Ok so this one we will all be familiar with. These are the positions/postures/poses that we put ourselves in during the class. We think of asana as physical postures used to get a bit more control of our body's and also to increase the proficiency of a number of bodily functions. Through practicing the postures or asana we create strength, endurance, increase flow of energy and circulation around the body, they have an effect on the fascia and lymphatic systems in the body and also help to keep muscles and joints healthy or even improve them. There are also studies that state that yoga is a great way to gain and keep cardiovascular fitness (heart). So you know that you are doing yourself some good. Some argue that yoga was originally created hundreds even thousands of years ago to prepare the mind for a greater realisation and to rid the body and mind of any ailments that would obstruct this process. So whether you practice yoga for a bit of mental relaxation, or for the physical benefits or for something more spiritual, it makes no difference to me. It's YOUR practice after all. What we should watch our for is EGO! Today its the yoga asana is also where ego can really come to the forefront. We push ourselves into postures that our body may not be ready for. And it's difficult as we all want to make progress in one way or another and sometimes you do need to work close to the limits to make that advancement... But it should be done mindfully and you should be asking yourself in every posture 'is this right for me?' and not thinking 'I should be doing this as that person on the mat next to me is'. This is where one of my favourite benefits of yoga comes in. It allows you to have a greater understand of your body, of how your mind tends to work in all sorts of situations. I feel it can also empower you to feel confident in the decisions you are making, regardless of the opinions of others, which can lead to increased self esteem.