Generally speaking, there are about 84 main poses in yoga as a whole. All the other postures are nothing but slight variations in these chief poses that alters them from standard to advanced and from simple to complex.
But yoga is a vast discipline that can be learned and practiced in many ways. So, the number of poses or asanas in one type of yoga may not always be the same in another. And that’s where the magic number 84 comes into picture. We’ll get to that later but first let’s understand,
What is a Yoga Pose or Asana?
Asana is a Sanskrit word that means “to be” or “way of sitting”. In yogic literature, it was originally used in Yoga Sutra by Patanjali as one of the essential components of yoga as an eightfold path.
Better known as physical posture or pose in the west, an asana refers to any comfortable position that you can maintain and hold for some time while being aware. Although meant for seated postures at first, the term asana has extended in modern yoga to any type of posture be it sitting, standing, supine, or prone.
An asana thus refers to any pose that you can hold for a period of time, while being aware, relaxed, steady, comfortable and motionless.
Types of Yoga Poses
Yoga is an age-old practice that’s come a long way. During this lengthy journey, it’s been adopted, modified and passed on by many civilizations. Sages and yogis of different timelines have learned, practiced and written a number of texts on the art and science of yoga. So, don’t be surprised when you see a pose in one yoga style being different in another.
Moreover, due to the large number of yoga poses and their complex nature, it wouldn’t be easy to get familiar with every pose (not that you need to know all of them). But here’s an easier way to classify them:
Such as Mountain pose, Warrior pose and Triangle pose.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana).
For example like Bound Angle pose, Boat pose, and Lotus pose.
Wherein you lay on your stomach and lift your weight through chest and torso. For instance, Frog pose, Cobra pose and Locust pose.
For example include Bridge pose, Corpse pose and Fish pose.
Like Tree pose, Eagle pose, Half Moon pose and Dancer pose.
For example, Noose pose, Revolved Side Angle pose and Triangle pose.
Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana).
Forward Bend Poses
Include both standing and seated forward bends. Head-to-Knee pose and Tortoise pose are common examples of Forward Bend poses.
Tortoise Pose (Kurmasana).
Are opposite of the former and refers to spine being curved in the backward direction. Typical examples include Cobra pose, Bow pose, Camel pose and Bridge pose.
In which your head is positioned below the heart level like in Headstand and Handstand.
Now that you know the different types of yoga poses, let’s find out what’s so special about the number 84 and why it’s usually known to be the original figure when it comes to the total number of yoga poses.
(Fun Fact: There are as many yoga poses as there are ways to extend, flex or rotate your muscles, joints and different parts of your body.)
Number of Yoga Poses= 84!
India is known to be the birthplace of Yoga since unknown times. Many legends have it that yoga was founded by none other than the mighty Shiva– the greatest Hindu deity.
It is also believed that Lord Shiva being the first yogi came up with about 8,400,000 useful ways of moving his body. But since it wouldn’t have been possible for a mortal to learn and practice these many asanas in one lifetime, he described 1 fine pose for every 100,000 similar variations.
And that’s how the classic 84 asanas came into existence including 32 of them most useful for humans.
Certainly, 84 is a standard number of yoga poses that can be found among most of the texts and manuscripts left by many old and modern yogis. Although the asanas may vary from text to text, 84 remains a common figure. Let’s take a look from oldest to latest:
Are 12 seated postures as per Bhasya’s commentary.
(Patanjali did not mention the name of any asana but puts forth the idea of being in a particular comforting state or position without motion.)
Goraksha Samhitha/ Goraksha Paddhathi
2 important poses out of 84 finest asanas extracted from 8.4 million as mentioned above.
4 most useful out of 84.
15 out of 84.
32 useful asanas for humans out of 84.
84 (52 fully confirmed and described)
908 (on display in many modern yoga studios)
As you can see, most of the texts suggest a common figure 84 (or 8,400,000) from which all other poses and variations come from. As a result, 84 is still considered as the original number of asanas in the world of Yoga.
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