Yoga Pose Of The Day: Lotus Pose

English Name: Lotus Pose

Sanskrit Name: Padmasana

Yoga Level: 1

Benefits: Padmasana is a great pose for stimulating the pelvis, abdomen, bladder and spine. It has the ability to calm the brain, stretch the knees and ankles and can ease sciatica and menstrual discomfort. Consistent practice during pregnancy can also ease childbirth and some traditional texts say that doing Lotus Pose can destroy all disease and awaken kundalini (a shakti energy found in the base of the spine).

How to do it: Lotus pose can be quite difficult for beginners, don’t worry about looking like the picture, just do what you’re comfortable with. Start by sitting on your mat with your legs straight in front of you. Bend your right knee and bring the lower left up into a cradle. The outer edge of the foot is notched into the crook of the left elbow, the knee is wedged into the crook of the right elbow, and the hands are clasped (if possible) outside the shin. Lift the front torso toward the inner right leg so the spine lengthens (and the lower back does not round). Rock your leg back and forth a few times, exploring the full range of movement of the hip joint. Don’t push yourself too much, if you have hip pain then don’t go any further.

Next, bend the left knee and turn the leg out. Rock your right leg far out to the right, then lock the knee tight by pressing the back of the thigh to the calf. Next swing the leg across in front of your torso, swiveling from the hip and not the knee, and nestle the outside edge of the foot into the inner left groin. Make sure you bring the right knee as close to the left as possible, and press the right heel into the left lower belly.

Now lean back slightly, pick the right leg up off the floor, and lift the left leg in front of the right. To do this hold the underside of the left shin in your hands. Carefully slide the left leg over the right, snuggling the edge of the left foot deep into the right groin. Again swivel into position from the hip joint, pressing the heel against the lower belly, and arrange the sole perpendicular to the floor. Draw the knees as close together as possible. Use the edges of the feet to press the groins toward the floor and lift through the top of the sternum. If you wish, you can place the hands palms up in jnana mudra, with the thumbs and first fingers touching.

Padmasana is the sitting asana, but it’s definitely not for everybody. Beginners may need to use other variations of this position. At first, only hold the pose for a few seconds and quickly release. Remember that Padmasana is a “two-sided pose,” so be sure to work with both leg crosses each time you practice. Gradually add a few seconds each week to your pose until you can sit comfortably for a minute or so. Ideally you shouldn’t attempt this pose if you don’t know what you are doing or how to correct yourself.Yoga Vocabularly: Jnana Mudra is the most common yogic mudra used in meditation. In Sanskrit, the word ‘Jnana’ means knowledge or wisdom and ‘mudra’ means sign or gesture. It literally means the psychic gesture of Knowledge or wisdom.

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Yoga Pose Of The Day: Happy Baby 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. 

Yoga Pose Of The Day: Downward-Facing Dog

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. 

Yoga Pose Of The Day: Cat Pose

English Name: Cat Pose

Sanskrit Name: Marjaryasana

Yoga Level: 1

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.

Ideally you hold the pose for ten seconds, but do whatever you are comfortable with. Once you have succeeded with this pose you can pair it with cow pose (this will be the pose of the day tomorrow). When you pair cat pose with cow  pose you can create a gentle and flowling vinyasa.Yoga Vocabularly: Vinyasa – movement between poses in yoga, typically accompanied by regulated breathing.