Emma Vasquez, leader of Carlisle's Ashtanga Mysore programme has put together a detailed guide to help you to get started with yoga, it also includes more advanced poses for experienced yogis.
Triangle Posture - Utthita Trikonasana
- Standing upright take a jump out to the right hand side with the arms wide.
- Feet about 3/4 length of your mat, turn your left toes in and your right toes out. Hips facing forward
- Inhale reach the right arm forward and slide it down your leg.
- You can lightly rest your hand to your shin, the mat or grabbing hold of your big toe.
- Turn your gaze to look up to your left fingers and open the chest. If you have low blood pressure keep your gaze to the floor.
- 5 deep breaths here, inhale lift up turn the feet around and repeat on the other side.
Trikonasana relieves backache during the second trimester of pregnancy. Improves flat feet, stimulates the digestive system and abdominal organs so is good for IBS.
Warrior 2- Virabhadrasana 2
One of the most fierce and powerful yoga postures inviting you to find your inner warrior.
- Standing upright take a jump out to the right hand side with the arms out to the sides.
- Turn the left toes in, right toes out and position your hips to face forward.
- Bent the front knee in line with the heel and make sure you can see your first big toe.
- Keep the back of the left foot grounded and the left thigh externally rotated to keep the knee safe.
- With the arms strong gaze down the right fingers. Strong stance.
- 5 breaths then turn the feet and repeat on the left side.
Warrior 2 is a full body strengthener allowing the legs to tone. The strength from the legs and psoas helps to stabilise the lower back. It allows you to increase your stamina and 5 breaths here will feel like hard work. Heating the body from the inside and getting the cardiovascular system working.
Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend - Upavistha Konasana
- Starting from seated take the legs out wide keep the feet flexed throughout.
- Look at the knees and make sure your knee caps are facing up towards the ceiling and not facing inwards or outwards.
- Take a moment seated upright to see how the stretch feels, for some this will be enough.
- If the hamstrings feel ok begin to slowly lower, tilting the pubic bone down and lifting the abdominals to maintain a straight spine.
- Take the lower down slowly, staying anywhere from 5-50 breaths.
- Inhale slowly come up, take the hands behind the knees and slowly bend the legs easing out of the posture.
Konasana is a relaxing posture for the nervous system and calms the mind. A deep stretch for the hamstrings and back of the legs allowing to free up tension and tightness. Strengthening the spine and detoxifying the kidneys.
Dancers Posture - Natarajasana
Nataraja is another name for shiva and his dance symbolises cosmic energy, the postures name translates as lord of the dance pose.
- Standing upright shift your left leg and bend your right knee back bending your sit bone.
- Take your right hand to your right foot and raise your lift hand up towards the ceiling.
- Take a long breath in and elongate through the spine then leading with the left hand begin to lean forward lifting the right leg into dancers pose.
- 5 breaths here then release and repeat on your other side.
Benefits of this posture is there’s a back-bending so we counterbalance all the forward folding we do by sitting at desks and driving etc. Stretches the chest and opens the chest allowing the lung capacity to develop aiding deeper breaths.
The balance means your mind must be focused fully on what you’re doing which makes this posture a great one for being present and in the moment!
Trikonasana also stretches the shoulders and chest again aiding in taking deeper breaths.
Benefits are allowing the Venus blood to trail back to the heart giving the cardiovascular system a break.
Allowing the spine to completely decompress, you can not get this decompression any other way which makes aerial yoga fantastic for anyone suffering back pain or sciatica.
Using the hammock gives you support as you open the body. This posture should only be attempted at the yoga studio under the guidance of a qualified instructor.
Prasarita Padottanasana C - Wide legged forward bend
- Standing in samastitihi at the top of the mat jump out with the right leg to about 3/4 of your mat, arms shoulder height strong stance.
- Turn your toes slightly in and heels slightly out and push through the outer edges of the feet. Clasp your hands behind the back, take a inhale and lengthen through the spine and exhale begin to fold sending the hands over the head.
- Take 5 deep breaths leaning the chest towards the floor chin tucked into the chest, leaning your body weight forward into its centre line and straightening the legs.
- Inhale to lift back up keeping strong in the legs
Padottanasana C stretches the entire backside of the body and elongates info the hamstrings. As the hands are over the head it can be a tricky balance posture if your hands are not grounded to the floor. Safe rotation of the shoulders is needed and effort to not hyperextend the elbows. Energising yet calming calming the mind all at once. One of my favourite postures in the Ashtanga Yoga standing sequence.
Parsva bakasana - side crow pose
- Coming into a low squat with the feet together and heels lifted take your hands to heart in prayer and bring your left elbow to the outside of your right knee.
- Feeling the twist as you inhale to lengthen then exhale twist deeper.
- Either staying there working on getting your upper arm snug against your knee, or bringing the hands to the floor bend the elbows and start to shift the weight to the right.
- Keep your gaze forward, elbows in and gently lean forward feeling the toes lifting off the mat.
Keep pulling the lower abdominals in towards the spine and keep pushing inbetween the shoulders broadening the shoulders as you strengthen.
- Lightly being the feet back down and repeat on the other side.
Parsva bakasana benefits the body by bringing slight pressure to the abdomen and massaging the digestive system. It strengthens the wrists and brings a feeling of lightness as we practice the shift in weight.
This arm balance allows us to connect to our bandhas which are locks in the body that the yogis use to lift their body weight, the bandhas must be engaged in order to stabilise during the asana.
Flying in an arm balance gives a great rush of endorphins even if only the toes lift, it’s a great feeling!
Feathered peacock posture - Pinchamayurasana
A challenging and dynamic inversion required strength and stability.
- Starting on all fours take your forearms down onto the mat and hold your elbows to gage the distance then windmill the arms out back to parallel.
- Fingers spread wide wrists parallel to the top of your mat.
- Push up into the shoulders protracting the scapular think of an angry cat back.
- Even if you just stay on the knees you’ll still be creating strength in the shoulders. Keep the gaze between the hands.
- Once you feel strong here lift the knees and walk the feet forward.
- You are only ready to come into the forearm balance once your hips are in line with your shoulders. Make sure the shoulders remain stable and don’t lean them forward.
- With both feet on the floor bend your knees and jump up slowly with control into the arm balance.
- Jumping into the posture takes many years of strength building and awareness of the body so don’t rush.
Pinchamayurasana strengthens the shoulders and tones the arms. Once you find the strength and balance in this posture it feels incredible to be upside down! It’s equally amazing to see yourself grow in postures that you perhaps once deemed impossible.
Yoga shows you that you are capable, with just a little bit of time, dedication and persistence.
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