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.
Benefits: Tree pose is great for improving balance, strengthening thighs, ankles, calves and the spine. It stretches the groins and inner thighs, shoulders and chest. It can also relieve sciatica and reduce flat feet.
How to do it: Begin by standing in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Shift your weight slightly onto the left foot, keep the right foot firmly on the floor and bend your right knee. Use your right hand and clasp your right ankle. If you lose your balance don’t worry, try again.
Draw your right foot up and place the sole against the inner left thigh, if possible, press the right heel into the inner left groin, toes pointing toward the floor. Make sure the pelvis is in a neutral position. Lengthen your tailbone. Breathe. Firmly press the right foot sole against the inner thigh and resist with the outer left leg. Press your hands together in Anjali Mudra. Gaze softly at a fixed point in front of you to help with your balance.
Stay in tree pose for thirty seconds and work towards holding it for one minute. Step back to Tadasana (Mountain Pose) with an exhalation and repeat for the same length of time with the legs reversed.
Yoga Vocabularly: Anjali Mudra is a hand gesture which is practiced in yoga. It is used as a sign of respect and a greeting in India, Sri Lanka and other parts of Asia. The gesture is incorporated into many yoga asanas. The meaning of Anjali Mudra is Salutation Seal. It has the same meaning as the Sankrit phrase Namaste.
Benefits: Tadasana is a standing pose, it can improve posture, strengthen thighs, knees and ankles, reduce flat feet, it can firm the abdomen and buttocks and can relieve sciatica.
How to do it: Mountain Pose seems like an easy pose but there is definitely more to it. Start by standing in the middle of your mat, or at the end, which ever you prefer. Stand with the bases of your big toes touching and have your heels apart slightly, so that your second toes are parallel. Spread your toes and the balls of your feet, place them softly on the mat.
Rock back and forth and side to side and gradually reduce the swaying until you are standing still. Make sure that your weight is evenly distrubuted through your feet. Firm your thigh muscles and lift the knee caps. Lift the inner ankles to strengthen the inner arches of the feet. Imagine a line of energy starting at your feet and going all the way up to the crown of your head. Breathe. Lengthen your tailbone towards the floor.
Press your shoulder blades into your back, widen them and release them down your back. Inhale deeply. Lift the top of your sternum towards the ceiling. Exhale deeply. Soften the throat, the jaw, the tongue, your eyes. Enjoy the pose. Feel the earth beneath your feet and stand strong. Hold this pose for thirty seconds to a minute and breathe easy. Tadasana is the starting position for all standing poses but it is useful to practice this pose on its own as it improves balance which is required for other asanas in yoga practice.
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.
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.
Benefits: Stretches the front torso and neck and provides a gentle massage to the stomach and spine.
How to do it: Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Remember, you previously started Cat Pose this way. Again, make sure your knees are set directly below your hips and your wrists, elbows and shoulders are in line and perpendicular to the floor. Relax your head and look at the floor.
Ready? Okay, as you inhale, lift your sitting bones and chest towards the ceiling, allow your belly to sink toward the floor. Lift your head to look straight forward. Smile. Cow pose is great for opening up the chest and releasing all of the tension that might be there. Okay, now exhale. Come back to the neutral, tabletop position on your hands and knees. Repeat this ten to twenty times, you can do it!
This pose is often paired with Cat Pose (the previous yoga pose of the day).
Benefits: Stretches the back of torso and neck, provides a gentle massage to the stomach and spine.
How to do it: Start on your hands and knees, relax your neck. This is called tabletop position. It’s important that your knees are set directly below your hips and your elbows, wrists and shoulders are in line and perpendicular to the floor. Relax your head and look down.
Take a moment to feel the earth beneath you, make sure you feel sturdy and then exhale. Round your spine towards the ceiling, make sure you keep your shoulders and knees in the same position. Release your head toward the floor, but be careful not to force your chin to your chest. Once you have done this, you then take a deep breath in, coming back to the neutral tabletop position.