Virabhadrasana – Warrior

Names

Virabhadrasana, Warrior

How to perform Virabhadrasana

Stand straight in Samastithi. Open your legs so that they are about 1,5 meter apart. Check which of your nostrils is active. If it is your right nostril, turn your right foot so that it points to the right. Now bend your right knee and bring your pelvis down so that it reaches the level of the right knee. Open your arms wide and stretch them in one line with your shoulders, parallel to the floor. Look to your right side.


Repeat the pose to the other side.

Benefits of Virabhadrasana

Virabhadrasana is good for your groins and hips and especially for your hip and ankle joints because of the stretch you are giving your body during this exercise. If you are suffering from sciatica, osteoporosis or carpal tunnel syndrome, do this pose and get some relief.


If you hold this position for longer, it forms and tones your leg muscles, increases stamina for your legs and reduces extra fat from your calves and thighs.
Virabhadrasana gives a nice stretch and strengthens the shoulders, neck, arms and chest muscles.


Because of the twisting movement it is also beneficial for the lower abdominal organs and can support your fertility.


During pregnancy this pose can relieve back pain but should only be practiced if you have consulted your doctor before and he approved of the practice of this yoga pose.

Focus Points

This is one of the poses where you can easily think ‘I did it, it was not difficult!’ and not notice that you did not go fully in the pose. You need to bring your pelvis down to the height of your bent knee to feel the effect of this yoga exercise.

Tips and Help

Don’t turn your hip along with your head. Your complete upper body should be facing front while your head, knee and arm are pointing to your side.


Look far ahead with open eyes and try to look as far as it is possible. If you practice this yoga pose inside, it is best to do this exercise in front of a window. Keep normal breathing and smile as if you were a warrior.

Uttanpadasana

Names

Uttanpadasana, Raised legs Pose

How to perform Uttanpadasana

Lay in Supta Samasthiti, keep your knees straight and your feet together. Check your nostrils and if you are breathing from the right nostril, lift your right leg up straight to 90 degrees. Bring it down again and then do the same your left leg.


With inhalation you then lift both legs very slowly straight up in the air, bring them up to 90 degrees and hold them up for 30 seconds up to one minute. Bring them back down to the floor even more slowly and with exhalation. Repeat this 5 to 10 times.


You can also only do this Asana with both legs at once.


Doing it with one by one first and then with both is easier and recommended for beginners.

Benefits of Uttanpadasana

When you do this yoga pose, you feel very quickly where it is working: it strengthens and tones the muscles of your legs, your abdomen, your lower back and hips, your pelvis and additionally the muscles of your perineum.


Through the muscle work in your legs you lose weight from your hips, reduce extra thigh fat and most of all lose fat at your lower abdomen. If you want to work on getting six pack abs, this is a good exercise for your lower abs.


Uttanpadasana is a pose which is recommended for women who have recently given birth and who want to bring their weight back without overdoing their exercise and exhausting themselves.


Pregnant women in the third trimester can carefully practice this exercise against back pain. If it is difficult to raise your legs with the strength of your muscles, you can also do the pose against the wall and simply relax your back


It is one of the best postures for athletes because it gives strength and balance to the body.


This yoga exercise is suggested if you have problems with indigestion and your digestive system.

Focus Points

You should keep your legs straight and bring them up and down very slowly while keeping the focus on the work of your lower abdomen.

When to Avoid Uttanpadasana

This posture should be avoided if you are suffering from high blood pressure, Hernia or had recent abdominal surgery.


It should also be avoided if you have lower back pain or had recent surgery of your back or spine, as it gives pressure to your spinal cord and lower back. In that situation I would recommend doing it only with one leg instead of both at the same time as this does not give as much pressure on lower back and spine.


This yoga pose should also not be practiced in the first months of pregnancy.
There is also always the question whether you can perform it during menstruation. In general, if you feel comfortable with it and if you are used to practicing it, you can keep on doing it. If you have belly ache or cramps however, please do not perform this pose.

Ushtrasana – Camel Pose

Names

Ushtrasana, Camel Pose

How to perform Ushtrasana

Kneel in Vajrasana, then raise your body so that you do not longer sit on your heels. Increase the distance in between your knees and in between your feet so that they are the shoulder-width apart from each other.


Now place your right hand on your right heel and your left hand on your left heel. Push your pelvis to the front, your chest upwards and let your head hang back.


To come out of the yoga pose, raise your head up, bring your pelvis back, your chest back, then leave the grip of your heels and slowly sit back down in Vajrasana.

Benefits of Ushtrasana

Ushtrasana is a posture recommended for pregnant women as it alleviates delivery.
It is a yoga posture good for your abdominal area with the pancreas, bladder and liver. It gives a strengthening stretch to these organs and muscles. It brings flexibility to your upper body and gives room for your lungs to expand.

Focus Points

Press your heels down with the hands to give the proper stretch and push your pelvis to the front to increase the arch.


Don’t forget to breathe!

When to Avoid Ushtrasana

Do not perform the camel pose if you have injuries in the lower back or shoulder area. It is also not advised for practitioners who have high or low blood pressure or migraine problems.
 

Surya Namaskar – Sun Salutation

Names

Surya Namaskar, Sun Salutation

How to perform Surya Namaskar

Stand straight in Samastithi. Check which of your nostrils is more active by holding your hand in front of your nose. Now bring your arms in front of your chest in Namaste position.
With inhalation bring your arms up over your head. Bend backwards and bring your hips to the front with your body weight on your toes. Keep your knees straight. Look backwards and keep deep breathing.


With exhalation bend forwards while keeping your back and elbows straight. Place your hands next to your feet. Now bring back the leg of your active side back. If your right nostril is more active bring back your right leg. Your left knee should now be directly above the left foot. Bring your pelvis down as much as you can and keep the right leg straight and don’t place it on the ground.


With inhalation bring the left foot back next to the right foot into Chaturanga Asana. Hold the position and keep your body in the air. During that keep arms, back and knees straight.
If your shoulders allow it lean your body weight forward with exhalation. Hold your breath and with an inhalation go into Bhujangasana. For that put down your legs and hips on the floor. Your hands should be beside your chest now. Bring your pelvis down but your upper body up so that your navel doesn´t touch the floor anymore. Look straight up to the ceiling. Open your chest wide and breathe deeply. Make sure that you are not hanging your body weight on your shoulders.


With exhalation you bring your head back into the normal position and look straight. With inhalation twist your head to the right side and look at your left heel. With exhalation bring your head back and repeat the same on the left side.


Now push your body back and go into Adho Mukha Svanasana with inhalation. For that you keep your arms straight and with the strength of your shoulders you bring your hips up into the air. You lower the upper body and push your hands into the floor. Your buttock should be the highest part of your body and point to the ceiling.

With exhalation go back into Chaturanga Asana.


Now bring your right foot into the front between your arms. Your right knee should be directly above the right foot. Bring your pelvis down as much as you can and keep the left leg straight without touching the ground.


With inhalation bring the left foot next to the right foot between your arms and straighten your knees. Bring your upper body close to your legs so that your nose is touching the knees.

Bring your palms together in Namaste position. Straighten your elbows and slowly come up with inhalation and your back straight. Bend backwards as before and come back to Samastithi.


Now you have completed the first round of sun salutation!

Benefits of Surya Namaskar

This is a very beneficial position for your whole body. You may do it to warm up at the beginning of your yoga practice. It is also a great exercise for children as this position strengthen the muscles and gives the body more room to develop the organs and to grow.
Sun salutation also helps to prevent many digestive issues and stomach problems. If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, sun salutation may help you as it regulates the movement of the bowels.


A regular practice of this sequence of yoga postures will strengthen your arms, shoulders, chest and abdominal muscles and help you to reduce fat especially on your belly.
It will also keep your whole body flexible.


If you practice this pose regularly it will help you to calm your mind, to improve your focus and concentration. Those effects work against depression, bipolar disorder, insomnia, headache, migraines and stress. It is also good for your memory and nervous system.


This exercise also has a lot of benefits for women. Regular practice of sun salutation helps against irregular menstruation and prevents pain during pregnancy. Sun salutation can also help to make the birth of the child easier.


Also your cardio system will be influenced in a positive way. Your blood will get more oxygen and so helps the body to get rid of toxics.


It is also very good for the coordination between mind and body and therefore recommended for seniors.


When you suffer from diabetes make this pose to reduce the sugar in your blood and to regulate your insulin level.


Your skin will become better, it will shape your muscles and will make you look and feel younger. It’s a wonderful exercise for beauty!


This exercise is a complete workout! Even when you don´t have much time for yoga or a workout, just practice sun salutation in the morning and it will give you a complete workout for your body.


In total a regular practice of Surya Namaskar keeps you happy and healthy!

Focus Points

Keep your feet together and knees straight while standing. Always keep your body weight on your toes. Focus on your body and the muscles you are working on while performing the posture.


Performing sun salutation slowly makes you understand the position and how it works and for sure it is more beneficial than doing it fast.


Make sure that you breathe very regular and perform the position in a steady rhythmus.

Tips and Help

For an easy version you can place the knee of the stretched leg on the floor when you finished the forward bending and you bring one leg back.


You can also lie on the floor after Chaturanga Asana. Lift your buttocks up and come into cobra after that.

If you are suffering from shoulder pain, place your arms next to your chest. Lift your chest, head and your arms and hands from the floor. The rest of the body lies on the floor as a substitute of the full cobra.


Coordinating with the breathing makes it easier to perform the posture.


Advanced yoga practitioners can try to keep the body up in the air during the whole sequence of poses. Only your hands and feet should touch the floor.


And if you want it to be more difficult, just do it more slowly and hold the single yoga poses a longer time.

Supta Vajrasana

Names

Supta Vajrasana, Fixed Firm Pose, Reclining Adamant Pose, Pelvic Posture

How to perform Supta Vajrasana

Sit on your heels in Vajrasana. Lean back and gently place your elbows on the floor behind you. Now slowly lie back while being in Vajrasana so that your knees are still bending and your upper back lies on the floor. To come out of this posture lean your body on the left side and slowly come up.


To make this position more advanced you can combine it with Matsyasana by placing the top of your head on the floor and bringing your arms in front of your chest in namaste pose or by placing them straight over your head on the floor.


For an easier version of this position you can slide your feet next to your buttocks and place your hands next to your body or under your back.

Benefits of Supta Vajrasana

Supta Vajrasana stretches and strengthens the thigh muscles, abdominal muscles, makes your knees, spine and ankles more flexible and gives your calves and thighs a nice shape.
This pose is helpful with many problems like constipation, sciatica, gout, varicose veins, diaphragm, colitis, thrombosis and rheumatism.


You should practice Supta Vajrasana when you have lower and middle back pain as it gives a beneficial stretch to your back and also your hips.


It stretches and stimulates the internal organs especially the pelvic organs like pancreas, liver and kidneys.


This pose it especially beneficial for women because the stretch and the stimulation of the pelvic region has a good effect on the ovaries and fallopian tubes which prevents und cures menstruation pain, reduces the complications of pregnancy and constipation during pregnancy and it makes it easier to give birth to the child.

Tips and Help

Beginners should always use a pillow or a blanket under their back.
Pregnant women should also use a folded blanket or pillow under their hips and back and should open their knees wide.

When to Avoid Supta Vajrasana

Avoid this yoga posture when you are suffering from torn ligaments, knee injuries or an injured meniscus.

Padmasana – Lotus Pose

Names

Padmasana, Lotus Pose, Lotus Seat

This yoga posture is called ‘Lotus’ as your feet resemble the petals of an open lotus flower.

How to sit in Padmasana

Sit with your legs stretched out in front of you. Bend your left knee and place your left heel on top of your right thigh as close to your body as you can, the sole facing upwards.


Now bend your right knee and place your foot on top of your left thigh at the same spot with the sole facing upwards.


Sit straight, relax your shoulders and place your hands in Anjali Mudra in your lap.

Benefits of the Lotus Pose

Sitting in Padmasana has a calming effect on your mind and body. It slows down your breath and regulates it so that breathing and with it the blood circulation gets relief from stress and excitement.


It is the perfect pose for short and long meditations and Pranayama, breathing exercises which is why it has been popular for thousands of years and is the symbol of a meditating person.


It stretches your knees and ankles and makes them more flexible.
Practice of Padmasana opens the hips and is thus recommended for women during pregnancy.

Focus Points

Relax in the posture. It may seem a bit hard in the beginning but with some practice you will realize how your body naturally finds its comfort in Padmasana.

Tips and Help

As mentioned, it may take some time until you really feel comfortable sitting in the Lotus Pose but trust us, it just takes practice! Start with little, some minutes per day and increase the length of time step by step.


Whenever you feel uneasiness or even pain in your legs, change into another position.

Malasana – Garland Pose

Names

Malasana, Garland Pose, Squat Pose, Shitting Pose

At the base of this posture’s name, there is a big misunderstanding and a confusion of Sanskrit words. The commonly known but unfortunately wrong English term is ‘Garland Pose’.


The idea behind this translation is that ‘Malasana’ comes from the Sanskrit word Maalaa which would correctly be transcribed as ‘Maalaa’ and which indeed would be a garland. Where however in this pose do you see a necklace or garland?

When being asked, some people say it is the pose of receiving a flower garland, a common form of honouring someone in India.


The truth however is that ‘Malasana’ comes from the Sanskrit word Mala which would be transcribed as ‘Mala’ and which would mean excrement or shit. Indeed, the traditional way of going to toilet in India is by squatting on the floor. 

Yoga actually describes that in this posture, the intestines are in the best position to release all waste that is left after digestion. It is thus in reality a Shitting Pose.

माला = Mala (Maalaa) = Garland, Necklace, Rosary

मल = Mala = Excrement, Shit

By comparing the original writing, the Devanagari script, you can clearly see that the mistake happened in the transliteration where the English is lacking a proper writing for the long and short ‘a’.


The conclusion however is that in hundreds of modern English yoga books and popular yoga websites, for example Yoga Journal, Malasana is wrongly translated with ‘Garland Pose’.

How to perform Malasana

Squat with your feet flat on the floor, the feet about the width of your hips apart from each other.

Let your pelvis hang down with all your body weight. Bring your elbows in front of your knees and place your palms together in the pose of Namaste.

Now make effort to bring your trunk in between your legs, look straight to the front and keep on smiling.

Benefits of Malasana

This yoga pose is especially good for pregnant women as a regular practice of this posture alleviates delivery. It helps you to open your hips and in the last days of pregnancy helps to make your baby feel the pull down – it can make the birth happen a bit earlier especially if the child is already late.


Malasana is also beneficial for women who are not pregnant and men as well! It strengthens your calves and ankles, your feet and your toes. It relaxes your lower back and the muscles simply feel the pull of gravity down towards earth.


Malasana – as its real name actually already tells – helps against constipation and brings your bowels again in the right rhythm so that the functions of your metabolism work properly.

Focus Points

While you keep your feet flat, keep your body weight on your toes as much as possible.

Tips and Help

If you get tired in this yoga pose, bring your body weight to the back on the heels for a while before you shift it back to the front. It will feel like swinging your weight in between your toes and heels which will not only help you giving comfort in the pose but also exercise your leg muscles.

When to Avoid Malasana

People with bad knee injuries should avoid this posture.

Kati Sanchalana – Hip Rotation

Names

Kati Sanchalana, Hip Rotation

How to perform Kati Sanchalana

Stand in Samastithi. Place your hands on your waist. With inhalation bring your pelvis to the front and with exhalation bring it back. Do this 10 times or more.


Do the same exercise to the left and the right side.


After this, rotate your hip five times clockwise and five times anticlockwise.
You can increase your counting freely with your wish.

Benefits of Kati Sanchalana

Kati Sanchalana is good for the flexibility of your hips. It helps losing weight as it is a good workout for the middle part of the body: hips, belly, thighs, and buttocks.

Even if you can’t do a lot of workout with your arms and legs because of weight problems, you can do this yoga pose and quickly reduce extra fat. The area of your hips is being toned and gets a nice shape.


Another reason why this pose is beneficial for losing weight is that it helps your digestive system through its stretch of the pelvic region.


The sexual organs are stimulated and with it your sexual energy will be enhanced.


You can even do this exercise together with you partner and place your hands on his waist and the other way round. It can increase intimacy among each other.


Kati Sanchalana is very beneficial for your hip muscles, hip joints and groin.
arthritis patients should do this yoga pose for improving their flexibility.

Focus Points

You can easily cheat yourself in this exercise by making small circles and not pressing your hips to the furthest. Focus on being in the movement with your complete attention!

Tips and Help

Don’t do fast movements. Make slow and steady circles and you will have a better effect.
If you are suffering from overweight you should support your back with your hands. You can take small breaks in between whenever you are exhausted.


Make sure you breathe in a steady rhythmus while doing this exercise.

When to avoid Kati Sanchalana

Avoid Kati Sanchalana if you have lower back pain, a slip disc, a sacrum displacement or diarrhea.

Kati Pranayama – Pelvic Breathing

Names

Pelvic Breathing, Kati Pranayama

How to perform Kati Pranayama

Lay down on the floor in Supta Samasthiti. Bend your knees and place your feet with a distance of one foot from your hips to the floor. Keep your hands next to your pelvis with the palms facing the floor.


With inhalation you now contract your anal muscles and bring your pelvis up into the air. With exhalation you bring your pelvis down to the floor again and release your anal muscles.

Special Advice for People with back pain and Pregnant Women

During pregnancy you should not lift your pelvis from the floor but contract your anal muscles and give a slight raise to the pelvis by contracting the pelvis muscles, too. You don’t however lift your pelvis from the floor. If you are suffering from back pain it is also recommended to do this gentle and easier version of Kati Pranayama.

Benefits of Kati Pranayama

This breathing exercise is very good for your hip muscles. It strengthens and tones them.
Through its work with your abdomen, this yoga pose prevents and helps with many gynecological problems as well as with sexual problems.


It is also a good yoga exercise for releasing stress. It relaxes you through the attention that you need to give to your breathing and the work of your muscles.


Practicing this breathing exercise as explained when you have back pain, it helps reducing the pain and is especially beneficial if you suffer from sacrum displacement.


During pregnancy, the way of breathing described above strengthens the back to help you hold the weight of the baby and to reduce back pain. It also makes the delivery easier.

Focus Points

Be relaxed and focus on your pelvic region going up and down.

Tips and Help

If you are suffering from back pain or are pregnant, you can also use a folded blanket under your pelvis for support.

Baddha Konasana – Bound Angle Pose

Names

Baddha Konasana, Bound Angle Pose, Cobbler’s Pose

How to perform Baddha Konasana

Sit in Dandasana with your legs stretched out in front of you and your back straight. Bend your knees with exhalation and bring the soles of your feet together. Pull them as close to your perineum as possible.


Slowly let your knees fall further down until your legs are nearly horizontal and parallel to the floor. Sit comfortably with thus opened hips and let your perineum be in direct contact with the ground.

Advanced Variation of Baddha Konasana

If you are relaxed in this position and would like to continue to further advanced practice, you can bend forward with a straight back and place your chin on the floor.

From Baddha Konasana you can go into Gorakshasana or into Titali Asana.

Benefits of Baddha Konasana

Along with Sarvangasana, Baddha Konasana is one of the most recommended postures for women. It especially good for women during pregnancy and after giving birth.

This yoga pose moves your pelvic region, rotates your hips, stretches your hip muscles and leg muscles and thus increases flexibility and elasticity. This flexibility alleviates labour and labour pain.


Regular practice of Baddha Konasana also helps in case of irregular menstruation. Menopause problems can be relieved, too.


Of course this flexibility for hips and groins is not only good for women! It even reduces the risk of hernia.


Practice of this yoga pose prevents and cures lower back pain and sciatica pain as well as it strengthens the thigh muscles. It can be good in cases of slip disk and sacrum displacement but please consult with your doctor before whether you are fit to do this exercise.


Bladder and kidneys are stimulated in this yoga pose which helps prevent urinary tract problems, slow urination and burning while urinating.


It is an anti-stress pose that relaxes your system and thus can cure anxiety, fatigue and depression. It is also said to have good effects on the heart and lungs. High blood pressure and asthma problems shall be reduced by practice of this pose, too.


Through the work in your entire pelvic region.

Focus Points

Relax your hip joints and focus on bringing your legs further down rather than bringing your knees down.

Tips and Help

You can take a blanket under your buttocks to raise your sacrum. This will give you comfort in this sitting position. Especially in the west, where people are not use to sitting on the floor, many people will find it easier to use a blanket to sit on.


Do not press your knees down with your hands. If you want to stretch even more, you can press down your thighs instead.