Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 6 of 20

Downward Facing Dog
Sanskrit Name: Adho Mukha Shvanasana
Adho = Downward
Mukha = Face
Svana = Dog

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Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 6: Downward Facing Dog

Sanskrit Name: Adho Mukha Shvanasana
Adho = Downward
Mukha = Face
Svana = Dog

Benefits:

  • Creates flexibility and strength throughout the whole body
  • Awakens and stretches the entire backside of the body
  • Decompresses the spine
  • A great opener for the chest and shoulders
  • Lengthens the hamstrings, calves and Achilles tendon
  • Tones and strengthens the arms, hands, upper body and legs
  • Inverted pose – increases circulation to the brain and calms the nervous system
  • Removes fatigue and rejuvenates the body

Points:

  • Focus on grounding through the knuckles especially the knuckle of the index finger to take the weight out of the wrists.
  • Focus on the extension and length in the spine
  • Sit bones (at the base of the pelvis) lift toward the ceiling and the lower back arches

Modifications:

  • If it hurts the wrists fold the mat over three times. Place the palms of the hands on that extra padding with the knuckles coming off the mat. Press the knuckles into the floor.
  • If the shoulders are tight have the index finger point straight forward. If the shoulders are more open point the middle finger forward towards the front of the mat.

Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 7 of 20

Standing Forward Fold
Sanskrit Name: Uttanasana
Ut = deliberate, intense
Tan = stretch, extend
Uttana = deliberate extension

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Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 7: Standing Forward Fold

Sanskrit Name: Uttanasana
Ut = deliberate, intense
Tan = stretch, extend
Uttana = deliberate extension

Benefits:

  • Releases and stretches the entire backside of the body especially the hamstrings and lower back.
  • Lengthens and releases tension in the spine
  • Inversion – brings oxygen to the brain
  • Tones the liver, spleen and kidneys
  • Massages the internal organs
  • Reduces the heart rate
  • Rejuvenates the nervous system
  • Increases circulation
  • Strengthens and tones the thighs, calves, gluteal muscles and back
  • Calming and soothing to the mind

Points:

  • Be gentle with yourself; go slow and steady
  • Relax, surrender, let go
  • Feel free to bend the knees if you want to, especially if the fingers don’t touch the ground
  • Keep the feet a few inches apart and parallel; if the knees are bent keep the knees the same distance as the ankles (don’t let the knees roll in)

Modifications:

  • Another option if the fingers don’t reach the ground is to put your hands on your thighs, shins or on yoga blocks so the stretch is not too intense anywhere

High Lunge:

Also called The Monkey Pose
Sanskrit Name: Banarasana
Banara = monkey

Benefits:

  • Increases flexibility in the quadriceps of the back leg as well as the hamstring muscles of the front leg
  • Stretches the hip flexor muscles deep in the pelvis (which are important for correct posture)
  • Brings balance and proper alignment to the pelvis and lower back
  • Prepares the body for other standing postures such as Warrior I and Warrior II

Points:

  • Keep the front leg at a 90 degree angle. Knee directly above the ankle and pointing towards the second and third toe
  • Keep the back leg lifted, strong and steady
  • Sink down through the hips

Modification:

  • Hands on yoga blocks on either side of the ankle
  • Back knee down (low lunge)

Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 8 of 20

Mountain Pose
Sanskrit Name: Tadasana
Tada = mountain
Asana = posture

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Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 8: Mountain Pose

Sanskrit Name: Tadasana
Tada = mountain
Asana = posture

Benefits:

  • Creates an even, neutral alignment in the whole body
  • Teaches how to stand correctly
  • Improves posture and balance
  • Cultivates body awareness and brings a sense of mental calm
  • Grounding and centering
  • A resting posture in between other standing postures to bring the breath and rate back to normal
  • The foundation and reference point for all other postures

Points:

  • Feet can be together or separated hip distance apart
  • Stand erect; as tall as you are; balanced and stable from left to right and front to back
  • Stand still in a state of relaxed, calm attention
  • The energy moves down through the legs and up through the spine in two dynamically opposite directions

Overhead Stretch

Sanskrit Name: Parvatanasana
Parvata = mountain or hill

Benefits:

  • Stretches the whole body especially both sides of the torso
  • Releases tension in the shoulders, neck and spine
  • Calms the mind

Points:

  • Feet together
  • Move slow with steady awareness
  • Link movement with breath
  • Enjoy slowing down and just focusing on one thing

Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 9 of 20

Lateral Half Moon
Also called Standing Side Bend
Sanskrit Name: Ardha Chandrasana I
Ardha = Half
Chandra = Moon

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Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 9: Lateral Half Moon

Also called Standing Side Bend
Sanskrit Name: Ardha Chandrasana I
Ardha = Half
Chandra = Moon

Benefits

  • Stretches the sides of the torso, arms and rib cage
  • Improves flexibility of the spine
  • Stimulates and improves the functioning of the liver, kidneys and spleen

Points:

  • Feet together
  • Do not twist the spine; come straight up and over; shoulders are in the same plane as if they are between two panes of glass
  • Look forward; keep space between the chin and the chest

Modification:

  • Separate the feet hip distance apart if necessary for balance until the balance improves or if the body shape does not allow for the feet to come together
  • If it is too intense with both arms overhead this can be done with one arm up and the other hand reaching towards the floor. The arm that is up is opposite the side you are moving towards.

Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 10 of 20

Triangle
Sanskrit Name: Trikonasana
Trikona = triangle

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Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 10: Triangle

Sanskrit Name: Trikonasana
Trikona = triangle

Benefits

  • Develops strength and flexibility in the whole body
  • Strengthens the legs, knees, ankles, feet, back and neck
  • Stretches the hamstrings and spine
  • ncreases flexibility in the hips
  • Opens the chest
  • Teaches and improves alignment
  • Helps to improve digestion and elimination
  • Sends energy throughout the whole body

Points:

  • Heels in one line
  • Keep the entire base (4 corners) of the feet anchored to strengthen the feet and ankles as well as to help improve balance and stability
  • If both legs are straight keep them strong and active (firm up the thighs)
  • Lengthen and extend the whole spine towards the crown of the head
  • Twist the torso to have the top shoulder directly above the bottom shoulder
  • Both shoulders should be in the same plane as the front leg (the one that is turned out 90 degrees)
  • Extend out through both arms and keep the top hand active and engaged

Modifications:

  • If the hamstrings are tight feel free to keep the front leg bent
  • Eventually the bottom hand will come to the floor, in the beginning place the bottom hand on the thigh, shin or yoga block.
  • If the shoulders are coming forward in front of the leg you need to take the hand up higher on the leg or block so that you can keep the top shoulder in the same plane as the bottom shoulder and front leg