Yoga is one of the four primary ways Hinduism guides to reach god. (For those who don’t believe in “god” read it as it’s one of the ways that guides to find the true nature of the “self”). The other three ways are Karma (actions), Bhakti (Devotion) and Janna (self-Inquiry).
Yoga is also one of the six (darśanams) orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy. Another five are Samkhya, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimāṃsā and Vedanta. Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is the oldest surviving book about yoga available today. It divides yoga into eight elements/steps.
Yoga actually has eight elements/steps and what the world today refers as yoga is just one or two of these eight elements. All these eight steps are required to be followed in the order, one after the other (after accomplishing 1 go to 2, then 3, etc.) in order to attain the ultimate wisdom. These are the eight limbs of yoga that Yoga Sutras explain.
- Yama : Practice of non-injury, truthfulness, continence, non-stealing, etc.
- Niyama : Internal and external purity, contentment, etc.
- Asanas: Body postures (What we all refer as “Yoga” today).
- Pranayama : Breathing exercises, control of the “prana”
- Pratyahara : Control of the senses (When a person masters and practices Asanas and Pranayama properly he gets the mental strength to control senses that’s why this step comes after them)
- Dharana: Concentration of the mind on an object.
- Dhyana: Meditation or an unceasing flow of ideas connected with one object.
- Samadhi : The meditator and the meditated become one / Union with the universe (God) Later,
- “Asanas” and “Pranayama” were separately extracted from the eight elements of Yoga and put together as “Hatha yoga”. This is the portion referred as “Yoga” in the present world but the actual Yoga has eight elements and Hatha yoga (What word “yoga” today refers to) is just two of the eight elements of yoga.
Memory is the capacity to retain and recall information about past and present incidents. Memory capacity is the ability to analyze and synthesize the assimilated information. The power of Memory varies among individuals. So in order to boost up the memory, we need to some memory booster exercises, Yogic practices like asanas, pranayama, meditation and Om chanting increase the circulation of blood to the brain. This helps calm the mind and enhances concentration skills. Memory lapses can also be prevented through yogic practices that enhance the power of recall. One can draw upon the immense power of the mind with consistent yogic endeavor.
When you fail to remember something, which you have read, heard or seen and cannot remember despite several efforts then it is called loss of memory power or forgetful-ness. People of all age groups are suffering due to this problem. There are a number of reasons for this problem. For example, mental tension, excessive mental work or not using it at all, busy schedule throughout the day, physical and mental weakness or serious head injury. We can start some yoga poses which is highly beneficial for improving memory and Keeping our Body fit. Some of these Positions are discussed below:-
- Suryanamaskar [Sun Salutation (warming up)]: The Sanskrit word Surya means sun. Namaskar is the Hindi word for Namaste, from the root name, to bow. Namaskar means salutation, salute, greeting or praise.
- Inhale: Stand straight, palms together in front of the chest.
- Exhale: Drop the hands to the sides of the body.
- Inhale: Raise the straight arms above the head, palms pointing to the front, straighten up.
- Exhale: Bend forward from the lower back and bring the hands next to the feet on the floor. If necessary bend the knees.
- Inhale: Step right foot far back, bring right knee on the floor, keep the toes tucked under (no relaxation of the calf muscles) or rest the top of the right foot on the floor ( calf relaxed). Look up to the ceiling.
- Exhale: Step the left foot back next to the right foot (toes of both feet tucked under) in the Plank position.
- Inhale: Do nothing, hold the posture
- Exhale: Drop both knees to the floor and sit on the heels, stretch the spine (don’t slide the hands back).
- Inhale: Slide forward (nose close along the floor) and push up to Upward Dog
- Exhale: Slide the knees slightly forward, tuck the toes under and push up to Downward Dog. Try to bring the heels to the floor.
- Inhale: Come up on your finger tips and step your right foot forward in between your hands, sole of the right foot completely on the floor. Place left knee on the floor. Look up to the ceiling.
- Exhale Step left foot forward next to the right foot, straighten the legs, try to bring the forehead to the knees.
- Inhale: Straighten up, bring straight arms first to the vertical and then bend back. Bring the hands together with palms in front of the chest. This ends the First Half. In the Second Half step the left foot back and forward and bring the appropriate knees to the floor. Both halves together make one Round. Do this 3 round if this.
The image shown below has described all the steps which is done in Suryanamaskar.
- Ardhachandra – asana [The Half – moon Pose]: The Sanskrit word Ardha means “half,” and the word Chandra means “moon,” thus, this is the “half-moon” posture.
- Stand in the tada-asana (Stand with both feet touching from the heel to the big toe, keeping back straight and the arms pressed slightly against the sides with palms facing inward.
- Bring the hands together at the chest with palms lightly pressed against each other (the Anjali-mudra).
- Inhale and raise the arms straight up keeping the palms pressed lightly together.
- Arch your body backwards, keeping your arms alongside your neck and head, tilts the head backward and hold. Keep your knees straight while holding posture.
- Slowly return to the tada-asana.
The image shown below has described all the steps which is done in Ardhachandra – asana.
- Ardha-matsyendra-asana [The Half Spinal Twist Pose]: Ardha means half. Matsyendra is one of many Siddhas or masters who were accomplished Yogis mentioned in the medieval Yoga text the Hatha-Yoga-Pradipika. This posture posture is traditionally called the Spinal Twist because the spinal column is twisted gently.
Instructions: Sit in any comfortable cross-legged position.
- Straighten the legs out in front. Bend the right knee and bring the heel of the right foot close to the left hip.
- Inhale and bend the left knee upward and place the left foot flat on the floor to the right of the right leg with the ankle touching the right thigh.
- While turning the spine to the left straighten the right arm bringing it around to the outside of the left knee and grasp the left foot with the right hand.
- Turn your head as far as possible to the left and bend the left arm behind your back. Keep your spine, neck and head aligned and continue to exert effort at turning to the left.
- Repeat the posture the other side by reversing directions 2-6.
The image shown below has described all the steps which is done in Ardha-matsyendra-asana.
- Baddha-kona-asana[The Restrained Angle Pose]: The Sanskrit word baddha means a bond, chain, caught or restrained. The word pada means foot, and kona means corner or angle therefore this is the restrained-foot-angle posture.
- Sit on the floor with the legs together and extended straight out in front. Keep the back straight, shoulders level and head straight. Place the hands, palms down, flat on top of the thighs then inhale deeply.
- Exhale and bend the knees drawing the feet toward the torso.
- Place the soles of the feet together, clasp the hands over the feet interlocking the fingers pulling the feet closer and placing the heels against the perineum. The outer edge and small toe of each foot should touch the floor.
- Lower the knees to the floor and keep the back straight. Use the elbows to press down on the thighs if necessary to bring the calves and knees to the floor. Hold the posture breathing gently through the nostrils.
- Release the posture and sit with the legs extended out and hands on the thighs.
- Chakra-asana [The Wheel Pose]: Chakra, means wheel and therefore this is the Wheel Posture. The cakra-asana is also known as the urdhva-dhanurasana. Urdhva means raised, elevated or upright and dhanur means bow. Both “wheel posture” and “raised bow posture” describe the appearance of this asana.
- Lie flat on the back in the shava-asana (corpse pose).
- While exhaling bend the knees and bring the feet as close to the buttocks as possible with the soles of the feet flat on the floor.
- Bend the arms at the elbows and place the palms of the hands flat on the floor directly under each shoulder with the fingers pointing toward the back.
- While inhaling slowly, begin to raise the head, back and buttocks off the floor while arching the spine. Continue to press downward on the hands and feet while raising the hips and stomach as high as possible.
- Hold for the duration of the held inhaled breath. When you can’t hold the breath comfortable any longer, slowly exhale and return the back to the floor, slide the legs out straight returning to the shava-asana.
- Dhanura-asana [The Bow Pose]: The Sanskrit word dhanur means bow-shaped, curved or bent. The bow referred is a bow as in “bow and arrow.” This asana is so named because the body mimics the shape of a bow with its string stretched back ready to shoot an arrow.
- Lie flat on the back in the shava-asana (corpse pose).
- Lie on the stomach with the head turned to one side and the arms alongside the body with palms facing upward.
- Turn the head and place the chin on the floor. Exhale, bend the knees, reach back with the arms and grasp the right ankle with the right hand and the left ankle with the left hand.
- While inhaling, slowly raise the legs by pulling the ankles up and raising the knees off the floor while simultaneously lifting the chest off the floor. Hold the inhale breath. The weight of the body should be resting on the abdomen.
- Tilt the head as far back as possible. Hold the posture as long as you can comfortably hold the inhale breath.
- Slowly exhale bringing the knees to the floor, release the ankles, slowly bring the legs and arms straight down on the floor and turn the head to one side, assuming the prone posture you began with.
Steps for Dhanur-asana are described in the image below:
- Gomukha-asana [The Cow face Pose]: The Sanskrit word garuda means eagle. In Hindu mythology Garuda is known as the king of birds. He transports the God Vishnu (shown with a bow and arrow in the illustration to the
- Sit in a crossed-leg position, right leg over left.
- Spread the legs as far apart as possible without bending the knees.
- Bend the left knee and place the bottom of the left foot against the inner left thigh. Bring the left heel as close to the perineum as possible. Keep the left knee on the floor.
- Grasp the right foot with the left hand and keeping the foot on the floor place the heel of the right foot against the front-left portion of the left buttock. The right knee should be directly on top of the left knee..
- Inhale slowly through the nostrils and raise the right hand over the head and bend the right elbow. Reach behind the back with the left hand and clasp the fingers of both hands (forming an “s” shaped lock).
- Hold the posture as long as you can comfortably hold the inhale breath. Exhale slowly and then repeat the posture reversing the arms and legs.
- Padma-asana [The Lotus Posture]: The Sanskrit word naga means snake or serpent. The nagaasana is also known as the bhujanga-asana. The Sanskrit word bhujanga, which also means snake, is derived from the root bhuj which means to bend or curve.
- Sit on the floor with the legs stretched out straight in front.
- Bend the right knee and grasp the right foot with both hands and place it on top of the left thigh bringing the heel as close to the navel as possible.
- Bend the left knee and grasp the left foot with both hands and place it on top of the right thigh bringing the heel as close to the navel as possible.
- Both knees should be on the ground and the soles of the feet are pointed upward. The spine is held straight but not rigid.
- The position of the legs may be switched after a period of time if the posture becomes uncomfortable.
- Sirsha-asana [The Head-stand]: The Sanskrit word sirsha means head. This posture is the wellknown headstand posture, and perhaps second only to the padma-asana or lotus posture, is widely identified with the practice of Yoga.
- Sit in a kneeling position with the buttocks resting on the heels of the feet.
- Lean forward and place the forearms on the floor in front while keeping the elbows about shoulder distance apart. Interlock the fingers of both hands.
- Place the top of the head flat on the floor with the back of the head pressed against the inside of the interlocked fingers.
- Placing the tips of the toes firmly on the floor while lifting the heels, raise the knees off the floor.
- Hold for the duration of the held inhaled breath. When you can’t hold the breath comfortable any longer, slowly exhale and return the back to the floor, slide the legs out straight returning to the shava-asana (The Corpse Pose).
The images shown in the next page describes steps which is done sirsha-asana.
- Simha-asana [The Lion Pose]: The Sanskrit word simha which literally means “the powerful one” is the word for “lion”. This therefore is known as the lion posture, and one performing it can be said to resemble a roaring lion about to attack.
- Sit up on the knees with the heels of the feet pressed against the buttocks and the calves of the legs flat on the floor.
- Place the balls of the hands on the knees, straighten the arms and keep the back erect and the head straight (not tilted forward, back, to the left or the right).
- Inhale while leaning forward slightly, stretching the mouth the jaws as wide as possible, extend the tongue out and downward as much as possible, fix your gaze either at the tip of the nose or between the eyebrows and stretch the fingers straight out from the knees.
- Hold the posture for the duration of the inhaled breath then exhale, relaxing the forward stretch, dropping the fingers to the knees and closing the mouth and eyes.
These are some of the poses which we can do regularly to keep our body and mind fit. Hope you have got sufficient information regarding various poses of yoga, thank you and do yoga regularly.