What are the type and classifications of Asanas? Asanas in yoga are many. Classical yoga texts declare that there are as many yoga poses as the number of species.
Besides ancient yogic texts, the contemporary yoga curriculum teaches us a large number of yoga poses.
Therefore, it will be easier and more helpful to understand and practice, only if we could classify them into various types of Poses.
Types of Asana
We may classify the yoga postures according to our requirements. Also, one may classify the Asanas into Classic Yoga Poses and Modern Yoga Poses.
Or he may group as Easy or Basic Yoga Pose Group, Intermediate Group, and Advanced Group. Hence the classification depends on the requirement.
There are no hard and fast rules for grouping. This is why we come across many classifications.
Grouping by Classic Yoga
We, at Classic Yoga, group yoga poses into the following seven types of Asanas.
- Meditation Poses
- Relaxation Poses
- Standing Poses
- Inverted Poses
- Balancing Poses
- Specific Sequence Poses or Dynamic Yoga Poses.
Meditation Yoga Poses
Meditation yoga poses are important types of asana. As the name suggests, these poses are intended for the purpose of meditation only. Mostly they are seated postures. The earliest yoga poses belong to this category only.
A brief history of Meditation Asanas
Before Postures came into existence, the ancient yogis used specific seats made up of the skins of tigers or deer along with grass and clothes for meditation. In those days, these seats were known as Asanas.
It was a prerequisite for meditation to sit on such a prescribed seat in a manner in which the trunk, neck, and head of the body are in a straight line. As time passed, both the seat and the sitting posture came to be known as Asana.
Thereafter, different sitting postures came into existence. While the seat was constant, the postures became many. At this point in time, the word Asana indicates the sitting posture only. Afterward, when postures other than sitting postures have come into existence, the meaning of Asana includes those postures also.
Asana In Bhagavad Gita
This explanation of mine simply could not be denied, because there exists proof in Bhagavad Gita in verse 6.11. It talks about the seat for meditation as Asana only. Subsequently, verse 6.13 describes the sitting posture without any name.
Here the sitting posture is not termed as Asana. So, it was time, Asana meant only the seat and not the sitting posture. It was the time when multiple sitting postures were not available.
There was a possibility that Patanjali would have meant Asana the meaning of seat only and the commentators took the meaning as posture which would have been prevalent at the time of making commentary. Of course, this is a mere hypothesis that may be investigated.
List of Yoga Poses for Meditation
The classic texts of Yoga like Yoga Yajnavalkya, Yoga Sutra commentary of Maharishi Vyasa, and Thirumanthiram of Thirumoolar give around ten to twelve poses most of which are Meditation Poses only. These yoga positions are called classic yoga poses.
- Lotus Pose
- Adept Pose
- Auspicious Mark Pose
- Thunderbolt Pose
- Hero Pose
- Liberated Pose
- Simhasana (Lion Pose)
- Gorakshasana (Goraknath Pose)
- Matsyendrasana (Lord of the Fishes Pose)
- Easy Pose
Relaxation Poses are yet another important type of Asana. These Poses are meant for taking rest. Relaxation is different from sleep. In sleep, consciousness is not there; whereas, in relaxation, you have consciousness.
When a sequence of postures is being performed, the practice of a relaxation Pose like Corpse Pose is to be done for a couple of minutes in between two Poses. Besides this, at the end of every Yogasana session, any one of the Relaxation Poses should be performed for a duration of five to ten minutes.
Whenever the body or mind becomes tired, one should take recourse to Relaxation Postures for getting recharged.
List of Poses for Relaxation
- Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
- Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
- Matsya Kridasana (Flapping Fish Pose)
- Advasana (Reverse Corpse Pose)
- Makarasana (Crocodile Pose)
- Shashankasana (Rabbit Pose)
Standing Postures provide flexibility to the body. These types of asanas strengthen the muscles and remove stiffness and lethargy.
- Tadasana (Palm Tree Pose)
- Garudasana (Eagle Pose)
- Uttanasana (Squat and Rise Pose)
- Samakonasana (Right Angle Pose)
- Divikonasana (Touble Angle Pose)
- Trikonasana (Trible Angle Pose)
- Ardhachandrasana (Half Moon Pose)
- Virabhadrasana (Warrior Pose)
- Eka Padasana (Single Foot Pose)
- Vishwamitrasana (Sage Vishwamitra Pose)
- EkaPada Viparita Dandasana (Single Foot Inverted Staff Pose)
- Natarajasana (Lord Nataraja Pose)
- Bakasana (Crane Pose)
- Uttida Hasta Padangusthasana (Raised Hand Big Toe Pose)
- Pada Hastasana (Hand to Foot Pose)
- Vatyanasana (Flying Horse Pose)
- Eka Pada Sirasasana (Single Foot Head-leg Pose)
- Eka Pada Pranamasana (Single Foot Prayer Pose)
Inverted Poses provide rest to the veins of the body. Normally veins are under pressure for the whole of the day except when one is sleeping. Inverted Poses take off the pressure on the veins for a while.
These Poses give rest to the whole body. However, one should take care while doing Postures like Head Stand. If not done properly, it may give worse results than the benefits gained.
It is advisable to perform Postures of this sort under the guidance of a competent Yoga teacher.
List of Inverted Poses
- Sirasasana (Head Stand)
- Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)
- Viparitakarani (Reverse Action Pose)
- Urdhva Padmasana (Inverted Lotus Pose)
Balancing Poses give strength to the limbs of the body, especially the hands, and legs. These Poses may either be of the hand-balancing types of asanas or leg-balancing category.
List of Balancing Poses
- Mayurasana (Peacock Pose)
- Kakasana (Crow Pose)
- Vakrasana (Curved Pose)
- Kukkutasana (Cockrel Pose)
- Parvatasana (Mountain Pose)
- Prapadasana (Tip-Toe Pose)
- Adhomukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
- Chakrasana (Wheel Pose)
- Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
- Halasana (Plow Pose)
- Shalabhasana (Locust Pose)
- Ushtrasana (Camel Pose)
Twists give flexibility. These types of asanas are a little harder to master, yet they give immense benefits. They remove toxins and provide lightness.
List of Twists in Poses
- Matsyendrasana (Matyendra pose)
- Bharatvajasana (Bharatvaja Pose)
- Koundinyasana (Koundinya Pose)
- Janusirasasana (Head-Knee Pose)
- Marichiyasana (Marichi Pose)
Specific Sequence Asanas
Specific Sequence Poses are not single ones, they are a set of yoga postures to be performed in a specific order. Unlike other types of asanas, these are dynamic yoga postures.
List of Specific Sequence Asanas
- Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)
- Tibetan Kriya (Tibetan workout)
- Shankaprakshalana (Washing Intestines)
The postures mentioned here are only important Poses. Variants of these poses are listed. Some postures are shown in more than one group.
Hence, the idea of the classification is for having a bare idea of the list of poses that belong to different types of asanas.