Category Archives: Yoga Series

Yoga {26} ~ Asanas/Poses {15} ~ Vrksasana/Tree Pose

Tree pose is a balancing pose that requires the yogi to stand rooted.

To enter this pose, stand on one leg with the foot of the other leg pressed against the inner thigh of the standing leg. The hands are stretched upward with the palms touching. Remain in this position for 30 seconds and repeat the same procedure on the other leg. If fully extending the arms is too difficult, the yogi can modify the pose by keeping the hands in prayer formation in front of the heart.

Tree pose may also be referred to as vrksasana in Sanskrit.

Yoga {25} ~ Asanas/Poses {14} ~ Kurmasana/Tortoise Pose

Tortoise pose is performed by folding the body at the waist and slipping the arms under the legs, which are extended with knees either bent or straight. It is recommended to stay in the pose for 30 to 40 seconds and for roughly five to 10 breaths.

This is an important posture in yoga for increasing flexibility, particularly the hips, hamstrings, shoulders and along the spine. Although not a particularly challenging posture, it can be modified for beginners through several variations in which the arms relax alongside the body or extend forward, rather than under the legs.

Tortoise pose may also be referred to by its Sanskrit name, kurmasana.

Yoga {24} ~ Asanas/Poses {13} ~ Dhanurasana/Bow Pose

Dhanurasana is a backbend that deeply opens the chest and the front of the body. The name comes from the Sanskrit dhanu, meaning “bow,” and asana, meaning “pose.”

In this asana, the practitioner lies flat on the stomach and bends the knees. Then the arms reach back to grab the ankles. The back arches and the thighs lift off of the floor as the chest pushes forward, bending the body to resemble a bow.

Dhanurasana is commonly referred to as bow pose in English.

This asana is the eighth pose in the 12 basic postures of Integral Yoga. It is also the last of the three back-bending poses in a standard Hatha yoga class.

In a spiritual practice, dhanurasana stimulates the manipura (solar plexus) chakra, also called the life source chakra, situated just above the navel. Stimulating this chakra increases the digestive fire and activates the flow of prana, or life energy. Manipura chakra also represents the core Self and is tied to the practitioner’s sense of identity and the ability to be confident and in control.

Those with limited flexibility can use a strap to reach the feet at first. If it is not possible to lift the thighs away from the floor, legs can be boosted slightly with a blanket. For more advanced practitioners, this asana can be deepened by performing it with thighs, knees, calves and inner feet touching.

Yoga {23} ~ Asanas/Poses {12} ~ Trikonasana/Triangle Pose

Trikonasana is a standing yoga posture that requires strength, balance and flexibility. In this posture, both arms extend with the legs spread apart and one foot turned at a 90-degree angle. The upper body bends toward the lead foot so that one arm reaches toward, but not necessarily touching, the ground and the other toward the sky.

The term comes from the Sanskrit trikona, meaning “three corners” or “triangle,” and asana, meaning “posture.” The term is often used synonymously with utthita trikonasana (extended triangle pose).

In addition to a range of physical benefits, trikonasana is believed to unblock energy pathways in the body. It is one of the basic poses common to the many styles of yoga.

Trikonasana is commonly referred to as triangle pose in English.

Yoga {22} ~ Asanas/Poses {11} ~ Parsvottanasana/Pyramid Pose

Pyramid pose, or intense side stretch pose, is a deep standing stretch that strengthens the legs and stretches the spine, hamstrings, shoulders and hips. It also improves the practitioner’s sense of balance and posture.

From mountain pose, the right foot takes a big step back. The front and back heels are lined up with one another. Toes on both feet point forward and the hips are squared. The legs are straight and the spine is long. Feet should be around three to four feet apart with the back foot at about a 60 degree angle. Hands are either brought behind the back into reverse prayer (palms touching), or they hold on to opposite elbows behind the back. On an exhale, the torso folds over the front leg so the head touches the shin.

Pyramid pose is also referred to by its Sanskrit name, parsvottanasana.

Yoga {21} ~ Asanas/Poses {10} ~ Bitilasana/Cow Pose

Cow pose is a beginner’s yoga pose that stretches the spine and improves posture.

To enter cow pose, begin in table top pose with hands and feet on the mat. Push the navel downward as the tailbone presses up, creating a deep arch in the back. The chest and heart push outward as the head is tilted slightly back. Those with wrist pain can modify this pose by placing the forearms on the floor instead of just the palms.

Cow pose may also be referred to as bitilasana in Sanskrit. An alternate name for the posture is dog tilt pose (svanasana).

Yoga {20} ~ Asanas/Poses {9} ~ Tuladandasana/Warrior Three Pose

Tuladandasana is an advanced balancing asana which requires stability, focus and core strength. The name comes from the Sanskrit tula, meaning “balance”; danda, meaning “stick” or “staff”; and asana, meaning “pose.”

In this asana, the body forms a “T.” The arms are raised overhead with the palms facing each other or touching. The back leg lifts off the ground, the anchored leg is straight, and the arms, torso and back leg are parallel with the ground.

Tuladandasana may be commonly referred to in English as balancing stick pose. The asana is also sometimes known as Virabhadrasana 3 (warrior three or flying warrior pose) or eka padasana (one-legged pose).

Yoga {19} ~ Asanas/Poses {8} ~ Tadasana/Mountain Pose

Mountain pose is a simple standing pose with the feet together and the body tall and strong, standing vertically upright. It is the starting pose for all other standing postures in yoga and can also be practiced on its own. It is considered to be the most basic posture of all yoga postures.

Although it is a relatively simple pose, it can help improve balance and stability as well as build strength.

The Sanskrit name for mountain pose is tadasana.

Yoga {18} ~ Asanas/Poses {7} ~ Bhujangasana/Cobra Pose

Cobra pose is a gentle backbend practiced from a face-down position that warms and strengthens the spine while opening the chest.

To enter the pose, lie down on the stomach with legs stretched out behind and the tops of the feet on the ground, with toes pointed. Place the hands directly under the shoulders with palms pressing against the ground and fingers pointing forward. Lift the head, shoulders and chest off the floor, keeping the pubic bone on the floor, and the bottom of the ribs and abdomen on the floor. Slowly and gently arch the back, lifting the chest upward, keeping the shoulders down the back away from the ears and neck.

Cobra pose is also referred to as bhujangasana in Sanskrit.

Yoga {17} ~ Asanas/Poses {6} ~ Ustrasana/Camel Pose

Ustrasana is a backbend that boosts shoulder flexibility, increases core strength and stretches the entire front of the body. The name is derived from the Sanskrit ustra, meaning “camel,” and asana, meaning “pose” or “posture.”

To enter this asana, kneel down, then lean back to touch the feet with both hands. The deepness of the bend varies according to the flexibility of the practitioner. Advanced practitioners are often able to bend far enough to touch their feet with their head.

Ustrasana may also be referred to as camel pose in English.