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.

Purna Matsyendra Asana – Full Spinal Twist

Names

Purna Matsyendra Asana, Full Spinal Twist

How to perform Purna Matsyendra Asana

Sit in Dandasana with your legs stretched in front of you. Bend your left knee and place your left foot on top of your right thigh with the heel touching your belly.


Bend your right knee, place your right foot outside of the left knee with the sole on the floor just like in Ardha Matsyendra Asana.


The remaining steps are also the same:


With exhalation you twist your upper body and bring your left shoulder outside of the right knee. Place your left hand on the right foot and grab your toes. Place your right hand behind your back on the floor, about half a meter away from your tailbone.


Keep normal breathing and look back over your right shoulder.


Slowly come out of the posture and repeat it from the other side.

Benefits of Purna Matsyendra Asana

The full spinal twist enhances the blood circulation and stimulates your nerves. It is thus beneficial for your brain, too.


With Purna Matsyendra Asana you can burn fat and regain flexibility.


When performing this yoga posture you stretch and strengthen your thigh and back muscles, your shoulders and your knees.


Purna Matsyendra Asana is great if you have digestion or gas problems.

Focus Points

The left foot should be as close to your torso as possible and your right leg should stand straight, with the sole completely on the floor.


Concentrate on turning and twisting your spinal column as much as possible while keeping the back straight. Include your neck area by turning your head, too.

Tips and Help

Only practice brings perfection, so don’t worry if also in this pose you do not seem to bring your spine into the full twist in the beginning. You can start practicing Ardha Matsyendra Asana first and later practice the full spinal twist.

When to Avoid the Full Spinal Twist

People with spinal injuries such as slip disc in any part of the spine as well as people with knee injuries should avoid performing this yoga pose.

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

Names

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, Channel Cleaning Breath

How to perform Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

Sit in Siddhasana , Vajrasana, Padmasana or Bhadrasana with a straight spine, looking to the front. Your head should be in one line with your spine.

Make the Vishnu Mudra with your right hand by placing the tip of index and middle finger on the root of your thumb.


Check which of your nostrils is active. If you are breathing from the left nostril, close your right nostril with the thumb of your right hand.

Inhale deeply through the left nostril. After completing the inhalation close the left nostril with the little and the ring finger and open the right nostril to exhale from the right side.


After exhalation from the right, continue with inhalation from the right nostril. Then close the right nostril with the thumb, open your left nostril again and exhale.

Now you have completed one round of Nadi Shodhana. Repeat this pranayama exercise 5 to 10 times.

Benefits of Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

The name Nadi Shodhana comes from the Sanskrit words “nadi” and “shodhana”.
Nadi means energy channels while Shodhana means cleansing, purifying or purification. Nadi Shodhana thus means purifying the energy channels. This makes the Prana, the life force, flow strongly and in a healthy way.


It does not only have energetic effects though! Nadi Shodhana also cleans the body of toxins and helps you to relax. This relaxation is good for your heart, as the heart beat slows down and in general good against physical and mental stress.


People suffering from migraine have also reported that through the practice of being calm, stress-related migraines have not further appeared. Even people who have been diagnosed with bipolar syndrome got relief through the calming effect of the yoga exercise.


And last but not least it is a great exercise that you could even do at work – whether during usual working hours or in your lunch break!

Focus Points

In this breathing technique you should not hold your breath. Concentrate on relaxing and breathing continuously in a steady rhythm.

Tips and Help

If you cannot sit in any of the poses listed before you can do this pose also when you are sitting on a chair or in any comfortable sitting posture.

Kapal Randhra Dhauti

Names

Kapal Randhra Dhauti, Scalp Cleansing

Kapal is the Sanskrit word for head. Randhra means hole. The Kriya thus means the cleansing of the hole of the head.


If you are not aware what this means, just think of the skull of a newborn baby. It is soft and at the top, there is a kind of hole. This is the place meant to be cleaned in this Dhauti.

How to perform Kapal Randhra Dhauti

In Kapal Randhra Dhauti, you rinse the top of your head with water. Lean forward and pour water on your head with one hand while rubbing the top of the head with the other flat hand.


Use water of a pleasant temperature and wash the top of your head. Some people refer to the scriptures’ advice to use cold water for this practice.

One needs to take into consideration however that these scriptures were written in India, a generally hot country where cold water is still not freezing through the influence of the daily sun.

It is thus safe to say that water at a normal temperature is good for use.


In the next step, you massage your temples with your thumbs, both clockwise and anticlockwise.


Additionally and to have more benefit, you can place your middle fingers from both sides to the top of your nose bone, just below your eyebrow. Hold your breath and gently massage your upper nose.


When you have to exhale, stop the massage and exhale with force.

Benefits of Kapal Randhra Dhauti

This technique is very good for calming your mind and brain.

Through the massage you reduce stress and by this can reduce problems of insomnia and even bipolar because you relax your mental situation enourmously.

You clear your thoughts and thus get more and more peace in your complete system.


Problems of headache and migraine are reduced and your nervous system has a chance to calm down, too.

In this way Kapal Randhra Dhauti also helps against depression – it gives you the chance to relax and see things another way! All kinds of stress and its symptoms can disappear with regular practice. Even bipolar disorder can be treated with this relaxation of your mind.


The calming effect is also good for your blood pressure and makes the blood circulate to your head, too. This prevents dizziness and of course the oxygen is beneficial for your brain power, too.


The water opens the pores of the scalp and cleans it.


Practitioners of meditation enjoy doing this technique as it helps you go into meditation easily.

Tips and Help

Also make sure to dry your head after washing will prevent you catching cold. It is recommended to practice this in the morning.

When to avoid Kapal Randhra Dhauti

Take care not to do this cleansing technique when it is cold as you could easily catch a cold.

It is working with the Kapha region of your body and thus the practice could increase the mucus if there is cold air around the person performing it.

Jala Neti

Names

Jala Neti, Water Neti, Water Nasal Cleaning, Neti, Water Nasal Cleansing

For doing Jala Neti, you need a Neti pot or a ‘Ganga Sagar’, as it is called in India.

This is a pot that has a kind of tube or pipe from which you can pour out water in a steady stream.


In India it was formerly usual for people to perform Neti Kriya without any Neti pot. They sniffed water into the nose from a normal Lota, a drinking pot.

Other practitioners drank water and then brought it out through the nose. Again others drank it through the nose and then performed Kunjar Kriya afterwards.

This nasal cleaning in different ways was previously a normal way of cleaning one’s body, just like brushing teeth and showering.


With the invention of the Neti pot the practice has become easier for people who have never practiced Neti before.

How to perform Jala Neti

You need a Neti pot, half a liter of water of a pleasantly warm temperature and about one teaspoon of sea salt. Mix the salt into the water.


Jala Neti can be performed in standing, squatting or in Utkatasana . If you stand, bend forward from your waist and then perform it. Check which of your nostrils is active and start from that one.


Fill your Neti pot with the salty water, and if your right nostril is active, tilt your head to the left and place the cone of the pot to your right nostril. It should have an ending of a size that you can easily insert it a bit into your nose.

Lean a bit further to the left side and start breathing through your mouth. Relax and let the water flow into your right nostril and out of the left one.


When the water is all out, take the pot away from your nose and sniff out the remaining water and mucus from your nose with force.


Repeat the same procedure from the other nostril.


After performing the Kriya from both sides, stand up straight, bend forward a bit and take five to ten breaths with inhalation through the mouth and exhalation through the nose.

If you still feel water in your nose, bend forward completely and repeat the breathing. Get up again and sniff everything out that is left.


Now you should tilt your head back for about 30 seconds, then to the left for 30 seconds and finally to the right for 30 seconds.

Again you sniff anything out that still remained inside.

Benefits of Jala Neti

Neti is one of the best Kriyas for cleaning the nasal and sinus cavity.

In our nose there is hair that catches dust and dirt and mucus that does the same. In this way your body prevents the dirt from reaching further into your respiratory system but obviously this dust then is caught in your nose.

Neti helps you to properly clean your nose from this dust, mucus and all bacteria which may be caught in that.


By this cleaning, Neti prevents and even cures infections of the nasal cavity, hay fever and other allergies, sinusitis, adenoids and post nasal drip. Even sore throats and coughs as well as inflammation of the tonsils can be prevented and healed.

If you suffer from asthma or bronchitis, Neti can relieve your breathing problems by opening and cleaning your nostrils.


Your nose is connected with your eyes, ears and even your brain. This is why, when you have a cold or flu and mucus accumulates in your nose and sinuses, you feel that your whole head is heavy.

You feel pressure on your ears and can even have headache. Cleaning that mucus can have a liberating effect!


You can thus get rid of headaches and migraines and your vision will get clearer. Your eyes get hydrated and thus you shine much more.


If your hearing ability is impaired by mucus or if you have pain, inflammation or infections in the ears, Neti might be a helpful practice.

It is even said to cure otitis media and tinnitus.


The cleansing of your nose also enhances the power of your olfactory nerve which is connected to our sense of taste.

This is why it is said that Neti improves the senses of smell and taste.

Jala Neti is additionally a great help for people who are willing to quit smoking.

Tips and Help

Take care not to pour water from the top of the pot on your face.


Do not force the pot’s cone too hard into the nostrils.


Drying the nose afterwards by blowing is necessary because it is not good to leave water in the nose. It can cause you cold or funny feeling in the head so better clean it out.

To prepare yourself for Jala Neti, you can practice Dirgha Pranayama and Nadi Shodhana Pranayama before.

After Jala Neti you can practice Kapalabhati Pranayama which will dry your sinus cavities.

Dirgha Pranayama – Full Yogic Breath

Names

Dirgha Pranayama, Dirga Pranayama, Full Yogic Breath, Deep Breathing

How to perform Dirgha Pranayama

You can practice the full yogic breathing in any position that you are in. In fact, you should make an effort to make this way of breathing your usual and constant breathing.

The more often you breathe deeply like this, the better it is for you and your system.

Inhale deeply and fill first your belly, then your lungs with air and finally until the top of your chest, so that your shoulders are widened and lifted up.


Exhale in the same way, from the top down to the lungs and in the end from the belly.

Benefits of Dirgha Pranayama

It is scientifically proved that people who breathe more deeply are less prone to stress-related diseases and illnesses such as the burnout syndrome, hysteria and even stress-caused headaches and migraine.


Deeper breathing simply means that you inhale more oxygen than in your usual, flat breathing. You give your lungs room to expand and do their work properly. They distribute energy through the blood in your whole body. The more oxygen you get at once, the more energy you will feel.


This deep breathing makes you calmer, slows down your heart beat and thus prevents you from hyperactivity. You don’t take stress as easily anymore and even in situations of shock you are able to reduce any harming effect by taking a few deep breaths.


Of course it is a natural help for anybody who has problems with asthma and his breathing channels.


There are so many benefits to breathing deeply that you might as well simply try it out and see for yourself what it does to you!

Bhujangasana – Cobra Pose

Names

Bhujangasana, Sarpasana, Cobra Pose

How to perform Bhujangasana

Lie down on your belly with your body and knees straight and your feet together. Place your hands beside your chest and with inhalation lift your upper body up until even the navel does not touch the floor anymore. Look straight up.


To come out of the pose, slowly lay your body back down on the floor with exhalation.

Benefits of Bhujangasana

Practicing the cobra pose is very good for strengthening the spinal column and the muscles supporting the spine. This is how it is often recommended against backache, in some cases even if you suffer from pain after a slip disc.


The cobra pose also works wonders for your abdomen and abdominal organs. It helps your digestion and thus prevents and also works against constipation. Also if you have the feeling your stomach often bloats, frequent practice of this yoga posture can help you alleviate your discomfort.

This help for your digestion has another effect, too: toxins and excessive salts are removed from the body which prevents them from forming kidney stones. Together with the intake of much water and other exercises, the cobra pose is said to reduce the size of existing kidney stones, too.


Women who have issues with their ovaries or suffer from irregular menstruation cycles and leucorrhea as well as pain during menstruation can get relief through regular practice of Bhujangasana.


The cobra posture also helps your lungs to fully expand and collect a larger amount of oxygen which then helps the heart and blood circulation. The result is that you feel fitter and more energetic. Fatigue is relieved and you can cope with stress more easily.


Energetically Bhujangasana also helps you to feel more alive. It enhances your sexual life. Men will find that regular practice of the cobra posture works against premature ejaculation.


Bhujangasana is an exercise for the whole body as you can see in the many benefits described above. This is why it is popular as a posture enhancing your whole life!

Focus Points

Your legs and feet should remain together and touching each other during the practice of the yoga pose. Your toes should point to the back, so that the soles of your feet are turned upwards. Keep your hands with the palm flat on the floor.


Throughout the full pose, you should keep your shoulders relaxed. Don’t hang the weight of your upper body on your shoulders.

Tips and Help

If you want to bring your buttocks in a nice shape and chose this exercise for it, you can increase its effect by squeezing your buttocks with inhalation and pressing the pelvis down. This tones your muscles even more!


Keep your breathing rhythm: come up with inhalation, do complete yogic breathing while you are in the pose and come down again with exhalation.

When to Avoid Bhujangasana

Pregnant women should avoid practicing Bhujangasana.


If you are suffering from wrist, shoulder and neck pain, from cramps in that area or a sprain of the arm, you should consult your doctor and avoid the exercise until he approved it.

Balasana – Child-s Pose

Names

Balasana, Child’s Pose, Child Pose

How to perform Balasana

Sit in Vajrasana and with exhalation bend forward until your upper body lies on your thighs and your forehead rests on the floor in front of you. Lay your arms in a relaxed pose by your sides and relax in this posture.


Whenever you decide to come up, come up with exhalation.

Benefits of Balasana

This posture gives a nice stretch to the hips and back muscles while it is at the same time simply relaxing your whole body. Your mind can relax with this focus to the inside. People suffering from hyperactivity can learn to use this exercise as an anchor, a pose from which to find back to peace and focus. Also bipolar conditions can be helped by performing the child’s pose.


With its many benefits Balasana is a posture that is loved by kids and seniors alike.
With the forward bend and the complete relaxation in the posture it is a perfect pose for reducing high blood pressure.

Focus Points

The main focus of this posture is to relax. So be calm, listen to your breath and make a journey inside you. It is as if you are only by your own, nothing from the outside to reach to you.

Tips and Help

If you cannot place your forehead on the floor, you can use a cushion or a pillow under your forehead to let it relax.


It is a pose that can be done whenever you are stressed or tired. If you integrate it into your yoga practice, it is the perfect yoga pose to do to relax in between the poses.

Anuloma Viloma Pranayama

Names

Anuloma Viloma, Alternate Nostril Breathing

How to perform Anuloma Viloma Pranayama

Anuloma Viloma is actually the practice of Nadi Shodhana with a counting rhythm and with holding your breath in between inhalation and exhalation.


You sit in a comfortable sitting position like Siddhasana , Vajrasana, Padmasana or Bhadrasana with a straight spine. With the right hand in the Vishnu Mudra you close your un-active nostril. If this is the right one, use your thumb. If it is the left one, use your ring finger and little finger.


Fill your body with air with inhalation counting on two, hold your breath in while counting to eight and exhale while counting to four with your fingers closing the other nostril.
After that you have completed one round of Anuloma Viloma Pranayama. You can repeat this exercise 5 to 10 times.

As usual, you can increase your counting to 4, 16, 8 or 8, 32, 16 or 16, 64, 32.

Benefits of Anuloma Viloma Pranayama

This Pranayama is in particular known for triggering emotions, so please don’t be surprised when the practice of this posture will make you feel emotional. This is also why this pose is good for staying mentally healthy, clearing the mind and your thoughts.


If you are suffering from insomnia, hysteria or mental and physical stress, this exercise is beneficial for you, as it is a very relaxing breathing exercise. It helps in concentration and focusing and boosts your memory power. Additionally it helps you to control your temper and prevent outbursts of anger.

With its calming effect, this breathing exercise is perfect if done before meditation. It prepares you, calms down your emotions and clears your mind.
With its general calming effect, it also ‘calms down‘ your heartbeat which is why it is also helpful for high blood pressure.


As it increases the blood flow in the head, Anuloma Viloma is good for eyes, ears and nose. This posture is even said to be beneficial against early greying hair. Anuloma Viloma provides more oxygen to the brain through this increased blood flow. It clears the weakness of our mind and provides strength. If you are suffering from shakiness or Parkinsons, this might be the right posture to get some relief.


Even your respiratory system, heart, and lungs profit from this exercise as you deepen your breath and bring out the toxins from your body.

Some people mix up Nadi Shodhana Pranayama and Anuloma Viloma Pranayama. Both are very good and beneficial, so don’t be confused about the names. Just do them and get the benefits!

Focus Points

Close your eyes while performing the pranayama and focus within your body

Tips and Help

People suffering from high blood pressure and heart problems should start their practice with low counting. Find an easy and comfortable position. Keep changing the sitting postures whenever you feel uncomfortable. You can also sit on a chair.