Vipareet Naukasana – Inverted Boat

Names

Vipareet Naukasana, Viprit Navasan, Inverted Boat Pose

How to perform Vipareet Naukasana

Lie on your belly with your feet straight and your arms straight over your head. Bring your arms to the sides of your head so that your ears are closed. Spread your fingers apart and let your tips of your thumbs touch each other.


With inhalation you now lift your hands, arms, head and chest as well as your legs up in the air. Hold your breath and balance your body on your stomach, pelvis and thighs. With exhalation you slowly move your arms and legs down and gently place them down on the floor again.

Benefits of Vipareet Naukasana

The inverted boat pose is one of the best yoga postures to reduce belly fat. It also strengthens your hips and ties which brings both, your buttocks and your legs, into a nice shape.


While strengthening the back muscles, it also positively affects your spine which comes in another position than its usual one. In this way the tissues and muscles around it remain flexible.


Through the movement in this yoga pose, the kidneys, thyroid glands and prostate gland get a soft and stimulating massage.


Through the opening of the chest, the lungs get space to expand fully and take more oxygen in. This helps you to breathe more deeply in your every day’s life, too, which is an immense help in relieving stress. People, who breathe deeply, keep their heart beat low and are less prone to stress.

When to Avoid the Inverted Boat Pose

People suffering from diarrhea, low blood pressure, insomnia or chest and heart pain should not practice Vipareet Naukasana.


Women should avoid this yoga posture during menstruation and pregnancy.
If you suffer from neck injuries, you should be very careful while practicing this pose and best of all, consult with your doctor first.

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.

Titali Asana – Butterfly

Names

Titali Asana Butterfly Pose

How to perform Titali Asana

Sit straight in Dandasana with your legs straight in front of you. Bend your knees, place the soles of your feet together and grab your feet with your hand. Pull them as close to your body as you can so that you feel the stretch.


Next step: start flying!


You move your knees up and down as high and low as you can.

Benefits of Titali Asana

The butterfly pose is good for the spine and lower back as well as your hip joints. It strengthens the muscles of your hips and legs and makes your hamstrings more flexible.

Focus Points

Sit straight and continue your normal breathing. You should feel the stretch in your legs. If not, pull your feet closer to your body and move your knees higher and lower.


Don’t make a hunchback and don’t jump with each movement of your butterfly wings. Just move the legs, not the complete body.

When to Avoid Titali Asana

If you are suffering from spinal injury or experience pain or discomfort in knees and hips while performing the posture, please consult your doctor and yoga teacher if it is safe for you to do the pose.

Swastikasana

How to perform Swastikasana

Sit in Dandasana, bend your left knee and place your left foot on the inside of your right thigh. Now bend your right knee and bring your right leg over the left one, placing your right foot on the inside of your left thigh.
Keep your spine straight and keep your head and neck in one line. Place your hands on your knees in the Gyan Mudra.

Benefits of Swastikasana

This pose is good for practicing meditation. It is a comfortable way of sitting to ease the mind and an alternative pose for Padmasana and Siddhasana . So when you meditate and feel uneasy in one pose, just change into another.

Focus Points

Keep your spine straight at all times during this pose. If your knees are hurting while doing this pose, change your legs when pain arises.

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. 

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.

Parsvottanasana – Intense Side Stretch Pose

Names

Parsvottanasana, Intense Side Stretch Pose

How to perform Parsvottasana

Stand in Samasthiti and check from which nostril you are breathing, inhale deeply and bring your palms to your back with the hands in namaste position. Exhale.


With the next inhalation you bring the leg of your active side about a meter to the front. When you exhale, you bend forward towards your leg which is in front and rest your body on that leg. Keep your back as straight as possible and stretch your legs so that they are straight, too.


Stay in this position for 20 to 30 seconds and with inhalation come up again.
Repeat the exercise from the other side.

If you cannot bring your arms to your back in namaste pose, you can also interlace your fingers and bring your straight arms up while bending forward. They will pull your upper body further down.

Benefits of Parsvottasana

This yoga pose relieves stiffness from your legs, hips, shoulders and wrists. It brings flexibility and makes your spine feel moving smoothly again.


Through this, it is a good exercise for your joints, to prevent arthritis and to cure the pain of arthritis in the joints.


It is like a half-inverted pose, with your head hanging down and thus your blood flow into the head is increased. You get more oxygen in the head, can concentrate better and are more awake.

You practice your breathing with the pose and this close attention on your lungs and on your inside reduces stress as well as lets your lungs expand further.


Through the pressure on your intestines, you stimulate your liver and spleen as well as your digestive system.

For women this pose can relieve menstruation pain if performed regularly.

Focus Points

Your first intention is to bring your upper body to lie on your leg. If you cannot place your upper body on your leg yet, you can work on it. With inhalation, you stretch your upper body further down and with exhalation you bring it closer to your leg.


Take care however to keep your feet flat on the floor.

Tips and Help

If you have difficulty in bringing your hands into your back in Namaste position, you can also let your hands hang down or grab your leg.

When to Avoid this Parsvottanasana

Do not perform this pose if you are suffering from back pain or slip disk or have an injury or surgery of the spine. Also avoid this yoga pose if you have high blood pressure, abdominal hernia and diarrhea or dysentery.

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.