In modern times, it is certainly true that yoga has become more and more popular – with more people than ever taking part in the practice for the numerous benefits it has for physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
With this popularity, numerous schools of yoga have been established – each with their own poses and practices that they take part in.
But how many official yoga poses are there in circulation?
How Many Modern Yoga Poses Are There?
In total, there are around 200 official poses used within contemporary yoga practices – many of which were developed from the Middle Ages, right up until the present day.
However, for those looking for the true historic origins of yoga, they date back to roughly 200 BCE, where the poses were much more limited – consisting of mainly sitting poses used for meditation purposes.
How Many Traditional Yoga Poses Are There?
According to sources from the time – namely Goraksha Shataka from the 10th century – there are as many yoga poses as there are species on the planet, which places the officially recognized number at roughly 84,000.
However, it has been widely accepted that large proportions of these are not especially useful for the human experience of yoga, and as such, there are only around 84 that have remained consistent throughout the ages.
Why Did Early Yoga Have So Few Poses?
The lack of poses that were available during the early days of yoga can be explained relatively easily.
The first reason is that the belief systems around which yoga originated were still in their relative infancy – meaning that they would require more time and work for the full practices to be formed as they are today.
The same goes with any lifestyle or religious practices – none of which happened overnight, and required years, if not centuries, to reach their full potential.
However, the main reason has more to do with the fact that, in the early days of yoga, the practice was explicitly designed to create comfortable and meaningful ways of supporting oneself during meditation.
All of the poses during the early days of the practice were aimed at improving meditation, which is why they were all seated positions, and relatively simple in their essence.
Why Did Yoga Change Over Time?
The fact of the matter is that, as new people develop their understandings, and contribute to the practices within an organized religion over time, new things undoubtedly get added.
These could be in the way of adaptations and interpretations of past poses – as is common within contemporary yoga particularly – but they could also be based on new examinations of texts, new observations on medical and health benefits, or any number of other reasons.
What’s more, as the practices became more popular, and more widely practiced throughout other countries, the practices were continually added to and developed – particularly during the mid 19th century, when yoga found its way to the western world, where it remains popular to this day.
So, What Is The Actual Number Of Poses?
The numbers regarding this information change depending on who is asked – and which school of thought they belong to.
However, it is generally believed that, while there may well be 84,000 poses acknowledged in the holy writings of yoga (one for every species), there are only roughly 200 poses that actually bear any originality and usefulness – with all of the others being mere variations and adaptations of those traditional 200.
What Are The Physical Benefits Of Yoga?
When it comes to the benefits of yoga, they can be seen both in the physical, mental, and emotional – explaining why the practice has become so popular for so many people around the world.
Firstly, yoga can be a great way to exercise the body, promoting strong muscles and connective tissue. This means that it makes the muscles of the body stronger, makes movement easier, and promotes stronger functionality as we move into old age.
Yoga is also really good for promoting flexibility – something that has numerous benefits regarding comfort, movement, physical capabilities, and much more.
The more flexible we are, the less likely we are to pull muscles, strain things, or suffer injuries when at work, at the gym, or taking part in things in our spare time.
This is especially beneficial as we age, allowing for a wider range of movement throughout a time when most people would begin to slow down and become more limited.
Yoga is also a great form of exercise, making it a beneficial way of toning the body and the muscles. This is obviously great from an aesthetic point of view, but it is also great for wider health and fitness.
Yoga is also good for weight loss – something that most of us pursue at some point in our lives. This is because it is such a great source of exercise, and depending on the time frame and intensity of the session, you can burn off a lot of calories in no time at all.
Promoting Joint Health
Yoga is also good for promoting healthy joints and movement, and can be a great way of keeping the joints strong and reinforced as we age.
It can also be a good way of recovering from past injuries, strengthening weakened joints within the body, and aiding general maintenance of the joints, the connective tissue, and the supporting muscle groups.
What Are The Mental/Emotional Benefits?
As touched on above, there are also numerous mental and emotional benefits to introducing yoga into your life.
One benefit of yoga is its promotion of mindfulness – something that stems from the focus on breathing, and the importance of clearing the mind.
This helps people to stay in the moment, which in turn can be a great tool of stopping intruding thoughts, anxiety, and even depression.
Generates More Focus
It is also good for improving our attention spans and the amount of time we can focus on things. This is prudent in the modern era, when it seems like we are constantly surrounded by distractions. This is good as we age, as it helps us to stay sharp.
Yoga is also good for reducing stress – something that is especially important in modern times, when stress levels have proven to be higher than ever.
This is one reason why the practice has become so popular in modern times, with millions of people practicing yoga all around the world.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about yoga, and the number of poses that are practiced today.
It’s true that, in recent times, yoga has continued to become more and more popular – with new and improved techniques being introduced all the time as people put their own twists on the classics.
But if you want to know how many yoga poses there are, be sure to refer to this handy guide. Something tells me you won’t be disappointed!
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