Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 16 of 20

Reclining Leg Stretch
Also called Reclining Hamstring Stretch
Sanskrit Name: Supta Padangushtasana
Supta = supine
Pada = foot
Angustha = big toe

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Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 16: Reclining Leg Stretch

Also called Reclining Hamstring Stretch
Sanskrit Name: Supta Padangushtasana
Supta = supine
Pada = foot
Angustha = big toe

Benefits:

  • Best posture for stretching the hamstring muscles while keeping the back safe; the floor supports the back as the hamstrings stretch
  • Removes stiffness from the hips
  • Releases the low back
  • Increases circulation to the legs and hips

Points:

  • Extend upwards through the top leg and foot
  • Hips stay grounded (do not press the lower back into the floor and lift the hips in order to straighten the leg; keep the hips grounded and only straighten the leg as much as you comfortably can from that position)
  • Keep the shoulders, neck and jaw relaxed as you reach up towards the foot
  • Stay present with the breath and the sensation in the body
  • Be patient yet consistent in lengthening the hamstring muscles

Modification:

  • Eventually in this pose you grab the big toe with the hand of the same side. In the beginning when the back of the legs (hamstrings) are tight as they are for most beginners you can: 1).use a strap around the top foot or interlace hands around the thigh and 2).keep the bottom leg bent
  • As you get more flexible and the top leg moves towards straight then start to work with the bottom leg: extend it out and engage the bottom leg by flexing the foot and press the back of the thigh towards the ground

Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 17 of 20

Half Spinal Twist
Also called Sage Twist
Sanskrit Name: Ardha Matsyendrasana I
Ardha = half
Matsyendra = a famous sage

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Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 17: Half Spinal Twist

Also called Sage Twist
Sanskrit Name: Ardha Matsyendrasana I
Ardha = half
Matsyendra = a famous sage

Benefits:

  • Releases tension in the spine, hips, shoulders and neck
  • Relieves back pain caused by tension
  • Energizing
  • Massages and improves circulation to the abdominal organs
  • Stimulates and balances the systems of digestion, reproduction and elimination
  • Brings a fresh supply of blood to the spine
  • Tones the nervous system
  • Increases flexibility of the spine, hips and shoulders
  • Improves all sitting postures
  • Opens the chest
  • Strengthens the back

Points:

  • Lengthen the spine before twisting; this makes the twist safer and more effective
  • If bottom leg is straight: engage the leg, flex the foot, firm up the thigh
  • If bottom leg is bent: relax the leg and inner thigh, allow the knee to come down closer to the floor
  • Keep the neck relaxed and the throat soft. Just turn the head as much as it feels good in the neck

Modification:

  • If the lower back is rounded and it is difficult to sit with the spine erect sit on the edge of a folded blanket to lift the hips

Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 18 of 20

Seated Forward Fold
Sanskrit Name: Paschimottanasana
Paschima = back
Uttana = extension

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Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 18: Seated Forward Fold

Sanskrit Name: Paschimottanasana
Paschima = back
Uttana = extension

Benefits:

  • Stretches the whole back side of the body: legs (hamstrings), back and neck
  • Lengthens and strengthens the spine
  • Improves the movement of Life Force (Chi or Prana) throughout the body thereby increasing vitality
  • Massages, stimulates and tones the abdominal organs
  • Tones the heart and kidneys
  • Improves digestion and circulation
  • Restorative: refreshes the mind, calms the emotions; brings a sense of peace
  • Balancing, soothing, rejuvenating

Points:

  • Focus on hinging from your hips and extending through the spine
  • If the legs are straight, firm up the legs and flex the feet, toes point straight up toward the ceiling
  • Keep the neck in a neutral position
  • Start easy, go slowly
  • Only go deeper when your body feels ready. As the sensation of stretching starts to ease up that is your bodies’ invitation to move deeper… if you want to.

Modification:

  • In the beginning the legs can be bent and/or you can place a strap around the feet and hold onto the straps
  • If the lower back is rounded as you sit with the legs extended you can also sit on the edge of a folded blanket

Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 19 of 20

Relaxation Pose
Also called Corpse Pose
Sanskrit Name: Savasana
Sava = corpse

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Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 19: Relaxation Pose

Also called Corpse Pose
Sanskrit Name: Savasana
Sava = corpse

Benefits:

  • Allows time for integration of all the other postures and their benefits
  • Where the greatest healing takes place
  • Teaches how to completely relax the entire body and become tension free while keeping the mind awake and alert – a great preparation for meditation
  • Improves the minds ability to focus
  • Relaxing, refreshing and rejuvenating to the mind, body and spirit
  • Balancing, centering, calming and grounding
  • Keeps the mind inwardly focused and brings a sense of peace and well-being
  • Improves circulation, regulates blood pressure and reduces fatigue
  • Increases awareness; helps you to experience yourself on the level of energy, frequency and vibration; helps you to tune into and feel the life force that you are; your energetic signature
  • Savasana is the best remedy for stress

Points:

  • Lie down, get comfortable
  • Extend the legs out; let the feet be about hip distance apart and let them fall open.
  • Arms comfortably away from the body, usually palms face up as it helps the shoulder blades to be flatter to the floor. Tuck the shoulder blades under and allow the top of the shoulders to drop back towards the floor
  • Be symmetrical. Let yourself take up space; yet not too expanded or contracted
  • Scan your body and encourage it to relax… everywhere
  • If you fall asleep it’s ok, you probably just need more sleep. Yet know that our intention is to stay awake and alert while experiencing a peaceful, calm and completely relaxed state
  • Relax physically and mentally; keep letting go, more and more
  • Enter a tension free state of being and experience what that feels like

Modification:

  • It is difficult to relax if you are cold so do what you need to do to stay plenty warm especially if you run cold. You can cool down quickly in Savasana. Put on socks, a sweatshirt etc…; put a blanket under you if you are on a cold floor or on top of you if you’d like
  • If the back aches: 1). bend the knees, place the feet on the floor wider than hip distance and rest the knees against one another or 2). place a bolster or a rolled up blanket under the knees
  • If you have any tension in the neck you can roll up a small towel and place it under the neck
  • It is best to keep the neck in line with the rest of the spine as much as possible. If you want some extra padding under the head try placing a flat pillow or a thin folded blanket under the head rather than a big pillow that lifts the head

Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 20 of 20

Meditation
Sanskrit Name: Dhyana

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Yoga for Beginners Intro – Part 20: Meditation

Sanskrit Name: Dhyana

Benefits:

  • Increases self-awareness and the ability to be present
  • Calms the mind
  • Develops mental strength, concentration and the ability to focus
  • Helps in discovering truth
  • Has a steadying, purifying and harmonizing influence
  • Brings a sense of inner spaciousness
  • Develops clarity, peace of mind and intuition
  • Creates a more loving relationship with your-self
  • Establishes an inner guidance system; a line of communication between the you that you think you are (small mind / super ego / personality) and your higher mind, the you that you really are (the infinite field of consciousness / big mind)
  • Improves mental and physical health
  • Reduces stress, tension and lowers the heart rate
  • Improves the quality life as well as our ability to perform everyday tasks and activities

Points:

  • Make yourself comfortable with the spine erect. You can sit or lie down (most teachers recommend sitting so that you don’t fall asleep)
  • Get grounded through the hips and lengthen the spine upwards
  • Keep that central line of energy through the spine strong and then let everything else relax and soften
  • Scan your body piece by piece and let go of all tension to the best of your ability
  • Become aware of the breath; feel the breath as it comes in and as it moves out
  • Be present; if the mind wanders just gently bring it back without harshness or judgment to the sensation in the body or the breath
  • Be still; listen; pay attention; notice

Modification:

  • If you are not comfortable sitting on the ground you can sit on the edge of a chair with the feet on the floor
  • You can also sit on the floor with your back to a wall for support
  • If you are sitting on the floor, with the legs crossed, lift your hips up high enough (on a yoga block, folded blankets or a meditation cushion) so that the knees are the same height as the hip bones or lower
  • You can also wrap a blanket around the shins and tuck it up under the knees so that the legs are supported and the hips can relax