Virasana – Hero Pose

Names

Virasana, Hero Pose

How to sit in Virasana

At first sit on your heels and then move them out from under your buttocks so that your perineum is also in contact with the floor.

Benefits of Virasana

This yoga poses strengthens your thighs, knees, ankles and calves. It is good for digestion and recommended for people with issues of diabetes. Women who start the time of menopause should sit in Virasana to reduce pain and irregularity. It is said to control high blood pressure and is beneficial against asthma.

Tips and Help

Beginners can use cushions under buttocks, knees and ankles if any body part hurts.

Practice Time

3-5 minutes per training session. Practicing for longer time periods can harm your knees.

When to Avoid Virasana

If you have knee problems, pain and weakness in the knees or if your ligaments are worn or torn, you should avoid this position. If you are in doubt, please consult your doctor or physiotherapist and let your yoga teacher know about it.

Vajrasana – Kneeling Position

Names

Vajrasan, Vajrasana or Sitting on Heels

How to perform Vajrasana

Kneel on the floor and slowly sit back on your heels until you comfortably sit with your spine straight and your hands on your legs.

Benefits of Vajrasana

This sitting yoga pose is one of the basic postures that you can use for practicing Pranayam, breathing exercises. Vajrasan helps you to sit straight without much effort.

This is one of the very few Yoga poses that you can do on full stomach. If you sit in Vajrasana after food it will help your digestion.

Focus Points

Be aware of your pose and listen to your body while in this position. You should feel relaxed and your back should not feel any strain. If you feel your muscles aching and your body trying to shift, allow it to leave this position and change into another sitting position.

When to Avoid Vajrasana

If you have knee problems, pain and weakness in the knees or if your ligaments are worn or torn, you should avoid this position. If you are in doubt, please consult your doctor or physiotherapist and let your yoga teacher know about it.

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.

Nauli

Names

Nauli

In English Nauli Kriya is sometimes called ‘isolation of the belly’ because you need to isolate your belly muscles, bring them together and push them out.

How to perform Nauli

You need to be able to perform Uddiyana Bandha before you start practicing Nauli. Otherwise it is impossible for you to learn Nauli. Take the advice of an experienced yoga teacher to learn this Kriya.


This practice can be done both in sitting in standing but beginners should start in standing.
Keep your feet about 30 centimeters apart from each other to have a firm stand. Perform two rounds of Dirgha Pranayama, then inhale deeply while bringing your arms above your head. Exhale with force from the open mouth and bend down completely to bring out all the air from your belly.


Then you come up a bit more than half, so that you are still a bit bent forward and place your hands on your thighs. Now you make the abdominal lock, Uddiyana Bandha and in the next step contract your belly muscles and bring them out in the middle. To do this you use the rectus abdominis muscle which is commonly known as the six pack muscle. Bringing this central abdominal muscle out visibly is called ‘Madhyama Nauli’.


You can practice this central Nauli and when you have mastered it, move on to do ‘Vama Nauli’ and ‘Dakshina Nauli’, Nauli on the left and right side. To do this, you do not bring out the central muscle in the middle but its left or right side.

Once you have mastered these two practices, you can start moving your Nauli from right to left and left to right.


As the last and most advanced practice you now rotate your Nauli clockwise and anticlockwise.


When you have achieved a good practice of Nauli, you can perform it in sitting as well.

Benefits of Nauli

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika says that Nauli is the crown practice of all Hatha Yoga exercises and is able to cure all defects and diseases. This sounds great and although one cannot take the word ‘all’ literally, it is definitely a very beneficial practice.


When practicing Nauli, you quickly realize that it gives a good massage to all your internal organs. This massage is great for your kidneys and liver, your bladder and your urinary tract, pancreas and gall bladder and prostate gland or ovaries and reproductive organs.


The effect of this massage on your digestive system is obviously a stimulation which can, with regular practice, prevent constipation problems.


Nauli detoxifies the body which is why it is a Kriya, a cleansing practice.


By the stimulation of the kidneys, many problems of urination can be cured and prevented. For men additionally the work with the prostate gland helps those issues. If you have frequent urge to urinate, also during night, if you have a very strong and sudden urge so that a toilet cannot always be reached, if the stream or urination is slow and lacking force or does not stop properly when you have finished as well as the feeling that even when you are done, you feel that the bladder is not empty and you have to go to toilet soon again, regular practice of Nauli can help. Other, similar problems are the urination without being aware of it and leakage of urine during intercourse, coughing or exercise. With the kidney and bladder massage that takes place with proper exercise, these problems may soon be part of your past.


Additionally the stimulation of the kidneys improves their filtering function and thus Nauli is good for people suffering from diabetes.

Men who suffered from prematre ejaculation are said to have recovered by regular practice of Nauli.


Of course women also benefit from the practice of Nauli. Almost all gynecological problems from menstrual disorders and pain during menstruation up to problems with ovaries and womb can be prevented by Nauli.

Focus Points

The aim is not to rotate your Nauli as fast as possible but to do it properly. Train yourself to do it slowly, you will notice that it is much harder and much more effective than doing it very fast.

Tips and Help

When you start rotating your Nauli, you can help the movement by slightly moving your hips in a circle. This helps you do the circular movement of the Nauli. Later, when you have better control on your Nauli, you will be able to do it without your hip movement.
During or after the practice of Nauli you may feel the urge to urinate. This is completely normal and you should follow this urge of your body.

When to Avoid Nauli

Do Nauli only on empty stomach as it will otherwise cause you pain. Also do not perform Nauli if you have the urge to go to toilet or if you have hickups.


If you have a cold and are frequently coughing or sneezing, refrain from your practice as well.


Do not perform Nauli during pregnancy.

As Nauli is an advanced practice, only exercise it when you are completely healthy. If you have any doubt, please consult your doctor and tell your ygoa teacher about it.
The practice of Nauli is definitely not good for heart patients and people suffering of hypertension, colitis, ulcers, intestinal cancer, blood pressure, diarrhea, hernia or stones in gall bladder or kidney.

Mandukasana – Frog Pose

Names

Mandukasana, Frog Pose

How to perform Mandukasana

Sit in Vajrasana and make fists with both hands, the thumbs inside. Place your fists on your belly next to the belly button.


Bend forward with exhalation. Hold your breath in the yoga posture for a few seconds and come up with inhalation.

Benefits of Mandukasana

This yoga pose is beneficial for people suffering from diabetes as well as for the pancreas and the heart.


The frog pose helps reduce fat from thighs, belly and hips.

Focus Points

Regulate your breathing with going in and out of the posture. This will strengthen the effect of reducing extra belly weight.


Performing the frog pose together with the right breathing and with an empty stomach stimulates the acupressure points of pancreas and heart.

When to Avoid Mandukasana

People suffering from abdominal injuries and any kind back pain should not perform the frog yoga pose.

Pose recommended for doing after Mandukasana

In the frog pose you bend forward and contract all your inner muscles. In the next step it is recommended to perform Uttan Mandukasana , the Uplifting or Stretched Frog Pose to stretch all these muscles.

Maha Mudra

Names

Maha Mudra, Mahamudra

How to perform Maha Mudra

Sit in Dandasana with your spine and legs straight.

Place your left heel on your perineum.

The sole of the left foot should touch your right thigh. Inhale deeply.

With exhalation you bend forward and make all three bandhas or body locks, the Mula Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha and Jalandhara Bandha.

This means you contract your perineum muscles, place your chin on your chest and let the vacuum in your belly pull your navel up and in.

Lean forward to grab your right toes with both hands, hold the air out of your body and stay in the yoga pose.

For coming out of the pose, release the locks and come up with inhalation. Repeat this posture from the other side.

Benefits of Maha Mudra

In yogic scripture it is said to be one of the greatest postures as it includes all the three Bandhas.

This gives control and command over your mental and physical constitution. It has all the benefits of the three different locks combined in this posture.


Your digestion and metabolism with all your internal organs benefit from this yoga pose. Spleen, pancreas, kidney, gall bladder, bladder, prostate gland and your bowels are all stimulated to work properly. This of course helps you if you suffer from diabetes or irritable bowel syndrome.


Women’s menstruation pain and problems with the uterus and the ovaries can be prevented and cured.

If you have problems with your respiratory system like tuberculosis, this pose can help you.
By practicing this exercise you can strengthen your shoulders as well as your lumbar muscles.


The immune system as well as your endocrine system benefit from the exercise and your complete body is provided with energy. By pressing the heel on the perineum you also stimulate the nervous system which will bring benefits for your mental health.


With the combination of the locks the yoga pose provides blood flow and oxygenation to the brain which effects psychically by building up your self-confidence and concentration power.

Focus Points

Take care that the knee of the leg which is lying on the floor is straight.


When you perform this exercise, focus on your breath and on the locks. You should be aware that you should not breathe during the posture.

Don’t force yourself to stay longer in the posture than you can do easily. Never cross your limits!

Tips and Help

Before you practice the Maha Mudra, make sure you have practiced the three Bandhas separately so that you are sure how they feel.


Exhale from the mouth and close your eyes. If you cannot reach to your toes grab your ankle or calves depending on how far you can get.

Karnapidasana – Ear Pressure Pose

Names

Karnapidasana, Ear Pressure Pose

How to perform Karnapidasana

You can go into this pose from Sarvangasana, the shoulder stand, or Halasana, the plow. This means you either have your legs straight over you or on the floor behind your head and your hands are supporting your back.


In both cases you slowly bend your knees and place them next to your ears.

You can either place your arms flat on the floor behind your back, palms flat or with your fingers interlaced, or, more advanced, you can put your arms around your thighs and actually hug your legs with your knees next to your ears.


In order to come out of Karnapidasana, support your back with your hands and straighten your knees to go back into the plow pose.

Then come in Sarvangasana by bringing your legs straight up into the air. Slowly bring your back and legs back down to the floor.

Annotation

Here it is recommended to do Sarvangasana, Halasana and Karnapidasana in a row.

This is a popular sequence of inversion postures which increases the benefits of the inversion.


It is always recommended to do either Matsyasana or Chakrasana after these three poses and in this way it suffices to do that once.

If one decides to perform all three yoga poses separately, it is advisable to do Matsyasana or Chakrasaana after each pose to relax the spine.

Benefits of Karnapidasana

Karnapidasana obviously stretches the muscles of your back and your legs. In this way it can prevent back pain.

Your thyroid gland is stimulated through this pose, too, and activated to work properly.


Additionally, Karnapidasana is good against problems of the ears. As an inversion pose, the blood flow in the head is increased and your ears get an additional pressure through your knees at the sides.

This pressure with the higher blood flow helps your ears to cleanse themselves and can increase your hearing ability.


Through the higher amount of oxygen coming to your head, the pose helps you to think clearly and thus releases stress.


As all inversion poses, this one is good against diabetes because of the increased blood flow and also helps you to sleep better at night.

Kapalbhati Pranayama

Names

Kapalbhati Pranayama

As Kapalbhati is a breathing exercise, it is known as a Pranayama but the original yogic scripture refers to it as one of the six cleansing techniques called ‘Kriyas’.

You can read about these cleansing techniques in our Kriya section.

How to perform Kapalbhati Pranayama

Sit in Vajrasana, Siddhasana , Padmasana or Bhadrasana. 


Inhale deeply into your belly through your nose. Then start pumping out the air by forcing your belly in.

The inhalation will be done automatically you should only focus on exhalation.

Your abdominal muscles will contract and push the air out. When you release them, air is immediately sucked back in.


When you feel tired, you complete your round of Kapalbhati with a complete exhalation and hold the air out after that.

Two rounds of breathing follow the first round. Then you inhale deeply and start all over again into the second round.


You can do this exercise 3 to 5 rounds or even more if you feel comfortable. You can also increase the number of exhalations per round by counting them and increasing them each time.

Benefits of Kapalbhati Pranayama

Kapalbhati is a very beneficial exercise for physical and mental health.


The movement of the belly in this breathing exercise is very good for your digestive system. It massages all abdominal organs as your spleen, pancreas, liver, kidneys, bladder, gall bladder, ovaries, fallopian tubes and urinary tract.


With regular practice of Kapalbhati, you stimulate your digestion and activate the Apan Vayu, which also helps digesting your food. It works with your complete digestive system, metabolism and intestines and helps to digest even food which is stuck in the intestines.


Through the work of this breathing technique, you can prevent food to produce ‘ama’ (waste) in your body and stop unnecessary fat preserves. People who suffered from constipation and other digestion problems have got big relief through the practice of Kapalbhati.

Low appetite and anorexia – if not caused psychologically – are also results of irregular digestion and problems with the metabolism. Kapalbhati solves those digestion problems and can thus increase your appetite again.


The exercise reduces Pitta, acidity in the body.


Obviously your diaphragm, lungs and heart will also benefit from Kapalbhati, as it gets used in unusual activity and the air which moves in your body brings out toxins.

Diseases of the respiratory system like asthma, flue, cold, sinusitis and bronchitis can be relieved with this posture.

Kapalbathi increases the air and blood circulation in the upper body and brain and with it ears, eyes and nose. With this help to the blood circulation, you can even prevent heart strokes.


diabetes patients should do this posture regularly as is brings the blood sugar to a normal level and helps the pancreas to release insulin.


It strengthens the muscles in the back especially the ones next to the spinal column and in the abdomen. Like this stamina and strength can be improved.


Breathing with this technique provides calmness and stability, increases the memory and is good against hysteria.


There are however also benefits to your beauty and shape:

Kapalbhati purifies the blood and brings glow and shine to our skin. If you want to reduce some extra belly fat, do this exercise regularly and you will soon see an effect: a flattening belly.

Focus Points

Focus on your belly and on the exhalation so that you exhale and don’t actively inhale. You only move your belly, not your hips and shoulders.

Don´t jump up and down or make funny faces, simply concentrate on your exhalation.

Tips and Help

Always take two deep breaths between your rounds so that your system can relax from the previous round and that you can prepare your system for the next round.

If you are suffering from back pain please be gentle with your breathing. Then it will be good for your back pain. Performing Kapalbathi too forcefully can otherwise increase back pain.

When to Avoid Kapalbhati

Please avoid this posture if you are suffering from diarrhea.

Halasana – Plow Pose

Names

Halasana, Plow Pose

How to perform Halasana

Go into Sarvangasana, the shoulder stand, and slowly bring your legs back behind your head and feet to the floor while keeping your knees straight.

Your tailbone should be the highest point of your body now. Bring your arms down so that they are lying straight on the floor.


While keeping the legs straight walk with your toes towards your head as much as you can and stay in this position.


From this pose you can also go into Karnapidasana.


For coming out of the posture please support your back with your hands and bring your legs back into the shoulder stand, into Sarvangasana.

Benefits of Halasana

Halasana is directly working with your thyroid and parathyroid gland because the bending of your complete body and your back stimulates them. The yoga pose is thus very good for our blood purification system.


The fluid released by doing this posture increases the production of white blood cells in our body which supports our immune system.


Halasana stretches the spinal column, shoulder muscles and hamstrings. This is why it is beneficial against back pain.

As a result of that, it helps against stress and fatigue as well as insomnia and head ache caused by tension in those muscles.

As it is an inverted pose, it also enhances the blood flow to the head.

This yoga pose is also beneficial for the abdominal organs and gives them a nice stimulation.


Through this it enhances and enriches the sexual power in men and women.


Woman can benefit from it because Halasana is good for fertility, and reduces the negative symptoms of the menopause.


Men get benefits from this exercise as it increases the stamina of the sperm. It is also very good for achieving a good sexual performance and preventing premature ejaculation.


The movement and stimulation of the organs detoxifies the organs. This is also a supportive exercise if you want to lose weight or if you are suffering from diabetes.

Tips and Help

To perform this posture you should be able to practice Sarvangasana first.


Please always support your back while going into the posture and while coming out of the posture. Also keep your knees straight while being in this position. If there is too much pressure on your neck, come out of this posture straight away.

While being in Halasana you can also interlace your hands behind your back with the elbows straight.

When to Avoid Halasana

Please prevent practicing this posture if you are suffering from diarrhea, neck injuries, asthma, high blood pressure or heart problems.


During pregnancy it is recommended to consult your doctor before doing this posture because in most cases Halasana should be avoided. Please let your yoga teacher know about your pregnancy, too.

Eka Pada Paschimottanasana

Names

Eka Pada Paschimottanasana, Half Hero Forward Bend, One Leg Forward Bend

How to perform Eka Pada Paschimottanasana

Sit in Dandasana with straight legs and a straightened spine. Check which of your nostrils is active. If you are breathing more from your right nostril it means that your right side is activated.


Bend your right knee and place your heel under your buttocks as you would do in Vajrasana. Bring your arms straight up without bending your elbows.

With an exhalation bend forward and grab the toes of your left foot. Place your upper body on your left leg and right thigh. Come up with inhalation.


Repeat this posture from the other side.

Benefits of Eka Pada Paschimottanasana

Eka Pada Paschimottanasana is a beneficial pose to stretch and strengthen the thigh, calves, hamstrings, back and spine. It prevents and heals sciatic pain.


Your strength and the flexibility of the knee joints and ankles is improved by this posture.

You want to reduce fat from the belly? Perfect: if you practice this posture daily you will never have a problem with gaining belly fat and you can even reduce it.


There is also a positive effect on the digestive system and other organs as the bending forward stimulates and massages the organs.


It relaxes the mind and improves concentration due to the increase of blood flow and blood circulation in your upper body and head.

This is why it is also good for diabetes. It regulates the sugar in your blood by this activation of blood circulation.


This yoga pose strengthens the nervous system.

Eka Pada Paschimottanasana works with the solar plexus chakra which is responsible for distributing the energy in your body. You will thus feel energetic, enthusiastic and active.


Eka Pada Paschimottanasana stimulates Prana, Samana and Apana Vayu in the body. Prana Vayu lives in the heart region and moves between heart and navel. It is responsible for breathing, the heart function and the movement of digestive acid.

This posture gives a positive effect to Prana Vayu and its action as well.


Samana Vayu, which is located in the navel region, is responsible for the function and the movement of the abdominal organs like pancreas, liver, kidney, spleen and gall bladder.


Apana Vayu is located between navel and anus and its function is to produce urine and stool and the pressure to get rid of it again. Bladder, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and their functions are also connected to Apana Vayu.

That’s how this posture is beneficial for menstruation irregularity or problems with the menopause. It also stimulates the acupressure points on the buttocks.

Focus Points

Always bend down with exhalation and come up with inhalation. Your focus should be to lay your upper body on your legs and try to keep your upper body as straight as possible.


Keep the foot of the straight leg stretched by pulling your toes in the direction of your body.

Tips and Help

To make this posture even more fun you can do it together with your partner. Just sit face to face to each other and practice together.

You can for example help your partner in bending forward by pulling his arms towards you.

You can place a cushion under your buttocks if you are not comfortable bending forward. You can also put a folded blanket or a cushion under your ankles when they are hurting or they make you feel uncomfortable.


If you cannot put your heel under your buttocks you can also place it next to them as in Virasana.


If you cannot grab your toes, try to reach as far as possible on your calves.

When to Avoid Eka Pada Paschimottanasana

Avoid this posture if you have an ankle or knee injury, torn ligaments or a damaged meniscus.

You should also not do this pose if you are suffering from back pain, slip disc, a displaced sacrum or diarrhea. It is not very good to do this exercise during pregnancy as it pressurizes the womb.


Be careful with doing this posture if you have strong sciatic pain.