English Name: Warrior I
Sanskrit Name: Virabhadrasana I
Yoga Level: 1
Benefits: Stretches the shoulder, stomach, groins, chest and lungs, strengthens the arms, muscles in the back, shoulder, thighs, calves and ankles.
How to do it: Start by standing in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Exhale deeply, step your right foot forward. Raise your arms perpendicular to the floor and parallel to each other. Stretch your fingertips and focus on all of your energy on your arms. Draw the coccyx in and make sure your back is straight. Turn your left foot in at a 45 to 60 degree angle and make sure your right foot is 90 degrees to the right. Align the right heel with the left. Exhale and rotate your torso to the right. Arch your upper torso back slightly. Breathe.
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. Keep your arms strong, lift your ribcage away from the pelvis. Ground down through the back foot. If you can, bring the palms together. Keep your head in a neutral position, gaze forward and look up at your hands. Breathe, smile, enjoy.
Stay in this pose for thirty seconds and work towards holding it for 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, take a few breaths. Next, turn the feet to the left and repeat for the same length of time. When you’re finished return to Mountain Pose.
English Name: Happy Baby Pose
Sanskrit Name: Ananda Balasana
Yoga Level: 1
Benefits: Happy Baby Pose gently stretches the back, the spine and inner groin. It calms the brain and can relieve fatigue and stress.
How to do it: Lie down on your back with your legs straight. Exhale deeply and bend your knees up to your stomach. Inhale and grip the outsides of your feet with your hands. If this is difficult then you can use a yoga strap and wrap it around the middle arches of your feet. Open your knees slightly wider than your torso and bring them up towards you.
Position each ankle directly over the knee, so your shins are perpendicular to the floor. Flex through the heels. Gently push your feet up into your hands as you pull your hands down to create a resistance. There you have it, happy baby pose.
Yoga Vocabulary: Yoga Strap – A popular prop used during yoga practice to help achieve poses that are a bit out of the reach for beginners. It is often used by those who haven’t quite achieved the flexibility necessary to perform a full pose.
English Name: Corpse Pose
Sanskrit Name: Savasana
Yoga Level: 1
Benefits: Savasana is a resting pose but has the ability to relax the body and the mind. It can help relieve stress and mild depression, it can help lower blood pressure, reduce headaches, fatigue and insomnia.
How to do it: Savasana is a difficult pose for many people. It appears that you are just lying down on the mat and having a rest but the corpse pose is much more than that. It’s essential that your body should be placed in a neutral position. First, sit on your mat with your knees bent, feet on the floor and lean back onto your forearms, take your time. Life your pelvis slightly and with your hands, push the back of the pelvis towards the tail bone. Return the pelvis to the floor. Inhale. Slowly extend the right leg and then the left leg, pushing through the heels. Release both of your legs, soften the groin and see that your legs are angled evenly. Soften but don’t flatten the lower back.
If you need to, support the back of the head and neck with a folded blanket. Using your hands, lift the base of the skull away from the back of the neck and release the back of the neck down towards the tail bone. Reach your arms toward the ceiling, perpendicular to the floor. Rock slightly from side to side and broaden the back, ribs and shoulder blades away from the spine. Release the arms to the floor and turn them outwards, stretch them away from the space between the shoulder blades.
Relax. Take some deep breaths and close your eyes. It’s important to be aware in Savasana, soften the root of the tongue, the jaw, the nose, the skin of the forehead, let the eyes sink to the back of the head. Stay in the pose for at least five minutes. To get out of the pose, simply roll gently with an exhalation onto one side. Take two or three breaths before pressing your hands against the floor and lifting your torso, dragging your head slowly after. The head should always come up last.
English Name: Downward-Facing Dog
Sanskrit Name: Adho Mukha Svanasana
Yoga Level: 1
Benefits: Downward-Facing dog has many benefits, it’s a great pose to energize the body, calm the brain and relieve stress and mild depression. It can improve digestion, help prevent osteoporosis, stretch the shoulders, calves, hamstrings, arches and hands. It can also help relieve symptoms of menopause, it can also relieve menstrual discomfort when the head is supported. Downward-Facing dog can also relieve headaches, insomnia, back pain, fatigue, it is therapeutic for asthmatics and can help people with high blood pressure, flat feet, sciatica and sinusitis.
How to do it: Sit on your mat on your hands and knees. Make sure your knees are directly below your hips and your hands are slightly in front of your shoulders. Spread your palms wide, index fingers parallel or slightly turned out, and turn your toes under.
Exhale and lift your knees away from the floor. At first keep the knees slightly bent, if this is enough for you then stop there. Downward-Facing Dog is a beginner’s pose but can be difficult for those with stiff legs. If you are ready to improve on the pose then lift the heels away from your mat. Lengthen your tail bone away from the back of your pelvis. Lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling, and from your inner ankles draw the inner legs up into the groins.
Once you have achieved this, exhale. Push the top of the thighs back and stretch your heels onto or down toward the floor. Straighten your knees but be sure not to lock them, keep a slight bend or you will overstretch the muscles in the legs. Keep the head between the upper arms; don’t let it hang.
Adho Mukha Svanasana/Downward-Facing Dog is one of the poses in the traditional Sun Salutation sequence. It’s also an excellent yoga asana all on its own. Stay in this pose anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes. Then bend your knees to the floor with an exhalation and rest in Child’s Pose (see previous yoga of the day pose).
Yoga Vocabulary: Sun Salutation Sequence – A dynamic asana sequence, also known as Surya Namaskar means to bow to or to adore. Each sun salutation begins and ends with joined hands (Mudra) touched to the heart. The placement means that only the heart can know the truth.
English Name: Child’s Pose
Sanskrit Name: Balasana
Yoga Level: 1
Benefits: Child’s pose gently stretches the hips, thighs, and ankles. We don’t usually breathe into the back of the torso, so this pose allows you to do just that. Child’s pose calms the brain and helps relieve stress and fatigue, it can also relieve back and neck pain.
How to do it: Sit on your mat, get comfortable. Kneel on your mat, touch your big toes together and sit on your heels. Slowly separate your knees as wide as your mat and exhale. Lay down your torso between your thights. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of the pelvis, life the base of your skull away from the back of your neck.
Lay your hands on the floor alongside your torso, palms up, and release the fronts of your shoulders toward the floor. You should be able to feel the weight of your shoulders, pull the shoulder blades wide across your back.
Even though Child’s pose/Balasana is a resting pose it still has many benefits and can me nice when followed by any asana. Stay in child’s pose for thirty seconds, or a few minutes if you wish. Beginners should be able to do this pose but if you have a difficulty sitting your heels, you can fold a blanket and place it between your thighs and calves. To come out of the pose, lengthen the front torso, and then with an inhalation lift from the tailbone as it presses down and into the pelvis.
Yoga Vocabularly: Asana – a posture adopted in performing hatha yoga.
Variation: Extended Child’s Pose – Same pose but with extended arms in front rather than at your side.
English Name: Boat Pose
Sanskrit Name: Paripurna Navasana
Yoga Level: 1
Benefits: Strengthens the abdomen, hip flexors and spine,
stimulates the kidneys, thyroid and prostate glands and intenstines,
helps relieve stress and improves digestion.
How to do it: Start by sitting on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Place your hands on the floor behind your hips, fingers pointing toward the feet, make sure you have nice strong arms. Don’t curve your back, keep it nice and straight. Exhale deeply and bend your knees. Lift them up, make sure that your thighs are at a 45 degree angle from the floor, lengthen your tailbone. If you can, slowly straighten your knees. Raise the tips of our toes slightly above the level of your eyes.
Do what feels comfortable for you. If you can only do it with your knees bent then that’s perfectly fine. Next, stretch your arms out, parallel to your legs. Spread your shoulder blades across your back and reach out through your fingers. If you find this difficult then keep your hands on the floor beside your hips and hold onto the back of your thighs. Try to keep the lower belly relatively flat. Breathe easy.
Press the heads of the thigh bones toward the floor to help anchor the pose and lift the top of the sternum. There you have it. Boat pose. Stay in the pose for about ten to twenty seconds. Gradually increase the time that you stay in the pose and you will get stronger and better at it in time. When you are ready to leave the pose, release your legs with an exhalation and inhale as you sit upright.