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Yoga Poses

Get Inspired with More Asana Choices

Here you'll find support for choosing poses to meet a condition or prerequisite, such as warming up shoulders, offering a restorative or choosing an arm balance. It can also help you build a class around a focus. Poses are categorized by anatomical focus plus categories for Restorative and Yin Yoga.

Don't miss the additional information in the left hand-column below. It includes a link to an asana index by both English and Sanskrit names plus you'll see additional meaningful ways of categorizing asana. For dozens of variations of poses plus Partner Poses, Hands-On Adjustments, and much more, see Membership.

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Asana Index

To see an index of asanas by both English and Sanskrit names, go here.You'll not only find a very long list to help you identify what you're looking for, you'll also find clarification on potential naming confusion, such as:

  • Pose names used multiple ways (e.g. Garbhasana refers sometimes to Extended Child's Pose and other times to an advanced Lotus variation).
  • Poses called by multiple names (e.g. some sources refer to Cross-Legged Seat as Sukhasana and others call it Swastikasana).
  • Often, different naming conventions are specific to certain lineages. Typically, published writings make no reference to different naming conventions among other styles; we are identifying and highlighting these naming differences to help prevent unnecessary confusion arising from studying numerous sources.
  • Some poses are not traditional poses and so seem to have inspired a free-for-all in naming them; we are endeavoring to bring all the names together to help bring clarity (e.g. Opposite Limb Extension / Spinal Balance / Balancing Table / Chakravakasana (Sunbird) - this example is particularly telling as Chakravakasana (Sunbird) is also used to signify a different flow and Cakravakasana (Ruddy Goose) has such a close spelling as to potentially inspire confusion).

 More Ways to Classify Asana

Yoga postures can be classified according to the features that they resemble or seek to evoke... For me, this is an intriguing method of categorization. For these names imply that a change in posture can create a change in attitude and even elicit specific states of consciousness. Yogis have found that when asana are done properly they stimulate the quality that they are named for. Hero Pose (Virasana) done in the prescribed manner will promote feelings of courage, self-confidence and stamina. Lotus Pose (Padmasana) will generate an opening of the lotus petals of the subtle body's chakras, producing a feeling of emotional and spiritual expansion. – Mukunda Stiles, Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy © 2007 pgs 91 & 92

Examples:

Animals
  • Bhujangasana - Cobra
  • Makarasana - Crocoile
  • Matsyasana - Fish
Sages
  • Siddhasana
  • Vasisthasana
  • Bharadvajasana
Qualities
  • Virabhadrasana - Warrior
  • Virasana - Hero
States of Life
  • Garbhasana - Fetal
  • Savasana - Corpse
Body Parts
  • Sarvangasana - All Limbs/Shoulderstand
  • Sirsasana - Headstand
Nature
  • Vrksasana - Tree
  • Padmasana - Lotus
Geometrical Figures
  • Trikonasana - Triangle
  • Chakrasana - Circle/Wheel

Mukunda Stiles goes on to classify asanas according to their primary effect. Examples:

Affects Spinal Column
  • Bhujangasana - Cobra
  • Dhanurasana - Bow
  • Salabhasana - Locust
  • Matsyasan - Fish
Addresses Muscles of Extremities
  • Gomukhasana - Cow Face
  • Garudasana - Eagle
  • Virabhadrasana - Warrior
Hollow Organs
  • Apanasana - Knees to Chest/Wind Freeing
  • Garbhasana - Fetal
  • Marichyasana twist
  • Ardha Matsyendrasana - Half Lord of Fishes
Endocrine Glands & Sense Organs
  • Sirsasana - Headstand
  • Viparita Karani - Inverted Action
  • Sarvangasana - Shoulderstand
Induces Relaxation
  • Garbhasana - Fetal
  • Savasana - Corpose
  • Makarasana - Crocodile
Promotes Meditation/Pranayama
  • Sukhasana - Easy
  • Siddhasana - Adept
  • Padmasana - Lotus
  • Vajrasana - Thunderbolt
  • Virasana - Hero

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Restorative postures are often considered the group of supported postures listed here. However, sometimes a pose or sequence may be called Restorative and include such poses as Apanasana or Supta Padangusthasana with strap. Members, see Restoratives Asana Digest for more information.

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