Yoga Asanas Simplified

Shri Yogendra ji's journey to simplify yoga and make it approachable to the householders

Yogendraji - a disciplined disciple of YogaThe Yoga Institute

Yogendraji was born as Mani Haribhai Desai in 1897 in Gujarat. Through a chance meeting, he found his guru, Paramhamsa Madhavadasji and learnt all about yoga from him. With the blessings of his guru, Yogendraji went on to spread the esoteric knowledge of yoga among the masses, as he felt it could greatly improve the lives of people. He founded The Yoga Institute at ‘The Sands’, the residence of Dadabhai Naoroji in Versova in 1918.

Learning the significance of meditative postures from his GuruThe Yoga Institute

Mani was advised by his Guru to direct his mind to the internal workings of the body, while sitting down in the sidhhasana pose or other meditative postures like padmasana.

Eventually, he became the first yogi to simplify the techniques of Hatha Yoga and design them such that the common man could practice them and gain the same benefits.

Simplifying the Hatha Yoga techniques for allThe Yoga Institute

Yogendraji always emphasized on practicing Kriyas regularly. Here he is seen demonstrating Jalneti (nasal douching) without the use of any external aid. He always believed in self reliance and promoted the technique by using one's own palms.

Yogendraji practicing Trataka (Candle Gazing), From the collection of: The Yoga Institute
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Yogendraji practicing Trataka with a ghee dipped diya.

Antaranga Trataka is a meditative technique where the aim is to focus all your attention on an internal space. It helps to begin the process of dharana leading to dhyana.

Yogendraji in Vrshasana, From the collection of: The Yoga Institute
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Vrshasana represents controlled and regulated virility and the management and mastery over your ever-fluctuating thoughts.

The formation of the posture by placing your legs in a certain way protects and strengthens your groin and excretory muscles. The steps: - Sit erect on a mat with your feet outstretched. - Bend your right leg inwards at the knee and place the foot very close to your left hip, toes pointing outwards. - Take your left leg, bending it inwards at your knee, cross it over your right knee and place the foot near the outside of your right hip. - Check to see that the knees are aligned on top of the other as far as possible. - Clasp the fingers of your hands or one hand on the other and place them on your upper knee. - Keep your body erect and shoulders relaxed. - Close your eyes and watch your breath. - One can repeat by reversing the position of the legs. - Unclasp your fingers and release your legs to return to the starting position.

Vrshasana, stretches your spine, thighs, calves, ankles and hips. It improves your digestion and maintains uprightness of your spine during meditation.

Yogendraji in Svastikasana, From the collection of: The Yoga Institute
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In Swastikasana, the auspicious symbol of a swastika is recreated, which denotes ‘to be well, it is well and let it be well’. Form and its function reproduce an aura of harmony, rhythm and also provide aesthetic values of grace and attractiveness. Sri Aurobindo has said, ‘Form is the rhythm of the Spirit.’

Postural awareness is evident when we become aware of how we ‘get into’ the posture, remain in it and how we return to the starting position. Awareness at all these levels ensures a smooth and graceful movement. Remaining static in any posture there must be complete mind– body awareness.

Yogendraji in Dhanurvakrasana, From the collection of: The Yoga Institute
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Dhanurvakrasana

The final position of the asana resembles a bow (dhanusha). Flexibility coupled with sturdiness is experienced with the performance of this asana physiologically. It also increases mental strength and assertiveness.

-Lie down on your stomach on a mat with your hands by the side. -Bend your knees and fold your legs towards the back. -Grasp the ankles of your legs.Inhaling, raise your head upwards and simultaneously pull your legs upwards, arching the spine, keeping both the legs together. -While retaining your breath, maintain the position for six seconds. -For releasing the posture, Exhale, lower the legs and head. -Release the grasp on your ankles and return to the starting posture.

Dhanurvakrasana, puts great pressure on your abdominal area as your entire body is balancing on the naval area. Your entire spine is arched and it greatly enhances flexibility of your spine. It opens up your chest, neck and shoulders; improving blood circulation in the abdominal and reproductive organs.

It provides relief in generalized muscular back pain; relief in ankylosing spondylitis, aids in controlling diabetes and realigns your back thereby improves your breathing processes.

Yogendraji in Dhradhasana, From the collection of: The Yoga Institute
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Dhradhasana is an effective technique to experience the rest of prolonged deep sleep in a short period.

-Lie down with your legs stretched at full length, kept together in a relaxed manner. -Gently turn and lie on the right side of body. Fold your right hand at the elbow, and rest your head on the right forearm. Your legs must be straight, the left leg over the right. -In case you find keeping the legs straight difficult, you can bend the knees a little for balance. Close your eyes and breathe normally. Avoid any movement of the body. Maintain this relaxed breathing. -Gently turn and lie on the left side in the same manner. To relate the posture, Gently open your eyes and sit up slowly with the support of your hands.

The benefits of this asana include, ease of breathing, aiding in digestion, and relieves nocturnal emission and stressful dreams. The asana provides relief from headaches, fatigue and insomnia.Conscious relaxation normalizes the blood pressure, pulse rate and respiratory cycles.

Yogendraji in Suptapadmasana Paschimnamaskar, From the collection of: The Yoga Institute
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The Suptapadmasana posture is an advanced variation of the Padmasana, and not easy to achieve and maintain by everyone.

Padmasana is a traditional posture. The word ‘padma’ means a lotus. The manner in which the lotus grows amidst muddy water and yet blooms in full glory, remaining unaffected by its surroundings is brought to fruition in this asana. It is also a symbol of peace and highly favoured by the yogis.

Padmasana is reflective of the struggles of life which you can tide over to become stronger. It helps you to realize that you cannot change anyone but yourself.

The formation of the body as the lotus will bring out its respective qualities within you. It ushers physical stability and psychological equanimity.

Yogendraji in Sukhasana, From the collection of: The Yoga Institute
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Sukhasana, as its name suggests is a simple posture that can be maintained easily for a long time. It enables one to steady the mind and body.

Sukhasana is the simplest technique to observe the life force. The spiritual dimension is embodied in the term ‘sukha’, where ‘kha’ represents the wisdom of being in tune with the spiritual and divine forces.

-Sit on a mat spread on the floor with legs fully stretched out and without taking the support of any wall or fixture. -Sit cross-legged and try to keep both knees equidistant up from the floor. Gently place your hands on your respective thighs near the knees, palms facing downwards. -Keep your body erect, abdomen in normal contour, head poised, chin parallel to the ground taking care not to stiffen your body. The elbows should be aligned with your body such that they are not pushed outwards or pressed inwards but in a comfortable position. -Keep your shoulders relaxed, not drooping. Sit in this position and watch your breath (or focus on any object 
of your choice). 


The benefits of Sukhasana include, a correction of your posture.It stretches your thighs, calves, ankles and hips and improves flexibility of your lower extremities, especially the hip and knee joints. It is known to help in cases of acute arthritis and in psychological disorders.

Yogendraji in Bhadrasana, From the collection of: The Yoga Institute
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Bhadrasana is a final posture and is difficult for most people to achieve. Even though it is a meditative posture, dynamic movements are involved. The asana is known to boost confidence and creates a feeling of achievement. The asana is symbolic of auspiciousness and peace.

-Sit erect with your legs outstretched and hands at the sides. -Bending both your knees bring the soles of both your feet together. Use your hands to bring the soles of the feet as close to your body as possible. -Once your feet are closest to the body, keep holding it, trying to push the knees down to the floor. You can also use both your palms to gently push the knees downwards in case the previous step is difficult. -Once your knees are as far down as possible hold the feet with your hands, close your eyes and breathing normally, watch your breath. Or, you can place your palms on your knees. 
 -To relate the posture, Gently open your the eyes, release one leg at a time to return to starting position.

Though this is a meditative posture, to provide flexibility to the hip and thigh joint, you can make butterfly movements, that is, push the knees up and down several times before you practise watching your breath. The asana is known to improve Severe arthritis and in relieving pain in the hip and knee joints.

Yogendraji in Ekpadpavanmuktasana, From the collection of: The Yoga Institute
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Pavanamuktasana - The Air Free Posture

This asana very simple to perform yet has plenty of benefits. The practice of this posture releases flatulence and helps relieve indigestion and constipation. One can enjoy the benefits of this asana by performing either in the dynamic way or you can remain in the posture for one to two minutes breathing normally. It can be done in standing, sitting and supine position.

-As a variation to this asana shown in the image, Stand with your feet together and hands at the sides. -Lift your right leg, bending it at the knee and with both your hands press the knee on your abdomen. -Hold the position for a few seconds and bring your leg down. Repeat with the other leg. 


The asana improves and strengthens lower back, hips and thighs. The intra-abdominal compression provides good circulation and massage to your abdomen and pelvic viscera. It stretches your arms, shoulders and neck.

This posture gives relief to flatulence by quickening the movement and expulsion of the intestinal flatus. A flabby abdomen, subnormal functions of the abdominal viscera and pelvic organs respond favourably to this posture. There is a deep internal pressure massage and stretching of the network of muscles, ligaments and tendons of the waist zone and the pelvis. It cures chronic constipation, sluggish liver, weak functioning of the abdominal and the pelvic organs. 


Yogendraji in Sirshasana, From the collection of: The Yoga Institute
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The Sirshasana is the headstand.

Practising inversions like legs-up-the-wall (headstand, shoulder stand etc.) gets the lymphatic system moving as it circulates the lymphatic fluids. The lymphatic system rids the body of toxins from our blood and shoots cells for immunity throughout our system in order to fight infection.

However, one must be careful when selecting asanas to perform. For majority of persons with spinal complaints, posture like Halasana or Sirasana will be relatively contra-indicated.

for the common man, Yogendraji suggests that practicing sarvangasana also renders similar benefits.

Yogendraji in Utkakasana Variation 2, From the collection of: The Yoga Institute
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Utkatasana; as name of this asana represents ‘ut’ (raised) and ‘kati’ (waist). This asana is to raise your waist by rising up on the heels, lowering the body down and again rising up. Utkatasana enables great neuromuscular coordination. Awareness heightens and the ability of being focused while performing activities increases.

-Stand with your legs together, heels together (you can adjust the distance of the heels slightly to maintain balance) and toes pointing outwards and sidewards. -While inhaling, raise your hands to the shoulder level from the front and simultaneously rise on your toes (but not too much). -Squat down so that your knees are spread wide apart as you 
exhale and your hands remain extended at the shoulder level. Remain in this position for six seconds. -While inhaling, rise up so that you are on your toes. -Exhaling, lower your feet and hands. -As a variation to the asana, while keeping your body supported on your toes, raise your heels together, keep your knees wide apart and remain in the position as long as comfortable but not more than a minute.

The benefits of this asana include, Flexibility of your joints increases.
The muscles of your legs and pelvis are strengthened. It enhances the balancing capacity of your body. It engages your core muscles.

With regular practice, you could lose weight, especially from your hips. It helps in relieving joint and back pains, develops steadiness of mind and increases focus. Regular practice imparts a sense of balance in the body and great determination to the mind.

Yogendraji in Utkakasana Variation, From the collection of: The Yoga Institute
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Utkakasana

The name of this asana represents ‘ut’ (raised) and ‘kati’ (waist). This asana is to raise your waist by rising up on the heels, lowering the body down and again rising up.

Utkatasana enables great neuromuscular coordination. Awareness heightens and the ability of being focused while performing activities increases.

Shri Yogendra ji is seen performing an advanced variation of the Utkakasana.

Yogendraji Practicing Jivamulashodhan, From the collection of: The Yoga Institute
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Jivha Mula Shodhana is cleaning the root of the tongue. This cleansing affects the entire digestive and eliminative processes. This technique is best done in the morning, as it helps a good bowel movement.

-Open your mouth wide and insert your index and middle fingers into the mouth and rub the tips of your fingers as far back till the root of the tongue. -Continue this rubbing for two to three times till you feel the sensation of throwing up. -Gargle with water.

People with hypertension, cardiac ailments, stomach surgeries, pregnancy must use extra caution or may perform this gently using only one finger without any strain on the heart and stomach. 
The benefits of this asana include an activation of the taste buds, removal of toxins and a reduction in bad breath. The sensation of throwing up results in stomach contraction, which in turn helps in good elimination and reduces constipation (provided you are including a good amount of dietary fibre in your meals and water).

Yogendraji in Udiyanbandha, From the collection of: The Yoga Institute
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Shri Yogendraji is seen Udiyana Bandha which is also called abdominal lock or upward lifting lock in Hatha Yoga. After having exhaled all the air out, it involves pulling the abdomen under the rib cage and then releasing the abdomen after a pause. The process is repeated many times before letting the air into the lungs, resuming normal breath.

Yogendraji graciously mastered various advance postures, From the collection of: The Yoga Institute
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He systematized the asanas and endowed them with a correct methodology. He applied simple but scientific place sequence in the performance of many asanas. By sharp contrast he exposed the vital difference between asanas and other forms of physical education.

Teaching Asanas at The Yoga Institute, From the collection of: The Yoga Institute
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Shri Yogendraji with his keen incisive mind always preferred to get to the root of the practice taught and applied himself with dedication to make some of the difficult practices of Yoga available for the modern man.

He has simplified some of the asanas, correlated them with a special breathing rhythm which derives the name from him—the Yogendra breathing rhythm. This has now become an accepted part of the asanas.

Yogendraji, Always Wearing a Smile, From the collection of: The Yoga Institute
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He devoted much of his energies in making Yoga available in the educational field so that it has been found necessary to chalk out detailed plans to implement it not only as a form of physical training but keeping in mind a holistic approach.

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