Monday, May 14, 2012

Standing Yoga Poses

Here are some of the basic standing yoga poses.You can get so many benefits from Standing yoga poses as they help with balance, strengthen your posture, relaxes and calms  your mind as well as increasing your mind and body awareness.
  1. Standing in Mountain Pose, place your feet parallel and hip width apart.
  2. Extend your spine tall and fix your gaze forward at a focal point. Contract your core muscles as you shift your weight to your right foot.
  3. As you inhale, raise your left foot and place the sole of your left foot on your ankle, calf, mid thigh, or upper thigh with your toes pointing down.
  4. Keep your gaze at one point as you breathe.
  5. Feel that your left knee is comfortably pointing out to the side.
  6. The center of your pelvis should not drop to the left causing the entire pelvis to shift right.
  7. Gently press your left foot into the right inner leg. Visualize keeping your hip points and shoulders level with the ground by engaging your right outer hip muscles and pressing lightly into the right big toe mound.
  8. Feel an energetic connection rising from the medial (inner) arch of the right foot upwards to your inner groin line. Keep a light contraction in your core muscles to keep the abdomen from falling forward.
  9. Place palms in the prayer at the heart. As you inhale, slowly raise your arms overhead with your hands still in prayer. Keep the shoulder blades from rising to avoid tension in the neck. Continue to press your right foot lightly into the ground as the crown of the head lifts. Stay here for several breaths
  10. As you exit, exhale and slowly lower your palms to heart and softly place your left foot on the floor into Mountain Pose. Pause to shake the right foot and repeat on the other side.

    Triangle Pose

  12. Stand at the top of your mat in Mountain Pose. Take a big step back (approximately 3 feet) with your right foot, turning your foot towards the side of the mat while keeping your left toes pointing forward. Your two hip points are now facing the side of the mat.
  13. Inhale as you take your arms out in a “T” with your palms pointing down.  You shoulders are relaxed while moving your shoulder blades down your back.
  14. Exhale as you begin to hinge at your hip towards your left leg, deepening the crease where your hip bone meets your pelvis.
  15. Continue to reach out through the top of the head, keeping the spine long, and both sides of the torso of equal length. Lift your knee cap on your front thigh, contracting the quadriceps to support your knee.
  16. Allow your left hand to float towards your (from beginner to advanced) shin, a block on the inside of the foot, a block on the outside of the foot, or your fingers/palm on the mat or big toe.
  17. Your right arm will float up towards the sky, keeping the arms in a “T”. Which ever hand position you choose for your bottom hand, ensure you keep your spine and torso long, without creating a bend in the waist.
  18. Draw your low belly in to support the lower spine.
  19. Tuck your chin in slightly, lengthening the top of the neck near the skull, and turn your gaze up towards your right hand.
  20. Keep your connection with the earth, especially grounding with the outside of your back foot, and all four corners of your front foot.
  21. Breathe comfortably as you hold the position.
  22. To exit the pose, on an exhale look down towards your left foot, draw your low belly in, root down through the feet, and inhale as you rise up.
  23. Turn and step back to the top of the mat and repeat on the opposite side
  24. Warrior 1
  25. Begin in Mountain Pose.  Exhale as you step your left foot back three to four feet.  Align your left heel behind your right heel and then turn you left foot out 45 degrees keeping your right foot forward.
  26. Rotate your hips so both of your hip points are facing forward and parallel to the front of your mat.
  27. Gently root the outer edges of your left foot into the mat as your hips and shoulders rotate forward.
  28. Inhale and raise your arms perpendicular to the ground keeping your arms open, shoulder width apart and parallel to each other.

  29. Reach through your fingertips as the palms face inwards and draw your shoulders blades down encouraging your shoulders to move down and away from the neck.  Feel as though your shoulder blades lightly hug into your back.
  30. As you exhale, contract your abdominal muscles and tilt your pelvis so your tailbone moves down and under. Slowly bend your right knee placing aligning your knee over your heel.
  31. As you continue to breathe, feel your right heel anchoring allowing the toes to lighten and spread. Applying slightly more pressure in your right heel rather than the toes will keep your right knee more stable and will minimize the force being placed into the knee joint. Continue to draw your tailbone under and towards the pubic bone and feed the bottom front ribs in keeping your abdomen from swaying outward.
  32. Picture the pubic bone lifting towards your navel.
  33. Keep strengthening the pose by pressing the outer left heel into the floor sending a lifting energy up the left leg into the pelvis and through to the arms.
  34. Stay tall over the pelvis feeling your ribcage (especially the back edge) lift away from your pelvis. Keep your head in a neutral position, gazing forward, or tilt your head back and look comfortably up at your thumbs.
  35. Breathe slowly and stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  36. To exit, exhale to lower your arms and place your hands onto the hips. Inhale as you press firmly into your right heel and step your left leg forward. Exhale to release your hands from the hips and adjust your feet and pelvis into Mountain Pose.
  37. Take a few breaths and then repeat with the other side for the same length of time.

    Extended Side Angle Pose

    1. Begin in Mountain Pose.  Exhale as you step three to four feet apart.
    2. Lift your arms horizontally so they are parellel to the floor with your palms facing down.  Keep you arms full of energy as you feel your shoulder blade and heart region open.
    3. While your legs are straight, angle your left foot in slightly to the right and turn your right foot out 90 degrees.  The right heel should be aligned with the left heel after adjusting your ankles.
    4. Lightly contract your thighs, and then rotate your right thigh outward just enough that the center of your kneecap follows the centerline of your right ankle. Rotate the left hip slightly forward (or inwards), while rotating your upper torso back to the left thus preventing your torso from facing downwards later in the pose.
    5. As you inhale, ground your left heel to the floor. Then exhale and bend your right knee over your right ankle, so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor (as if performing a Warrior stance).
    6. As you bend your right knee, gently connect the outer right foot into the earth so that your knee continues to follow an even, centered line over your heel.
    7. If your strength permits, position your right thigh parallel to the floor.  Do not allow your thigh or hips to fall lower than the level of your bent knee.
    8. Continue to ground your left heel to the floor. As you exhale, contract your abdominal and core muscles as you place the right side of your torso down on your right thigh. Without falling heavy into your thigh, press your right fingertips (or palm) on the floor just outside of your right foot. Bring energy into the pose by connecting the right knee against the inner arm. During this phase of the pose, your abdomen may passively push out creating an increased arch in the lower back. To prevent this unwanted passive arching, pull in your abdomen enough that your tail bone draws under and towards the pubis.
    9. As your left arm is now reaching straight up from the shoulder to the ceiling, firm your shoulder blades against the back ribs. Then turn your left palm to face toward your head, and as you inhale reach your arm over the back of your left ear. Your palm should be facing the floor without creating a crowded feeling in the neck and shoulder.
    10. Continue to elongate and stretch from your left heel through your left fingertips, feeling a natural lengthening along the entire left side of your body. If comfortable, turn your head to look at the left arm while keeping the sides of the neck even. As the left side of the body lengthens, mimick this length along the right side of the torso as well. Stay evenly engaged through both feet encouraging lightness rather than heaviness
    11. Focus on long, rich breaths to fuel the thighs’ stamina. Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
    12. To exit, inhale as you press both heels actively into the floor. Feel your left arm reach and pull you toward the ceiling. As your right leg straightens, bring your spine balanced over your pelvis and flow your arms horizontal to the floor.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Best Yoga Videos

I have found some of the Best Yoga Videos and I wanted to share them with you. These are a little different from your traditional style Yoga classes. A No-nonsense Yoga Program That Can Be Done In As Little As 10 Minutes A Day Or Up To The Full 50 Minute Routine.

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Shape Shifter Yoga Manual

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Yoga Poses

Getting back to the basic yoga poses builds strength and develops stamina and improves your posture

Make sure you do Yoga on an empty stomach, the best time of the day is just before breakfast or just before dinner, when you have the greatest amount of energy.

 Here are some of the basic standing yoga poses.
Mountain Pose

This is the basic standing pose and begins and ends all the standing poses. Stand with feet together, toes pointing forward and arms at your sides. Relax your shoulders; keep chin parallel to the floor. Your body weight should be evenly distributed between the toes and heels and from right to left. Hold for several breaths; breathing rhythmically.

Moon Pose

Stand with your feet parallel and shoulder-width apart, arms relaxed at your sides. Inhale and raise your arms up from the sides interlocking your fingers straight up over your head. Stretch up to the ceiling. Hold. Exhale and bend to the right side, bending from your hips, left arm close to your ear. Hold. Inhale and stretch back up to the ceiling. Exhale as you repeat on the other side. Hold. Inhale and stretch back up to the ceiling. Hold. Exhale and relax your arms to your sides.

Benefits: Stretches and tones the sides of the body, massages the liver when stretching to the right and the spleen when stretching to the left

Forward Bend Pose

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, arms relaxed at your sides, knees slightly bent. Inhale while stretching your arms out to your sides and overhead. As you exhale, bend forward from the hips, keeping your back flat. Then allow your upper body to loosen and hang. Bend your knees till your fingertips touch the floor. Allow your head to dangle and your arms to hang loose. Hold. Inhale and slowly curl back up to standing.

Benefits: Releases tension in lower back, gently stretches the spine and hamstrings; also has a calming effect on the system; refreshes your mind and clears your head.

Chair Pose - Fierce Warrior

Stand with your feet parallel and slightly apart, arms relaxed at your sides. Inhale and lift your arms to the sides and straight up over your head; exhale and bend your knees and extend your arms so they are in line with your body or so they are parallel to the floor with your palms together or slightly apart. Be careful to keep your knees from buckling inward and keep your heels on the floor. Hold. Inhale and straighten your legs. Exhale and lower your arms to your sides.

Benefits: Removes shoulder stiffness; strengthens your legs and ankles; lifts your diaphragm; massages your heart; tones your back and stomach; and develops your chest. Chair pose strengthens the ankles, thighs, calves, and spine, stretches the shoulders and chest, and stimulates the abdominal organs, diaphragm, and heart, as well as the feet.

Warrior I Pose

Stand with feet directly below the hips. Spine is straight. Inhale and bring your arms forward, up and overhead, palms facing each other. Exhale and take a large step forward with your left foot, bend your left knee. 

Keep knee directly over ankle. Right foot is extended behind you; press your right heel in the direction of the floor, resting ball of foot lightly on the floor if comfortable. Hold. Repeat with other leg.

Benefits: Improves balance and ability to concentrate. Strengthens the immune system.

Warrior II Pose

Stand facing forward with your feet as wide apart as is comfortable. Inhaling stretch your arms out to the sides, parallel to the floor, palms down. Turn your left foot out to 90 degrees and your right foot in the same direction to about 15 degrees. Exhale and bend your left leg into a right angle so that the knee is directly over your ankle. Press your right heel into the floor to help steady you. Keep your left ankle from rolling in on itself. Turn your head and look over your left arm. Hold. Inhale and straighten your left leg. Exhale and lower your arms and come back to starting position. Repeat with the opposite leg.

Benefits: Stretches the muscles of the legs and ankles; opens the chest and groin, and stimulates the entire body. It develops balance and stamina.

Triangle Pose

Stand straight with your arms by your sides and your feet flat on the floor, facing forward and slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Inhaling, raise your arms to the side. Keeping your knees straight, exhale and bend to the right side, sliding your right hand down your right leg. Raise your left arm straight up toward the ceiling. Take care not to twist the body and to keep the head aligned with the spine. Hold. Inhale as you straighten up; exhale and bend to the left side. Hold. Inhale and straighten back up. Exhale and lower your arms to your sides.

Benefits: Helps bring flexibility to the hips, shoulders and legs; stretches both sides of the body and gives a lateral stretch to the spine; stretches and develops the intercostal muscles of the rib cage; helps relieve backaches; strengthens the neck.

Wide Leg Forward Bend Pose

Stand with feet parallel about 4 feet apart. Raise arms to shoulder height, palms down. shoulders relaxed and down, feet facing forward. Bend your knees slightly to protect your lower back. Bend forward at the hips and slide your hands down the outsides of your legs. Grasp your calves, ankles or heels. Pull with your arms, moving head closer to the floor. Hold. Return by moving your arms back up your legs, straightening your body, arms outstretched.

Benefits: Stretches and aligns back and leg muscles. Can prevent sciatica. Massages the abdominal area and aids digestion. Improves muscle tone and flexibility in the legs.

Tree Pose

Stand on your left leg with your foot placed firmly on the floor, toes spread, and hands on hips. Focus your gaze on a spot in front of you. Bend your right leg and place the sole of that foot flat on your ankle, calf or left inner thigh; whichever is easiest. Press your right knee back and place palms together at your chest. If possible straighten your arms overhead, palms together. Hold. Repeat with other leg.

Benefits: Improves concentration, balance, confidence and poise. Increases flexibility in angles, knees and hips.

Dancer Pose

Stand erect, feet slightly apart and parallel, arms relaxed at your sides. Focusing your gaze (drishti) on a spot in front of you, transfer your weight to your left leg. Bend your right knee, and with your right hand take hold of your ankle and press it to your buttocks. Keep your knees together. Inhale and stretch up your left arm up in front of you. Hold. Exhale and lower the arm and return to starting position. Relax and repeat to other side.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Seated Postures

Make sure you practice Yoga on an empty stomach, the best time of the day is just before breakfast or just before dinner, when you have the greatest amount of energy.

Beginner Seated Postures

Cross Leg Sit Pose

This is the basic seated pose. Sit with your legs crossed, feet tucked under your legs. Either leg may be on top; but try to sit more often with the leg that is least comfortable on top to balance your body.
Place a small cushion under your tailbone if this is more comfortable. Allow your legs to relax onto the floor. Rest your hands on your knees.
Keep your back and head erect, chin parallel to the floor and neck extended slightly upward. Breathe gently and rhythmically.

Benefits: Loosens hip, knee and ankle joints; tones pelvic organs and glands; tones groin nd inner thigh muscles. 
This posture is good for practicing breathing exercises and meditation.

Cross Leg Spinal Twist Pose

Sit in "Cross Leg Sit". Inhale and place your right hand on your left knee and press your left hand flat on the floor with your wrist close to your tailbone. Exhale and twist your body around to the left. Hold. Inhale and as you exhale reverse out of the pose. Do other side

Benefits: Stimulates spinal nerves, tones liver and spleen, aids peristaltic activity develops flexibility, helps relieve backache by stretching vertebrae

Butterfly Pose

Sit with the soles of your feet together, knees splayed out, legs relaxed, back erect, and your hands holding your feet. Slowly draw your feet closer to your body, relax your groin muscles, and allow your knees to fall to the floor. Do not allow your back to slump. Hold, and try and breath normally.

Benefits: Opens hip joints; stretches groin and inner thigh muscles; tones pelvic floor and urinary organs

Seated Bent Knee Forward Bend Pose

Sit erect, legs extended. Fold one leg so that the sole of the foot presses high on the muscle of the other thigh. Inhale while raising your arms overhead, palms facing each other. Exhale, bend toward outstretched thigh. Stop when your back begins to round. Grasp extended leg where you can without straining; at calf, ankle or foot. If it helps, bend leg slightly. Hold. Repeat on other side.

Benefits: Stretches the hamstring muscles, massages the abdominal organs, relieves lower backache, stretches the spinal column

Seated Spinal Twist Pose

Sit on the floor with both legs straight out in front of you. Bend your right knee with the right thigh on the floor, cross your left leg over your right thigh, and place your left foot flat on the floor next to your right knee. Put your left hand flat on the floor behind you with the arm straight, palm down, fingers pointing away from you. Inhale and turn slightly to the left. Bend your right arm and place your right elbow on the outside of your left knee. Keep your shoulders down. Exhale and twist your spine and push your chest forward to lengthen the spine. Don't over twist your neck. Keep the twist the full length of the spine for full benefit. Hold. Inhale and return to starting position and repeat on the other side. If this is too difficult, keep your right leg straight and bend left leg over the right leg with the left foot flat on the floor on the outside of the right thigh. Hold the left knee with your right elbow. Place your left hand on the floor behind your back and twist.

Benefits: Gives the spine a nice lateral stretch, increasing spinal elasticity. Also improves side-to-side mobility; decreases backaches and hip pain; contracts and tones the liver, spleen and intestines; reduces abdominal size; improves the nervous system; prevents calcification at the base of the spine; frees the joints

Seated Forward Bend Pose

Sit erect, legs straight, pelvis tipped forward, feet perpendicular to legs. Inhale. Raise your arms straight ahead. Exhale, stretch forward and down. Keep back straight. Place hands comfortably on legs, whether on knees, calves or ankles. Relax, allowing chest to sink toward thighs without arching your back. Breathe softly. Hold

Benefits: Gives an intense stretch to the entire back, massages the abdominal organs, increases flexibility of the spine, fosters a sense of calm and letting go

Boat Pose

Sit on floor with spine erect, knees up and bent, and feet flat on the floor. Hands hold onto the backs of the thighs. Lean backward and balance on the "sitting" bones. Tips of the toes remain on the floor. Straighten your legs. Straighten your arms alongside your legs, palms facing in. If your back rounds as you straighten your legs, bend your knees slightly. Hold.

Benefits: Tones the abdominal muscles, strengthens the thighs and knees, increases stamina


Start in cross legged seated position and pick up the right leg with your hands.

Then insert your fingers and thumb into your toe, one at a time.

Use your hand as resistance and push your hand and foot towards one another

Release the resistance and repeat, pushing a little more the next time.

Repeat 6-8 times on one foot.

Then repeat on the other foot


 Kneel and sit back on you heals with the tops of your feet in contact with the floor. Your soles will stretch and curve into a good arch underneath you. Keep your big toes and heals together so there is not gap or space between the feet. If the front of your ankles are not flexible enough to rest comfortably on the floor without a space, use a small towel to roll into a tight tube shape to place underneath, and gradually use smaller cloths until you no longer need this prop.
  Sit with your back and spine straight but not tense. Let your spine lengthen upward without forcing it. Imagine a string attached to the top of your head up to a bunch of helium balloons. On your breath inhale relax and balance, then on the exhale allow your spine to lengthen and straighten, stretching gently upward.

Aim to stay in this position for 5 minutes. If this is uncomfortable or you experience "pins and needles," you probably need a larger rolled towel beneath the front of your ankles.

 Now we are going to tuck the toes so that your soles raise facing directly behind you as your toes curl away from the soles. Lower your weight slowly and gently onto the length, not tips, of your toes. This will stretch the toes and soles. Avoid stretching too hard or release too much weight. Gradually after practicing for a few weeks gently increase the stretching in the toes and soles. Reduce stretch at any feeling of strain or pain.

Hold this stretch for 1-2 minutes.

Childs Pose

Beginners: Rest in Child’s Pose at any time if you get tired or out of breath. Rejoin the class when you are ready.
1. From Downward Facing Dog, drop the knees to the floor.
2. Spread the knees as wide as the mat, keeping the big toes touching.
3. Bring the belly to rest between the thighs and the forehead to the floor.
4. There are two possible arm variations:
Either stretch the arms in front of you with the palms toward the floor or bring the arms back alongside the thighs with the palms facing upwards. Do whichever feel more comfortable to you?

Downward Facing Dog

Downward facing dog is done many times during most yoga classes. It is a transitional pose, a resting pose and a great strengthener in its own right. It may be the first yoga pose you encounter as you begin a yoga practice. Downward dog is so prevalent, even people who have never done yoga have probably heard of it.
Beginners: Try bending your knees, coming up onto the balls of your feet, bringing the belly to rest on the thighs and the sit bones up high. Then sink your heels, straightening the legs keeping the high upward rotation of the sit bones. Also try bending the arms slightly out to the side, drawing the chest towards the thighs. Then restraighten the arms. 
1. Come to your hands and knees with the wrists underneath the shoulders and the knees underneath the hips.
2. Curl the toes under and push back raising the hips and straightening the legs.
3. Spread the fingers and ground down from the forearms into the fingertips.
4. Outwardly rotate the upper arms broadening the collarbones.
5. Let the head hang, move the shoulder blades away from the ears towards the hips.
6. Engage the quadriceps strongly to take the weight off the arms, making this a resting pose.
7. Rotate the thighs inward, keep the tail high and sink your heels towards the floor.
8. Check that the distance between your hands and feet is correct by coming forward to a plank position. The distance between the hands and feet should be the same in these two poses. Do not step the feet toward the hands in Down Dog in order the get the heels to the floor. This will happen eventually as the muscles lengthen.
Advanced: If you are very flexible, try not to let the rib cage sink towards the floor creating a sinking spine. Draw the ribs in to maintain a flat back. Try holding the pose for five minutes, placing a block under your head for support.

Warrior Poses

Make sure you practice your Warrior Poses on an empty stomach: the best time of the day is just before breakfast or just before dinner, when you have the greatest amount of energy.

Warrior Sequence

Virabhadrasana 1 or Warrior 1

Raise the upper body stretching the arms above the head. The hands can be in prayer position, interlocked or shoulder width apart. The fingers can be closed or open. (One creates a direct force and the other is a flared force.)

The chest faces forward. The heels are in line but you can also perform this pose with a little width between the heels. This will slightly change the alignment of the hips and can improve the alignment.

The navel area will naturally stick out. To engage lower core abdominal muscles pull the navel up and back. This will reduce pressure on the lower back.

Aligning the shoulders horizontally is desired. There are many ways to do this. Shown opposite is a method of lifting them. Sometimes this is not done because of blood flow interference or nerve impingement. It is quite nice to have all the muscles, skin and cells around the arms and shoulders moving in an upwards direction. The energy forces of the pose feel better.

Urdhva Virabhadrasana II or Warrior 2
Step the legs apart then turn one leg 90 degrees out and bend this knee. Position the knee above the ankle. Stretch the arm on that side up so that the side of the body is stretched. Lean back and place the other hand on the straightened leg and look up.

The fingers can be closed or open. (One creates a direct force and the other is a flared force.)

Placing the hand on the leg for some extra support can help relieve pressure form the back.

Both legs are strengthened in this pose. It can also help the knee muscles strengthen. The shoulders are stretched and the arms are strengthened. This yoga posture will also increase groin flexibility.
Warrior 3 or Virabhadrasana 3 or Warrior 3

From Tadasana lean the upper body forward while raising one leg back and up. Take the hands out sideways instead of straight in front as shown if you are just learning balance or balancing is difficult.

Push through the heels, toes or ball points of the feet. Pushing though the toes may be the best option because the energy of the force through the toes helps in raising the leg a little more but the ball points of the toes will also create a lift through the leg.

Align the hips horizontally. The raised leg has to be rotated inward to achieve a horizontal alignment. It is hard to maintain balance when doing this. The strength of the big toe on the supporting leg can prevent loss of balance when the inward rotation is applied.

Feel a stretch from the toes of the raised leg to the fingers in front of you. It takes many years to get a very straight feeling of energy through the body. The shoulders and legs have to be flexible quite flexible.

Look forward for stability or down to stretch the spine even longer. Gazing back at your foot as a self check can be quite revealing. It is also hard to balance so make sure you are advanced before you attempt it in practice.