Virabhadrasana – Warrior

Names

Virabhadrasana, Warrior

How to perform Virabhadrasana

Stand straight in Samastithi. Open your legs so that they are about 1,5 meter apart. Check which of your nostrils is active. If it is your right nostril, turn your right foot so that it points to the right. Now bend your right knee and bring your pelvis down so that it reaches the level of the right knee. Open your arms wide and stretch them in one line with your shoulders, parallel to the floor. Look to your right side.


Repeat the pose to the other side.

Benefits of Virabhadrasana

Virabhadrasana is good for your groins and hips and especially for your hip and ankle joints because of the stretch you are giving your body during this exercise. If you are suffering from sciatica, osteoporosis or carpal tunnel syndrome, do this pose and get some relief.


If you hold this position for longer, it forms and tones your leg muscles, increases stamina for your legs and reduces extra fat from your calves and thighs.
Virabhadrasana gives a nice stretch and strengthens the shoulders, neck, arms and chest muscles.


Because of the twisting movement it is also beneficial for the lower abdominal organs and can support your fertility.


During pregnancy this pose can relieve back pain but should only be practiced if you have consulted your doctor before and he approved of the practice of this yoga pose.

Focus Points

This is one of the poses where you can easily think ‘I did it, it was not difficult!’ and not notice that you did not go fully in the pose. You need to bring your pelvis down to the height of your bent knee to feel the effect of this yoga exercise.

Tips and Help

Don’t turn your hip along with your head. Your complete upper body should be facing front while your head, knee and arm are pointing to your side.


Look far ahead with open eyes and try to look as far as it is possible. If you practice this yoga pose inside, it is best to do this exercise in front of a window. Keep normal breathing and smile as if you were a warrior.

Uttanpadasana

Names

Uttanpadasana, Raised legs Pose

How to perform Uttanpadasana

Lay in Supta Samasthiti, keep your knees straight and your feet together. Check your nostrils and if you are breathing from the right nostril, lift your right leg up straight to 90 degrees. Bring it down again and then do the same your left leg.


With inhalation you then lift both legs very slowly straight up in the air, bring them up to 90 degrees and hold them up for 30 seconds up to one minute. Bring them back down to the floor even more slowly and with exhalation. Repeat this 5 to 10 times.


You can also only do this Asana with both legs at once.


Doing it with one by one first and then with both is easier and recommended for beginners.

Benefits of Uttanpadasana

When you do this yoga pose, you feel very quickly where it is working: it strengthens and tones the muscles of your legs, your abdomen, your lower back and hips, your pelvis and additionally the muscles of your perineum.


Through the muscle work in your legs you lose weight from your hips, reduce extra thigh fat and most of all lose fat at your lower abdomen. If you want to work on getting six pack abs, this is a good exercise for your lower abs.


Uttanpadasana is a pose which is recommended for women who have recently given birth and who want to bring their weight back without overdoing their exercise and exhausting themselves.


Pregnant women in the third trimester can carefully practice this exercise against back pain. If it is difficult to raise your legs with the strength of your muscles, you can also do the pose against the wall and simply relax your back


It is one of the best postures for athletes because it gives strength and balance to the body.


This yoga exercise is suggested if you have problems with indigestion and your digestive system.

Focus Points

You should keep your legs straight and bring them up and down very slowly while keeping the focus on the work of your lower abdomen.

When to Avoid Uttanpadasana

This posture should be avoided if you are suffering from high blood pressure, Hernia or had recent abdominal surgery.


It should also be avoided if you have lower back pain or had recent surgery of your back or spine, as it gives pressure to your spinal cord and lower back. In that situation I would recommend doing it only with one leg instead of both at the same time as this does not give as much pressure on lower back and spine.


This yoga pose should also not be practiced in the first months of pregnancy.
There is also always the question whether you can perform it during menstruation. In general, if you feel comfortable with it and if you are used to practicing it, you can keep on doing it. If you have belly ache or cramps however, please do not perform this pose.

Utkatasana II – Chair Pose

Names

Utkatasana II, Chair Pose

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

How to perform Utkatasana II

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

Variation for Partner yoga

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

Benefits of Utkatasana II

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


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


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


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


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

Focus Points

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

Tips and Help

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

When to avoid the Chair Pose

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

Utkatasana

Names

Utkatasana

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

How to sit in Utkatasana

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

Benefits of Utkatasana

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

Tolasana – Scale Pose

Names

Tolasana, Scale Pose

How to perform Tolasana

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

Benefits of Tolasana

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


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

Focus Points

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

Tips and Help

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

Tadasana – Palm Tree

Names

Tadasana, Palm Tree Pose, Mountain Pose

How to perform Tadasana

Stand straight with your feet together. Interlace your fingers and stretch your arms straight up. Your palms should face the roof. Come onto your toes and stretch your body up as far as possible.

Benefits of Tadasana

This pose gives your body a good stretch and thus corrects your posture. You stretch your arms, rib cage, thorax, your throat and chest. In this way it gives your lungs space to breathe and cleans your windpipe which makes it a very good exercise against breathing problems such as asthma and bronchitis.
Regularly performed, it also helps the growth of children.
The work of your calves strengthens your legs immensely.

Focus Points

This posture only brings its good effects, if you stretch up completely and as far as you can.

Tips and Help

If you want to intensify this yoga pose, you can bring your heals up first, then halfway down and up again. Do this movement up and down without touching the floor.
This will make it possible for you to stand in the yoga pose for a longer duration of time and you will feel soon how much more your legs need to work with this variation.

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.

Shirshasana – Head Stand

Names

Shirshasana, Sirsana, Sirshasana, Head Stand

How to perform Shirshasana

Fold a blanket and place it in front of you. Sit on your toes and place your knees on the floor. Grab your elbows with your hands so that your lower arms touch each other. Place your arms in front of your knees. Now open your arms and interlace your fingers in front of your knees on the blanket so that your hands look like a triangle.


Place the top of your head on the blanket and support the back of your head with your interlaced hands by placing them on the back of your head. Straighten your knees so that you are only on your feet, arms and head. Make sure your back is also straight.


Now slowly shift your body weight to the front, over your head, and walk closer to your body with your toes. When you feel your back is in an angle of 90 degrees to the floor, start lifting your feet with exhalation from the ground and bring them up and straight, in vertical alignment with your body.


When you feel strain or, at the maximum, after three to five minutes, you slowly bring your feet down to the floor and come out of the pose.

Benefits of Shirshasana

The head stand is considered as one of the best yoga poses because of its vast amount of benefits and is, for that reason, sometimes called the ‘King of Yoga Poses’


Through the upside-down position, your blood flows more easily down where now is your head and your brain. This inversion is good for the blood circulation and your heart. The blood is purified and cleansed through its strengthened flow.


Through the easy flow of blood into your head, the whole area is supplied with fresh oxygen which helps your brain to work properly and better. You will realize that you can concentrate better and your memory improved.


A better blood circulation can prevent headaches and migraines. People suffering from insomnia can also get relief by practicing this yoga pose. Even epilepsy is said to be relieved for yoga practitioners who do the head stand.


Your ears, eyes and nose benefit from the circulation as well and many issues can be prevented through inverted yoga postures like Shirshasana.


The scalp is supplied with blood which stimulates the growth of hair and can even prevent hair loss if it was caused by poor circulation.


This yoga exercise stimulates the thyroid gland, the pituitary and the pineal glands and thus improves their functions.


Of course it is an exercise that strengthens your muscles and with all these effects it also makes your immune system stronger and more resistant.


The head stand is also said to help with many sexual problems.

Focus Points

Keep normal breathing while you are in this pose. Try to straighten your legs up so that your body is a straight vertical line.

Tips and Help

Before performing Shirshasana you should already be warm and have done some exercise. Exhaling while lifting your legs will make it easier for you to come up.


If you are new to this exercise, you can first practice performing Ardha Shirshasana and when you have gained balance in this pose move on to the full head stand.

When to avoid Shirshasana

Do not hold this pose for a longer time, even though you feel you are capable of doing so. The pressure on your head and the blood circulating there can have negative effects if you hold the pose too long. Whenever you feel strain, come out of the yoga pose.


If you suffer from headache or a serious eye disease such as glaucoma, you should avoid this pose. High blood pressure patients and people with cardiac problems should also not practice the head stand. If you had neck injuries or hernia or if you currently suffer from back pain, you should always consult your doctor before performing this yoga pose.
Women should avoid Shirshasana during menstruation time and pregnancy.

Prasarita Padottanasana

Names

Prasarita Padottanasana, Wide-Legged Forward Bend

How to perform Prasarita Padottanasana

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


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


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

Variation 1 – Arms in the Back

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

Variation 2 – Arms open behind the Legs

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

Benefits of Prasarita Padottanasana

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


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


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

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

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

Focus Points

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

Tips and Help

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


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

Padangusthasana – Big Toe Pose

Names

Padangusthasana, Big Toe Pose

How to perform Padangusthasana

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

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

Variation

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

Advanced Variation

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

Benefits of Padangusthasana

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Focus Points

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

Tips and Help

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

When to Avoid Padangusthasana

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