Asanas are the postures adopted during a yoga sequence or class. One of the eight limbs of yoga, asana has long been considered a vital component of overall well-being. Helping to strengthen the physical body (aka our “earthly vessel”), asana also supports mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Buddhist philosophy sees the body as a temporary vehicle for the soul - alluding to the idea that the better we take care of it, the better our quality of life will be.
While there are many types of yoga today, Hatha yoga is often referred to as the original style of yoga. Most people agree that the original ‘manual’ for Hatha yoga was written in Sanskrit around 400 AD by Patanjali Maharishi; it included asanas as well as sutras (rules or aphorisms) designed to guide one towards enlightenment on earth. While Hatha yoga traditionally includes pranayama techniques (also known as “breathwork”), lifestyle philosophies and more, today it’s mostly known for the physical postures or asanas. In fact, most Hatha yoga today leans more towards what would actually be considered Yang or Vinyasa yoga (described below under Yang asana).
Vinyasa yoga is a style of asana designed to mimic the results of a traditional workout. A fast-paced flow often including reps for strength and set to loud music… vinyasa is especially loved in the west - likely because it mirrors our busy way of life. Vinyasa is what could be considered Yang Asana - it includes a lot of movement, and often a lot of sweat. Benefits include improved circulation, reduced stress, greater strength and more.
On the other side of the spectrum, we have the often overlooked yin yoga. Yin yoga is a slow-paced, restorative practice where each pose or asana is held for 3 to 7 minutes or more. Luxuriating in each pose for longer not only allows one's mind to settle into stillness, it also facilitates a deep stretch of the connective tissue (called fascia) that blankets your bones and internal organs. Benefits include feelings of groundedness, improved flexibility, reduced tension, emotional release and more.
What’s your experience with yoga?
Do you like yang or yin asana more? Why?
We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
In Los Angeles & interested in experiencing a yin yoga class?
Join us in Santa Monica on Tuesday, September 3rd for a restorative evening of yin yoga and sound healing. We’ll be joined by International Yin Yoga Teacher, Kali Basman, who will guide us through a deeply nourishing asana sequence set to a multi-vibrational sound bath.
YIN YOGA FLOW TO REDUCE BACK PAIN
With your right hand on your heart, and your left hand on your stomach, take 3 deep breaths.
On your next inhale, sweep your hands down and out to the side - as if spreading your wings. Continue moving your hands upwards to meet together in prayer pose, centered above your head. On the exhale, lower your hands down to rest in front of your heart. Repeat two more times.
On an exhale, hinge at the hips, slowly folding forward allowing your upper body to hang in front of your legs. Hold your elbows with opposite hands, if it feels comfortable.
Continue through the following sequence*:
1-3 minutes: Standing Forward Fold
1-3 minutes: 1/2 Standing Forward Fold
1-3 minutes: Downward-facing Dog
1-3 minutes: Child’s Pose
1-3 minutes: Rabbit
1-3 minutes: Wide-legged Child’s Pose
1 minute: Transition to seated - Walk your hands towards your knees, bring yourself into a seated position. Cross your ankles, shifting your weight onto your seat. Take a moment to shake your legs out.
1-3 minutes: Reclined Supine Twist (left side)
1-3 minutes: Reclined Supine Twist (right side)
1 minute: Hug knees into chest and roll back and forth, if desired
1-3 minutes: Happy Baby
1-3 minutes: Corpose Pose
*We haven’t yet taken pictures and written pose descriptions, so if you’re new to yoga or not familiar with the poses included in this sequence, I’ve linked out explanations curated by Yoga Journal and Yoga Basics.