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. There are now hundreds of asanas, each with its unique benefits and challenges. They are typically performed on a yoga mat, held for 1-8 breaths, are taught in a sequence of linked positions, and are often accompanied by controlled breathing techniques. Asanas are often used as a form of exercise or a holistic approach to physical and mental health and well-being, but can also be used as a spiritual practice to achieve enlightenment or spiritual awakening.
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 asanas will share similar energetic and physical effects.
Yoga instructors will teach a yoga session using several positions in one of these major categories to create an intelligent sequence that is safe, effective, and balanced. By incorporating positions from each orientation, they create a well-rounded sequence that targets different muscle groups and benefits the entire body. By becoming familiar with these primary groups of postures, both teachers and yoga students can deepen their understanding of how different postures work together harmoniously in a yoga class.
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.
We have compiled a comprehensive library of asanas to help you explore and deepen your yoga practice. Each pose is accompanied by detailed instructions, including modifications and variations, to ensure that you can safely and effectively perform each asana. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced yogi, you can find asanas that suit your level of practice and help you to advance and improve. Learning the sanskrit name and pronunciation of each asana is also important, as it helps you connect with the ancient roots of yoga.
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 pose. A premium membership to YogaBasics will provide you access to additional yoga pose instructions.
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.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced yogi, our asana library has something for everyone. From foundational poses like Downward-Facing Dog and Warrior I to more advanced postures like Crow and Wheel, our library offers a wide range of poses to challenge and inspire you.
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.