Ashwa sanchalanasana

Lunge Pose stretches your legs and groin, with an emphasis on stretching the front of your thighs. This pose also lengthens your spine and helps to open your chest and hips.

Increasing the flexibility of your hips in Lunge Pose can help you sit more comfortably in poses, such as Easy Pose and Bound Angle Pose. Lunge Pose can also make performing back bends easier by increasing the flexibility in the front of your thighs. Lunge Pose is often performed as part of Sun Salutation. For information on Sun Salutation, see page 262.

To avoid rounding your lower back in Lunge Pose, make sure that you keep your back flat and your spine lengthened. Try to visualize the lengthening of your spine and the lifting of your torso as you inhale, and the sinking of your hips as you exhale.

If you feel pressure on your back knee in this pose, place a blanket under your knee to make the pose more comfortable. Always use caution performing Lunge Pose if you have knee or hip problems.

Begin in Table Pose. For information on Table Pose, see page 172.

Your left knee should be directly over your left ankle and both hips should be facing forward.

Press your fingers or palms into the floor, lift your torso upward and relax your shoulders back and down.

• Feel the stretch in the front of your right thigh and feel your right hip gently moving forward and down.

Begin in Table Pose. For information on Table Pose, see page 172.

Step your left foot forward and place your foot between your hands

Your left knee should be directly over your left ankle and both hips should be facing forward.

Press your fingers or palms into the floor, lift your torso upward and relax your shoulders back and down.

• Feel the stretch in the front of your right thigh and feel your right hip gently moving forward and down.

Tuck your tailbone under to lengthen your spine.

What should I do if my hands cannot reach the floor?

If your hands cannot reach the floor in this pose, you can place your palms on blocks to help lift your torso upward.

Can I make Lunge Pose more challenging for my legs?

To work your leg muscles more, lift your torso up and rest your palms on your front thigh. Then press your palms into your thigh to lift your torso upward. Remember to keep your shoulders relaxed back and down.

Can I use Lunge Pose to improve my balance?

While holding the pose, raise your arms above your head, with your palms facing each other. Then bring your palms together, keeping your arms stretched up toward the ceiling and your shoulders relaxed down. Point the crown of your head toward the ceiling and gaze straight ahead. This modification helps to improve your balance, open your chest and stretch your arms and shoulders.

Yoga Alignment

Elongate the back of your neck and keep your head in alignment with your spine. Your head should not drop forward toward your chest.

Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute and then return to Table Pose.

Repeat steps to 6 for your other side.

You can intensify the stretch of Lunge Pose by raising your back knee off the floor.

Perform Lunge Pose, except curl the toes of your right foot under and straighten your right leg. Then move the back of your right leg toward the ceiling as you extend your right heel toward the floor.

thread fedle pose

Thread the Needle Pose is an asymmetrical pose that stretches your shoulders and upper back. This pose is also useful for stretching your neck and arms. You may find performing this pose gives you a feeling of contentment when you are upset or distressed.

This pose is called Thread the Needle Pose because you thread one arm under the other. By threading one arm under your other arm and resting your shoulder and ear on the floor, this pose provides a gentle twist to your spine.

You can practice Thread the Needle Pose to prepare for performing inverted poses, such as Shoulderstand and Plow Pose.

If you feel pressure on your knees in this pose, you can place a folded towel or blanket under your knees to make the pose more comfortable. Make sure you use caution performing this pose if you have problems with your neck, shoulders or knees.

Begin in Table Pose. For information on Table Pose see page 172.

Place your right hand under your body, with your palm facing up.

Exhale as you slide your right arm further under your body.

Your right hand should extend past the left side of your body, between your left hand and left knee.

Begin in Table Pose. For information on Table Pose see page 172.

Place your right hand under your body, with your palm facing up.

Exhale as you slide your right arm further under your body.

Your right hand should extend past the left side of your body, between your left hand and left knee.

What should I do if my shoulder and ear do not reach the floor in this pose?

You can place a folded towel or blanket under your shoulder and head for support if you cannot reach your shoulder and ear to the floor. This modification is also useful if your shoulder and ear are uncomfortable on the floor.

How can I deepen Thread the Needle Pose?

Perform the pose as described in the steps below, except after holding the pose, inhale and stretch your left arm up toward the ceiling. Stretching your arm up helps to open your chest. You can also deepen the pose by extending your left leg on a diagonal to the side with the sole of your left foot on the floor. Then stretch your left arm up toward the ceiling. Repeat these modifications for your other side.

■*m Mr ViÀ

Lower your right shoulder and right ear to the floor.

• Make sure you keep your left arm relaxed as you rest your right arm and hand on the floor.

Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

To come out of the pose, press your left hand into the floor to lift your body up. Then return to Table Pose.

Repeat steps to 6 for your other side.

Plank Pose strengthens your arms, wrists and upper body. This pose also tones your abdominal muscles and helps to lengthen your spine. By supporting the weight of your body with your arms, this pose can strengthen your bones. Building strong bones can help prevent osteoporosis—a bone disease that causes your bones to deteriorate, becoming fragile and prone to breaks.

Plank Pose is commonly performed as part of Sun Salutation. For information on Sun Salutation, see page 262.

Make sure you do not raise your buttocks up too high or drop your pelvis or chest toward the floor. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your heels. You can tighten your abdominal muscles to help keep your body in a straight line. As you maintain this straight line, focus on lengthening your spine. You should also concentrate on moving your breath through your entire body to release any tension.

You should avoid Plank Pose if you have wrist problems, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Ashwa Sanchalanasana

Begin in Table Pose. For information on Table Pose, see page 172.

Move your hands forward approximately 6 inches.

Press your hands into the floor and then curl your toes under.

You may need to adjust the position of your hands so your body forms a straight line.

Begin in Table Pose. For information on Table Pose, see page 172.

Move your hands forward approximately 6 inches.

Press your hands into the floor and then curl your toes under.

Inhale as you straighten your legs to position yourself on your hands and feet.

You may need to adjust the position of your hands so your body forms a straight line.

Keep your wrists directly under your shoulders. Your arms should be straight, but your elbows should not be locked.

I find Plank Pose difficult to hold. What can I do?

If you find the pose too difficult to hold, you can lower your knees to the floor. With your knees on the floor, rest the top of your feet on the floor and make sure your upper body and thighs form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. This modification is especially useful if your arms are not strong enough to support your body or if your upper body is weak or injured.

How can I make Plank Pose more challenging?

To make Plank Pose more challenging, perform the pose as described in the steps below and then inhale as you lift one leg parallel to the floor. Remember to lengthen your body from the crown of your head and out through the sole of your raised foot. Hold your leg in this position for 10 to 20 seconds and then exhale as you lower your foot to the floor. Repeat this variation with your other leg raised.

Unmani Mudra

Extend your heels away from your body.

Move your shoulders down and back.

• You should keep your body straight. Do not allow your chest or pelvis to drop down or your buttocks to rise up.

Make sure you keep your head in line with your spine.

Visualize your body lengthening from the crown of your head to the soles of your feet.

Hold the pose for 10 to 20 seconds.

To come out of the pose, exhale as you bend your knees and return to Table

Pose.

After performing Plank Pose, you should perform a forward bend, such as Child's Pose, to release your spine and rest your arms.

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