One of the most important aspects of the practice of yoga is its use of a variety of positions. Called asanas, these yoga positions are what make the practice so recognizable. With so many different types of yoga being actively used throughout the world, it is no wonder that at last count there were over 900 known yoga poses! Some of the most common positions used in yoga include downward facing dog, cow face, sun salutations, warrior poses, and resting positions like child's pose and corpse pose.
Yoga positions are one of six limbs (or eight limbs depending on the type of yoga, such as Ashtanga yoga) that are the main aspects of yoga, and the positions are essentially physical movements that are paired with controlled breathing techniques. Each type of yoga uses different poses because they are believed to provide different types of results.
The extent of the benefits of yoga positions vary based on which type of yoga is being practiced, but they are generally believed to include:
- Stress reduction
- Breath control
- Shortening of labor and birth pains (prenatal yoga)
Despite the fact that some yoga positions can be extremely difficult for people who aren't avid yoga practitioners, these poses are supposed to be held steady (the practitioner should not tremble) and there should be no discomfort.
While these positions are not meant to be painful or difficult, and for most people yoga is a safe and healthy practice, it is still important to speak with your primary care provider before you begin it to ensure you are healthy enough for this activity.