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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.

Padma Mayurasana

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How to do Padma Mauryasana? Sit in padmasana. Come up to stand on the knees, place palms flat on the ground in front of you with fingers facing backwards towards knees. Bend the elbows and bring them closer together. Lean forward and place each elbow on the either sides of the abdomen. Lean forward further and slowly rest your chest on the upper arms and transfer the body weight on to the arms. Once comfortable lean further and lift the folded legs off the floor. Balance in this position for as long as comfortable.   Practice note : Padma mayurasana is easier to practice than mayurasana especially for women.

Ashtavakrasana

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Mythical reference: In Indian mythology this asana is dedicated to Sage Ashtavakra, the spiritual precipitator of King Janaka of Mithila. He was born with eight deformities, hence the name Ashtavakra. In Sanskrti ashta means 'eight' and vakra 'deformities'. How to do Ashtavakrasana? 1.     Stand with your feet about a metre apart. 2.     Bend your knees, place the right hand between the feet and the left hand just in front of your left foot. 3.     Lift your right leg and place the thigh on your right upper arm just above the elbow. 4.     Place the left foot between your arms bringing it closer to the right foot. 5.     Lift both legs for the floor and interlock them by placing the left foot on the right ankle 6.     Stretch both your legs to the right side. 7.     Ensure that the right arm is between the legs and the right upper arm straight. 8.     Balance on the arms. 9.     Bend your elbows; lower the trunk and head, so that they are parallel to the floor. 10.  Stay in the final posture for as long as is comfortable. 11.  To release, slowly straighten the arms and raise the trunk. Unlock the legs and lower them to the floor. 12.  Return to the starting posture. 13.  Repeat on the opposite side. Counter-Indications: This posture must be attempted only once the shoulders and arms have become very strong. If you have high blood pressure, heart ailments, back or hip problems please do not attempt this asana.   - Komal Jyoti

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 [...]

Gomukhasana (face of a cow pose)

Sit down with legs stretched out. Cross your legs with the right knee directly above the left knee. Bring the left arm up towards the ceiling, Bend the left elbow, bringing the left hand down the center of the back. Bring the right arm out to the right side, bend the elbow and bring the right arm up the center of the back. Hold hands behind the back. Draw the pinky finger toward the center of the spine. Hold this posture for 30 seconds. Relax the arms. Repeat on the other side. How it helps: Relieves backache, sciatica, rheumatism and general stiffness in the shoulders and neck. It is great for improving posture by increasing energy, awareness and generally opening the chest area. A great stretch for surfers, climbers, kayakers or tennis players. - By Manish Pole and Catherine Juliano  

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

Dwi Hasta Bhujasana (two hands and arms pose)

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How to do Dwi Hasta Bhujasana Squat with feet about 45 cm apart. Place both palms flat on the floor between the feet. Focus on a fixed point Begin transferring your weight onto the arms beginning with the right side. Take the left foot off the floor and wrap it around the left arm. The thigh should be resting on the upper arm. Maintain the balance. Transfer the weight of the body back onto both amrs and lift the right leg onto the upper arm above the elbow. The whole body should be supported by the hands. Hold the position for as long as is comfortable. Slowly reverse the order of movements to finish the asana. How it helps Dwi hasta bhujasana is great at strengthening the muscles in the arms and increasing the flexibility of the shoulders and the lower back. The visceral organs are gently massaged as the legs press against the abdomen. Its a great asana to practice when you are trying to understand the importance of the core in arm balances. You learn how to shift your weight slowly by lifting from your core to take some weight off the arms. With regular practice of this asana all other arm balances will become simple and enjoyable! 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 [...]

Setu asana (bridge pose)

  How to do Setu asana  Sit with the legs stretched forward. Place the palms on either side of the body, just behind the buttocks. Raise the buttocks and lift the whole body upward. Let the head and neck relax. Try to place the soles of the feet on the ground, arms and legs should be strait. Hold the final position for as long as is possible then sowly lower back down to the starting position. How it helps Setu asana is great for strengthening the wrists, arms, back, shoulders and abdomen. It also tones the lumbar region and the Achilles tendon. It is a good preliminary practice to chakrasana.