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.

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