Why Yoga Poses Are Named After Animals

Ever wondered why so many yoga poses are named after animals?  Did you think cat pose, downward dog, monkey pose, and eagle pose were just cute translations from Sanskrit used to popularise yoga in Western society?  The ancient yogis found imitating an animal’s skills an uplifting and enlightening experience.

Have you ever seen two ducks get in a little tiff on the pond?  It usually ends with one quickly flapping off in a huff. Animals are able to release their emotions and the tension in their muscles that 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.  Five minutes later, they have restored balance and go blissfully floating away.

Animals throughout nature innately know how to blow off steam to keep themselves in check, but humans struggle with this.  We are so busy multi-tasking, keeping ourselves busy, and living in constant stress that we are unaware of the sensations in our body.  Yoga and meditation give us the perfect opportunity to observe ourselves from a physical, emotional, and spiritual perspective. The stillness of meditation gives us a break from our daily routine, lets us clear our minds and observe our bodies.  Yoga allows us to become more aware of the tension in our bodies and release it through slow, deliberate movements.  Yoga also changes the hormonal balance of our bodies to shut off the “fight or flight response” of the sympathetic nervous system and instead, stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system to allow our bodies to breath slowly, relax, and produce the chemicals that boost our immunity, keep us happy, and let us sleep better. Once the tension from the body is released, the mind can become still. 

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


By Spa Samurai

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