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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.

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.

Surya Namaskaar (Sun salutation)

  SURYA NAMASKAR is a complete Sadhana (spiritual practice) in itself for it includes asana, pranayama, mantra and meditation techniques.  In English we know the practice as Sun Salutation; which is the literal translation of the Indian (Sanskrit language) term. It is interesting to learn that the Sanskrit word ‘Surya’ (meaning the Sun) – literally translates into ‘Beautiful Light‘. This is an indication that Surya Namaskar is at once an energizing practice. In the ancient times; people would practice Surya Namaskaar at sunrise; the practice would be done facing up to the sun. The Yogis of yore refined the practice into something resembling the modern day practice with a sequence of 12 postures. For the Yogis; it became a staple practice to loosen the limbs in the mornings, and also as a preparation and warm-up for the other Asanas and Pranayam practices they would undertake. In fact the various postures in Surya Namaskaar helped in energizing each of the 7 Chakras (energy centers) in the human body. How to practice Surya-Namaskaar? The practice involves 12 poses – alternately stretching the Spine backwards and forwards; and with alternate Inhale and Exhale instructions. Also, each posture has a chant associated with it - these are all different Sanskrit names of the Sun. Pranamasana   Position 1--Pranamasana (prayer pose)  "Om Mitraya Namah"  Keep the eyes closed and remain standing upright with the feet together and palms together in front of your    chest in namaskara mudra.  Mentally offering homage to the sun, the source of energy.  Relax the whole body.  Benefits: This pose establishes a state of concentration and calmness in preparation of the practice to  be performed. Hasta Uttanasana   Position 2--Hasta Utthanasana (raised arms pose) "Om Ravaye Namah"  Raise [...]

Ushtrasana (camel pose)

Begin in the kneeling position with hand on the buttock, fingers pointing downward. Toes can be curled (if you are feeling unstable or muscles feel tight) or flat (if you are familiar with ushtrasana and feel comfortable in this asana) One hand at a time, take the hands back to the heels. Once you have a firm grip on the heels, push the hips forward and drop the head all the way back, relaxing the neck. Stay for a few breaths. Slowly relesae the hands one by one and rest in sharnagat mudra How it helps: Camel pose applies a good stretch to the whole chest and the abdomen while at the same time giving a massage to the internal organs. As a result, it is useful in removing many of the abdominal ailments associated with the kidneys, pancreas, liver and the intestines. It expands the ribcage and the associated muscles get more flexible. As a result, deeper breathing becomes easier.The spine gets a great backbend, loosening up the vertebras and stimulating the spinal nerves. It corrects stooping shoulders. Good for general relief of back and neck ache. It is a great way to introduce your body to backbends, working toward more difficult postures with ushtrasana as a jumping off point. How do you track your progress in yoga? By Manish Pole and Catherine Juliano