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Yoga exercises and poses, or asanas, vary in difficulty, type, and the benefits and effects they have on different parts of the body. There are sequences of yoga exercise suited for pregnant women, those suffering from shoulder and back pain, those who want to build muscles and strengthen joints, those who want increased flexibility, and so on. You can even create your own sequence of yoga poses to work your target areas and achieve specific goals. However, the most common way to learn about yoga exercise is to know the different types of yoga poses, some of which we discuss in this article.
Seated or Sitting Poses
No yoga exercise sequence is complete without seated poses that are commonly done as starter meditative positions. An example of such poses is the Lotus Pose, which you do while sitting on your yoga mat with your legs crossed in front of you. This pose not only teaches students to clear the clutter in their minds and listen to their breathing, but also to get their bodies used to maintaining proper posture when doing yoga poses.
Seated yoga poses are commonly used as part of warm up exercise sequences as well as for the cool down phase of the workout. Seated poses like the Lotus and the Thunderbolt Pose are among the most popular seated poses, and are just as physical as they are meditative. Both poses stretch the thigh and leg muscles, in addition to improving your posture and opening up the chest through breathing exercises.
The concept of inversion yoga poses is Viparita Karani, which translates to “opposite process.” These are yoga exercises where the body’s position places the heart or the feet higher than the head. Inversion poses are known to help stimulate and increase blood flow, and generally tend to be more challenging than other types of poses.
For example, some inversion poses like the headstand, handstand, and shoulder stand (and their variations), are not always recommended and suitable for first-timers. They may need the guidance of an instructor or the help of accessories like yoga blocks to help ease them into the difficulty of the poses. Other examples of popular inversion poses include the Crow Pose and Plough/Plow Pose.
Standing yoga poses are the best exercises to start with if you haven’t been working out for some time and lack muscle strength and flexibility. One of the most popular standing poses is the Mountain Pose, which is included in the Sun Salutation series and is almost always used to start yoga sessions. Standing poses are excellent for muscle stretching, increasing flexibility, and improving one’s sense of balance (and thus, concentration and focus).
Some examples of standing poses that do all these, as well as engage thigh and leg muscles and build muscular strength, are the Standing Crescent Lunge, Triangle Pose, Extended Side Angle, Chair Pose, Standing Back Bend, and the Warrior poses (I, II, and III).
Forward and Back Bends
These yoga exercises are generally aimed towards stretching the back and leg muscles, relieving back pain, and increasing flexibility and reach. The Standing Forward Bend or Forward Fold is a popular example of such yoga poses; and you do it by standing with your feet flat on the yoga mat and then lowering the torso towards the floor — bringing the head as close to the knees as possible. Back bend poses like the Bridge Pose are also popular and are known to build arm and leg muscle strength.
Sit and Twist Poses
Sit and Twist poses are generally designed to address problems in the back and spine. These poses can help correct the alignment of the spine, improve posture, stretch the back muscles, and relieve lower back pain. Popular examples of sit and twist poses are the Sage Twist or Marichyasana and the Half Spinal Twist or Ardha Matsyendrasana.
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