Beginning a Yoga Asana Practice

Wednesday, July 06, 2011
Asana, the third limb of yoga, is the physical aspect of yoga practice. There are many different styles of asana practice, and you may be familiar with some of them, such as Iyengar, Vinyasa, and Bikram. Hatha yoga combines both asana (physical postures) and pranayama (breathing) practices. To learn more about the various styles of asana practice, visit Yoga Alliance.

To begin an asana practice, a few of the items listed here will be helpful. You can find these materials online, in specialty stores, and in discount stores.
  • Yoga mat or blanket There are many types of mats and blankets on the market. Decide for yourself which one is best for you, based on the feel of the material and the surface upon which you will be practicing. A variety of materials range from wool/synthetic blend blankets to eco-friendly mat materials.

  • Meditation cushion, blanket, bolster, or chair A raised surface upon which to sit may help relieve back strain and increase your comfort when practicing seated poses.

  • Two yoga blocks and a strap These items help us get into and out of poses safely. Our videos will show you how to use these items and when you will need them. Consider using items you have in your home or clinic.  An old necktie serves well as a strap. Thick books of equal height and weight can serve as blocks.

  • Blanket, eye cover, socks and sweater These items are useful during savasana (relaxation) to help you be comfortable and warm.

  • Quiet spot, indoors or outdoors, to practice asana A quiet place free of distractions is ideal. If such a place is not available to you, create your own space in a location in which you feel safe.

  • Aim for a practice every day You can have a human or animal friend practice with you, or you can practice alone. This is your time to tap into the universal energy that is available to all of us!

Lisa Marie Bernardo, PhD, MPH, RN, HFS
Blog Info
This blog highlights the current evidence for integrating yoga into cancer care. Strategies for practicing the eight-limbs of yoga are posted and shared. Video links allow for demonstration of yoga practices that benefit everyone.
Author Bio
Lisa Marie Bernardo, PhD, RN, is a registered yoga teacher (RYT). She serves as a co-investigator on research projects related to yoga in women with osteopenia and individuals at risk for type-2 diabetes. Dr. Bernardo is an ACSM-certified Cancer Exercise Trainer and Health Fitness Specialist. She maintains a private practice in mind-body fitness using yoga, Stott-Pilates, and Gyrotonic to serve individuals with special healthcare needs.
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