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.

Sukhasana – Sit Easy Pose

How to do Sukhasana

Sit down comfortably on the floor and cross your legs. Keep your back and spine straight and relax your shoulders.

Benefits of Sukhasana

This yoga pose is frequently used in meditation and breathing practice. It helps you to relax and calm body and mind.

Focus Points

In this yoga posture you should be able to relax. The focus lies on sitting comfortably, with the shoulders relaxed and no pain or effort in any of your body parts.

Tips and Help when Facing Problems

If you are not able to bring your legs together very closely to the body, do not force yourself but keep them as close as it is comfortable for you. You can support your knees with cushions if necessary.

You can also place a cushion under your tailbone which will help you sit straight and reduce the pressure on your lower back.
If longer sitting is still difficult for you, try supporting your back by leaning against a wall.

When to Avoid Sukhasana

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. 

Prishtha Kartari – Back Clapping

Names

Prishtha Kartari, Back clapping

How to perform Prishtha Kartari

Sit in Sukhasana, Guptasana, Vajrasana, Bhadrasana or Padmasana. Sit straight, keep your arms and hands straight, and stretch them out to the front you’re your elbows straight. Your palms should be facing each other.


With inhalation you open your arms to your side and then further to your back. Clap behind your back without bending your elbows and while keeping your arms as high as possible.

With exhalation you bring your arms to the front again and clap again there. Repeat this until your arms are tired.

Benefits of Prishtha Kartari

This yoga practice is very good for your shoulders and the muscles in your whole upper and middle back region. It releases tension from these muscles and makes them more flexible.
This exercise for your back muscles can prevent back pain and also help if you are suffering from pain in that region.


Additionally the exercise opens your lungs and gives room for your respiratory system to expand.

Focus Points

While clapping you should keep your elbows straight and keep the arms in an angle of 90 degrees to your body. Of course this is not as easy in the back as it is in the front. The higher you keep your arms in the back, the more effective the exercise is.

Tips and Help

If you have difficulties clapping in your back, try to keep your spine straight, which generally makes it easier.


If you cannot clap but would like to get most of this exercise, you can move your arms to your back as high as possible and as far as possible, without clapping.

Pawanmuktasana – Wind Releasing Pose

Names

Pawanmuktasana, Gas Releasing Pose, Wind Releasing Pose

How to perform Pawanmuktasana

Lie in Supta Samastithi, with your body flat on the floor. Check to see which nostril is more active, bend that knee, interlace your fingers and grab your lower leg just under your knee. With exhalation you now pull your leg towards your chest and at the same time lift your head and touch your knee with your nose.


Slowly bring your head and leg back to the floor while inhaling. Relax and then repeat the exercise with the other leg. Repeat it eight to ten times.

Benefits of Pawanmuktasana

This pose regulates the Apana and the Samana Vayu, the air in your intestines and your digestive system.


Through the pressure on these areas, the posture releases gas which is stuck in stomach and intestines. It is thus a great posture against a bloated stomach.


It stimulates digestion and thus prevents and cures constipation.

The exercise of this yoga position helps your heart to pump the blood through the body.
Your belly muscles are tightened and if you do this yoga asana regularly and with many repetitions, you will soon realize how you reduce excessive belly fat and make your belly slim.

Focus Points

Make sure your second leg remains straight on the floor. Do not bend your second knee and don’t lift your leg from the floor.

Tips and Help

This yoga exercise is most effective, if you do it slowly and with a rhythm. This is why it is best to exhale once when you come up and inhale once when you lie back down.


If you are suffering from constipation, perform this pose after drinking some water. It will help your bowel movements and additionally stimulate digestion.

Parvatasana – Hill Pose

Names

Parvatasana, Hill Pose, also called Mountain Pose

How to perform Parvatasana

Sit in Padmasana, Siddhasana or in Swastikasana. Inhale deeply while bringing your arms straight above your head. Hold your breath while also keeping your arms up. When you feel like exhaling, bring your arms down and slowly exhale.


Perform this pose three to five times consecutively.

Benefits of Parvatasana

This yoga exercise makes your shoulders flexible and gives relief to your neck and upper back muscles.


You can imagine the positive effect that this yoga asana has on your respiratory system. You fill your lungs consciously with much air, hold it until all oxygen is used and then completely exhale all the used air. A regular repetition of this exercise brings you the habit of breathing more deeply in your normal breathing, too, which brings more oxygen in your system and makes your more active in general.


The regular deep breathing relaxes your complete system and helps you managing stress, tension and pressure of your every day’s life with more ease.


With this exercise you increase the blood circulation in your body and help your heart with its job.

Tips and Help

To increase the benefits of this yoga posture, you can do the counting of Puraka (inhalation), Kumbhaka (holding breath) and Rechaka (exhalation) as described in our ‘Pranayama’ category.

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.

Matsyasana – Fish Posture

Names

Matsyasana, Fish Pose

How to perform Matsyasana

Lie in Samasthiti on the floor. Now bend your knees and bring your legs and feet into Padmasana. Lay your legs back down to the floor while you keep your back on the floor, too.


Press your elbows, lower arms and hands to the floor and raise your torso up so that you can place the crown of your head on the floor. This enables you to see behind you.
Now bring your arms in front of your chest into the Namaste position. Hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds.


To come out of the pose, first place your hands and elbows on the floor and then slowly lift your head, lay your back down on the floor and in the end stretch your legs again.

This is how the traditional Matsyasana is explained in the scriptures, but there are modifications that can be done to make it easier.


If you cannot perform Padmasana, you can also keep your legs straight. Or you could perform Padmasana as much you can, for example cross your legs.

If you feel too much pressure on your head when its crown is on the floor and your hands up in front of your chest, you can also keep your hands on the floor.

Do not however place your hands under your hips. If you do, you put the complete weight and work of this exercise to your arms, which is not its purpose.

Benefits of Matsyasana

This yoga pose directly works with your complete back, from your neck down to your hips. You bring movement into your spine and shoulders which improves your posture and which can reduce back pain. You stretch your neck muscles and your back muscles in a way that you don’t do in your daily routine.


Matsyasana does not only work with your back but also with your front. Your abdominal muscles get a good stretch and you thus give room to your abdominal organs and intestines. By this movement you can even help constipation problems.


Women can do this yoga pose in order to relieve menstrual pain. Matsyasana strengthens the muscles around your reproductive organs and increases the blood flow. This helps to increase fertility of men and women.


At the same time, your respiratory system is getting stretched and you thus help your body to take in more oxygen. If you suffer from Asthma, this pose can give you relieve, as it opens the lungs and increases their capacity.


The whole area is stimulated and thus the thyroid gland and your pineal and adrenal glands are activated, too.


You open your chest when you are in this pose and blood is pumped properly through the body.


Additionally you tone and strengthen your pelvic area and flex your hips, especially when doing it in Padmasana.


Through the enhanced blood flow to the head and brain, fatigue, tiredness and the feeling of being lazy can vanish through this pose. You get new energy!

Focus Points

Focus on the bend of your back and feel the stretch.

Tips and Help

You should always respect your limits and never cross them. When you start Matsyasana, try to do it right away in the complete way or as close to it as possible. Then your body gets used to practicing the right pose from the beginning.


If you have a weak neck, you can also use a blanket under your neck.

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.

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.

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.