How to achieve better health through āsana

Post By: Published on: December 25, 2016 Reading time: 5 minutes

Introduction to āsana, fitness and health.

Yogacharya S Sundaram (1901-1993)

All of us aspire to be healthy, and being healthy is easy. It only requires commonsense, an understanding of the body, willingness to change and discipline.

In fact, all of us know this, but we lose our way or get distracted by the push and pulls of conflicting priorities. As a result, we neglect our bodies and fall prey to illness.

What we fail to realise is that good health is not only our right, but also our responsibility.

So, how do we access good health through āsana?

Firstly, it’s important that we realise that we are responsible for ourselves and our actions will determine the quality of our lives.

Second, we must take some time out to look after ourselves, no matter how hard it may seem. This may mean that we sacrifice something, but so long as it is not critical to our health, such as good sleep and food, the sacrifice will yield benefits throughout our life.

Importantly, the good thing about āsana is that the benefits will be visible from day#1.

Lastly, disciple is vital because, without it, we cannot manage change in a systematic manner.


This site follows the Yogacharya Sundaram school of yoga āsana routines for health, fitness and therapy. Yogacharya Sundaram, who started teaching āsana for universal health and fitness in Bangalore, India, developed this successful format around 1921. Incidentally, Yogachrya Sundaram is one of Yoga’s oldest teachers and therapists.

The exercise routines focus on maximising the effect on the relevant portion of the body at a time. They are holistic and cover all parts of the body.

What is āsana?

Patanjali Yoga Sutra defines āsana as स्थिरसुखमासनम् ॥४६॥ which can be translated as āsanam (seat or pose) is that which is static, steady, firm (sthiram) and comfortable (sukham).

In real terms, this means that when practicing āsana, the practitioner should stay close to the state where his body does not experience any stress, a state called homeostasis. Incidentally, homeostasis is a psychosomatic state where the body is in physical and psychological balance and equilibrium.

Therefore, āsana is a static exercise where the body movement is minimal and the focus is on holding the pose to maximise impact on a specific area of the body.

How do asanas bring fitness and health?

Āsana therefore needs to comply with the following rules;

  1. It should be static, not vigorous or dynamic.
  2. The position should be easy to hold and not stressful.
  3. There should have minimum movement.
  4. While, there is no consensus, the Yogacharya Sundaram school recommends a breathing routine.

What is a kriya?

Kriyas are dynamic exercises which increase flexibility of the body. Additionally, sūryanamaskāra and nauli fall under this category.

Banda – this is a holding exercise. In fact, this exercise is far more complex than the above two types and focuses on smooth flow of prāṇa in and around that area of focus. For instance, uḍḍīyana falls into this classification.

What precautions should one take before starting āsana practice?

  • You know your body best. Practice to the limit your body allows only. As soon as there is discomfort, stop.
  • Before starting any āsana practice, consult a physician. Practice only to the limits recommended by your physician.
  • If you are new to Yogic physical culture, take the help of a certified master and instructor. The recommendations in this book are meant to enhance your awareness and knowledge. Ultimately, they cannot and do not replace professional expertise.

Why are Sanskrit words important in describing āsana?

There is always a desire to make approximations of the Sanskrit words to make the subject more appealing and less forbidding. This takes away from the āsana it’s true meaning. So, that has been avoided in this site. In fact, we attempt to stay as close as possible to the classical aspects of yogāsana.

How important is warm-up in āsana practice?

Many teachers get started with warm up āsana and beginner āsana. However, Yogacharya Sundaram never really did that. In fact, he got people performing the below mentioned āsanas as soon as he could get them to flex. We agree with the approach because, unless the practitioner is invalid or ill, āsana are not difficult to perform for normal people.

Consequently, we have assumed that most people have normal health and have recommended āsanas which should be practiced regularly for overall health and fitness.

What is the recommended āsana routines for a normal person?

Sl. No. Āsana (click on the āsana for detailed procedure) Meaning / Translation
1 Padmāsana Lotus Pose
Reverse Bending āsana
2 Bhujaṃgāsana Cobra Pose
3 Śalabhāsana Locust Pose
4 Dhanurāsana Bow Pose
Forward bending āsana for upper and lower abdomen
5 Pavanamuktāsana Air relieving pose
6 Paschimotanāsana Torso stretch pose
7 Halāsana Plough pose
8 Mayurāsana Peacock pose
Upper region āsana. Focus on neck, shoulders, lungs and head
9 Sarvāngāsana Pan-body pose
10 Matsyāsana Fish pose
11 Śirasāsana Head stand
12 Sundara-viparītakaraṇi Inverted triangle pose
Abdominal āsana
13 Arda-matsyendrāsana Half fish middle pose
14 Yoga-mudra Yoga seal
15 Uḍḍīyana-bandhā Abdominal suction
16 Nauli Rectus Isolation
Standing āsanas
17 Pādahastāsana Hand to toe pose
18 Trikonāsana Triangle pose
19 Tadasana Mountain pose
20 Vīrabhadrāsana Gracious warrior pose
Body reset āsana
21 Śavāsana Corpse pose

This should be followed by sūryanamaskāra-kriya.

Internal Links: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Prana,  Asana Overview 2, Drishti – Focus or gazing, PranayamaHatha Yoga Pradeepika,

External Links: Pancha Tattva, Pancha Prana, Pancha Kosha

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