Ujjayi Pranayama

Names

Ujjayi Pranayama, Ocean Breath

How to perform Ujjayi Pranayama

Sit in Siddhasana , Vajrasana, Padmasana or Bhadrasana with a straight spine. To practice Ujjayi Pranayama you inhale and exhale trough the nostrils. Inhale deeply and while you do that bring the back of your tongue up, thus making the passageway for air in your windpipe tighter. You will realize that you are making the sound of the ocean by pressing the air through smaller space than usual. During exhalation you do the same sound again.


The inhalation should last as long as the exhalation so that you are breathing in a steady rhythmus. Another possibility is to make the exhalation of the breath twice the time of the inhalation. You may not have noticed but you probably often do this sound without being aware of it as it is pleasant for your ears and provides relaxation.


There are two possible variations for Ujjayi Pranayama. The first one is to include Kumbhaka, the holding of breath in between inhalation and exhalation.


The second variation is to make Kumbhaka after the exhalation and to hold the breath out.

Benefits of Ujjayi Pranayama

Ujjayi Pranayama is a good pose for providing relaxation to the mind and your senses. It reduces the blood pressure and heart rate.


As it calms the mind it is also a beneficial pose for seniors to relax.

Ujjayi Pranayama is very good for meditation practitioner because you can increase focus and concentration by practicing it. It also purifies and activates the energy within the body and provides us control over the mental and physical body which is why it is also a good exercise for hyperactivity.


When you are suffering from pain, insomnia, migraine or headache you can relieve some of the symptoms by doing this pose regularly. It is also good against heat in the head.
Because of the deep breathing and the intensive works with the lungs this posture enhances the functions of the respiratory system.


You can practice this exercise in your office in the middle of your work. Just take a short break and perform a few rounds of Ujjayi Pranayama and it will refresh your mind and you can start all the things going on in your mind with new strength. You start with new energy and clear thoughts.

Focus Points

Make sure that your mouth is closed and you are breathing through your nose. You should be focused on relaxing yourself instead of being busy doing this exercise in perfection.

Trataka

Names

Trataka, Tratak, Fixed Gazing, Fixed Gazing meditation, Blinkless Gazing, Yogic Gazing

Tratak is a well-known Kriya or karma of the six karmas of yoga, the ‘Shatkarma’ and it also is a practice of meditation.

There are many different practices explained in different texts but they are all very similar. You can find the practice of Tratak with a betel leaf, a paper, a candle, a needle, darkness, open sky, a photograph, a deity, a crystal, a stone, a flower, the moon, a star, a painting, shadow, nature, a tree, ocean waves, a flag, a bird etc.

How to perform Trataka

The main practice of Trataka is to gaze. It doesn’t matter which object you use for this but you should focus on it and gaze at it without blinking. You can even close your eyes and focus within with closed eyes.


Choose any object that is currently available to you. If you are in nature, choose a tree, a stone, a flower or anything similar. If you are out in the night, do Trataka with the moon or the stars. If you are inside your home, just use anything that you see and can focus on.
The most common and suggested one is the practice with a lit candle.


Light a candle in a dark room and place it about 75 to 90 centimeters away from you at the level of your eyes. Focus on the flame and continuously stare at it without blinking until tears start running down your cheeks. Then close your eyes but keep gazing at the same point from behind your eyelids for 15 to 20 seconds. After that relax your eye muscles.
Place your palms over your eyes without any pressure on the eyeballs. Gently move your palms in circles. Take a towel or tissue to wipe your eyes.


After that you can continue the practice. You can do this exercise for 12 to 15 minutes.

For inner Trataka practice, close your eyes and start with gazing on your third eye between your eyebrows. Further you focus on your breath and then you focus on your mind and thoughts and just pick one thought or picture and focus on that. For example think of your loved one. Gaze on it inside of you and then narrow your circle of vision and point your focus more specifically at one point in the picture. Continue the practice until you can forget your surroundings completely. That is the stage of deep meditation. This is called Trataka meditation, also known as Dharana or concentration.

Benefits of Trataka

Trataka is very obviously a very great exercise for the eyes. It moves the eye muscles which are in the usual way of looking often only staring without moving. It can help people who suffer from glaucoma, conjunctivitis, eye herpes, keratoconus, macular degeneration, ocular hypertension and sometimes even for retinitis pigmentosa and Stargardt disease. Usual and common problems like hypermetropia (longsightedness) or myopia (nearsightedness) and astigmatism can be relieved. Peripheral vision problems, presbyopia and diplopia can all get help through the practice of Trataka.


If you suffer from frequent headaches, you can also get relief by regular practice of Trataka.
Apart from physical benefits for your eyes, there are many benefits of Trataka on your mind. You increase your concentration in every day’s life by concentrating regularly for a little while in Trataka. You will be able to focus and concentrate longer and better without getting distracted.


Through this time of concentration in between, you also reduce your stress in daily life. This is good for your mental health, helps you get better sleep and brings your nervous system to peace.

Focus Points

Do not let your thoughts distract your eyes from their focus. Keep concentrated.

Tips and Help

Keep breathing normally and stay relaxed, that helps you concentrate. If you are used to perform Dirgha Pranayama, deep yogic breathing, you can also use this breathing practice.
Keep a tissue or towel next to you for wiping your eyes and blowing your nose.

If you have an eye problem and you want to practice Trataka for that, please consult your doctor and yoga teacher before starting the exercise.

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.

Mushti Sanchalan – Fist Rotation

Names

Mushti Sanchalan, Fist Rotation

How to perform Mushti Sanchalan

Sit in Dandasana with your legs straight. Stretch your arms straight to the front and make fists by grabbing your thumbs with all other fingers. Rotate your fists 20 times to the inside and 20 times to the outside.

Benefits of Fist Rotation

If you do this exercise, you will immediately feel yourself, how it works with your upper back, your neck and your shoulders. Of course it is good for strengthening the muscles in your complete arms and your torso.


If you often have upper back and neck pain or even had a slip disc in your upper back, you should regularly perform this yoga asana and you will feel how you get relief through the strengthening of your muscles in that area.


It is one of the basic poses that is practiced for stress management as it releases tension from your neck area that is very typical for people who act under pressure.

Focus Points

Take care that your elbows, neck and spine remain straight while performing Mushti Sanchalan.

Tips and Help

If you have difficulties sitting with your legs and back straight in Dandasana for this pose, you can do it in any other sitting pose that suits you.


Children love this exercise and you can make a game out of it, seeing how long they can keep their arms up.

Modak Kriya – Laddu Gesture

Names

Modak Kriya, Laddu Gesture

How to perform Modak Kriya

Stand straight with your shoulders relaxed. Stretch your hands to the front with your elbows straight. Open and close your fists one time with your thumbs inside and one time with your thumbs outside of the other fingers.


Count how many times you open and close your fists.


In the next step you stretch your hands to your sides and repeat the same exercise and count so that you have done it in an equal amount to the front and to the side.

Benefits of Laddu Gesture

This yoga pose obviously strengthens your complete arms which you will feel soon after starting the exercise. It makes the muscles of your hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, neck and upper back strong.


It makes your blood circulate strongly and thus helps to regulate your blood pressure to a normal level.

Focus Points

Don’t bend your elbows and keep your arms parallel to the floor. Only in this way you get the full benefit of this exercise.

Kati Sanchalana – Hip Rotation

Names

Kati Sanchalana, Hip Rotation

How to perform Kati Sanchalana

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


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


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

Benefits of Kati Sanchalana

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

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


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


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


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


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

Focus Points

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

Tips and Help

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


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

When to avoid Kati Sanchalana

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

Hast Titali Asana – Hand Butterfly

Names

Hast Titali Asana, Hand Butterfly

How to perform Hast Titali Asana

Sit in Sukhasana, Guptasana, Vajrasana, Bhadrasana or Padmasana and open your arms straight to the side.

Now move your arms up straight up over your head with inhalation, just like the wings of a butterfly. Then bring it down with exhalation and repeat this action, up and down, up and down.

Benefits of Hast Titali Asana

This yoga exercise is good for your shoulders and it stretches and strengthens the wrists and arms.

At the same, it also expands and strengthens the ribcage and torso muscles which gives your lungs room to breathe deeply.

Additionally it is a good yoga pose to prevent back pain.

Focus Points

Keep your arms stretched out with your elbows straight.

Do not clap when they are over your head and do not touch the floor when you bring them down.

Tips and Help

Keeping your spine straight immensely heightens the effect of this yoga pose.


Using the breathing rhythm as explained additionally helps you to remain at a steady pace.

Gulf Vritt Sanchalan – Ankle Rotation

Names

Gulf Vritt Sanchalan, Ankle Rotation Exercise

How to perform Gulf Vritt Sanchalan

Sit in Dandasana with your spine straight. Place your hands on your hips and start moving your feet in a circular motion. You make big circles with your toes and count.

Then change direction and move them the other way around, counting until the same number.

Benefits of Gulf Vritt Sanchalan

Rotating ankles is obviously a very good exercise for your legs. You shape your thighs, reduce excessive fat and strengthen the thigh muscles.


Also your back thanks you for practicing it. Especially the muscles of the lower back are strengthened.


This exercise is often recommended by physiotherapists against pain due to slip discs or a false position of the sacrum.

Focus Points

Take care that the inner sides of your feet touch each other at all times. The strength with which you move your feet should be same on both sides.

Tips and Help

The bigger you make your circles, the bigger will be the effect and the quicker you will get your thighs in shape and your lower back muscles strong!


And the best thing about this exercise is: You can do it anywhere, whether you are in office, in a train, a plane or at home on your yoga mat!

Gulf Chalan – Ankle Movement

Names

Gulf Chalan, Ankle movement

How to perform Gulf Chalan

Sit in Dandasana with your legs and your back straight. Place your hands on your hip joints and move your toes forward and backward.

Benefits of Gulf Chalan

This exercise is very beneficial for your legs. It seems very easy and it is very easy but it is really a great workout for the muscles of your thighs and calves.

You can imagine that you can – with regular practice – reduce extra thigh fat and bring your thighs into a beautiful shape.


Additionally you will feel how it strengthens your lower back muscles.


This is also one of the best exercises for stress management and you can practice it literally anywhere! While you are in the office or travelling in train or plain. You don’t even have to get up!


Gulf Chalan keeps your ankles flexible and helps the blood flow through the veins of your legs which provides instant refreshment even after long periods of sitting.

Focus Points

You should really feel a very good stretch when pulling your ankles backwards and pushing them forward. If you don’t, pull and push them more!

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!