Yoga Asanas for Physical Fitness

Sports-Yoga India Rajasthan RAS Mains GS Paper 3 (1)

The word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yuj, which means “to attach, join, harness, yoke”, and signifies union of the individual and universal conscious. In last few decades, the word “Yoga” has been used to refer to practise of performing physical postures or Yoga Asanas, with the goal of physical fitness. However in actuality, Yoga is a complete system, of which the postures are a small, though quite useful part.

Surya Namaskar

Surya means Sun and Namaskara means salutation. This asana is essentially saluting the Sun through postures. It includes a series of 12 physical postures. Postures practiced during surya namaskara act as a good link between warm-ups and asanas. Surya namaskara should preferably be done at the time of sunrise and always on empty stomach.


  • It helps to increase strength, endurance and flexibility.
  • It improves concentration.
  • It removes excess fat.
  • It gives energy to the body.
  • It helps in increasing the height of growing children and tones up their body.
  • It warms up the body.
  • It improves blood circulation all over the body.
  • It provides flexibility to the whole body.


  • One should avoid practising surya namaskara in case of high blood pressure, fever, heart diseases, hernia, slipped disk and intestinal tuberculosis.


Palm-Tree pose

Tada in Sanskrit means ‘palm tree’. This is called Tadasana because in this asana the yogic stands straight like a palm tree.


Up-Stretched Arms Posture

Hasta means ‘arms’; uttana means ‘stretched up’ and asana means ‘posture’. In this posture, the arms are stretched upwards, hence is called Hastottanasana.


  • It relaxes whole body.
  • It relieves pain in neck, shoulders and arms.
  • It is beneficial for increasing the height of growing children.
  • It increases the flexibility of spine.


  • This asana should not be performed during hernia, abdominal inflammation.


The Hands to Feet Posture

In Sanskrit pada mean ‘feet’, hasta mean ‘arms’ and asana means ‘posture’. In this asana, the hands are brought near the feet, hence it is called Padahastasana.


  • It strengthens the organs located in the abdominal area and improves their functioning.
  • It improves digestion and circulation of blood in upper body.
  • It improves the flexibility of the legs’ muscles.


  • In case of severe backache and high blood pressure one should avoid this asana.      


In Sanskrit, Pashchima means ‘posterior’ and uttana means ‘stretch-up’ so Pashchimottanasana means stretching the posterior region.


Triangle Posture

Trikona a Sanskrit word means ‘triangle’. In this asana, the body makes the shape of a triangle; hence, it is called Trikonasana. 


  • It stretches up the muscles of trunk, legs and hips.
  • It improves the flexibility of spine.
  • It helps in increase the height of growing children.
  • It relieves the pain in the neck and back.


  • Do not practise this asana in case of severe backache.


Lumber Twist Posture

Katichakrasana is made of three words: kati, chakra and asana. Kati means ‘waist’, chakra means ‘wheel’ and asana means ‘posture’. In this asana, the waist and arms move like a wheel.  Hence, it is called katichakrasana.  


  • It stretches the waist region and makes lower back strong.
  • It strengthens shoulders, neck, arms, abdomen, back and thighs.


  • Persons suffering from severe spinal problems should not practise this asana.


Tree Posture

This is a balancing asana. The Sanskrit word vriksha means ‘tree’, thus, this is the ‘Tree Posture’. In the imagination of the tree, foot seems as a roots, leg is the trunk, arms as the branches and leaves, head as top of the tree, all make the posture in the shape of a tree.


  • Improves neuro-muscular coordination, balance, endurance and alertness.
  • It tones up the leg muscles and rejuvenates the ligaments also.


  • Please avoid this practice in case of arthritis, vertigo and obesity.


Bow Posture

In Sanskrit Dhanur means ‘bow’. In this asana, posture of the body resembles a bow with its string attached to it.


In Sanskrit ut means ‘raised’ and kata refers to ‘hips’. This asana is also a balancing posture. The posture is known as utkatasana because in this asana, the hips are kept raised.


The Sanskrit word pawana means ‘air’ or ‘wind’ and mukta means ‘freedom’ or ‘release’. This is called as the ‘wind relieving posture’ as it assists in releasing trapped digestive gas from the stomach and intestines.


Head Stand Posture

Shirsha, a Sanskrit word means ‘head’. In this posture one stands on one’s head, hence it is called Shirshasana.


  • It improves blood circulation, particularly of venous blood.
  • It helps in the proper functioning of the abdominal organs and
  • endocrine glands.
  • It increases the supply of blood to the brain and strengthens
  • central nervous system.


  • Avoid performing this posture in case of problems of ears, weak eye, capillaries, high blood pressure, heart trouble, etc.


Crane Posture

Baka, a Sanskrit word, means ‘crane’. The final posture in the asana imitates a crane, hence, it is called Bakasana. 


  • It increases strength of the arms and shoulders.
  • It increases a sense of balance.
  • It tones abdominal muscles.
  • It provides adequate supply of blood to hand, shoulders and chest.


  • Person with high blood pressure, heart disease or cerebral thrombosis should not practise this asana.


Swan Posture

Hamsa, a Sanskrit word, means ‘swan’. In final posture of this asana, the body resembles a swan, hence, it is called Hamsasana. 
It is a preparatory pose for Mayurasana. The only difference is that in Mayurasana legs are raised; while in Hamsasana feet are kept on the ground and the body is kept little bent and balanced on the elbows. 


  • It gives exercise to the arms.
  • Pressure exerted on the abdomen in this asana improves  functioning of the abdominal organs and increases appetite.


  • Person suffering from peptic ulcers, hyper acidity, high blood pressure or hernia, should not practise this asana.


Peacock Posture

In Sanskrit Mayura means ‘peacock’. In the final posture, the body  resembles a peacock, hence, it is called Mayurasana.


  • It strengthens the arms.
  • It helps to promote circulation in the abdominal region.
  • It helps to increase appetite.
  • It massages the digestive organs.
  • It helps to regulate the functions of kidneys and liver.
  • It helps to develop muscles control and balance in body.


  • Person suffering from high blood pressure, heart disease, hernia or peptic ulcers should not practise this asana.
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