Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 11 of 20

Warrior I
Sanskrit Name: Virabhadrasana I
Virabhadra = a warrior from Indian mythology

Prev | Next

Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 11: Warrior I

Sanskrit Name: Virabhadrasana I
Virabhadra = a warrior from Indian mythology

Benefits

  • Develops strength, endurance and balance
  • Strengthens the ankles, knees, legs, shoulders and arms as well as the core muscles of the abdomen and back
  • Increases flexibility in the calves, front groins, hips, back, shoulders and neck
  • Strengthens the muscles deep in the hips while they are in a fully lengthened position; this kind of strength helps with many other kinds of movements
  • Integrates leg strength with flexible hips
  • Opens the chest
  • Prepares the body for back bending postures

Points:

  • Keep the back leg straight and strong
  • Line up the heels
  • Back foot is fully grounded and turned in at a 60 degree angle
  • Front knee is directly above the ankle and points towards the second and third toe
  • Chest and lower belly lift
  • Shoulders relax as you reach up through the arms
  • Look up towards the ceiling

Modification:

  • If it is uncomfortable for the neck to look up or it makes balancing too difficult in the beginning just continue to look forward

Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 12 of 20

Extended Side Angle
Sanskrit Name: Utthita Parsvakonasana
Utthita = extended
Parsva = side
Kona = angle

Prev | Next

Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 12: Extended Side Angle

Sanskrit Name: Utthita Parsvakonasana
Utthita = extended
Parsva = side
Kona = angle

Benefits

  • Another full body posture that increases the strength and the flexibility of the whole body while integrating awareness of the body as a single unit
  • Specifically increases strength and flexibility of the quadriceps as well as other muscles of the legs, hips, pelvis, back and arms
  • Increases mobility deep in the hip joints
  • Stretches the entire side body (waist and lateral rib cage areas)
  • Opens and expands the chest
  • Stabilizes the knees and ankles
  • Develops balance and coordination
  • Improves digestion and elimination
  • Tones the body therefore aids in weight reduction

Points:

  • Heels in one line (front knee and hip also stay in this line)
  • Press outer edge of back foot into the mat
  • Keep back leg straight and strong (firm up thigh)
  • Front knee is directly above the ankle and the knee cap points towards the second and third toe
  • Stack the top shoulder over the lower shoulder so they are in the same plane; stay mindful that the bottom shoulder moves back not forward
  • Stretch the whole side of the body as you open the chest towards the ceiling
  • Ground down through the back leg to the outside edge of the back foot as you stretch from the side of the waist up through the arm and fingers

Modifications:

  • Eventually the bottom hand will come down to the floor; in the beginning place the forearm on the thigh of the front leg or the hand on a block directly in front of the ankle
  • If the shoulder is tight and it is difficult to bring the arm overhead so that the upper arm is by the ear just continue to reach the arm straight up towards the ceiling until you develop more flexibility in that shoulder

Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 13 of 20

Tree Pose
Sanskrit Name: Vrkshasana
Vrksha = tree

Prev | Next

Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 13: Tree Pose

Sanskrit Name: Vrkshasana
Vrksha = tree

Benefits

  • Improves balance, mental focus, stability and poise
  • Strengthens the feet, ankles, knees, legs, pelvis and shoulders
  • Increases flexibility and reduces tension from the knees and hips
  • Opens the chest and shoulders
  • Improves the quality of breath
  • Calms the mind

Points:

  • Toes of standing leg point straight forward
  • Keep standing leg active (firm up thigh without locking the knee)
  • Square the hips to the wall in front of you as you gently press the knee and thigh back
  • Gently lift the lower belly
  • Keep a strong central line of energy: grounded from the waist down through the standing leg and rising up through the spine (and arms if the arms are overhead)
  • Stretch from the side of the waist up to the fingertips in the arms overhead position
  • Keep the shoulders relaxed as you extend upward
  • Keep the eyes focused on a spot in front of you
  • Tip: It is much easier to balance on a firm floor than on carpet

Modification:

  • If you keep falling out or feel unsteady you can practice next to a wall

Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 14 of 20

Cobra
Sanskrit Name: Bhujangasana
Bhujanga = snake, cobra

Prev | Next

Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 14: Cobra

Sanskrit Name: Bhujangasana
Bhujanga = snake, cobra

Benefits:

  • Expands and opens the chest, throat and abdomen
  • Increases strength and flexibility of the spine, arms and back
  • Releases tension in the back, shoulders and neck
  • Improves breathing patterns and lung capacity
  • Calms the nervous system
  • Improves spinal alignment and range of motion
  • Stimulates the thyroid, adrenals and kidneys
  • Improves the systems of digestion, elimination and reproduction
  • Safe preparatory pose for deeper backbends

Points:

  • Legs active
  • Gently press the tops of the feet down
  • Scoop the tailbone towards the heels and away from the head
  • Shoulders down and away from the ears
  • Keep elbows in by the ribs
  • Look forward or if it is okay for the neck lengthen the neck and look up

Modification:

  • In the beginning this pose can be practiced on forearms with the elbows under the shoulders; draw the arms and shoulders back as you extend the chest forward

Child Pose

Sanskrit Name: Balasana
Bala = child

Benefits

  • A great resting, relaxing, restorative pose; releases tension from the whole body
  • Counter-pose for backbends
  • A gentle yet effective stretch for the spine, especially the lower back
  • Massages the abdominal organs
  • Refreshes the legs
  • A centering and grounding pose; helps keep an inward focus
  • Quiets the mind and calms the nervous system

Modification:

  • Traditionally this is done with the thighs together and the arms overhead or back by the feet however this can also be done by keeping the big toes together and widening the knees apart to make space for the belly and the breath
  • Another variation is to keep the big toes together, widen the knees apart, bring the arms in between the legs and turn the head to one side
  • Depending ones shape and flexibility you could also stay up on the forearms and rest the head on a block.
  • Feel free to intuitively make adjustments and modify the pose so that it is a resting pose for you and it does gently stretch the back

Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 15 of 20

Pigeon Pose
Also called Single Leg Pigeon Pose
Sanskrit Name: Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
Eka Pada = one leg
Rajakapota = king pigeon

Prev | Next

Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 15: Pigeon Pose

Also called Single Leg Pigeon Pose
Sanskrit Name: Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
Eka Pada = one leg
Rajakapota = king pigeon

Benefits:

  • Improves flexibility of the hips, thighs and legs
  • Improves pelvic alignment by stretching the hip rotators and hip flexors. Specifically releases the periformis muscle which is often tight in athletes, runners and those who spend a lot of time sitting in chairs
  • Chest opener
  • Strengthens the back
  • Excellent preparation for meditation postures and backbends

Points:

  • Endeavor to keep the pelvis level, square the hips and drop the upper hip towards the floor
  • Extend through the back leg and roll onto the top of the thigh
  • Press the tops of all five toes on the back foot down into the floor
  • You should feel the stretch in the hip and buttock of the bent leg or the thigh and groin on the straight leg side
  • Stay present with the breath and the sensations in the body

Modification:

  • Can place a block or folded blanket under the bent leg hip for support
  • If it hurts your back knee tuck your back toes under
  • If it hurts your front knee make subtle, intuitive adjustments until there is no pain in the joint