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 The Yoga posures or physical exercise with correct breathing practice is called the the Yoga Asana which is only one stage of Yoga. There are more than 500 Asana. Yoga incorporates stretching and relaxation, which reduces tension in stress-carrying muscles. Yoga helps increase strength in very specific muscles and muscle groups. Many of the postures in yoga gently strengthen the muscles in the back, as well as the abdominal muscles. These postures are scientifically chosen as they flex and energize all muscles respectively in the body in equilibrium. Yoga dates back to pre-vedic Indian tradition and traced back to over 5000 years ago.

There are basically two ways to classify asanas or yoga poses.

The first is according to their names. Some asanas have the name of an animal, like the Dog Shvanasana, the Snake Bhujangasana, the Locust Shalabhasana, the Peacock Mayurasana, the Fish Matsyasana.

Other asanas are named after a sage, like Matsyendrasana (According to legend, Matsyendra was the first human to hear about Hatha-Yoga), Gorakshasana (Goraksha is the author of the first Hatha-Yoga book, the Goraksha Samhita), Buddhasana… or after a god, like Krishnasana for Krishna, Natarajasana for Shiva, Hanumanasana for Hanuman, Viranchyasana for Brahma.

Some asanas have the name of a natural form or being, like Chandrasana (and Ardha -Chandrasana) the Moon, Vrikshasana the Tree, Padmasana the Lotus… while others represent a person at different ages, like Garbha-Pindasana the Foetus, Balasana the Child, Virasana the Hero, Siddhasana the Wise Man, Shavasana the Corpse.

A second way of classifying poses is according to the position of the body AND to the position of the spine. Day to day, our bodies assume three basic positions: Sitting, Standing (on the legs) and Reclining. Yoga adds two more: Inverted (upside-down) and Handstanding. Sitting is on our buttocks; Standing is on our feet and eventually, on the knees; Reclining is on our back, stomach or side; Inverted is on our head or shoulders; Handstanding is on our hands and eventually, on the elbows.

The spine is the centre of our yoga practice, as far as the asana (third limb of Raja-Yoga as described by Patanjali) is concerned. Therefore, the position of the spine has to play an important role in the classification. The spine assumes five possible positions: straight, bending forward, bending backward, bending sideways and twisting.