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Seated Boat Pose strengthens your abdominals, lower back and hips, while stretching the back of your legs. Strengthening your abdominal muscles can help protect your lower back and spine. This pose is also beneficial for improving your balance.

In Seated Boat Pose, your legs should be together or only slightly apart. Try to keep your back flat and your spine straight as you straighten your legs. Do not round your lower back or cave in your chest to keep your legs straight. You should also focus on keeping your shoulders back and down. To ensure you are in the correct position, visualize your body forming a V shape.

Use caution performing Seated Boat Pose if you have injured your abdominals, hips or tailbone. Since this is a stimulating pose, you may want to avoid the pose if you have a heart condition or insomnia.

Jmodera

Begin in Staff Pose. For information on Staff Pose, see page 72.

Lift your chest toward the ceiling as you lean back slightly. Make sure your back remains flat.

Bend your knees and place your feet together, flat on the floor. Your thighs should be at a 45-degree angle with the floor.

Lift your feet one or two inches off the floor, keeping your feet together or slightly apart.

Begin in Staff Pose. For information on Staff Pose, see page 72.

Place your hands on the floor slightly behind your hips, fingers pointing toward your feet.

Lift your chest toward the ceiling as you lean back slightly. Make sure your back remains flat.

Bend your knees and place your feet together, flat on the floor. Your thighs should be at a 45-degree angle with the floor.

Lift your feet one or two inches off the floor, keeping your feet together or slightly apart.

Balance on your tailbone and hips.

How can I make Seated Boat Pose easier?

To make the pose easier, bend your knees so that your shins are parallel to the floor. You can also try moving into the pose by straightening one leg at a time.

How can I stretch my inner thighs in Seated Boat Pose?

Perform the pose as described below, except separate your legs until they form a V shape. Make sure you can maintain your balance and keep your back flat as you separate your legs.

Can I use a strap to help straighten my legs in Seated Boat Pose?

Yes. With your knees bent, loop a strap around the soles of your feet and grip an end of the strap in each hand. Inhale and lean your torso back and then straighten your legs as you push your feet against the strap. Keep the strap taut, but do not pull on the strap.

Inhale and slowly straighten your legs until the tips of your toes are slightly above your eye level.

Bring your arms forward at shoulder height, parallel to the floor with your palms facing in.

Relax your shoulders down away from your ears.

• If you cannot keep your balance, you can leave your hands on the floor behind your hips.

Tip your chin slightly toward your chest to lengthen the back of your neck.

Hold the pose for 10 seconds to 1 minute and then exhale as you lower your legs to the floor. Then return to Staff Pose.

After performing Seated Boat Pose, you should perform Seated Forward Bend to relieve your lower back. For information on Seated Forward Bend, see page 100.

thunderbgS

(vajrasana)

Thunderbolt Pose is a simple seated pose that stretches your thighs, knees, ankles and feet. This pose also helps improve your seated posture. Thunderbolt Pose is considered one of the safer seated poses for people with back problems.

You may find this pose useful for meditation because you can easily keep your spine straight and your upper body relaxed. Thunderbolt Pose is a great alternative to Lotus Pose for meditation, especially if you find Lotus Pose too intense.

You can place a folded blanket under your hips if your knees feel strained or you find it difficult to sit on your heels due to tightness in your thighs. If you find kneeling on the floor uncomfortable, you can kneel on a folded blanket to pad your knees, shins and the top of your feet. Only remain in the pose for as long as you feel comfortable.

Make sure you avoid the pose if you have an injury to your knees or ankles.

Kneel on the floor with your knees hip width apart and the top of your feet flat on the floor.

Place your hands on top of your thighs close to your knees, with your palms facing down.

Kneel on the floor with your knees hip width apart and the top of your feet flat on the floor.

Exhale as you sit back onto your heels.

Place your hands on top of your thighs close to your knees, with your palms facing down.

Relax your shoulders and upper body, but keep your spine straight and tall.

Point the crown of your head toward the ceiling and gaze straight ahead.

Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

• After performing Thunderbolt Pose, you should shake out your legs to help relieve your knees, ankles and feet.

How can I stretch my feet more in Thunderbolt Pose?

Perform the pose as described in the steps below, except curl your toes under to rest the balls of your feet on the floor.

How can I even out the pressure on my feet in this pose?

You may feel more pressure on the inner top of your feet in this pose. To even out the pressure between the inner and outer top of your feet, gently press the outer edges of your feet toward the floor.

How can I modify Thunderbolt Pose to help relieve tension in my face?

You can perform Lion Pose to stretch your face and neck as you perform Thunderbolt Pose. To perform Lion Pose, open your mouth wide and stick your tongue out toward your chin and then exhale as you say "Haaaa." You should be careful performing Lion Pose if you have an injury to your face, neck or tongue.

MODIFICATION 2

If you feel any discomfort in your knees or you cannot sit on your heels, place a cushion or folded blanket between your hips and heels.

You can stretch your arms and hands while performing Thunderbolt

Pose.

Perform Thunderbolt Pose, except raise both arms to shoulder height in front of you.

2 Interlace your fingers and rotate your wrists so your palms face forward. Inhale as you raise your arms to face your palms toward the ceiling.

(virasana)

Hero Pose increases the flexibility of your legs by providing a deep stretch to your knees, ankles and the top of your thighs and feet. This pose is often used in breathing practices and meditation. The name of the pose comes from the Sanskrit word vira, which means hero or warrior.

When you first start practicing Hero Pose, you may find that you cannot sit on the floor between your feet. If you cannot sit on the floor, you can sit on a prop, such as a block or folded blanket. You can gradually lower the height of the prop when you feel less pressure on your knees and a less intense stretch in your thighs. It may take several weeks of practice before you can sit on the floor between your feet. Never strain your knees in an attempt to sit on the floor.

You should avoid performing Hero Pose if you have a knee or ankle injury.

Kneel on the floor with your knees hip width apart and your thighs parallel.

Move your feet a little more than hip width apart, keeping the top of your feet flat on the floor.

Exhale as you sit on the floor between your feet.

If you feel any discomfort in your knees or you cannot sit on the floor, place a prop, such as a block, thick book or folded blanket, between your feet and sit on the prop.

Kneel on the floor with your knees hip width apart and your thighs parallel.

Move your feet a little more than hip width apart, keeping the top of your feet flat on the floor.

Lean forward and then use your hands to turn the fleshy part of your calves outward.

Exhale as you sit on the floor between your feet.

If you feel any discomfort in your knees or you cannot sit on the floor, place a prop, such as a block, thick book or folded blanket, between your feet and sit on the prop.

How can I stretch my upper body in Hero Pose?

Interlace your fingers and then extend your arms forward, parallel to the floor. Turn your palms away from your torso so your thumbs are pointing toward the floor. Inhale as you raise your arms above your head until your palms are facing the ceiling. Be sure to keep your neck long and your shoulders relaxed. Stretching your upper body in Hero Pose can help reduce stiffness in your neck and shoulders and open your chest, increasing your ability to take deeper breaths.

The top of my feet hurt when I perform Hero Pose. What can I do?

If the top of your feet hurt while performing Hero Pose, you can place a folded towel or blanket under your feet. Placing a folded towel or blanket under your feet can also help reduce any strain you may be experiencing in your knees.

Place your hands on the top of your thighs close to your knees, with your palms facing down.

Relax your shoulders and upper body, keeping your spine straight and tall.

Point the crown of your head toward the ceiling and gaze straight ahead.

Visualize yourself as a warrior sitting tall and proud.

Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

• After performing Hero Pose, you should shake out your legs to help relieve your knees, ankles and feet.

Chapter 5

Seated forward bends are good for stretching your lower back and often your hamstrings. You may also find that seated forward bends produce a calming effect on your body and mind. Seated forward bends are especially beneficial when performed after back bends, twists and side bends because forward bends release your lower back and return your spine to a neutral position. In this chapter, you will learn how to perform a number of seated forward bends.

Seated Forward ends

In this Chapter...

Easy Pose Forward Bend Bound Angle Forward Bend Head to Knee Pose Seated Forward Bend Seated Wide Angle Forward Bend Seated Yoga Mudra Pose Child's Pose

Easy Pose Forward Bend provides a good stretch to your groin and inner thighs, while strengthening your back. This pose also develops flexibility in your hips and knees, as well as stimulating your abdominal organs, which can help aid digestion. Performing this pose can also soothe your nervous system, which helps clear and calm your mind.

As you bend forward in this pose, you should focus on lowering your abdomen and chest, rather than your forehead. Keep in mind that lengthening your spine is more important than trying to bend forward as far as possible. After performing Easy Pose Forward Bend, you should shake out your legs to help relieve your knees and ankles.

If your hips are stiff or your knees feel strained in this pose, sitting on thickly folded blankets may make the pose more comfortable. Sitting on blankets can also help prevent your lower back from rounding.

Make sure you use caution performing this pose if you have problems with your knees, hips, lower back or spine.

nVERY EASY

Begin in Easy Pose. For information on Easy Pose, see page 74.

Press your sitting bones into the floor and point the crown of your head toward the ceiling to lengthen your spine.

Place your palms on the floor in front of you.

Spread your fingers out, with your middle fingers pointing forward.

5 Exhale as you bend forward from your hips and slide your hands forward along the floor.

Keep your back straight as long as possible and then relax your shoulders and head forward.

Hold the pose for 15 to 30 seconds and then inhale as you slowly curl up to return to Easy Pose.

Repeat steps to 7 placing the opposite leg on top in step 1.

bound an forward b

Bound Angle Forward Bend provides a great stretch to your groin and inner thighs, while strengthening your back. This pose also stimulates your abdominals and helps to develop flexibility in your hips, knees, ankles and feet.

If you are feeling anxious, fatigued or mildly depressed, you can perform this pose to help soothe your nervous system and clear your mind.

You should focus on lowering your abdomen and chest, rather than your forehead, as you bend forward in this pose. Keep in mind that maintaining length in

your spine is more important than trying to bend forward as far as possible.

Allow your knees to drop toward the floor in this pose, but make sure you do not force your knees down. If your knees are high up off the floor, move your feet further away from your groin or place rolled up blankets under your knees for support.

Use caution performing Bound Angle Forward Bend if you have problems with your spine, lower back, hips, groin or knees.

Begin in Bound Angle Pose. For information on Bound Angle Pose, see page 76.

Press your sitting bones into the floor and point the crown of your head toward the ceiling to lengthen your spine.

Exhale as you bend forward from your hips.

• Allow your forearms to move in front of your shins.

Begin in Bound Angle Pose. For information on Bound Angle Pose, see page 76.

Press your sitting bones into the floor and point the crown of your head toward the ceiling to lengthen your spine.

Clasp your ankles or toes with your hands.

Exhale as you bend forward from your hips.

As you bend forward, keep your back straight as long as possible and then relax your shoulders and head forward.

• Allow your forearms to move in front of your shins.

Hold the pose for 15 to 30 seconds and then inhale as you slowly curl up to return to Bound Angle Pose.

headkfo ee pose

(janu sirsasana)

Head to Knee Pose provides an intense stretch to the back of your legs, particularly your straight leg. This pose also stretches the back of your waist and lengthens your spine.

Although this pose is called Head to Knee Pose, you should focus on lowering your abdomen toward your thigh instead of trying to reach your head down to your knee. You should also focus on keeping your sitting bones in even contact with the floor as you drop your bent knee toward the floor. If your bent knee is high up off the floor, you can move your foot further away from your groin.

When you first start practicing this pose, you may find you cannot bend very far forward. Keep in mind that maintaining a straight and lengthened spine is more important than bending forward as far as possible. If necessary, you can use a strap around the foot of your straight leg for support as you bend forward.

Avoid performing this pose if you have slipped discs in your back or knee or back problems.

Begin in Staff Pose. For information on Staff Pose, see page 72.

• Your right foot should be flexed, with your toes pointing toward the ceiling.

Exhale as you bend forward from your hips over your right leg. Then clasp the sides of your right leg or foot.

• Keep your head, neck and spine in a straight line.

Begin in Staff Pose. For information on Staff Pose, see page 72.

Bend your left leg and place the sole of your left foot against the inside of your right thigh. Let your left knee drop toward the floor.

• Your right foot should be flexed, with your toes pointing toward the ceiling.

Inhale as you raise your arms above your head, with your palms facing each other.

Exhale as you bend forward from your hips over your right leg. Then clasp the sides of your right leg or foot.

Drop your pelvis forward and down to lengthen your spine.

• Keep your head, neck and spine in a straight line.

Press forward through the heel of your right foot and the crown of your head as you press back through your sitting bones.

How can I make Head to Knee Pose easier?

You can place your palms on the floor on either side of your straight leg. This modification reduces the strain in the back of your straight leg and also helps keep your head, neck and spine in a straight line as you bend forward. If you still feel a lot of tension or discomfort in the back of your straight leg, you can bend the knee of your straight leg slightly. As you gain more flexibility, straighten your leg a little more each time you perform the pose.

How can I prevent my lower back from rounding in Head to Knee Pose?

Sitting on a cushion or folded blankets can help prevent your lower back from rounding in this pose. This modification also supports your pelvis and helps to relieve tension in your lower back and the back of your straight leg.

Hold the pose for 15 to 30 seconds, releasing further into the pose with each exhalation. Then return to Staff Pose.

Repeat steps to 7 with your right leg bent.

• After performing Head to Knee Pose, perform Inclined Plane Pose as a counter pose. See page 212.

You can perform Head to Knee Pose using a strap for support.

Perform Head to Knee Pose, except wrap a strap around the foot of your straight leg and hold an end of the strap in each hand.

Make sure you do not use the strap to pull yourself forward.

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