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Dancing Natrajasana

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Natraja is one of the names given to lord Shiva, when he appears as a cosmic dancer. Nata meaning "dancer", Raja meaning "king”. How to do Natrajasana? Stand erect with the feet together. Transfer weight to the left leg and bend the right leg to hold the big toe with right hand. As you bend the right knee swivel your shoulder to bring the elbow to face the ceiling, allowing the foot to come near the head. The other hand is stretched out forward, with fingers in jnana mudra. Gaze at the outstretched hand. Stay in this posture as long as comfortable. Come back to stand. Relax. Repeat on the other side. Benefits: This asana is great for strengthening back, shoulders, arms, hips and legs. And for developing a sense of balance, concentration and grace.

Padahastasana (hands-to-feet forward bend)

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Padahastasana is one of the most important Yoga forward bending asanas. It is repeated twice in each Surya Namaskaar round as well. How to do it? 1. Stand upright with a very slight gap in between your feet and inhale. 2. Exhale and Bend forward from the hips until your palms or fingers touch the floor on either side of the feet , without bending your knees. 3. Bring the forehead as close to knees as you can. 4. Hold this pose for 30sec to 1 min with steady and calm breathing. 5. Inhale and stand upright again. Contra-indications: People suffering from back conditions should not bend forward fully. they can bend from the hips keeping the back straight making a 90 degree angle with the legs.   - Ruchi Renavikar

Trikonasana (Triangle pose)

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It stimulates the nervous system and alleviates nervous depression. It improves digestion and increases strength and flexibilty. How to do it? 1. Stand erect with the gap between your feet more than the shoulder width and turn the right foot outwards. 2. Inhale and Raise your arms to shoulder level 3. Keeping your arms straight Exhale and bend to the right side. Simultaneously slightly bend your right knee. 4. Place your right hand on the right foot , while your left hand is straight and pointing vertically upwards. 5. Look up at your left hand and hold this posture for 30sec to 1 min with steady breathing. 6. Return to the upright position with arms in a straight line and repeat the same on the left side. 7. This completes one round. Repeat it 3 times. Contra-indications: Should not be performed without guidance by those suffering from back conditions. Benefits: Affects the muscles of the side trunk , waist and back of the leg. Strengthens pelvic area and tones reproductive organs. Regular practice helps to reduce waistline fat.   - Ruchi Renavikar

Natrajasana

Natrajasana (Lord Natraj’s pose) is one of the classic Yogasanas, and it helps you to develop the strength in your thighs. Most of you will be familiar with this posture, as it is similar to the dance postures in Indian traditional dances like Bharatnatyam! Apart from strength of the lower body, Natrajasana promotes balance of the body and a feeling of stability and determination in the mind. This Yogasana is highly beneficial to those trying to lose weight! The most important muscles to work on if you are trying to lose weight are the bigger muscles of the body, such as the thighs. When these muscles are worked out and broken down, the muscles require adipose tissue from the body to re-build themselves. This adipose (fat) is usually found in the person’s abdominal area – in this way Natrajasana helps in maintaining a lean body. How to do Natrajasana? Stand with feet wider then shoulder width apart Exhale and start bending your knees till you can lower your hips almost such that the thighs are paralell to the floor. Join your palms together and raise your outstretched hands over your head. Try to lengthen the spine as much as possible by tucking the tailbone under. Hold this posture for 30secs – 1min, while breathing normally. Then return to the start posture and relax your legs. Contra-Indications: If you have damaged your knees or ankles through an accident or through arthritis, avoid this asana as the joints will be strained when they have to support the load of the body. Modifications: If you are unable to do the pose initially, then you can do the same by placing your palms against a wall or [...]

Utkatasana (chair pose)

This Yogasana tones the thighs tremendously, making the legs stronger and helping to improve the balance and gait of the person, as also contributing towards weight loss. While the quadriceps are one of the largest muscles in the body, they can also be the laziest, so it is vital that we condition the body to utilize these colosal muscles! The word ‘Utkat’ refers to ‘strong’ or ‘firm’. The posture is called ‘invisible chair’ in modern exercise systems. After practicing for a few days, a fitter persons can combine Utkatasana with squats to achieve even better results in toning and weight loss. How to do Utkatasana? From a basic standing posture, open your legs so that the feet are shoulder width apart. Exhale and start bending your knees till you can lower your hips almost to be in a sitting position, with thighs parallel to the floor. Join your palms together and raise your outstretched hands over your head. Hold this posture for 15secs – 1min, while breathing normally. Then return to the start posture and relax your legs. Contra-Indications: If you have damaged your knees or ankles through an accident or through arthritis, avoid this asana as the joints will be strained when they have to support the load of the body. Modifications: If you are unable to do the pose initially, then you can do the same by placing your palms against a wall or on a table for support. As the legs strengthen you won’t need the support. By Manish Pole & Catherine Juliano  

Tadasana (palm tree pose)

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Stand with feet shoulder width apart Raise the hands above the head and interlock fingers, pressing the palms toward the ceiling, elbows stretched completely. Begin to feel a lengthening of the spine. Lift and ribcage and raise the heels, coming onto the toes. Stay in this pose for up to one minute, or as long as is comfortable. How it helps: Tadasana can be incorporated into your daily routine. It improves the overall posture of the body as it lengthens the spine. Helps tone the muscles of the legs, specifically the calves. Creates space throughout the whole body, opening up the respiratory and digestive systems. Also helps to correct flat feet! Find the strength of a mountain in this simple posture. It invokes a sense of clarity, sturdiness and confidence in the body. “It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.” -Bruce Lee By Manish Pole and Catherine Juliano

Garudasana (eagle pose)

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Begin in the standing position and fix your gaze at one point. This will help you to focus and stay balance throughout the asana practice. Bend the right leg and twist it around the left leg. The top of the right foot should rest on the calf muscle. Bend the elbows and bring them in front of the chest, wrapping the forearms around one another with the left elbow below (an anagram!) Place the palms together to resemble and eagles beak. Balance in this position for some time, Be sure to keep the knees bent and elbows lifted so they stay aligned with the shoulders. Release the arms and the legs and repeat on the other side. How it helps Garudasana is great for improving balance and focus. It helps to strengthen the legs and the ankles and loosens the joints of the shoulders and the muscles in the arms and the legs. It is a good stretch for the upper back. By Manish Pole and Catherine Juliano

Parvatasana (mountain pose)

Parvatasana or mountain pose gets its name because the body takes the shape of a mountain peak. This beautiful asana, done here by Neetu Singh, can be held for a long time, allowing the body to open up as you breath. It is also a great asana to help track your progress throughout your yoga practice. It is one of the postures in surya namaskar which should be practiced everyday with rising sun. Take some time in parvatasana each morning and see how your body adjusts to the posture day by day. Are your heels coming close to or touching the floor? Are you lengthening the legs as much as possible? Are you relaxing your shoulders? Can you feel each vertebrae slowly stretching more and more each time you practice? Because you are so grounded in this asana the body is flooded with awareness. Even if you like moving swiftly through sun salutations, take time in the first two round to hang out in each posture, slow the breathing down and feel each part of the body coming to life. How to do Parvatasana Begin on hands and knees. Keeps the hands in the same place throughout the practice. Lift the knees and push the heels back toward the ground. The legs and the arms should be strait. Bring the head and shoulders in the direction of the knees. Keep the shoulders relaxed the whole time, allowing the body weight to be lifted from the hips. Push back with your legs beginning from the heels and moving up towards the hips, finally giving a stretch to the spine as the tail bone lengthens. Stay for as long as is comfortable. How it helps [...]

Vrikshasana (Tree pose)

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How to do Vrikshasana Stand upright with feet together. Focus the gaze on a fixed point in front of the body. Bend the right leg, grasp the ankle and place the sole of the foot on the inside of the left thigh. The heel should be close to the perineum. When the body is balanced place the hands in front of the chest in prayer position. Balance on one leg for as long as is comfortable, don’t move your eyes from your point of focus! Release the hands and then the foot, slowly. Come back to the starting position and practice on the other side. How it helps It strengthens the foot, ankle and leg muscles. It a simple balance posture which can be used to improve the balance for everyday life and eventually, more difficult balancing asanas. It helps promote focus and concentration.

Veerabhadrasana 1 (Warrior 1)

Veerabhadrasana is named after the mythological warrior-hero ‘Veerabhadra’, created in Shiva’s warath to avenge his consort, Sati. Veerabhadrasana is a wonderful Yoga posture that helps the practitioner develop his/ her strength, flexibility and balance. The posture is highly beneficial to tone the legs, to lose weight and to stretch the upper body and torso. Apart from the benefits that are inherent for the lower body, this asana stretches the solar plexus causing the person to overcome sleep and drowsiness. So it’s a great asana to incorporate in your morning yoga routine. How to do Veerabhadrasana? From a basic standing posture, open your legs outwards so that the feet are wide apart. Turn your right foot sideways so that the toes point outwards towards the front of your mat. Left foot remains parallell to the back of the mat. Slowly start bending your right knee till you can lower your hips, trying to bring the right thigh parallel to the floor. Join your palms together and raise your outstretched hands over your head. Stretch your torso and reach upwards, arching your upper body backwards. Hold this posture for 15secs – 1min, while breathing normally. Then return to the start posture and relax your legs. Then repeat on the other leg. How does the warrior mindset help you in your practice? “Who is the happy warrior? Who is he that every man in arms should wish to be? It is the generous spirit, who, when brought among the tasks of real life, hath wrought upon the plan that pleased his boyish thought. Whose high endeavors are an inward light that makes the path before him bright. Who, with a natural instinct to discern what knowledge can [...]