Yoga Poses Inspired By Nature

Ek pada sirsasana

Ancient yogis connected to nature on a deeper level. Names of yoga asanas are inspired by nature- mountains, trees, and especially animals. WHY? Most theories revolve around the idea that ancient yogis mimicked what they saw around them.

In those times, they had several encounters with various animals. Maybe they were simply observing them. It appears that the ancient yogis found imitating animals to be an enlightening experience for both the body and mind.

Have you ever seen two ducks get in a tiff on the pond? 

It usually ends with one duck quickly flapping off in a huff. Animals can release their emotions and the tension in their muscles. This comes from hormonal changes in their bodies, which we refer to as the “fight or flight response.” They diffuse the situation by circulating their blood and balancing the energy in their bodies.  They restore their balance and go blissfully floating away. Another example- a deer. It faces multiple predators at a time. Yet, it doesn’t get sick or worry about the same. It continues to live.

As humans, we often struggle to keep ourselves aligned.

We fall victim to sickness, worry, and depression. High-stress levels prevent us from becoming aware of our bodily sensations. Animals innately know how to blow off steam to keep themselves in check, but humans struggle with this.  We are under constant stress, unaware of the sensations in our bodies.

Yoga is the perfect source to observe ourselves from a physical, emotional, and spiritual perspective. The stillness of meditation gives a break from our daily routine. It clears our minds and lets us observe our bodies.  Asanas allow us to become more aware of the tension in our bodies and release it through slow, deliberate movements.

Yoga balances our hormonal levels.

It shuts off the “fight and flight response” of the sympathetic nervous system. Yoga stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. This allows our bodies to breathe slowly, produce the chemicals that boost our immunity, and let us sleep better. Once the tension from the body is released, the mind can become still.

The ancient yoga masters chose to model their practice after the animals they observed. This helped them to balance their emotions and stress patterns. When we enter an animal pose, we endure both the physical and psychological experience of embodying the symbolism of that particular animal.

Consider a cat, an expert in relaxation.

On awakening from sleep, a cat instinctively stretches and arches its spine in both directions before softening and moving onward. Doesn’t it make sense? We generally use the cat pose as an “awakening” asana at the beginning of practice, gradually loosening our body.

A cobra slowly prepares itself for action.

A vulnerable animal itself, it cautiously moves for attack by raising its hood. Similarly, we practice awakening our dormant energy in this pose, often using it as a prelude to a full Chaturanga.

So let’s take a lesson from the animals to be aware of the sensations in our body, release the tension through yoga, and prevent physical and mental health problems.

तत्र स्थितौ यत्नोऽभ्यास: ॥

Cobra Pose

Author: Dr. Roopal Patel

I’m Dr. Roopal Patel from Mumbai. A Dentist, Mrs. India 2018 runner-up, an International Yoga Instructor, the Chief Administrator of a Yoga Institute, a fitness model, and an avid traveler at heart with an insatiable and burning desire to explore the world, having set foot in 100 countries across 6 continents as of now. An adventurous alpha mother and a spunky globetrotter who has a claim to fame: ‘Atlas in my hands, adventure in my eyes, and never-ending wanderlust in my veins.’ My aim in life is to inspire and bring a smile to every life I touch. I live by the phrase "Carpe Diem" and firmly believe in यद् भावं तद् भवति ।