Yoga Poses

Yoga Pose Of The Day: Mountain Pose

English Name: Mountain Pose

Sanskrit Name: Tadasana

Yoga Level: 1

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.

Yoga Poses

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 Poses

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 Poses

Yoga Pose Of The Day: Child’s Pose

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.