Yoga is an ancient, scientific practice evolved over a period because of combination of various proven theories, ideas that yogis drew from nature and practical experiences. Animal yoga poses are one such category of manifestations that came into being when yogis found that by imitating animal postures, the body and mind experienced an alignment, released hormones, and relieved tension. It brought about an enlightening experience. These animal poses are both physical and psychological embodiment of the symbolism that specific animals stand for.
Here are some poses modelled on animals after yoga masters’ careful observations:
Downward-facing dog/Adho Mukha Svanasana
It is one of the most popular animal yoga poses practiced in the surya namaskar sequence. It aids in replenishing the lost energy, enhancing flexibility, relieving tension, and body stiffness, revitalising the brain cells.
This yogasana reflects the withdrawing of the body, mind (from outward distractions) and channelizing the energy inward. It makes you feel centred. The posture imitates what the tortoise/turtle does. It’s great for toning abdomen, strengthening back, calming the mind.
Pigeon pose/Eka Pada rajakapotasana
Ayurveda believes most of our body’s stress gets built up in hip areas. This seated back bending yogasana relaxes hips, enhances flexibility of upper legs, hip flexors, and lessens lower back pain, stress.
A great hand-balancing asana in hatha yoga, this pose mimicking the posture of peacock, helps in strengthening core muscles, and improves digestion. As warmup, chaturanga, dandasana, planks can be done and as a follow-up, you can practise balasana or adho mukha svanasana.
A reclining, backbending hath yogasana that tones hip, boosts abdominal organs, opens heart, lungs, eases fatigue. It’s a part of Suryanamaskar sequence and can be performed as an alternative to Urdhva Mukha Svanasana.
It’s a kneeling back-bending asana that’s great for quadriceps. This pose connects directly to your heart chakra, Anahata.
Simple, feel-good, restorative, combination pose that loosens up neck, spine, tightens abdomen, and strengthens core.
Some other animal poses include: eagle pose/garudasana, crow pose/bakasana, cow-face/gomukhasana, fish pose/matsvasana, scorpion pose/Vrischikasana, frog pose/bhekasana and crocodile pose/makarasana.