Kapotasana – King Pigeon Pose

January 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Yoga Poses

Step by Step

Kneel upright, with your knees slightly narrower than hip width apart and your hips, shoulders, and head stacked directly above your knees. With your hands, press down against the back of your pelvis.

On an inhalation, tuck your chin toward your sternum and lean your head and shoulders back as far as you can without pushing your hips forward. Firm your shoulder blades against your back and lift the top of your sternum. When your chest is maximally lifted, gradually release your head back.

Before you arch all the way back and place your head and hands on the floor, bring your palms together in front of your sternum in Anjali Mudra. Then separate your hands and reach them overhead toward the floor behind you. Bring your hips forward enough to counterbalance the backward movement of the upper torso and head. Keep your thighs as perpendicular to the floor as possible as you drop back. Place your palms on the floor, fingers pointing toward your feet, then lower your crown to the floor as well.

Press your palms, lift your head slightly off the floor and raise your hips, opening your front groins as much as possible. Lifting your pelvis as much as possible, lengthen and extend your upper spine and walk your hands to your feet. As you do, lower your forearms to the floor. If possible, grip your ankles (or, if you’re very flexible, your calves). Draw your elbows toward each other until they’re shoulder width apart, and anchor them firmly on the floor. Extend your neck and place your forehead on the floor.

Take a full inhalation to expand your chest. Then, exhaling softly but thoroughly, press your shins and forearms against the floor; as you do, lengthen your tailbone toward the knees and lift your top sternum in the opposite direction.

Hold the pose for 30 seconds or longer, further expanding the chest with each inhale, softening the belly with each exhale. Then release your grip, walk your hands away from your feet, and push your torso back to upright with an inhale. Rest in Child’s Pose for a few breaths.

Badddha Konasana – Cobbler’s or Butterfly Pose

January 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Yoga Poses

Sanskrit name: Baddha Konasana
English Translation: Bound Angle
Also Called: Butterfly

Step by Step

* Sit on the ground, bending both knees and bringing your feet together.
* Using your hands, open your feet up like a book. Use your muscles to press your knees down towards the floor. This will help to open your hips up even more.
* Lengthen your spine, drawing your belly button towards your spine. Relax your shoulders and gaze either in front of you or towards your feet.
* Stay here for 5 breaths, and then slowly begin to fold forward, drawing your torso towards your legs. Remember to try and keep your spine straight.
* You can keep your hands on your feet, pressing your knees down with your arms, or if you want more of a stretch, extend your arms out in front of you. Stay here for 5 breaths or as long as you want.

Your hips will love you for this. Plus your lower back gets a little stretch, and I found doing this pose before and after a run or bike ride prevents me from having tightness in my lower back later.

Virasana Hero Pose

January 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Yoga Poses

(veer-AHS-anna)
vira = man, hero, chief

Step by Step

Kneel on the floor (on a folded blanket to pad your knees, shins, and feet if necessary), with your thighs perpendicular to the floor, and touch your inner knees together. Slide your feet apart, slightly wider than your hips, with the tops of the feet flat on the floor. Angle your big toes slightly in toward each other and press the top of each foot evenly on the floor.

Exhale and sit back halfway, with your torso leaning slightly forward. Wedge your thumbs into the backs of your knees and draw the skin and flesh of the calf muscles toward the heels. Then sit down between your feet.

If your buttocks don’t comfortably rest on the floor, raise them on a block or thick book placed between the feet. Make sure both sitting bones are evenly supported. Allow a thumb’s-width space between the inner heels and the outer hips. Turn your thighs inward and press the heads of the thigh bones into the floor with the bases of your palms. Then lay your hands in your lap, one on the other, palms up, or on your thighs, palms down.

Firm your shoulder blades against the back ribs and lift the top of your sternum like a proud warrior. Widen the collarbones and release the shoulder blades away from the ears. Lengthen the tailbone into the floor to anchor the back torso.

At first stay in this pose from 30 seconds to 1 minute. Gradually extend your stay up to 5 minutes. To come out, press your hands against the floor and lift your buttocks up, slightly higher than the heels. Cross your ankles underneath your buttocks, sit back over the feet and onto the floor, then stretch your legs out in front of you. It may feel good to bounce your knees up and down a few times on the floor.

Utkatasana – Chair Pose

December 31, 2008 by  
Filed under Yoga Poses

(OOT-kah-TAHS-anna)
utkata = powerful, fierce

Step by Step

Stand in Tadasana. Inhale and raise your arms perpendicular to the floor. Either keep the arms parallel, palms facing inward, or join the palms.

Exhale and bend your knees, trying to take the thighs as nearly parallel to the floor as possible. The knees will project out over the feet, and the torso will lean slightly forward over the thighs until the front torso forms approximately a right angle with the tops of the thighs. Keep the inner thighs parallel to each other and press the heads of the thigh bones down toward the heels.

Firm your shoulder blades against the back. Take your tailbone down toward the floor and in toward your pubis to keep the lower back long.

Stay for 30 seconds to a minute. To come out of this pose straighten your knees with an inhalation, lifting strongly through the arms. Exhale and release your arms to your sides into Tadasana.

Virabhadrasana I & II – Warrior Poses

December 31, 2008 by  
Filed under Yoga Poses

Warrior I Pose

Virabhadra’s Pose is also known as the Warrior Pose (there are three variation of Warrior, of which this is customarily numbered 1). It may seem strange to name a yoga pose after a warrior; after all, aren’t yogis known for they’re non-violent ways? But remember that one of the most revered of all the yoga texts, the Bhagavad-Gita, is the dialog between two famous and feared warriors, Krishna and Arjuna, set on a battlefield between two great armies spoiling for a fight. What’s really being commemorated in this pose’s name, and held up as an ideal for all practitioners, is the “spiritual warrior,” who bravely does battle with the universal enemy, self-ignorance (avidya), the ultimate source of all our suffering.

Step by Step

Stand in Tadasana . With an exhale, step or lightly jump your feet 31/2 to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms perpendicular to the floor (and parallel to each other), and reach actively through the little-finger sides of the hands toward the ceiling. Firm your scapulas against your back and draw them down toward the coccyx.

Turn your left foot in 45 to 60 degrees to the right and your right foot out 90 degrees to the right. Align the right heel with the left heel. Exhale and rotate your torso to the right, squaring the front of your pelvis as much as possible with the front edge of your mat. As the left hip point turns forward, press the head of the left femur back to ground the heel. Lengthen your coccyx toward the floor, and arch your upper torso back slightly.

With your left heel firmly anchored to the floor, exhale and bend your right knee over the right ankle so the shin is perpendicular to the floor. More flexible students should align their right thigh parallel to the floor.

Reach strongly through your arms, lifting the ribcage away from the pelvis. As you ground down through the back foot, feel a lift that runs up the back leg, across the belly and chest, and up into the arms. If possible, bring the palms together. Spread the palms against each other and reach a little higher through the pinky-sides of the hands. Keep your head in a neutral position, gazing forward, or tilt it back and look up at your thumbs.

Stay for 30 seconds to a minute. To come up, inhale, press the back heel firmly into the floor and reach up through the arms, straightening the right knee. Turn the feet forward and release the arms with an exhalation, or keep them extended upward for more challenge. Take a few breaths, then turn the feet to the left and repeat for the same length. When you’re finished return to Tadasana.

Warrior II

(veer-ah-bah-DRAHS-anna)
Virabhadra = the name of a fierce warrior, an incarnation of Shiva, described as having a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, and a thousand feet, wielding a thousand clubs, and wearing a tiger’s skin

Step by Step

Stand in Tadasana. With an exhalation, step or lightly jump your feet 3 1/2 to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them actively out to the sides, shoulder blades wide, palms down.

Turn your right foot in slightly to the right and your left foot out to the left 90 degrees. Align the left heel with the right heel. Firm your thighs and turn your left thigh outward so that the center of the left knee cap is in line with the center of the left ankle.

Exhale and bend your left knee over the left ankle, so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor. If possible, bring the left thigh parallel to the floor. Anchor this movement of the left knee by strengthening the right leg and pressing the outer right heel firmly to the floor.

Stretch the arms away from the space between the shoulder blades, parallel to the floor. Don’t lean the torso over the left thigh: Keep the sides of the torso equally long and the shoulders directly over the pelvis. Press the tailbone slightly toward the pubis. Turn the head to the left and look out over the fingers.

Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Inhale to come up. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left.

Parsva Uttanasana or Parsvottanasana

December 31, 2008 by  
Filed under Yoga Poses

In Sanskrit parsva means sideways and uttan means extension thus this pose sideways-facing forward bend. Also known as runner’s stretch or pyramid pose it is an equal parts balancing posture that deeply stretches the backs of the legs and improves balance, mental functions and circulation.

What is the technique of Parsvottanasana?

Start with standing in Tadasana. Then move your legs apart, keeping feet parallel and heels in line with each other. Turn your right foot out at a 90-degree angle and your left foot in to a 45-degree angle. Turn your body to the right without adjusting your feet. Face squarely to the side, with shoulders positioned over your hips. The weight of your body should be evenly distributed over both legs with knees locked for stability. Now inhale and raise your arms forward alongside the ears. Hold for two to four breaths. Exhale, bending forward to the halfway tabletop position. Hold for two or three breaths, then move into the full forward bend, placing your hands on or alongside your right leg. Hold in this position for between four to twelve breaths.

Recover with inhaling and reversing the path followed into the position. Then repeat to the left side.

What are the benefits of practicing Parsvottanasana?

This asana stretches and strengthens the legs, hips and abdominal organs. It tones liver and spleen and improves digestion. It also cools the brain and soothes the nerves. It helps to relieve arthritis of the neck, shoulders, elbows and wrists and menstrual pain.

What are the cautions?

If you have any recent or chronic injury to the hips, back or shoulders, do not practice this asana. People suffering with high blood pressure, abdominal hernia or some sort of heart condition should also avoid this asana. Do not practice this pose if you are experiencing dysentery or diarrhea.

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

December 16, 2008 by  
Filed under Yoga Poses

(oo-TEE-tah trik-cone-AHS-anna)
utthita = extended
trikona = three angle or triangle

Triangle Pose is the quintessential standing pose in many styles of yoga.

Benefits

* Stretches and strengthens the thighs, knees, and ankles
* Stretches the hips, groins, hamstrings, and calves; shoulders, chest, and spine
* Stimulates the abdominal organs
* Helps relieve stress
* Improves digestion
* Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
* Therapeutic for anxiety, flat feet, infertility, neck pain, osteoporosis, and sciatica
* Relieves backache, especially through second trimester of pregnancy

Contraindications/Cautions

* Diarrhea
* eyestrain
* varicose veins
* depressed or extremely fatigued
* Headache
* Low blood pressure- gaze downward in final pose.
* Heart Condition: Practice against a wall. Keep the top arm on the hip.
* High blood pressure: Turn the head to gaze downward in the final pose.
* Neck problems: Don’t turn your head to look upward; continue looking straight ahead and keep both sides of the neck evenly long.

Step by Step

* Stand in Tadasana. With an exhalation, step or lightly jump your feet 3 1/2 to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them actively out to the sides, shoulder blades wide, palms down.
* Turn your left foot in slightly to the right and your right foot out to the right 90 degrees. Align the right heel with the left heel. Firm your thighs and turn your right thigh outward, so that the center of the right knee cap is in line with the center of the right ankle.
* Exhale and extend your torso to the right directly over the plane of the right leg, bending from the hip joint, not the waist. Anchor this movement by strengthening the left leg and pressing the outer heel firmly to the floor. Rotate the torso to the left, keeping the two sides equally long. Let the left hip come slightly forward and lengthen the tailbone toward the back heel.
* Rest your right hand on your shin, ankle, or the floor outside your right foot, whatever is possible without distorting the sides of the torso. Stretch your left arm toward the ceiling, in line with the tops of your shoulders. Keep your head in a neutral position or turn it to the left, eyes gazing softly at the left thumb.
* Stay in this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Inhale to come up, strongly pressing the back heel into the floor and reaching the top arm toward the ceiling. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left.

Modifications

If it isn’t possible to comfortably touch the floor with the bottom hand or fingertips, support the palm on a block.
Variation

Instead of stretching the top arm toward the ceiling, stretch it over the back of the top ear, parallel to the floor.
Beginners Tip

Brace your back heel or the back of your torso against a wall if you feel unsteady in the pose.

Deepen the Pose

For more experienced students, align the front heel with the back foot arch.

Extended Side Angle Pose

December 16, 2008 by  
Filed under Yoga Poses

Utthita Parsvakonasana or the “Extended Sides Angle Pose.”

(oo-TEE-tah parsh-vah-cone-AHS-anna)

Step by Step

Stand in Tadasana. On an exhalation, step or lightly jump your feet 3½ to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them actively out to the sides, shoulder blades wide, palms down. Turn your left foot in slightly to the right and your right foot out to the right 90 degrees. Align the right heel with the left heel. Firm your thighs and turn your right thigh outward, so that the center of the kneecap is in line with the center of the right ankle. Roll the left hip slightly forward, toward the right, but rotate your upper torso back to the left.

Anchor the left (back) heel to the floor by lifting the inner left groin deep into the pelvis. Then exhale and bend your right knee over the right ankle, so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor. As you bend the knee aim the inner knee toward the little-toe side of the foot. If possible, bring the right thigh parallel to the floor.

Firm your shoulder blades against the back ribs. Extend your left arm straight up toward the ceiling, then turn the left palm to face toward your head and with an inhalation reach the arm over the back of your left ear, palm facing the floor. Stretch from your left heel through your left fingertips, lengthening the entire left side of your body. Turn your head to look at the left arm. Release your right shoulder away from the ear. Try to create as much length along the right side of your torso as you do along the left.

As you continue to ground your left heel to the floor, exhale and lay the right side of your torso down onto (or bring it as close as possible to) the top of the right thigh. Press your right fingertips (or palm) on the floor just outside of your right foot. Actively push the right knee back against the inner arm; counter this by burrowing your tail bone into the back of your pelvis, toward the pubis. The inside of your right thigh should be parallel with the long edge of your sticky mat.

Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Inhale to come up. Push both heels strongly into the floor and reach the left arm forcefully toward the ceiling to lighten the upward movement. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left. Then come up and return to Tadasana.

Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Facing Hand Pose)

December 9, 2008 by  
Filed under Yoga Poses

Urdhva Hastasana arises out of Tadasana. In this pose the sides of the body are full stretched and the spine lifted. By practicing the pose one feels rejuvenated and light.

  1. Find an even surface and stand with the feet together. Look down at the feet as this will help you to be more conscious of them. Bring the big toes to touch evenly together and press the balls of the big toes down. Keep them pressing down as you spread the weight to the inner heels and outer edges of the feet. Distribute the weight evenly on both feet.
  2. Take your fingers to the thighs and looking at the thighs press them back until you feel the weight come onto the front edge of the heels. Do not shift or move the feet about. You will notice that with weight on the heels, the thighs lift the kneecaps up and the legs become firm and straight.
  3. Keeping the thighs back, take one hand to the lower belly and the other hand to the buttocks. As you lift the pit of the belly up, draw the buttocks down. This lifts the pelvis to vertical, prevents the buttocks from sticking out, and minimizes arching of the lower back. Keep the legs firm and straight.
  4. Maintain the position and actions of the feet, thighs and pelvis as you roll the thighs in so the knees point straight forward.
  5. Now spread and open the chest, by turning the upper arms out, and bring the shoulder blades into the back. This is Tadasana
  6. Now, extend the arms to front and in line with the shoulders. Keep the arms firm, straight and parallel with the fingers extended and the palms facing each other.
  7. With an inhalation raise the arms to vertical so that they are in line with the ears. Do not let the back arch and work to maintain tadasana in the trunk.
  8. Stay in this pose for up to a minute as you quietly lift the trunk and extend the arms. If the arms remain bent then take the palms wider apart and stretch from the inner elbows to the palms to make the arms straighten.

Tadasana—Standing Mountain Pose

December 9, 2008 by  
Filed under Yoga Poses

General Guidelines: An open mind, empty stomach, and bare feet are recommended. Do not strain or force any movements.

Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Pay special attention to breath and body alignment. Hold each pose for a minimum of five inhalations/exhalations (about half a minute).

  1. Stand with your feet completely together, heels and base of big toes touching; weight centered through the front of the heels.
  2. Arms at your side (no hands on hips!), fingertips drip down to the floor.
  3. Roll your thighbones off one another, pelvis in “neutral” alignment.
  4. Broaden your collarbones and roll your shoulders back.
  5. Chin level with the floor, keep the crown of the head spiraling upward, spine straight.
  6. Engage abdominal muscles.
  7. Breathe with the ujjayi breath, in through the nose—out through the mouth with a slight “ha” sound.

Next Page »