Asana / Pose Categories & Families: Introduction & Overview

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Lesson Overview

In this lesson, we explore how and why asana is classified into categories and into families.


Understand the importance of function over form and how knowledge of pose categories and families informs teaching.


Reflect on the fundamental fact that poses are chosen by the purpose they intend to serve (function) as opposed to how they look (form). Explain the primary concern when choosing or teaching a pose and how this determines its general classification as a forward bend, backbend, twist and so on. Explore how this categorization provides a general sense for how to sequence and teach the pose. Describe various classification systems and define common pose categories.

Questions Answered Here

  1. How does knowledge of the qualities and characteristics of pose categories and families inform teaching?
  2. What is of primary concern when choosing or teaching a pose?
  3. Describe the various classification systems used by such experts as T.K.V. Desikachar, Ray Long, Silva Mehta, Joseph LePage, Dharma Mittra and Mark Stephens.
  4. Name and define common pose categories.
  5. Describe poses that use a common shape or imprint.
  6. In what other ways has expert Mukunda Stiles classified asana?

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