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Hamstrings

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Ek Pada Uttanasana

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How to do Ek pada uttanasana? Standing straight; raise your left leg upwards. Lean forward and grab hold of your leg, keeping your knee straight. Standing straight, hold your leg in front of you. Hold for 30sec- 1min. Then repeat on the other side.  

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.

Paschimottanasana

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Asana Description: This forward bend asana rejuvenates the spine and tones the abdominal organs and gets rid of sluggishness. Paschima means west or back of the body and uttana intense stretch or extension and asana posture or pose. How to do Paschimottasana? Sit with the legs out stretched with the feet together. Place the hands on the knees. Relax your body in this posture. This is the starting posture. Slowly bend from your hip, slide your hands down your legs and grasp your big toes between your thumbs and fingers. If this is not possible you may hold your heels, ankles calves or knees. Hold this position and relax your back and legs allowing them to gently stretch. Without bending your knees gently pull your torso towards your legs. Pull using the arm muscles, do not strain the back. Try to touch your head to the knee. Be careful not to strain. This is the final posture. Hold in this posture for as long as comfortable. Counter-Indications: People suffering from back problems, slip-disc, sciatica, hernia should not practice paschimottanasana.

Janusirsasana

Asana Description: Janusirsasana quite literally means head to knee pose. In Sanskrit ‘janu’ means knee, sirsha means head and asana pose or posture. Janusirsasana is a forward bending posture that strengthens and stretches the shoulders, spine, groins and hamstrings while simultaneously stimulating the livers and kidneys. It is beneficial for people suffering from high bloods pressure, insomnia and sinusitis and also helps relieve menopausal symptoms, menstrual discomfort, stress & anxiety. How to do Janusirsasana? Sit with the legs out stretched with the feet together. Bend the left leg and place the heel of the foot at the perineum and allow the sole of the foot to rest against right inner thigh. Keep your spine stretched and back muscles relaxed. Slowly bend forward sliding your hands down your right leg and try to hold your right foot. If possible hold your right foot with both your hands. Try to touch your forehead on the right knee. This is the final position. Stay in this posture for as long as is comfortable. Slowly sit up and straighten the left leg. Return to the starting posture and rest the hands on the knees. Change sides and repeat with the right leg bent and left leg straight. Practice up to 5 times each side. Counter-Indications: People suffering from back problems, slip-disc, sciatica, hernia should not practice this asana.

Ardha Padma Merudandasana (Half lotus spinal column pose)

Before attempting this pose you should be comfortable with both padmasana and merudandasana. How to do ardha padma merudandasana: - Sit with legs strait in front of the body. - Slowly bend the right leg and grasp the top of the foot, placing it on top of the left thigh. The sole should face upward and the heel should be close to the pubic bone. - Bend the left leg and place the sole of the foot on the floor. - Interlock all ten finger and place the hands just below the ball of the left foot. - Straiten the spine and tighten the core to help you balance. - Lean slightly back onto the coccyx and, once the body is balanced, begin to straiten the left leg. Push the heel forward and pull the toes in toward the face. - Slowly return to the starting position and perform on the other side. How it helps: Ardha padma merudandasana is great for digestion. The heel of the right foot massages the internal abdominal organs. It helps to stimulate peristalsis, alleviating constipation. It strengthens the muscles of the back and helps to realign the spine.

Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)

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Ardha Chandrasana can be performed on its own or as part of chandra namaskar, also known as salutations to the moon. The twelve positions of surya namaskar relate to the twelve solar phases of the year, the fourteen positions of chandra namaskar relate to the fourteen lunar phases, ardha chandrasana being the additional pose in the sequence. The mantra for ardha chandrasana is Om Vahnivasinyai Namaha, salutations to the one who resides in fire. How to do Ardha Chandrasana: - Begin in a lunge position, making sure that the knee is directly over the ankle and finger tips and toes are in one line.   - Tuck the back toes so the weight is on the ball of the foot. - Maintain balance here and raise the hands, stretching both arms over head. - Arch the back and look up, raising the chin. - There should be a gentle curve from the tips of the fingers to the tips of the toes, resembling  a crescent moon. - Hold the pose and breathe deeply. Lower the arms and place the hands on either side of the foot, change the legs and repeat on the other side. How it helps: Ardha chandrasana is great for opening up the shoulders and the hips. Its gives a stretch to the quadriceps and hip flexer as well as manipura chakra, stimulating digestive fire.

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