in his body posture when preserving the effort is no longer required. Under stability, the performer grasps the physiology of each of the ‘asanas’ and deeply reconnects with the benefits of performing the ‘asanas.’ Then the practitioner gains the art of relaxation and extends the rejuvenation of the body and consciousness. With the development of the sensitive mind, they train their thinking capability to read, study and penetrate the infinite. The practitioner (‘sadhaka’) gets immersed in the boundless state of oneness, which is indivisible and universal.

Four Types of Yoga Sutras and Their Importance

Yoga is an art, a science, and a philosophy. It touches the life of a human being at every level – physical, mental, and spiritual. It is a practical approach to making one’s life purposeful and noble. It empowers the entire human system and body mechanism to attune to its essence, the conscious seer within. Yoga enables the practitioner to perceive and experience the universal energy within and around himself/herself, to concatenate with the divine joy of all creation, and then to share and rejoice in the nectar of heavenly wealth, peace, and happiness for a lifetime.

The ‘Yoga Sutras’ are concise and compact. Practicing ‘Yoga’ regularly helps the lethargic and plodding body to become active and vibrant. It harmonizes the mind and transforms the body, mind, and self, reconnecting them in a thread of integrity, purity, and divinity. Here are the four ‘Yoga Sutras’ to know about to grasp the heritage, which is concerned with the science of learning and realizing the spiritual oasis lying within us.

1. Samadhi pada (on contemplation) – ‘Sama’ means level, alike, straight, upright, impartial, just, reasonable, and virtuous, and ‘adhi’ means the indestructible seer. Comprised of these words, ‘Sama’ and ‘adhi,’ the ‘Samadhi pada’ is directed towards those already thoroughly metamorphosed to empower them in maintaining their advanced state of cultured, matured intelligence and wisdom. Before ‘samadhi’ is experienced, the functioning of the consciousness depends upon five factors: correct perception, misperception, misconception or ambiguousness, memory, and sleep. Once the practitioner gets attached to practice and renunciation in the ‘Samadhi Sutra,’ it helps him to cultivate friendliness and compassion, delight in the happiness of others, and to remain indifferent to virtue and vice. It allows him to maintain his poise and tranquility.

2. Sadhana pada (on practice) – This yoga sutra is composed of eight yogic disciplines – ‘yama’ and ‘niyama,’ ‘pranayama’ and ‘asana,’ ‘dharana’ and ‘pratyahara,’ ‘dhyana’ and ‘samadhi.’ The sutra works on three types of afflictions – self-inflicted, hereditary, and discomforts caused by the imbalance of the elements in the body. Practice and renunciation in the eight yogic disciplines support to envelop purification of the body, senses, and mind, build an intense domain where impurities vanish, innocence replaces arrogance and pride, body, mind, and consciousness are in communion with the soul, and the practitioner reaches a state of serenity in which he/she merges with the universal spirit.

3. Vibhuti pada (on properties and powers) – Under this yoga sutra, the practitioner has complete knowledge of the past, present, and future and the solar system. The practitioner gets cautioned to ignore their temptations and pursue the spiritual path. If the practitioner succumbs to the lure of the yogic achievements, he/she will be like a person running away from a gale only to be caught in a whirlwind. On the contrary, if he/she resists and perseveres on the spiritual path, he/she will experience the indivisible, unqualified, undifferentiated state of existence.

4. Kaivalya pada (on freedom and emancipation) – In this stage of yoga sutra, the practitioner (‘sadhaka) lives in a positive state of life, above the ‘tamasic,’ ‘rajasic’ and ‘sattvic’ influences of the three properties (‘gunas’) of the nature. Yogic practices lead to a spiritual and contended life; non-yogic actions bind a person to the materialistic world. Desire, action, and reaction are spokes in the wheel of thought, but when consciousness becomes steady and pure, eliminating other impurities becomes evident. Movements of mind come to a complete stop. The practitioner becomes a perfect yogi with skillful actions. The ‘yogi’ differentiates between the wavering uncertainties of thought processes and the understanding of the ‘Self,’ which is changeless. The ‘yogi’ resides in the experience of wisdom, untinged by emotions of desire, greed, exasperation, anger, pride, ego, malice, jealousy, infatuation, and intimate and sexual desires.