Āsana sequence impacts health and fitness

asana

Yogacharya S Sundaram

School of Yoga on āsana, fitness and health – introduction.

This site follows the Yogacharya Sundaram school of yoga āsana routines for health, fitness and therapy. Yogacharya Sundaram, who started teaching sana for universal health and fitness in Bangalore, India, developed this successful format around 1921. Incidentally, Yogachrya Sundaram is one of Yoga’s oldest teachers and therapists.

The exercise routines focus on maximising the effect on the relevant portion of the body at a time. They are holistic and cover all parts of the body.

Āsana – Patanjali Yoga Sutra defines sana as स्थिरसुखमासनम् ॥४६॥. sthiram (static, steady, firm) + sukham (comfortable) + sanam (seat).

So, the practitioner should stay close to the state of homeostasis when practicing sana. Incidentally, homeostasis is a psychosomatic state where the body is in physical and psychological balance and equanimity.

Therefore, sana is a static exercise where the body movement is minimal and the focus is on holding the pose to maximise impact on a specific area of the body.

How asanas bring fitness and health.

Āsana therefore needs to comply with the following rules;

  1. It should be static, not vigorous or dynamic.
  2. The position should be easy to hold and not stressful.
  3. There should have minimum movement.
  4. While, there is no consensus, the Yogacharya Sundaram school recommends a breathing routine.

KriyaKriyas are dynamic exercises which increase flexibility of the body. Additionally, sūryanamaskāra and nauli fall under this category.

Banda – this is a holding exercise. In fact, this exercise is far more complex than the above two types and focuses on smooth flow of prāṇa in and around that area of focus. For instance, uḍḍīyana falls into this classification.

It is also important to take the following precautions before starting sana practice:
  • You know your body best. Practice to the limit your body allows only. As soon as there is discomfort, stop.
  • Before starting any sana practice, consult a physician. Practice only to the limits recommended by your physician.
  • If you are new to Yogic physical culture, take the help of a certified master and instructor. The recommendations in this book are meant to enhance your awareness and knowledge. Ultimately, they cannot and do not replace professional expertise.

Why Sanskrit words have been used in describing asanas for fitness and health.

There is always a desire to make approximations of the Sanskrit words to make the subject more appealing and less forbidding. However, that has been avoided in this site. In fact, we attempt to stay as close as possible to the classical aspects of yogāsana. 

Many teachers get started with warm up sana and beginner sanaHowever, Yogacharya Sundaram never really did that. In fact, he got people performing the below mentioned sanas as soon as he could get them to flex. We agree with the approach. Hence, we have recommended sanas which should be practiced regularly for overall health and fitness. 

School of Yoga recommendation of sana routines for health and fitness.

Sl. No.

Āsana

Meaning / Translation

1 Padmāsana Lotus Pose
Reverse Bending āsana
2 Bhujaṃgāsana Cobra Pose
3 Śalabhāsana Locust Pose
4 Dhanurāsana Bow Pose
Forward bending āsana for upper and lower abdomen
5 Pavanamuktāsana Air relieving pose
6 Paschimotanāsana Torso stretch pose
7 Halāsana Plough pose
8 Mayurāsana Peacock pose
Upper region āsana. Focus on neck, shoulders, lungs and head
9 Sarvāngāsana Pan-body pose
10 Matsyāsana Fish pose
11 Śirasāsana Head stand
12 Sundara-viparītakaraṇi Inverted triangle pose
Abdominal āsana
13 Arda-matsyendrāsana Half fish middle pose
14 Yoga-mudra Yoga seal
15 Uḍḍīyana-bandhā Abdominal suction
16 Nauli Rectus Isolation
Standing āsanas
17 Pādahastāsana Hand to toe pose
18 Trikonāsana Triangle pose
19 Tadasana Mountain pose
20 Vīrabhadrāsana Gracious warrior pose
Body reset āsana
21 Śavāsana Corpse pose

This should be followed by sūryanamaskāra-kriya.

Internal Links: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Prana,  Asana Overview 2, Drishti – Focus or gazing, PranayamaHatha Yoga Pradeepika

External Links: Pancha Tattva, Pancha Prana, Pancha Kosha

Editor at School Of Yoga
School Of Yoga is a single point resource for all aspects of Classical Yoga practise. We try to achieve this by placing Yoga's traditional methodology in front of the reader and eliciting his or her experience. We value everyone's Yoga experience and would like you to share and enrich other practitioners so that everyone benefits.
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[…] Asana – Behaviour without a healthy body is like a car without a good engine or a rusted body. It will fall apart when subjected to the stress of changes induced by yama and niYama. Asana aligns the various elements of the body to keep the body in a condition of homeostasis. This element removes illness and makes the body fit to take on the stress of everyday living. […]

[…] Asana – yoga for fitness and system health are related; […]

[…] Therapy Practice – asanas or postures: […]

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