Yoga is an ancient scientific practice that has evolved over a period of time due to the combination of various proven theories, ideas yogis have learned from nature, and practical experiences. Animal yoga postures are one of those categories of manifestations that emerged when yogis discovered that by imitating animal postures, the body and mind aligned, released hormones, and relieved tension. It made for an enriching experience. These animal poses are both a physical and psychological embodiment of the symbolism that specific animals represent.
Here are some poses modeled on animals based on the careful observations of yoga masters:
Downward facing dog / Adho Mukha Svanasana
This is one of the most popular animal yoga poses practiced in the surya namaskar sequence. It helps to replenish lost energy, improve flexibility, relieve tension and stiffness in the body, revitalize brain cells.
Turtle pose / Kurmasana
This yogasana reflects the withdrawal of the body, the mind (from external distractions) and the channeling of energy inward. It makes you feel centered. The posture mimics what the turtle / tortoise is doing. It’s great for toning the abdomen, strengthening the back, calming the mind.
Pigeon pose / Eka Pada rajakapotasana
Ayurveda believes that most of the stress in our body accumulates in the hips. This seated back flexion yogasana relaxes the hips, improves flexibility of the upper legs, hip flexors, and reduces lower back pain and stress.
Peacock pose / mayurasana
Excellent asana for balancing the hands in Hatha Yoga, this pose mimicking the peacock pose, helps strengthen core muscles and improves digestion. As a warm-up, chaturanga, dandasana, planks can be done and as a follow-up you can practice balasana or adho mukha svanasana.
Cobra pose / bhujangasana
Reclining and tilting hath yogasana that tones the hips, stimulates the abdominal organs, opens the heart, lungs, relieves fatigue. This is part of the Suryanamaskar sequence and can be played as an alternative to Urdhva Mukha Svanasana.
Camel pose / ushtrasana
It is a kneeling asana that bends over the back and is great for the quadriceps. This pose connects directly to your heart chakra, Anahata.
Simple, pleasant and restorative combination pose that relaxes the neck, spine, tightens the abdomen and strengthens the trunk.
Some other animal poses include: eagle pose / garudasana, raven pose / bakasana, cow face / gomukhasana, fish pose / matsvasana, scorpion pose / vrischikasana, frog pose / bhekasana and crocodile pose / makarasana.
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