What Is Asana?
An asana is a body posture, originally a sitting pose for meditation, and later in hatha yoga and modern yoga, adding reclining, standing, inverted, twisting, and balancing poses to the meditation seats. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali define “asana” as “[a position that] is steady and comfortable”. Patanjali mentions the ability to sit for extended periods as one of the eight limbs of his system. Asanas are also called yoga poses or yoga postures in English.
The 10th or 11th century Goraksha Sataka and the 15th century Hatha Yoga Pradipika identify 84 asanas; the 17th century Hatha Ratnavali provides a different list of 84 asanas, describing some of them. In the 20th century, Indian nationalism favoured physical culture in response to colonialism. In that environment, pioneers such as Yogendra, Kuvalayananda, and Krishnamacharya taught a new system of asanas (incorporating systems of exercise as well as traditional hatha yoga). Among Krishnamacharya’s pupils were influential Indian yoga teachers including Pattabhi Jois, founder of Ashtanga vinyasa yoga, and B.K.S. Iyengar, founder of Iyengar yoga. Together they described hundreds more asanas, revived the popularity of yoga, and brought it to the Western world. Many more asanas have been devised since Iyengar’s 1966 Light on Yoga which described some 200 asanas. Hundreds more were illustrated by Dharma Mittra.
Asanas were claimed to provide both spiritual and physical benefits in medieval hatha yoga texts. More recently, studies have provided evidence that they improve flexibility, strength, and balance; to reduce stress and conditions related to it; and specifically to alleviate some diseases such as asthma and diabetes.
Asana is derived from Sanskrit: आसन āsana “sitting down” (from आस ās “to sit down”), a sitting posture, a seat. The word was first used in English to mean a yoga posture in 1834.
Yoga originated in India. In his Yoga Sutras, Patanjali (c. 2nd to 4th century CE) describes asana practice as the third of the eight limbs (Sanskrit अष्टांग, ashtanga, from asht, eight, and anga, limb) of classical, or raja yoga.
The eight limbs are, in order, the yamas (codes of social conduct), niyamas (self-observances), asanas (postures), pranayama(breath work), pratyahara (sense withdrawal or non-attachment), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi(realization of the true Self or Atman, and unity with Brahman, ultimate reality). Asanas, along with the breathing exercises of pranayama, are the physical movements of hatha yoga and of modern yoga. Patanjali describes asanas as a “steady and comfortable posture”, referring to the seated postures used for pranayama and for meditation, where meditation is the path to samadhi, transpersonal self-realization.
The Yoga Sutras do not mention a single asana by name, merely specifying the characteristics of a good asana:
sthira sukham āsanam
Asana means a steady and comfortable posture. Yoga Sutras 2:46
The Sutras are embedded in the Bhasya commentary, which scholars suggest may also be by Patanjali; it names 12 seated asanas including Padmasana, Virasana, Bhadrasana, and Svastikasana.
The Goraksha Sataka (10–11th century), or Goraksha Paddhathi, an early hatha yogic text, describes the origin of the 84 classic asanas said to have been revealed by the Hindu deity Lord Shiva. Observing that there are as many postures as there are beings and asserting that there are 84 lakh[b] or 8,400,000 species in all, the text states that Lord Shiva fashioned an asana for each lakh, thus giving 84 in all, although it mentions and describes only two in detail: Siddhasana and Padmasana. The number 84 is symbolic rather than literal, indicating completeness and sacredness.[c]
The pillars of the 16th century Achyutaraya temple at Hampi are decorated with numerous relief statues of yogins in asanas including Siddhasana balanced on a stick, Chakrasana, Yogapattasana, and a hand-standing inverted pose with a stick, as well as several unidentified poses.
By the 17th century, asanas became an important component of Hatha yoga practice, and more non-seated poses appear. The Hatha Ratnavali by Srinivasa (17th century) is one of the few texts to attempt an actual listing of 84 asanas,[e] although 4 out of its list cannot be translated from the Sanskrit, and at least 11[f] are merely mentioned without any description, their appearance known from other texts.
The Gheranda Samhita (late 17th century) again asserts that Shiva taught 84 lakh of asanas, out of which 84 are preeminent, and “32 are useful in the world of mortals.”[g] The yoga teacher and scholar Mark Singleton notes from study of the primary texts that “asana was rarely, if ever, the primary feature of the significant yoga traditions in India.” The scholar Norman Sjoman comments that a continuous tradition running all the way back to the medieval yoga texts cannot be traced, either in the practice of asanas or in a history of scholarship.
From the 1850s onwards, a culture of physical exercise developed in India to counter the colonial stereotype of supposed “degeneracy” of Indians compared to the British, a belief reinforced by then-current ideas of Lamarckism and eugenics. This culture was taken up from the 1880s to the early 20th century by Indian nationalists such as Tiruka, who taught exercises and unarmed combat techniques under the guise of yoga. Meanwhile, proponents of Indian physical culture like K. V. Iyer consciously combined “hata yoga” [sic] with bodybuilding in his Bangalore gymnasium.
Singleton notes that poses much like Durvasasana, Ganda Bherundasana and Hanumanasana were found in Thomas Dwight’s 1889 article “Anatomy of a Contortionist”, while poses close to Warrior Pose, Downward Dog, Utthita Padangusthasana, Supta Virasana and others were described in Niels Bukh’s 1924 Danish text Grundgymnastik eller primitiv gymnastik (known in English as Primary Gymnastics). These in turn were derived from a 19th century Scandinavian tradition of gymnastics dating back to Pehr Ling, and “found their way to India” by the early 20th century.
Yoga asanas were brought to America in 1919 by Yogendra, sometimes called “the Father of the Modern Yoga Renaissance”, his system influenced by the physical culture of Max Müller.
In 1924, Swami Kuvalayananda founded the Kaivalyadhama Health and Yoga Research Center in Maharashtra. He combined asanas with Indian systems of exercise and modern European gymnastics, having according to the scholar Joseph Alter a “profound” effect on the evolution of yoga.
In 1925, Paramahansa Yogananda, having moved from India to America, set up the Self-Realization Fellowship in Los Angeles, and taught yoga, including asanas, breathing, chanting and meditation, to tens of thousands of Americans, as described in his 1946 Autobiography of a Yogi.
Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (1888–1989) studied under Kuvalayananda in the 1930s, creating “a marriage of hatha yoga, wrestling exercises, and modern Western gymnastic movement, and unlike anything seen before in the yoga tradition.” Sjoman argues that Krishnamacharya drew on the Vyayama Dipika gymnastic exercise manual to create the Mysore Palace system of yoga. Singleton argues that Krishnamacharya was familiar with the gymnastics culture of his time, which was influenced by Scandinavian gymnastics; his experimentation with asanas and innovative use of gymnastic jumping between poses may well explain, Singleton suggests, the resemblances between modern standing asanas and Scandinavian gymnastics. Krishnamacharya, known as the father of modern yoga, had among his pupils people who became influential yoga teachers themselves: the Russian Eugenie V. Peterson, known as Indra Devi; Pattabhi Jois, who founded Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga in 1948; B.K.S. Iyengar, his brother-in-law, who founded Iyengar Yoga; T.K.V. Desikachar, his son, who continued his Viniyoga tradition; Srivatsa Ramaswami; and A. G. Mohan, co-founder of Svastha Yoga & Ayurveda. Together they revived the popularity of yoga and brought it to the Western world.
In 1959, Vishnudevananda Saraswati published a compilation of sixty-six basic postures and 136 variations of those postures.
In 1966, Iyengar published Light on Yoga: Yoga Dipika, illustrated with some 600 photographs of Iyengar demonstrating around 200 asanas; it systematised the physical practice of asanas. It became a bestseller, selling three million copies, and was translated into some 17 languages.
In 1984, Dharma Mittra compiled a list of about 1,300 asanas and their variations, derived from ancient and modern sources; the Dharma Yoga website suggests that he created some 300 of these.
Origins of the asanas
In 1966, Iyengar’s classic Light on Yoga was able to describe some 200 asanas, consisting of about 50 main poses with their variations. Sjoman observes that whereas many traditional asanas are named for objects (like Vrikshasana, tree pose), legendary figures (like Matsyendrasana, the sage Matsyendra’s pose), or animals (like Kurmasana, tortoise pose), “an overwhelming eighty-three” of Iyengar’s asanas have names that simply describe the body’s position (like Utthita Parsvakonasana, “Extended Side Angle Pose”); these are, he suggests, the ones “that have been developed later”. A name following this pattern is Shatkonasana, “Six Triangles Pose”, described in 2015. Mittra illustrated 908 poses and variations in his 1984 Master Yoga Chart, and many more have been created since then. The number of asanas has thus increased with time, as summarised in the table.
Sjoman notes that the names of asanas have been used “promiscuous[ly]”, in a tradition of “amalgamation and borrowing” over the centuries, making their history difficult to trace. The presence of matching names is not proof of continuity, since the same name may mean a different pose, and a pose may have been known by multiple names at different times. The estimates here are therefore based on actual descriptions of the asanas.
The yoga scholar and practitioner Theos Bernard, in his 1944 Hatha Yoga: The Report of a Personal Experience, stated that he was “prescribed .. a group of asanas[i] calculated to bring a rich supply of blood to the brain and to various parts of the spinal cord .. [and] a series of reconditioning asanas to stretch, bend, and twist the spinal cord” followed when he was strong enough by the meditation asanas. Bernard named the purpose of Hatha Yoga as “to gain control of the breath” to enable pranayama to work, something that in his view required thorough use of the six purifications.
Asanas work in different ways from conventional physical exercises, according to Satyananda Saraswati “placing the physical body in positions that cultivate awareness, relaxation and concentration”.
Iyengar observed that the practice of asanas “brings steadiness, health, and lightness of limb. A steady and pleasant posture produces mental equilibrium and prevents fickleness of mind.” He adds that they bring agility, balance, endurance, and “great vitality”, developing the body to a “fine physique which is strong and elastic without being muscle-bound”. But, Iyengar states, their real importance is the way they train the mind, “conquer[ing]” the body and making it “a fit vehicle for the spirit”.
Salute to the Sun
Iyengar saw it as significant that asanas are named after plants, insects, fish and amphibians, reptiles, birds, and quadrupeds; as well as “legendary heroes”, sages, and avatars of Hindu gods, in his view “illustrating spiritual evolution”. For instance, the lion pose, Simhasana, recalls the myth of Narasimha, half man, half lion, and an avatar of Vishnu, as told in the Bhagavata Purana.The message is, Iyengar explains, that while performing asanas, the yogi takes the form of different creatures, from the lowest to the highest, not despising any “for he knows that throughout the whole gamut of creation … there breathes the same Universal Spirit.” Through mastery of the asanas, Iyengar states, dualities like gain and loss, or fame and shame disappear.
Sjoman argues that the concept of stretching in yoga can be looked at through one of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, 2.47, which says that [asanas are achieved] by loosening (śaithilya) the effort (prayatna) and meditating on the endless (ananta). Sjoman points out that this physical loosening is to do with the mind’s letting go of restrictions, allowing the natural state of “unhindered perfect balance” to emerge; he notes that one can only relax through effort, “as only a muscle that is worked is able to relax (that is, there is a distinction between dormancy and relaxation).” Thus asanas had a spiritual purpose, serving to explore the conscious and unconsious mind.
Since the mid-20th century, asanas have been used, especially in the Western world, as physical exercise. In this context, their “overtly Hindu” purpose is masked but its “ecstatic .. transcendent .. possibly subversive” elements remain. That context has led to a division of opinion among Christians, some asserting that it is acceptable as long as they are aware of yoga’s origins, others stating that hatha yoga’s purpose is inherently Hindu, making Christian yoga an evident contradiction or indeed “diametrically opposed to Christianity”. A similar debate has taken place in a Muslim context; under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, yoga, formerly banned as a Hindu practice, has been legalised, while mainly-Hindu Bali has held a yoga competition in defiance of a ruling by Indonesia’s Muslim Ulema Council.
In a secular context, the journalists Nell Frizzell and Reni Eddo-Lodge have debated (in The Guardian) whether Western yoga classes represent “cultural appropriation”. In Frizzell’s view, yoga has become a new entity, a long way from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and while some practitioners are culturally insensitive, others treat it with more respect. Eddo-Lodge agrees that Western yoga is far from Patanjali, but argues that the changes cannot be undone, whether people use it “as a holier-than-thou tool, as a tactic to balance out excessive drug use, or practised similarly to its origins with the spirituality that comes with it”.
From a Hindu perspective, the practice of asanas in the Western world as physical exercise is sometimes seen as yoga that has lost its way. In 2012, the Hindu American Foundation ran a “Take Back Yoga” campaign to emphasise yoga’s roots in Hinduism.
The researcher Suzanne Newcombe has noted that yoga has sometimes been practised mainly by women. For example, in Britain in the 1970s, women formed between 70 and 90 percent of most yoga classes, as well as most of the yoga teachers. Yoga was seen as a support for women in the face of male-dominated medicine, offering an alternative approach for chronic medical conditions, as well as to beauty and ageing, and it offered a way of meeting other women. Singleton notes that classes in Britain are often unbranded “hatha yoga”, peopled mainly by women. In his view, these are in the tradition of Mollie Bagot Stack’s 1930 League of Health and Beauty, influenced by Stack’s visit to India in 1912 when she learnt some asanas, and in turn of Genevieve Stebbins’s Harmonic Gymnastics.
Benefits and contraindications
Medieval hatha yoga texts make a variety of claims for the benefits brought by the asanas, both spiritual and physical. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika (HYP) states that asanas in general, described as the first auxiliary of hatha yoga, give “steadiness, good health, and lightness of limb.” (HYP 1.17) Specific asanas, it claims, bring additional benefits; for example, Matsyendrasana awakens Kundalini and makes the semen steady; (HYP 1.27) Paschimottanasana “stokes up the digestive fire, slims the belly and gives good health”; (HYP 1.29) Shavasana “takes away fatigue and relaxes the mind”; (HYP 1.32) Siddhasana “bursts open the door to liberation”; (HYP 1.35) while Padmasana “destroys all diseases” (HYP 1.47) and if done together with retention of the breath in pranayama confers liberation. (HYP 1.44–49) These claims lie within a tradition across all forms of yoga that practitioners can gain supernatural powers, but with ambivalence about their usefulness, since they may obstruct progress towards liberation. Hemachandra’s Yogashastra (1.8–9) lists the magical powers, which include healing, the destruction of poisons, the ability to become as small as an atom or to go wherever one wishes, invisibility, and shape-shifting.
Physically, the practice of asanas has been claimed to improve flexibility, strength, and balance; to alleviate stress and anxiety, and to reduce the symptoms of lower back pain. Claims have been made about beneficial effects on specific conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and diabetes. There is evidence that practice of asanas improves birth outcomes and physical health and quality of life measures in the elderly, and reduces sleep disturbances and hypertension. Iyengar yoga is effective at least in the short term for both neck pain and low back pain.
The National Institutes of Health notes that yoga is generally safe “when performed properly”, though people with some health conditions, older people, and pregnant woman may need to seek advice. For example, people with glaucoma are advised not to practise inverted postures. The Yoga Journal provides separate lists of asanas that it states are “inadvisable” and should be avoided or modified for each of the following medical conditions: asthma; back injury; carpal tunnel syndrome; diarrhoea; headache; heart problems; high blood pressure; insomnia; knee injury; low blood pressure; menstruation; neck injury; pregnancy; and shoulder injury.
Traditional and modern guidance
Different schools of yoga, such as Iyengar and The Yoga Institute, agree that asanas are best practised with a rested body on an empty stomach, after having a bath. From the point of view of sports medicine, asanas function as active stretches, helping to protect muscles from injury; these need to be performed equally on both sides, the stronger side first if used for physical rehabilitation.
Surya Namaskar, the Salute to the Sun, commonly practiced in most forms of modern yoga, links up to twelve asanas in a dynamically expressed yoga series. A full round consists of two sets of the series, the second set moving the opposing leg first. The asanas include Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward dog), the others differing from tradition to tradition with for instance a choice of Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (upward dog) or Bhujangasana (cobra) for one pose in the sequence. Schools, too, differ in their approaches to the sequence; for example, in Iyengar Yoga, variations such as inserting Maricyasana I and Pascimottanasana are suggested.
In the Western world, asanas are taught in differing styles by the various schools of yoga. Some poses like Trikonasana are common to many of them, but not always performed in the same way. Some independently documented approaches are described below.
Sivananda Yoga practices the asanas, hatha yoga, as part of raja yoga, with the goal of enabling practitioners “”to sit in meditation for a long time”. There is little emphasis on the detail of individual poses; teachers rely on the basic instructions given in the books by Sivananda and Swami Vishnu-devananda. In Trikonasana, the top arm may be stretched forward parallel to the floor rather than straight up. Sivananda Yoga identifies a group of 12 asanas as basic. These are not necessarily the easiest poses, nor those that every class would include. Trikonasana is the last of the 12, whereas in other schools it is one of the first and used to loosen the hips in preparation for other poses.
In Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, poses are executed differently from Iyengar Yoga. “Vinyasa” means flowing, and the poses are executed relatively rapidly, flowing continuously from one asana to the next using defined transitional movements. The asanas are grouped into six series, one Primary, one Intermediate, and four Advanced. Practice begins and ends with the chanting of mantras, followed by multiple cycles of the Sun Salutation, which “forms the foundation of Ashtanga Yoga practice”, and then one of the series.Ashtanga Vinyasa practice emphasises aspects of yoga other than asanas, including drishti (focus points), bandhas (energy locks), and pranayama.
Kripalu Yoga uses teachers from other asana traditions, focussing on mindfulness rather than using effort in the poses. Teachers may say “allow your arms to float up” rather than “bring up your arms”. The goal is to use the asanas “as a path of transformation.” The approach is in three stages: firstly instruction in body alignment and awareness of the breath during the pose; secondly, holding the pose long enough to observe “unconscious patterns of tension in the body-mind”; and thirdly, through “deep concentration and total surrender”, allowing oneself “to be moved by prana”. In Trikonasana, the teacher may direct pupils’ attention to pressing down with the outer edge of the back foot, lifting the arch of the foot, and then experimenting with “micro-movements”, exploring where energy moves and how it feels.
In Bikram Yoga, as developed by Bikram Choudhury, there is a fixed sequence of 26 poses, in which Trikonasana is ninth, its task to focus on opening the hips. The Bikram version of Trikonasana is a different pose (Parsvakonasana) from that in Iyengar Yoga. The position of the feet is seen as critically important, along with proper breathing and the distribution of weight: about 30% on the back foot, 70% on the front foot.
Types of asana
Asanas can be classified in different ways, which may overlap: for example, by the position of the head and feet (standing, sitting, reclining, inverted), by whether balancing is required, or by the effect on the spine (forward bend, backbend, twist), giving a set of asana types agreed by most authors. Mittra uses his own categories such as “Floor & Supine Poses”.Yogapedia and Yoga Journal add “Hip-opening”; Darren Rhodes, Yogapedia and Yoga Journal also add “Core strength”. The table shows an example of each type of asana, with the title and approximate date of the earliest document describing (not only naming) that asana.
- GS = Goraksha Sataka, 10th century
- HY = Hemacandra’s Yogasastra, 11th century
- VS = Vasishtha Samhita, 13th century
- HYP = Hatha Yoga Pradipika, 15th century
- JP = Joga Pradipika, 18th century
- ST = Sritattvanidhi, 19th century
- TK = Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, 20th century
- Verse 46, chapter II, “Patanjali Yoga sutras” by Swami Prabhavananda, published by the Sri Ramakrishna Math ISBN978-81-7120-221-8 p. 111
- PatanjaliYoga sutras, Book II:29, 46
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- Singleton 2010, p. 25.
- Feuerstein, Georg; Wilber, Ken (2002). “The Wheel of Yoga”. The Yoga Tradition. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. p. 108ff. ISBN978-81-208-1923-8.
- Humphrey, Naomi (1987). Meditation | The Inner Way. HarperCollins (Aquarian Press). pp. 112–113. ISBN0-85030-508-X.
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- Joshi, K. S. (January 1965). “On the Meaning of Yoga”. Philosophy East and West. 15 (1): 53–64. JSTOR1397408.
Hatha-yoga purports, through physical postures and breathing exercises, to bring about a psycho-physiologically integrative adjustment of human behavior.
- Patanjali. Yoga Sutras. p. 2.47.
- Patañjali; Āraṇya, Hariharānanda (trans.) (1983). Yoga philosophy of Patañjali : containing his Yoga aphorisms with Vyasa’s commentary in Sanskrit and a translation with annotations including many suggestions for the practice of Yoga. State University of New York Press. pp. 252–253. ISBN978-0-87395-728-1. OCLC9622445.
- Desmarais, Michele Marie (2008). Changing Minds : Mind, Consciousness and Identity in Patanjali’s Yoga-Sutra. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 175–176. ISBN978-8120833364.
- Patanjali. Yoga Sutras. p. Book 2:46.
- Maas, Philipp A. (2006). Samādhipāda. Das erste Kapitel des Pātañjalayogaśāstra zum ersten Mal kritisch ediert [Samādhipāda | The First Chapter of the Pātañjalayogaśāstra for the First Time Critically Edited] (in German). Aachen: Shaker.
- Āraṇya, Hariharānanda (1983). Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali. State University of New York Press. p. 228 and footnotes. ISBN978-0873957281.
- Mallinson, James (9 December 2011). “A Response to Mark Singleton’s Yoga Body by James Mallinson”. Retrieved 4 January 2019. revised from American Academy of Religions conference, San Francisco, 19 November 2011.
- Mallinson & Singleton 2017, pp. 100-101.
- Goraksha-Paddhati. Retrieved 24 November2018.
- Singh, T. D.; Hinduism and Science
- Rosen, Richard (2017). Yoga FAQ: Almost Everything You Need to Know about Yoga-from Asanas to Yamas. Shambhala. pp. 171–. ISBN978-0-8348-4057-7.
this number has symbolic significance. S. Dasgupta, in Obscure Religious Cults(1946), cites numerous instances of variations on eighty-four in Indian literature that stress its ‘purely mystical nature’; … Gudrun Bühnemann, in her comprehensive Eighty-Four Asanas in Yoga, notes that the number ‘signifies completeness, and in some cases, sacredness. … John Campbell Oman, in ‘The Mystics, Ascetics, and Saints of India (1905) … seven … classical planets in Indian astrology … and twelve, the number of signs of the zodiac. … Matthew Kapstein gives .. a numerological point of view … 3+4=7 … 3×4=12 …
- Suresh, K. M. (1998). Sculptural Art of Hampi. Directorate of Archaeology and Museums. pp. 190–195.
- Chapter 1, ‘On Asanas’, Hatha Yoga Pradipika
- “Hampi”. The Hatha Yoga Project | School of Oriental and Asiatic Studies. 2016. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
This is a selection of images of yogis from 16th-century temple pillars at Hampi, Karnataka, the erstwhile Vijayanagar. The photographs were taken by Dr Mallinson and Dr Bevilacqua in March 2016.
- Mallinson & Singleton 2017, pp. 91, 114-119.
- The Yoga Institute (Santacruz East Bombay India) (1988). Cyclopaedia Yoga. The Yoga Institute. p. 32. Retrieved 10 April 2011.
- Mallinson, James (2004). The Gheranda Samhita: the original Sanskrit and an English translation. YogaVidya. pp. 16–17. ISBN978-0-9716466-3-6.
- Singleton, Mark (4 February 2011). “The Ancient & Modern Roots of Yoga”. Yoga Journal.
- Sjoman 1999, p. 40.
- Singleton 2010, pp. 95–97.
- Rosselli, J. (February 1980). “The Self-Image of Effeteness: Physical Education and Nationalism in Nineteenth-Century Bengal”. Past & Present. 86: 121–148. JSTOR650742.
- Singleton 2010, pp. 97–98.
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- Singleton 2010, pp. 98–106.
- Tiruka (Sri Raghavendra Swami) (1977). Suryanamaskara. Malladhihalli: Sarvodaya Mudranalaya, Anathasevashrama Trust. p. v. OCLC20519100.
- Singleton 2010, pp. 122–129.
- Iyer, K. V. (1930). Muscle Cult: A Pro-Em to My System. Bangalore: Hercules Gymnasium and Correspondence School of Physical Culture. pp. 41–42. OCLC37973753.
- Singleton 2010, pp. 60–63.
- Dwight, Thomas (April 1889). “The Anatomy of a Contortionist”. Scribner’s Magazine: 493–505.
- Bukh 1924.
- Singleton 2010, pp. 84–88.
- Mishra, Debashree (3 July 2016). “Once Upon A Time: From 1918, this Yoga institute has been teaching generations, creating history”. Mumbai: Indian Express.
- Wathen, Grace (1 July 2011). “Kaivalyadhama & Yoga Postures”. LiveStrong. Archived from the original on 12 November 2011.
- Alter 2004, p. 31.
- Yogananda, Paramahansa (1971) . Autobiography of a Yogi. Self-Realization Fellowship. ISBN978-0-87612-079-8. OCLC220261.
- Singleton 2010, pp. 131–132.
- Bharadwaj 1896.
- Sjoman 1999, pp. 54-55.
- Iyengar, B. K. S. (2006). Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom. pp. xvi–xx. ISBN978-1-59486-524-4.
- Mohan, A. G. (2010). Krishnamacharya: His Life and Teachings. Shambhala. p. 11. ISBN978-1-59030-800-4.
- Pages Ruiz, Fernando (28 August 2007). “Krishnamacharya’s Legacy: Modern Yoga’s Inventor”. Yoga Journal. Retrieved 26 November2018.
- Singleton 2010, pp. 175-210.
- Vishnu-devananda 1988.
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Over 300 of these now-popular posture variations were created by Sri Dharma, though he will always say they only came through Divine intuition.
- “What’s behind the five popular yoga poses loved by the world?”. BBC. Retrieved 5 December 2018.
- Mallinson, James; Singleton, Mark (2017). Roots of Yoga (1st ed.). Penguin Classics. p. xxix. ISBN978-0-241-25304-5.
- Singleton 2010, p. 161.
- Dowdle, Hillary (11 November 2008). “5 Experts, 1 Pose: Find New Nuances to Warrior I”. Yoga Journal. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
- Kaivalya, Alanna (28 April 2012). “How We Got Here: Where Yoga Poses Come From”. Huffington Post. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
Most recently, additions like “falling star,” “reverse warrior,” and “flip the dog,” weren’t around even 10 short years ago.
- Vaughn, Amy (16 December 2013). “Early History of Asana: What Were the Original Postures & Where Did They Come From?”. Elephant Journal. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
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6. Worship the sun-god, the ruler of the worlds, who is crowned with rays, who appears at the horizon, who is greeted by gods and demons, and brings light.
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