Yoga Postures, also known as Asanas, are the physical practices which tone the internal organs and the body. These asanas are a part of the branch of yoga known as Hatha Yoga. 

Other exercises effect only the muscles outwardly, making the body appear strong and healthy. However these exercises do not have as much impact on the internal organs as yoga asanas. These asanas are very effective in throwing out all the body wastes and in activating our glands.

A special feature of yoga asanas is that what they do for the body, they also do for the mind. By achieving equanimity through assn and pranayama (breathing practices) we control our senses as well as our breathing which is capable of lengthening our life span. The more flexible our limbs, the more healthy we are.

For those who question why we should chose to do yoga asanas as opposed to other exercises may note the following benefits of asanas over other exercises:

1. Other exercises have little impact on the mind and the sense organs while asanas improve mental powers and help control sense organs.

2. Yoga asanas improve our resistance power against diseases and do not allow any external matter to accumulate in the body.

3. They increase the elasticity of the body and make the body more active and supple. The blood circulation takes place more smoothly and the body becomes capable of more work.

4. Our lungs are responsible for purifying our blood. By yoga asanas and pranayama, we increase the expansion and contraction of our lungs so they become capable of purifying more and more blood. In other exercises, the lungs breathe quickly but not deeply. The oxygen therefore does not reach the inner-most parts of the lungs. These parts keep on accumulating wastes and impurities and after some time manifest as disease.

5. Our youth depends on our spine which controls the entire nervous system and blood circulatory organs. The greater the elasticity in the vertebral column, the greater the vigor and longer the life.

6. Other exercises can cause tiredness to the body while yoga asanas make us feel fresh and relaxed. In other exercises, the body has to spend a lot of energy but in yoga asanas it is not so. Because these have to be done slowly by stretching the body limbs and relaxing them.

7. Other exercises have little impact on the character of the person. But yoga asanas not only improve body health, they also have a sobering effect on the mind and thus a good preparation for meditation. The mind becomes balanced and peaceful.

Yoga Asanas Rules and Techniques

To get maximum benefits from yoga asanas the following suggestions should be observed:

People suffering from fever or chronic diseases should abstain from asanas unless advised by a physician.

Begin with easier poses

Asanas should be done with clothing that is not binding (loose) and should be done on an empty stomach.

Try to keep the eyes closed while doing asanas, then do every asana according to your
capacity. The duration of each asana should be increased slowly.

The order of asanas should be such that the counter pose of a particular pose comes after it. For example, forward bend and backward bend.

At the end of each asana it is recommended to do Shavasana. (Relaxation pose)
The full advantage of an asana comes when the body gets some rest in between asanas. Shavasana in itself is also an asana.

One can one's self judge the advantage of asanas. If the body feels fresh, light, and active, working capacity increases.

Yoga asanas must be learned from a guru (yoga master) or a person who has thorough knowledge of this subject. Their proper technique must also be learned. Yoga is a scientific system therefore doing asanas without knowing the proper technique may sometimes cause more harm than good.

Asanas should be done silently and the attention should be on the breath and the organs affected by the asana. The greater the concentration, the greater the advantage to the body and the mind. Before starting the asana, the body, breath, and mind should come to a focused and rest-full state.

Increase the practice of asana gradually. By daily practice, the body will become more and more elastic (flexible). It may take as long as six months to a year to assume a perfect pose of a particular asana. Patience as well as faith is therefore essential. Without it one may feel disappointed after the first few practices.