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Basic Asanas details

by nitya

(This is only a guide line to help you understand. Please, practice yoga always under an experienced teacher's guidance.)

Standing forward bend
Padangushtasana
Stand up straight. Let your arms rest by the side of the body. Keeppadahastayour chest open and have a few deep, abdominal breaths. Then, stretch your arms and your whole body up with an inhalation. With an exhalation, stretch your body from the very lower back and come forward to hold both of your big toes. Try to keep your legs straight, stretch your body from the very lower back and divide your weight equally on both legs. Also, bring your head towards your legs. Continue your abdominal breathing. At the beginning stages of your practice, you may not be able to hold your toes. In this case, it is okay to hold anywhere on your legs. Keep your legs straight and stretch from your lower back and bring your body and head towards your legs. Be aware of your abdominal breathing. Stay in this position for as long as you can.

With an inhalation, stretch your arms and body forward to come up. Stretch your arms and body up. Then, exhale as you bring your arms down. Continue this for a few more breaths and try a small counter pose.
It is always good to practice a counter pose after each posture.
Keep your legs up to two and half feet apart. Let your feet face straight out to avoid being on an angle. Again, keep your legs straight. You can place your palms flat on your waist. With an inhalation, force your hips forward without bending you knees. Open your chest and drop your head back. Pay attention to your breathing. Try to take long inhalations and long exhalations. Avoid forcing your body beyond its limits. If you are shivering or having difficulty breathing, it means that you are going beyond your limit.
To come down from the pose, force your hips backward and, with an exhalation, bring your body forward to come down all the way. Drop your arms down and relax them. Try relaxing your head, neck and back. Relaxed, come up to a standing pose. While you come up, feel your body relax: all the back muscles, both shoulders, arms, neck and head. Let relax your whole body.

The standing forward bend is a great posture for the flexibility of your legs muscles especially for the hamstrings, thighs, gastronomical system and calves. Any disorders of your legs and hips will also be rectified. It is a great pose for lower back and slipped disc problems, as well. It increases digestive power and stimulates the kidneys, liver and spleen. Daily practice of this posture will help to reduce excess fat around the waist. It awakens Apana Vayu and the lower nerve center are strengthened.

Standing Side Stretch
Trikonasana


Keep your legs up to three or three and half feet apart. Your left legand knee should be straight with your foot facing front. Your right leg and knee should also be straight but your right foot should face to the right side. It doesn't make any difference whether your right foot lines up with your left toes, the back of your right foot lines up with your left heel or your right foot lines up with the arch of your left foot. Place both your arms close to your body and let them rest on your thighs. Continue for a few rounds with abdominal breathing. trikoThen, with an exhalation, drop your right palm 'through' the leg while you bend your body to the side, up to your limit. Please, keep in mind, never, ever go beyond your capacity. Hold anywhere on your leg and breathe. Allow your chest to face in front of you and bring your hips forward. Keep both your legs straight and breathe. Now, you can lift your left arm straight up and let your palm face in front. Open your chest. Continue breathing and control your body balance. You can also take your left arm over your head. Let your palm face down and feel the stretch in the left side of your body. Again, be aware of bringing your hips forward and opening your chest.
To release from this posture, exhale and bring your left arm to the
side of your body. Then, inhale and bring your body up. Slowly, release your legs and relax your body parts. (as counter pose) Practice the same way on the other side.

A great posture to limber the spine, the standing side stretch tones spinal nerves, the digestive system and strengthens lower back muscles. It helps keep your hips joints and legs flexible.

Standing Balancing Pose 
Utthita Hasta Padangustasana

Stand straight up and have a few rounds of deep breathing. Focusanywhere in front of you while you lift your right leg up, bending it at the knee. Hold your right toes with your right hand and place your left palm on the left side of your waist.uttitaKeep your left leg straight without bending your knee. Your body should be straight with your chest facing front. Have a few rounds of deep abdominal breathing and try to stretch your right leg and hand in front of you.
Try to stretch your right side up to your limit. In the beginning, you may feel it hard to stretch completely. But go ahead and do it, up to the limit, without losing your balance. If you can stay longer, try to continue normal breathing. This posture is named Utthita Eka Hasta Padangustasana. If you are able to hold with both hands, it is called Uttita Hasta Padangustasana.
Try it the same way with your left side.

This pose will help to develop concentration and courage. At the same time, it strengthens your legs.

Shoulderstand
Sarvangasana

Lay down on your back. Keep your legs together and your arms closeto the body, palms down. With an inhalation, lift both your legs together. Once your hips are above the ground, bend your elbows to support your back with your palms. Move your legs over your head, up to a 45 degree angle, and gradually lift your legs while you bring your palms down from your hips to your lower back and up to your ribs. Then, straighten up your body and continue deep breathing.sar
Keep your elbows at shoulder distance on the ground and your palms flat on the body. Try to keep all your body weight on your shoulders with the support of your elbows. Avoid putting any weight on the head. In this posture, concentrate on your breath and be aware of the Visuddha Center on your neck. Stay in this pose for few breaths. If you feel any discomfort, come down at any time to Savasana. Avoid any kind of quick movement in the pose or you may hurt your neck. In the beginning, the posture may not be perfect, but with gradual practice, you will perfect the pose.
To come down from the pose, slowly lower your legs over your head
up to a 45 degree angle. Bring your hips back, as you don't want a heavy weight on your head. Then, bring your arms down to the ground, palms flat. If you can, without lifting your head up, slowly lower your body down. Let your body come down vertebrae by vertebrae. Once your body is on the ground, lower your legs to the ground.
Sarvangasana is a posture that tones the whole body. The word Sarva means whole and Anga means limbs. Literally, Sarvangasana is a posture that helps your whole body. It stimulates your thyroid and parathyroid glands (The Visuddha center). Thyroid glands help to harmonize the rest of the glands in your body. They keep the spine elastic and supply a large quantity of blood to the spinal roots of nerves. This asana is called the Queen or mother of all asanas. Not only does this posture increase the digestive power, it is the best posture to recommend for those who have problems with varicose veins. Also, it is an upside-down posture, so it helps
the heart. Those who have high blood pressure should not practice this posture without proper guidance and doctor's advice.

Plough Pose
Halasana

In the beginning the plough is exactly like the shoulder stand. Liehalasanadown on your back on the mat. Keep your arms by the side of your body with your palms facing up. Then, with an inhalation, lift your legs together and follow your hips and body up. You can press your
arms down towards the ground while you lift your hips and body. Always keep your arms at shoulder distance, because they have a tendency to go wider apart. Try to bring your legs together over your head and your toes towards the ground. Here, while you lift your legs and body from the ground, you can bring your legs all the way towards the ground. You don't have to go up to a shoulderstand.
At the beginning of your practice, some of you may find it hard to breathe or may feel internal cramps. If you feel any discomfort at any time, please, come down to Savasana (lie down pose) and continue deep breathing. In the beginning, to make the posture comfortable and easy, it is okay to bend your knees. As you progress, you can stretch your legs to perform the posture perfectly.
As you feel more comfortable, stretch your legs and keep your toes on the ground. Try not to put heavy weight on your head or legs. Keep your body weight on your shoulders. Keep your knees straight and push your hips up to keep your back straight. You can also interlock your fingers and bring your arms down. Be aware of your breathing. In the beginning, your breath will be short and fast. Slowly, lengthen your breath as you go along. Feel your back and legs. Stay as long as you can. To come down from this pose, lift your legs together from the ground up to a 45-degree angle, keep your body weight on your shoulders and move your hips back. Slowly, lower your body towards the ground, if you can vertebrae by vertebrae and then, at last, your legs. Again, come down to Savasana and continue deep breathing.

The plough is a wonderful pose for the back of your body and legs. It is a helpful posture to rectify any spinal disorders. As well, it provides a large blood supply to your spinal nerves. It is a great posture for the flexibility of your neck, shoulders and lower back. Also, the posture stimulates your abdominal organs and increases your digestive power. It energizes the third nerve center.

Fish pose
Matsyasana
Lie down on your back. Keep your legs together and your arms bymeenathe side of your body. After a few abdominal breaths, place your arms under your body with your palms flat on the ground. Also, try to keep your elbows under your body. With an inhalation, lift your chest and head from the ground. The weight of your body should be on your elbows. Then, with an exhalation, bring the top of your head towards the ground. In the beginning, always keep your body's weight on your elbows. Let the top of your head touch the ground. Avoid adjusting your elbows while you bring your head towards the ground. Try to arch your back so that your upper back opens up. Breathe deeply in this posture and stay as long as you can. While you practice yoga, always try to take inhalation and exhalation through your nose. Avoid the tendency to keep your mouth open or to swallow your saliva. Relax your legs and be aware of your chest.
To come down from the posture, inhale and lift your head from the ground. Then, exhale as you lower your body gently down. Then, release your arms and let your arms and body relax.
The fish posture is wonderful for any type of breathing problems. Asthma can be cured with this pose. This posture can be practiced as a counter posture after the shoulderstand. It helps to release any muscle cramps from your upper back after practicing the shoulderstand. It also increases circulation. As well, this posture stimulates the heart center (Anahata Center).

Sitting Forward bend
Paschimottanasana
Sit up on your mat and stretch out your legs, together, in front ofpaschiyou. Keep your back straight and open your chest. Have a few rounds of deep abdominal breaths. Then, with an inhalation, stretch your body and arms up. With an exhalation, bend your body forward and hold anywhere on your legs. If you can, hold your toes. Try to bring your body forward from the very lower back. Avoid using your upper back. While in the posture, breathe normally. In the beginning, you may feel stretching only in your legs. Always keep your legs stretched with your feet flexed. Be aware of your lower back and bring it forward. Let your abdominal area come down to your thigh rather than your head to your legs. This will help to extend the spine from the pelvic region and bring your body flat on your legs. Your body has a tendency to release from the posture if you stay for longer times. But keep aware of that stretch and stay as long as you can. To release from the pose, inhale as you stretch your arms and body in front to come up. Stretch your body and arms up and, with an exhalation, bring your arms down.

This posture stimulates all your abdominal organs and increases your digestive power. It is a great posture to strengthen your lower back. Also called Brahmacharyasana, the posture helps to manage and control sexuality. The word Paschima means west and here it means the back of your body. It stretches and increases the
energy flow to your whole back. It is also a good posture to reduce weight.

Inclined pose
Purvottanasana


Sit up on your mat and stretch out your legs, together, in front ofyou. Place your palms flat on the ground behind your body. You can lean your body back to transfer your weight to your arms. This way, you will able to relax your lower back. Have few rounds of deep abdominal breathing. Keep your legs straight with toes pointed. With an inhalation, lift your hips up, open your chest and drop your head down. Let your legs remain straight and together. Continue with a few rounds of deep abdominal breathing. Then, with an exhalation, lower your hips to come down to a sitting posture.pur

This is a great counter pose for the forward bend. Purva means west. In terms of your body, it means the back of your body. Uttana means developed or lifted. It is a pose that helps to develop the back of your body. This posture will also strengthen your arms and shoulders while it stretches the back of your body.

Cobra Posture
Bhujangasana
Lie down on your abdomen and place your arms as a pillow. Keepcobrayour legs together with your toes touching each other. You can rest your cheek on your arms. This resting posture is called Makarasana (crocodile pose). This is one of the relaxing postures you can stay in as long as you want. Place your palms flat on the ground under your shoulders beside your chest. Keep your arms close to your body and let your forehead touch the ground. Allow your legs to be together and point your toes. Have a few rounds of deep abdominal breaths. With an inhalation, lift your body from the ground part by part. First, lift your forehead and chin from the ground and look up. Continue by lifting your chest and abdomen. Try to make an arch with your body and keep your legs together. Avoid the tendency to squeeze your shoulders - open you chest. Always try to breath deeply in this pose. Press your pubic bones toward the ground to place your lower abdominal area on the ground. Try to transfer your body weight to your lower abdominal area. Use your arms to arch your body back. You should contract your buttocks and tighten your legs. Continue deep abdominal breathing.
To come down from the pose, exhale as you lower your body down vertebrae by vertebrae. Press your abdominal area toward the ground. Continue to lower your body following with your chest and then, very last, your chin and forehead. Release your palms and place your arms as a pillow. Keep your toes together and your heels apart. Allow your legs, shoulders, arms and whole body to relax. Continue deep breathing while you rest in this posture. One of the great backward bend postures, it helps to strengthen all your back muscles and increases the elasticity of your spine. Those who have lower back problems should perform this posture in an easy way. You can keep body weight on your arms and avoid arching your back forcefully. A gentle approach, with caution, is always recommended in this posture.
This pose increases your intra-abdominal pressure which helps to stimulate all your lower abdominal organs. It is also a great posture for the reproductive organs. For females, it helps to avoid the pains and cramps of menstruation time.

Child Posture
Garbhastasana or Sasangasana
Bend both your legs and place your shins on the ground. Point yourchitoes. Keep your legs and feet together with your toes touching each other while sitting in this pose called Vajrasana. This is the only recommended posture after heavy meals. We always suggest to avoid practicing yoga after a heavy meal or when you feel hungry. But Vajrasana is a good pose to practice after heavy meals. It helps
the digestive system. Then, bring your body forward to place your forehead on the ground. You can place your both arms by the side of
your body. Try to bring your body weight through the body itself. Avoid putting heavy weight on your head.

The child pose is a great posture to practice after a backward bend or a headstand. It's natural way of stretching that will help to relax all your back muscles. It also helps to avoid any spinal disorders. As well, it helps to normalize the blood circulation all over your body. This is why it is such a good posture to practice after a headstand.

Camel Pose
Ushtrasana
Stand on your knees with your toes pointed. Keep your knees apart,camalin line with your hips, and keep your body straight. With an inhalation, take your arms back to hold your heels. If you can, place your palms flat on the soles of your feet. Let your head drop back and open your chest. Try to force your hips forward. Remember
to breathe deeply in this pose. To release from the pose, exhale as you take any one arm from the leg, lean your body forward and follow with the other arm, so both arms are in front of you. Place your palms flat on the ground. Allow your back to relax. Continue to breathe deeply at the same time. Again, try to go back to the child pose as a counter stretch to rest and relax.
As a backward bend, it is a great posture to stretch the front part
of your hips and thighs. It stimulates your abdominal organs, helps in digestion and reduces excess fat from abdominal area. It strengthens your neck muscles and allows your shoulder muscles to relax.

Crow Pose
Kakasana
Sit on the balls of your toes and keep your heels up. Place both yourcrowpalms fully flat on the ground. Let the middle fingers of both your hands face straight in front of you with your palms shoulder distance apart. Then, place both your thighs on your arms above the elbows. Or, you can place both your knees on your arms. Try to look in front as you lean your body forward, transferring your weight to your arms. If you are able to transfer all your weight to your arms, you can release your toes from the ground. Stand in this pose with
breathing. In the beginning, it may feel hard to breathe in this
pose. But the practice makes you perfect. It is a posture which helps to develop concentration and confidence. It straightens your abdominal muscles, arms and wrists.

Half spinal twist
Ardhamatsyendrasana
This posture is named after a Hatha Yogi, Matsyendranad, whotwistleaned the Yogic secret directly from Siva. The posture is a 'half-way' approach to Matsyendrasana. Sit on your mat with your left knee bent and allow that left leg to rest on the ground. Take your right leg over your left thigh and place your foot flat on the ground. Keep your back straight and force your lower back forward. With an inhalation, stretch your left arm up and your left side. With an exhalation, take your left arm over your right thigh. You can try to hold anywhere on your left knee or right foot. It does not matter where you hold, but use that left arm to force your right thigh to the left side. This helps to keep your lower spine facing straight in front.
Then, take your right arm all the way to the back of your body and place either your palm or finger tips on the ground. Use your right arm to force your body forward and to keep your body straight. Now, turn all the way to the back, through your right side from the lower back, to give a twist to the body. To release from the pose, release your left arm and stretch up your left side with an inhalation. Then, exhale as you bring that arm back and release your leg. Try this pose to the other side too. It is a great posture to increase the flexibility of your spine. It also removes spinal disorders. It is a great posture if you want to strengthen your lower back. As well, it helps your back muscles, shoulders and neck to be flexible. It increases digestive power and stimulates all your lower abdominal organs.

Final Relaxation.
Savasana
Lie down on your back on your mat. Place your legs apart with yoursavaarms away from your body. Continue a few rounds of abdominal breathing and allow your body parts to be free and comfortable. Until you relax completely, be aware of your breathing. Now, go through your body parts mentally, part by part. It will be easy to get complete relaxation quickly if you go through relaxing your legs and arms first. This is because these body parts are away from your 'main' body. You can even repeat these specific body pa rt relaxations mentally. For example: "I am relaxing my toes.".
Continue repeating each body part until you have finished relaxing your whole body. Try to take at minimum seven minutes for this
final relaxation. There is no maximum limit. But try not to go to sleep. Sleep shows tiredness of the mind and body, it is without awareness. But relaxation is quite different. Of course, deep relaxation is called Yogic Sleep (Yoganidra). It is not an ordinary sleep. Relaxation will help to increase your memory and thinking power. It is the best tonic for stress and strain. It also helps to reduce confusion of the mind.

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