Twist

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(parsva pavana muktasana)

Little Boat Twist is beneficial for increasing the flexibility of your back and releasing tension in your lower and mid spine. This pose also helps to open your shoulders and chest. When you twist your body in Little Boat Twist, you stimulate your abdominal organs to help aid digestion. Although this pose is a useful warm-up pose, you may also want to use the pose to cool down at the end of a yoga practice.

While performing Little Boat Twist, make sure you keep your upper back and both shoulders in contact with the floor. You should also breathe evenly, visualizing your body softening deeper into the twist with each exhalation.

If you find the twist in Little Boat Twist too intense, you can perform the pose with your feet on the floor, instead of drawing your knees into your chest. Avoid performing Little Boat Twist if you have abdominal problems or if your neck feels strained in the pose.

f EASY

Begin in Little Boat Pose. For information on Little Boat Pose, see page 58.

Extend your arms out to your sides at shoulder height, with your palms facing down.

Exhale as you lower your knees to the right toward the floor. Keep your knees together.

Make sure you keep your upper back and both shoulders in contact with the floor throughout the pose.

How can I incorporate movement into Little Boat Twist?

Perform the pose as described below, except slowly twist from side to side five to ten times instead of holding the pose. To coordinate your breathing with the movement, exhale as you move into the twist and inhale as your knees and head come back to the center. This movement helps massage your back and release tension in your spine.

How can I intensify the pose?

You can intensify the pose to provide a deeper stretch for your spine, lower back and hips. Perform the pose as described below, except after you lower your knees toward the floor, straighten your legs. Your upper body and legs should form a 90-degree angle. Make sure you keep your legs together and straight, but do not lock your knees.

Turn your head to the left and look over your left shoulder, keeping your neck relaxed.

Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute and then inhale as you return to Little Boat

Pose.

Repeat steps to 5 for your other side.

You can modify Little Boat Twist if you feel discomfort in your neck or shoulders.

If you feel discomfort in your neck, look up at the ceiling and tilt your chin slightly down to lengthen the back of your neck.

If you feel discomfort in your shoulders, place your hands on the floor, with your palms facing up, and relax your shoulders down to the floor.

Windmill Pose is a reclined warm-up pose that helps to improve digestion and elimination. This pose also stretches your lower back and helps to strengthen your abdominal muscles. Windmill Pose is also known as Wind-Relieving Pose because it helps the body release intestinal gas.

You should focus on stretching the entire length of your body in Windmill Pose. The movement of your legs should help to increase the flexibility of your hips. At the same time, the movement massages the organs in the back of your body, including your kidneys.

While performing Windmill Pose, make sure your hips remain on the floor throughout the pose. You should also pay close attention to your breathing—inhale as you stretch your arm and leg away from your body and exhale as you draw your arm and leg back to your body.

You should avoid Windmill Pose if you have a hernia.

Begin in Little Boat Pose For information on Little Boat Pose, see page 58.

The back of your right hand and the heel of your right foot should touch the floor.

Exhale as you bring your right knee toward your chest and your right hand to your right knee.

Clasp your right knee with your right hand.

Make sure your elbow remains close to your body.

Begin in Little Boat Pose For information on Little Boat Pose, see page 58.

Inhale as you raise your right arm overhead and extend your right leg along the floor.

The back of your right hand and the heel of your right foot should touch the floor.

Exhale as you bring your right knee toward your chest and your right hand to your right knee.

Clasp your right knee with your right hand.

Make sure your elbow remains close to your body.

How can I intensify the stretch in this pose?

When you clasp each knee, hold your knee for 5 to 10 seconds. You should exhale as you draw your knee in and inhale as you extend your leg out.

What can I do if my lower back feels strained in this pose?

You can begin the pose with your knees bent and the soles of your feet resting on the floor. Keep one foot on the floor as you bring the other knee to your chest.

How can I stretch my neck and shoulders in this pose?

When you bring your knee toward your chest, move your forehead toward your knee. In this modification, make sure you do not strain your neck or shoulders trying to reach your forehead to your knee.

Inhale as you raise your left arm overhead and extend your left leg along the floor.

The back of your left hand and the heel of your left foot should touch the floor.

Repeat steps to 7 six or eight times.

Inhale as you raise your left arm overhead and extend your left leg along the floor.

The back of your left hand and the heel of your left foot should touch the floor.

Exhale as you bring your left knee toward your chest and your left hand to your left knee.

Clasp your left knee with your left hand.

Repeat steps to 7 six or eight times.

To come out of the pose, place the soles of your feet on the floor and bring your arms to rest alongside your body.

(parighasana)

Gate Pose is an invigorating pose that provides a good stretch to the sides of your body and increases the flexibility of your spine. You can also use this pose to tone your abdominal muscles and improve your circulation. Gate Pose is an excellent pose to perform in preparation for Triangle Pose. While both poses stretch similar muscles, Gate Pose does not require the intense stretch to the back of your legs.

Performing Gate Pose stretches the muscles that connect your ribs, allowing your lungs to expand to help increase your capacity for deep breathing. As a result, practicing this pose is especially useful if you have a breathing problem, such as asthma.

While performing Gate Pose, make sure your elbow does not move in front of your face, but stretches up above your ear. You should also focus on lengthening your spine with each inhalation and stretching to your side with each exhalation.

Use caution performing this pose if you suffer from knee, hip or shoulder problems.

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

Place the sole of your right foot flat on the floor, with your toes pointing forward.

Rest your right hand on the outside of your right thigh.

Your left upper arm should remain beside your left ear throughout the pose.

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

Extend your right leg to your right side.

Place the sole of your right foot flat on the floor, with your toes pointing forward.

• Your right leg should be straight, but your knee should not be locked.

Rest your right hand on the outside of your right thigh.

Inhale and extend your left arm overhead, with your fingers pointing toward the ceiling and your palm facing your right side.

Your left upper arm should remain beside your left ear throughout the pose.

I feel pressure on my knees in this pose. What can I do?

To reduce the pressure on your knees, you can perform the pose while kneeling on a blanket or mat.

My neck feels uncomfortable when I look up past my elbow. Can I still perform the pose?

You can still perform this pose, but you should look straight ahead instead of turning your head to look past your elbow.

How can I stretch my foot and the back of my calf more in Gate Pose?

Instead of placing the sole of your foot flat on the floor, place your heel on the floor with your toes pointing up toward the ceiling. This modification also provides a deeper stretch to your hamstring.

Exhale and bend from the waist as you stretch to the right.

• Keep your left shoulder back and relaxed as you stretch to the right.

Slide your right hand down the outside of your right leg.

• Your right arm should be straight, but your elbow should not be locked.

Turn your head to look past your left elbow.

Press your right foot into the floor as you extend out through your fingertips and the crown of your head.

10 Hold the pose for 10 to 20 seconds.

11 To come out of the pose, inhale and bring your torso upright. Then exhale and bring your arms to your sides and your knees together.

Repeat steps to 11 for your other side.

pigepo

(kapotasana)

Pigeon Pose helps to open and increase the flexibility of your hips. This pose also helps to strengthen your back, stretch your thighs and increase the flexibility of your groin.

Practicing this pose may help you perform other poses that require a lot of flexibility in your hips, such as Lotus Pose and Dancer Pose. You may also want to use Pigeon Pose to warm up before performing back bends, such as Cobra Pose and Bow Pose.

As you perform Pigeon Pose, make sure you gently press the hip of your straight leg toward the floor to help keep your hips square to the front. Hold the pose for as long as you feel comfortable, allowing yourself to relax further into the pose with each exhalation. After performing the pose, you should shake out your legs to help relieve and restore circulation in your legs.

You should use caution performing Pigeon Pose if you have problems with your knees, back or hips.

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

Bring your right foot to the left side of your body.

Slide your left leg straight behind you. The top of your left foot should rest on the floor.

Make sure you keep both hips square to the front.

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

Slide your right knee forward, under the center of your body.

Bring your right foot to the left side of your body.

• You can rest your right foot underneath your pubic bone or out to your left side.

Slide your left leg straight behind you. The top of your left foot should rest on the floor.

Gently lower your pelvis toward the floor.

Make sure you keep both hips square to the front.

If your right hip cannot reach the floor, you can place a folded blanket under your hip for support.

My forehead is uncomfortable in this pose. What can I do?

If you find resting your forehead on the floor uncomfortable, you can bend your elbows and place one hand on top of the other. Then rest your forehead on your hands.

How can I modify Pigeon Pose to help release tension in my hips?

To help release tension in your hips, you can rock your hips from side to side as you hold the pose.

How can I make this pose more challenging?

To make Pigeon Pose more challenging, perform the pose as described below, except when you lower your elbows to the floor, position your elbows directly below your shoulders, press your forearms into the floor and lift your chest toward the ceiling. As you become more comfortable in this position, you can gradually straighten your arms and move your hands closer to your body to lift your chest up further.

Slide your hands forward along the floor and lower your elbows to the floor.

Continue sliding your hands until your arms are straight, but your elbows are not locked.

8 Exhale as you lower your chest toward the floor.

Rest your forehead on the floor. 11

Gently press your left hip toward the floor to help keep your hips square.

Hold the pose for 15 seconds to 1 minute.

• To come out of the pose, slide your hands back under your shoulders and return to Table Pose.

Repeat steps 2 to 1 for your other side.

Squat Pose helps to open your hips, groin and inner thighs, while stretching your ankles and feet. This pose can also relieve tension in your lower back. Regular practice of Squat Pose can help improve your balance and concentration.

This pose is commonly used as a transition from seated to standing poses. From a seated pose, you can move into Squat Pose and then slowly roll your spine up, one vertebra at a time, to a standing position. Squat Pose is also a good prenatal exercise because it stimulates your pelvic area and opens your groin and hips.

To help you balance and feel more comfortable in the pose, you may need to adjust your stance after you bend your knees and lower your hips. You may find it helpful to move your feet a bit further apart or turn your toes out slightly.

Use caution performing Squat Pose if you have problems with your knees or hips.

Begin in Mountain Pose. For information on Mountain Pose, see page 120.

Bend forward from your hips.

Keeping your hands on the floor for support, bend your knees and lower your hips toward the floor.

Move your elbows or upper arms to the inside of your knees and then bring your hands together in Prayer Pose. For information on Prayer Pose, see page 48.

Begin in Mountain Pose. For information on Mountain Pose, see page 120.

Step your feet slightly wider than hip width apart, with your toes pointing forward.

Bend forward from your hips.

Place your hands on the floor slightly in front of you, with your palms facing down.

Keeping your hands on the floor for support, bend your knees and lower your hips toward the floor.

Gently lower your heels toward the floor.

Move your elbows or upper arms to the inside of your knees and then bring your hands together in Prayer Pose. For information on Prayer Pose, see page 48.

My heels do not reach the floor when I perform Squat Pose. What can I do?

If your heels do not reach the floor, you can remain on the balls of your feet, or place a rolled or folded blanket under your heels for support. Make sure the blanket is not so thick that it pushes your heels up further. The blanket should only support your heels at the lowest position possible.

What can I do if I find it difficult to balance in this pose?

You can leave your hands on the floor for support instead of bringing your hands together in Prayer Pose. You can also move into Squat Pose with your back against a wall for support. Slowly slide your back down the wall to lower your hips into the pose. As you slide down, allow your heels to lift off the floor.

10 Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Gently press your elbows or upper arms against your inner legs to open your hips, inner thighs and groin.

Point the crown of your head toward the ceiling.

10 Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

To come out of the pose, bring your hands back to the floor, straighten your legs and then roll your spine up, one vertebra at a time. Then return to Mountain Pose.

You can add motion to Squat Pose to energize your spine.

Perform Squat Pose, except keep your hands on the floor instead of placing your hands in Prayer Pose.

2 Inhale as you lift your hips toward the ceiling and move the crown of your head toward the floor. Then exhale and lower your hips back toward the floor.

3 Lift and lower your hips ten times.

1

Performing seated poses can improve your posture, stretch your legs and open your hips. Some seated poses, such as Easy Pose and Lotus Pose, are especially good for meditation because they allow you to keep your spine straight and help you remain grounded and relaxed as you meditate. Certain seated poses are often used as starting positions for other poses. This chapter demonstrates a variety of seated poses that you can perform.

Seated M

roses

In this Chapter...

Staff Pose Easy Pose Bound Angle Pose Half Lotus Pose Lotus Pose Cow Face Pose Seated Side Bend Simple Twist Seated Half Spinal Twist Seated Boat Pose Thunderbolt Pose Hero Pose

stc0

(dandasana)

Staff Pose can help you learn how to sit with correct posture. Regular practice of this pose can also help increase the flexibility of your hips and pelvis and strengthen your lower back. This basic seated pose often serves as a starting position for other seated poses.

While you perform Staff Pose, you should be aware of both your upper and lower body. Your upper body should be erect, yet relaxed, and your lower body should feel grounded.

To provide extra support for your spine in this pose, you can place your palms directly behind your body with your fingers pointing behind you, instead of placing your palms beside your hips. If your hips are stiff, you can perform the pose sitting on a folded blanket. This modification raises your hips so your legs drop away from your pelvis, allowing you to sit more comfortably. Sitting on a folded blanket may also help keep you from rounding your lower back and can make finding the correct alignment of your spine easier.

Sit on the floor with your back straight and your legs stretched out in front of you.

Make sure your legs and feet are hip width apart and parallel.

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

Flex your feet and press out through your heels.

Sit on the floor with your back straight and your legs stretched out in front of you.

Make sure your legs and feet are hip width apart and parallel.

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

Flex your feet and press out through your heels.

How can I modify Staff Pose if I have back problems?

If you have back problems or find this pose difficult to hold, you can perform the pose with your back lightly touching a wall. You can also choose to perform Legs Up the Wall Pose, which will protect your back even more while still providing the benefits of Staff Pose. For information on Legs Up the Wall Pose, see page 218.

How can I stretch my upper body in Staff Pose?

To stretch your upper body in Staff Pose, interlace your fingers and then extend your arms forward, parallel to the floor. Turn your palms away from you so your thumbs are pointing toward the floor and then inhale as you raise your arms above your head until your arms are positioned slightly behind your ears. Be sure to keep your shoulders relaxed as you perform this variation. Stretching your upper body in Staff Pose can help open your chest and stretch the front of your abdomen.

1 If you have stiff hips, perform Staff Pose sitting on a folded blanket.

Place your palms on the 5 floor beside your hips to support your spine and then relax your shoulders down. Your upper body should be erect, but relaxed.

Relax your legs to the floor so your lower body feels firmly grounded.

Hold the pose for 20 to 30 seconds.

1 If you have stiff hips, perform Staff Pose sitting on a folded blanket.

Sitting on a folded blanket raises your hips so your legs drop away from your pelvis, allowing you to sit more comfortably. This modification can also help you lengthen and straighten your spine more easily.

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