Ananda Yoga is one of the types of yoga that focuses on the spiritual and meditational aspects in conjunction with the asanas branch of yogic practice. Simply put, Ananda Yoga is not all about the physicality of doing the poses. Rather, it teaches students to harmonize the soul and body in such a way that spirituality enhances your flow and progress through different asanas or poses.
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
In Ananda Yoga, the Cobra Pose is typically done 8 times, and is done with proper breathing and paired with silent affirmations. To do the Cobra Pose, lie on your mat face down with your arms at the side. Place your palms flat on the ground (at both sides) and slowly lift your upper body off the ground while keeping your thighs flat on the mat. At this position, your upper body is raised, your shoulders relaxed, and your head is geared upward towards the ceiling.
Tree Pose (Vrkasana)
The Tree Pose is a good example of Ananda Yoga poses that improves the body's alignment while allowing you to meditate. To do the Tree Pose, first you stand straight with arms at the side. Then lift one leg and rest the foot against the ankle, shin, or inner thigh of the other leg, never on the knee. You can do so while simultaneously raising your arms overhead, palms facing each other or with the palms touching.
Child's Pose (Balasana)
The Child's Pose enables you to meditate and focus on your breathing while simultaneously stretching and elongating the spinal muscles. To do this pose, sit on your mat with your legs folded beneath you such that the soles of your feet are touching your buttocks. Then bend forward, making your forehead touch the ground. You can stretch your arms out in front of you, palms flat on the floor, or let them relax and fall to your sides with the backs of your hand touching the floor.
Lotus Pose (Padmasana)
Considered as a basic pose, the Lotus Pose also teaches students to use meditation to get comfortable in doing various asanas. To do this pose, sit on the floor with your legs crossed, your back straight, and shoulders relaxed. Rest your hands on your knees, and breathe in and out.
Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)
The Sphinx Pose is much like the Cobra in that it is also a backbend pose with your upper body lifted off the ground. The difference lies in how your arms are used for weight support. To do the Sphinx Pose, start by lying on your mat face down. Then lift your chest off the ground and rest your elbows on the floor for support. At this position, your stomach should still be touching the mat with your lower arms flat on the ground and your gaze is directed parallel to the floor.
Truth be told, there are no specific asanas that are solely considered as Ananda Yoga poses. The only difference is that when doing these poses, it is accompanied by affirmations which reinforce the effects of the poses on one's awareness and consciousness. The aim of Ananda Yoga is to elevate awareness, raise consciousness, achieve relaxation, and correct the body's alignment.