Asana is defined as “posture or pose;” its literal meaning is “seat.” Originally, there was only one asana–a stable and comfortable pose for prolonged seated meditation
. More than just stretching and toning the physical body, the yoga poses open the nadis
(energy channels) and chakras
(psychic centers) of the body. Yoga poses also purify and help heal the body, as well as control, calm and focus the mind.
Yoga Pose Catagories
While there is no definitive way to categorize yoga postures, there are four main physical orientations that can be helpful for researching and sequencing asanas. In general, these groups of yoga poses will share similar energetic and physical effects.
Energetic Effect: Grounding & Balancing • Physical Effect: Flexibility
Energetic Effect: Uplifting & Opening • Physical Effect: Strength
Energetic Effect: Nurturing & Integrating • Physical Effect: Flexibility
Energetic Effect: Energizing • Physical Effect: Back & Core Strength
Yoga Posture Types
The above main categories of yoga poses can also be categorized into the yoga pose types below. You can also filter by these posture types on the above main pose category pages.
Energetic Effect: Energizing
Physical Effect: Strengthens Back & Core, Opens Chest
Energetic Effect: Invigorating
Physical Effect: Strengthens Arms & Legs
Energetic Effect: Stabilizing
Physical Effect: Strengthens Core Muscles
Energetic Effect: Calming
Physical Effect: Stretches hamstrings & back muscles
Energetic Effect: Surrendering
Physical Effect: Opens hips
Energetic Effect: Letting Go
Physical Effect: Stretches back muscles
Energetic Effect: Harmonizing
Physical Effect: Sides of Torso & Sides of Legs
Asana is just the beginning
Asana practice is just the beginning of your yoga journey. Practicing yoga poses can boost your physical vitality, calm your mind and balance body’s systems, but the subtle yoga practices of mudra, bandha, pranayama, and meditation will take you even further to attaining the benefits and rewards of hatha yoga.
Tips for practicing yoga poses
1. Begin where you are, and set expectations accordingly.
2. Gather or purchase any yoga accessories and yoga props you might need.
3. Decide when, where, and how long you want to practice.
4. Create a clean and comfortable spot for your yoga practice.
5. Choose your yoga sequence or list of poses to practice.
6. Read and understand the instructions for each pose before attempting
7. If something is confusing or too difficult, seek advice from a yoga teacher.
8. Know your physical limits and listen to your body.
9. Always end with relaxation in Shavasana pose.
If you have not practiced yoga postures before, please read our yoga beginner’s guide.
Exploring the Asanas
Our comprehensive asana library will help you refine, support, and build your yoga practice. You will learn the pose level, category, and Sanskrit name and pronunciation. You will also receive clear step-by-step instructions, benefits, contraindications, modifications, and vinyasa suggestions for each yoga pose. A premium membership to YogaBasics will provide you access to additional yoga pose instructions.
How to use our yoga pose index
We have categorized our yoga poses into the main physical orientations (seated, standing, supine, and prone) to help you quickly find poses or discover new ones. Exploring these main categories will also be helpful with creating a yoga sequence as you will want to practice similar poses in your sequence. Our yoga pose index is further categorized into posture types based on the type and location of their primary movement.