Utkatasana II – Chair Pose

Names

Utkatasana II, Chair Pose

Utkat is the Sanskrit word for raised or lifted. It is thus the lifting or rairing pose.
There is another version of Utkatasana in which you squat on your toes and place your buttocks onto your heels. This however is sitting on a chair without a chair.

How to perform Utkatasana II

Stand in Samasthiti, bend your knees and sit down as if you would sit on a chair. Keep your spine straight and do not let your knees go in front of your toes. You can raise your arms straight out in front of you or bring your palms together above your head.

Variation for Partner yoga

You can also do this exercise together with a partner. Stand in front of each other, hold each other’s hands and slowly sit down, holding each other’s weight with the stretched arms.

Benefits of Utkatasana II

Just try this exercise and repeat it a few times or hold it as long as you can and you will know exactly where it works. Your thigh muscles, buttocks and calves are working and get nicely toned through that. You will notice that after a while of regular practice, your legs will lose all extra thigh fat and get into a really nice shape.


Your back muscles also benefit and through your effort to keep yourself straight, this exercise is very good for your spine, too.


With this exercise you additionally strengthen your heart and lungs and improve your breathing power.


Provided you go into the right position, it is very good for your knee joints and it helps you to balance your body weight.


This is one of the poses always recommended to athletes and sportsmen and women.

Focus Points

Do not focus on your arm position. Your arms are used merely for balancing your body weight.
Instead you should focus on keeping your back straight and keeping your knees above or behind your toes.

Tips and Help

Beginners and people with weak knee joints can practice this pose against the wall.

When to avoid the Chair Pose

If you had or have an injury of your back, knees, hips or ankles, you should consult your doctor before performing this exercise. If you suffer from acute headache, heart problems or high blood pressure, please avoid this pose.

Utkatasana

Names

Utkatasana

Some people also call Utkasana the ‘Crow Pose’, a name which we use for ‘Kagasana’. Please do not get confused, this is only a name. The Sanskrit term ‘Utkatasana’ is difficult to translate literally, this is why in English several names appear for this yoga posture.

How to sit in Utkatasana

Squat with the weight on the front of your feet and lift your heels up so that your buttocks rest on your heels and bring your back up straight. Place your hands on your knees.

Benefits of Utkatasana

This yoga posture strengthens your feet, toes, thighs and buttocks as well as the hamstring. It brings flexibility into your toes and ankles and id great for practicing balance.
Utkatasana also helps with gastric problems and digestion difficulties. It stimulates and activates digestion and the Apan Vaiu which is responsible for your metabolism and your natural urge. 

Tolasana – Scale Pose

Names

Tolasana, Scale Pose

How to perform Tolasana

Sit straight in Padmasan and place your hands on the floor at your sides. Exhale and lift your buttocks from the ground by lifting your weight with your hands. Hang your full weight onto your arms as if you were a bag of Rice and needed to measure the weight of it. Hold the position for a few breaths, then inhale and slowly come back down to the floor.

Benefits of Tolasana

The scale pose obviously strengthens your arms and shoulders so that they can hold the weight of your body.


Through the way how the muscles work in this pose in order to lift your feet from the ground, your abdominal organs are massaged and digestion is stimulated. People suffering from bloated stomach and gas in the belly get relief.

Focus Points

It is quite obviously what to focus on, right? Lift your buttocks up! With the force of exhalation you lift your whole weight up.

Tips and Help

Do you think you cannot do this exercise because your arms seem to be shorter than other people’s arms? Well, of course the easiest option would be simply not to perform this yoga pose… but a more satisfying solution is to first shift your weight to your arms and lift it as much as you can. Slowly and with regular practice you will be able to lift it a bit more and more until you are fully in the air. Try to compact your lower body as much as you can.

Prasarita Padottanasana

Names

Prasarita Padottanasana, Wide-Legged Forward Bend

How to perform Prasarita Padottanasana

Stand straight in Samasthiti and then now open your legs about 1 to 1,5 meters apart depending on your height, length and capability. Make sure your feet are parallel to each other.


With exhalation you bend your upper body forward and place your palms on the floor in between your feet. Bring your upper body in between your legs and place the crown of your head on the floor. Your feet, palms and head should be in one line.


Keep breathing deeply, hold the posture for 20 to 30 seconds and slowly come up.

Variation 1 – Arms in the Back

While you are standing straight, you can also interlace your fingers in your back, then open your legs and when bending down, you keep your arms straight and move your hands further towards the floor. Let the gravity pull them down while your head is in between your legs. This variation gives you an extra stretch for your shoulders.

Variation 2 – Arms open behind the Legs

Open your legs a little bit less wide and when you bend down, bend your upper body so far, that you can bring your shoulders through the gap of your legs and thus to the backside of your thighs. Now you open your arms wide apart.

Benefits of Prasarita Padottanasana

When you perform this yoga pose, you will notice quickly that it works nicely with your complete legs. It gives strength to your hamstrings and the muscles at the inside and back of your legs. Your calves get a nice workout and your knees get support through the work of the muscles around it. You get more flexible in your hips and groins.


Your back also benefits greatly from this yoga asana. Your spine is strengthened by the workout for the muscles surrounding it, your shoulders become more flexible and your shoulder blades open. This yoga pose is even good for mild back pain.


Through the bending, your inner organs are pressurized and thus stimulated to do their work. Your liver and kidneys get activated and your digestion as well as your urinary tract is stimulated.

For women, this exercise is beneficial due to its positive effect on the ovaries and the fallopian tubes. Also during early pregnancy this pose is beneficial as it opens the hips and strengthens the back.

By bending forward, your blood flow into your upper body is strengthened and thus your brain gets more oxygen which refreshes you, takes away fatigue, improves concentration and can even cure headaches and blood pressure problems!

Focus Points

Focus on the bending of your back and if you cannot come down yet, bring your upper body further down with inhalation and closer to your legs with exhalation.

Tips and Help

Don’t put pressure on your head. You are touching the floor with the crown of your head but you don’t put any weight on it.


If you cannot come down in the beginning, you can place your hands on the floor a little bit in front of your body and shift the weight there to feel the stretch.

Parsvottanasana – Intense Side Stretch Pose

Names

Parsvottanasana, Intense Side Stretch Pose

How to perform Parsvottasana

Stand in Samasthiti and check from which nostril you are breathing, inhale deeply and bring your palms to your back with the hands in namaste position. Exhale.


With the next inhalation you bring the leg of your active side about a meter to the front. When you exhale, you bend forward towards your leg which is in front and rest your body on that leg. Keep your back as straight as possible and stretch your legs so that they are straight, too.


Stay in this position for 20 to 30 seconds and with inhalation come up again.
Repeat the exercise from the other side.

If you cannot bring your arms to your back in namaste pose, you can also interlace your fingers and bring your straight arms up while bending forward. They will pull your upper body further down.

Benefits of Parsvottasana

This yoga pose relieves stiffness from your legs, hips, shoulders and wrists. It brings flexibility and makes your spine feel moving smoothly again.


Through this, it is a good exercise for your joints, to prevent arthritis and to cure the pain of arthritis in the joints.


It is like a half-inverted pose, with your head hanging down and thus your blood flow into the head is increased. You get more oxygen in the head, can concentrate better and are more awake.

You practice your breathing with the pose and this close attention on your lungs and on your inside reduces stress as well as lets your lungs expand further.


Through the pressure on your intestines, you stimulate your liver and spleen as well as your digestive system.

For women this pose can relieve menstruation pain if performed regularly.

Focus Points

Your first intention is to bring your upper body to lie on your leg. If you cannot place your upper body on your leg yet, you can work on it. With inhalation, you stretch your upper body further down and with exhalation you bring it closer to your leg.


Take care however to keep your feet flat on the floor.

Tips and Help

If you have difficulty in bringing your hands into your back in Namaste position, you can also let your hands hang down or grab your leg.

When to Avoid this Parsvottanasana

Do not perform this pose if you are suffering from back pain or slip disk or have an injury or surgery of the spine. Also avoid this yoga pose if you have high blood pressure, abdominal hernia and diarrhea or dysentery.

Padangusthasana – Big Toe Pose

Names

Padangusthasana, Big Toe Pose

How to perform Padangusthasana

Stand straight in Samasthiti. With exhalation bend forward while keeping your spine and knees straight. Now grab your toes and try to bring your upper body closer to your legs while keeping your spine straight.

Lean your body weight on your toes and stay in the position for 20 to 30 seconds. Keep normal breathing, then slowly come up and repeat the posture 2 to 3 times.

Variation

As a variation you can also bend forward, grab your toes and try to lift up your upper body instead of bringing it close to your legs and give your body an opposite stretch.

Advanced Variation

To make it more advanced you can also bring your arm to the back of your legs and grab your ankles or fold your arms behind your legs and thus hug your legs. Keep your body weight on the toes in this position as well.

Benefits of Padangusthasana

Practicing Padangusthasana is very beneficial for your hamstrings, for toning the calve muscles, strengthening the thighs and also improving your digestion.


With the inversion in this yoga pose you give some pressure to your abdominal region which stimulates liver, kidneys and spleen.

For women it is a good exercise to relieve the symptoms of menopause, such as pain and cramps in the lower abdomen. But also sleeping disorders can be relieved due to the higher oxygen flow in the body.

Padangusthasana increases the blood circulation in your body especially in lungs and brain as it is a half inverted pose where your upper body is hanging down.

Coming up and down by repeating this posture a few times is changing the circulation in your whole body and because of that helps you if you are suffering from mild headaches or insomnia. It is good for calming the brain and relieving stress as well. It boosts your energy.


In this way this nice balancing pose can also help you if you are suffering from depression and anxiety.

Pashchimottanasana or Sirshasana are also bending and inverting poses however this one puts no pressure on the spinal column.

On the contrary, it even increases the blood circulation in the spinal column and in your hands and feet.

Focus Points

Your body weight should always be on your toes in this position. Furthermore try to keep your knees as stretched as possible and try to press your knees further inside.
Of course, you then focus on bringing your upper body as close to your legs as possible.

Tips and Help

Before practicing this posture, you can do Pashchimottanasana because bending forward in sitting is easier and releases and relaxes the hamstrings and your leg muscles. When you muscles are warmed up a bit this posture will be easier for you.

When to Avoid Padangusthasana

Avoid practicing this yoga posture if you have diarrhea, a heavy cold, back pain or back injuries or a displacement of sacrum.

Mrigasana – Deer Pose

Names

Mrigasana, Mriga Asana, Deer Pose

How to perform Mrigasana

Sit in Vajrasana on your legs with your back straight. Bring your arms to your back and stretch them out behind you. Now lean forward until your chest is on your knees.


You can now slowly lift your hips up, shifting your body weight more and more to your knees.


In the end you lift your feet off the ground, still balancing on your knees.
After a maximum of one or two minutes, you come out of the pose again.

Benefits of Mrigasana

This yoga posture strengthens your arms as you keep them stretched out to your back.
It opens your chest and throat and lets you breathe with more ease.


Your legs, through the act of balance get stronger, too, as well as your pelvis. You are contracting more muscles in that area as you may know!


This pose also helps regulating the air in your intestines.

Focus Points

First of all your focus will be your balance. After that you need to take care that your arms are still stretched out to your back and as straight as possible.

Tips and Help

Beginners should only lift the hips until they have found their confidence in this pose.
Lift your hips before lifting your feet off the ground, not simultaneously. This will help you in finding your balance.

When to Avoid the Deer Pose

Do not perform this yoga exercise if you have weak or injured knees.

Mayurasana – Peacock Pose

Names

Mayurasana, Peacock Pose

How to perform Mayurasana

1 – For Beginners

Sit in Utkatasana . Now place your elbows on your belly at the sides of your navel. Lean forward and place your palms on the floor so that they are pointing in the direction of your body. Place your knees, feet and forehead on the floor. Your body is now balanced on your forehead, hands, knees and feet. Straighten your knees and lift them from the ground. Then slowly lift your feet.


Inhale, make Kumbhaka and hold the breath. In the end lift your forehead as well and balance your body only on your elbows.


Slowly place your head, feet and knees back to the floor.

2 – For Advanced Practitioners

Start from Utkatasana, place your elbows to your belly next to your navel and place your hands on the floor, fingers pointing to your legs. While balancing on your arms, you lift your feet of the ground and stretch your legs straight out to the back.

Advanced Variations

You can raise your legs up high towards the ceiling while you are in the yoga pose. This pose variation is known as Pinch Mayurasan.


In another variation you can cross your legs in the form of a lotus to Padmasana. In this way, the yoga pose is known as Padma Mayurasana or Mayuri Asana.

Benefits of Mayurasana

Mayurasana is a good posture for burning the belly fat, activating the digestive fire and increasing your hunger. It helps to digest undigested food which is stuck in the intestines and because of that works against constipation and acidity.


It can also prevents colitis, piles and gastric problems.


By practicing this posture you can reduce the excess of ama and remove toxics from the system.

Mayurasana reduces and cures problems which occurs in our body because of the three humors vata, pitta, kapha


Because of the pressure on your abdomen it is very helpful for the abdominal organs like spleen, pancreas, liver, bladder, gall bladder and prostate glen, bowels.

Problems like irritable bowel syndrome or the risk of having a stone in the kidneys can be prevented and cured.


This pose increases the blood flow in the system and purifies the blood which: This makes you look more beautiful, shining and glowing from the inside and is also a help for diabetes patients.


This balancing pose will make your arms very strong.


Regular practice of this posture provides great sexual ability in men and women as well as reduces the congestion of the vagina in women and it prevents and cures impotence in men. Because of the pressure on the abdominal organs is also good for fertility of men and for menstruation problems of women.

With a regular practice you can reduce the stress level in your mind, it makes you cool and calm, refreshes you brain and thoughts and makes you more focused and concentrated. This is why this pose is beneficial when you are suffering from depression.

Focus Points

Focus on your abdomen region and on your mind for balancing on your hands so that you don´t fall on the floor.

Tips and Help

Please avoid the posture, when you have wrist injuries or if you are suffering from belly pain. When you can´t lift your whole body from the ground in the beginning start with your knees and feet first. Later you can also try to lift your head.

It will need a bit of practice as it is an advanced position but after some practice you will also be able to do the peacock pose. For women it is not always possible to this posture as your breasts could restrain you to do this posture properly. When they are hurting during this posture please don´t do it as you could harm your breasts.

Makarasana – Crocodile

Names

Makarasana, Chaturanga Dandasana , Four-Limbed Staff Pose, Crocodile Pose

How to perform Makarasana

Lie flat on your belly. Place your hands next to your chest. With inhalation lift your body from the ground so that only your toes and your hands are touching the floor and balancing your body weight.

Take care that your body is in a flat line. No body part should be higher than another part. Come down to the floor with exhalation.

Advanced Variations

To make this posture more advanced you can lift one leg up while being in the posture and repeat the same with the other leg after that.


To be even more advanced you can also lift one hand off the floor during the posture. But always take the arm of the opposite side. If you lift your right leg, you should lift your left arm.


Another advanced alternative is to crawl like a crocodile on your hands and toes through the room.

Benefits of Makarasana

This balancing pose is very good for the arms, abdominal muscles and legs as you need a lot of strength and body tension.


The pressure to the lungs strengthens the chest muscles and gives them more room.
It also increases the blood circulation which reduces the cholesterol in the blood which is then good for your heart.


As it increases the blood circulation in the face, your cheeks will look alive, your skin on the scalp gets enough oxygen and your hair growth can even improve.
Additionally it helps your eyes, ears and nose in their work.

Focus Points

Coordinate this posture with the breath.
Try to keep the body in one line, not pushing your buttocks up and thus making it too easy for you.

Tips and Help

If it is hard for you to go in this posture from lying flat on the ground, you can go into this posture from Chaturangasana, the plank position.

Then you bring your body slowly down. It can be easier, as you don´t have to lift your body up, but it still requires strength in the arms.

Kukutasana – Rooster Pose

Names

Kukutasana, Rooster Pose, Cockerel Pose, Cock Pose

How to perform Kukutasana

Sit crossed-legged in Padmasana, the Lotus Pose.

Put your hands in between your calves and thighs and push them and the arms through until the palms lie flat on the floor. Slowly shift your weight to the arms and lift yourself up until your elbows.

Benefits of Kukutasana

This yoga pose strengthens your arms and shoulders as well as your chest muscles.


Of course it also improves your balance and help you to focus on having your weight on other body parts than your legs.

Tips and Help

If you have never done this yoga asana before, you may have difficulties lifting yourself up. In the beginning you simply try to shift your body weight to your arms.

Do it slowly, not with sudden pushes, and you will see that soon you can shift your whole body weight onto your arms, not only a fraction of it.


If you have difficulties with being in the lotus seat, just try the exercise in a simple tailor seat with your legs crossed.

Practice time

You can hold the yoga pose as long as you can however stop immediately if you feel any kind of pain in your arms or shoulders.

If you feel your arms are weak and tired from previous practice, take a break and try it later again.

When to Avoid Kukutasana

Do not perform this yoga posture if you suffer from arthritis or experience pain in hands, wrists and arms during the pose.