The Basic Yoga Positions Part 1

yoga positionsOnce you have warmed-up, you can now begin the basic positions in your yoga session.

Sun salutation

The Sun Salutation is a yoga pose that flexes up the whole body in preparation for the proceeding asanas. Each position counteracts the one before, stretching the body in a different way and alternately expanding and contracting the chest to regulate the breathing. Daily practice of this provides great flexibility and trims your waist as well. Remember to coordinate the movements with your breathing.

  • Stand erect with feet together and palms clasp together in a prayer position in front of your chest. Make sure your body weight is evenly distributed. Exhale.

  • As you inhale, stretch your arms up as you arch your back, making your hips extend outward. Make sure your legs are still extended and your neck is relaxed.

  • As you exhale, bend forward as much as you can. Press your palms down, with fingertips in line with the toes. Bend your knees if needed.

  • While inhaling, extend the right leg back with the right knee touching the floor. Then arch back and look upward, lifting your chin.

  • Hold on to the breath as you bring the left leg back to support your body weight while you’re on your hands and toes. Keep your head in line with your spine as you look at the floor between your hands.

  • When you exhale, lower your knees, then your chest, and finally your forehead. Keep your hips up while your toes curled under.

  • As you inhale, lower your hips, point your toes and tilt your back. Lift your chin and look up. Keep your legs together and your shoulders down.

  • While exhaling, raise your hips and form an inverted “V” shape, with your heels pushing the ground and your head parallel to your arms.

  • While inhaling, put your right foot forward and place it in between your hands. Rest your left knee and look up.

  • As you exhale, bring the left leg and bend down from the waist. Press your palms down, with fingertips in line with the toes. If your legs strain, you can bend your knees a little.

  • When inhaling, slowly stretch your arms forward, then up and back over your head. Bend back slowly from the waist.

  • Exhale, then slowly come back to the standing position and bring your arms to the side.

Double leg raises

In doing this yoga pose, make sure that the full length of your back is resting on the floor, while your shoulders and neck are relaxed. This pose strengthens the abdominal and lower back muscles as it trims the waist and thighs.

At first, you may not be able to raise your legs right up, especially if your abdominal muscles are underdeveloped. Pressing down with your palms will help you lift your legs. Once you can perform the Double Leg Raise without strain, lower your legs slowly as possible and keep your feet an inch or so off the floor between raises to make your muscles work harder.

  • Lie flat on the floor. As you inhale, raise both legs together, keeping your knees straight and your buttocks on the floor.

  • Lower your legs as you exhale. Repeat this routine ten times, making sure your lower back remains flat on the floor while you bring your legs down to avoid injuring your spine.


Headstands

This is one of the basic postures in the world of Yoga and is considered the king of asanas because of its numerous effects on the entire body. The headstand builds up power and structure in both the neck and upper back. It also trains your arm muscles and coordination. Aside from these, standing in a good alignment with your body upside down also has a calming effect on your thinking.

When doing the headstand, make sure that you do not let your neck become misaligned. It is advisable to execute the headstand under the supervision of an experienced yoga teacher. A safe alternative for this is standing on your head on a special yoga headstand stool.

  • Stand on your knees on the yoga mat. Clasp your hands together, keeping distance between the two palms, like holding an imaginary tennis ball. Place your clasped hands on the mat with your back parallel to the floor.

  • Your shoulders will form the base of your headstand. Try letting your upper arms “interlock” with the shoulder blades so that they support the shoulders, then letting your upper back sink down and stretch your neck out. Raise your knees.

  • Support yourself on your forearms. Walk inwards until your back is straight.

  • Step in with one leg and jump up one leg at a time. Push your wrists to the floor, while the top of your head holds most of your body weight. Make sure that your elbows should not be loaded with your weight.

  • Stand perpendicular on your head and try to place your hips, chest, and your legs, in such a way that your upper back is straight and your neck does not get sunken. See to it that the center of gravity does not fall on your lower back instead on your upper back.

  • When on a headstand, focus at a point in front of you. Breathe in and out quietly as you try to become completely still.


Plow pose

This position stretches your spine, thus improving spinal flexibility. It also benefits the thyroid gland and abdomen, as well as easing the tension in the shoulders and back.

  • Lie down with your back on a yoga mat, while your arms extended above your head—touching the mat. Make sure your shoulders lie on the edge and your head rests on the mat.

  • Raise both of your legs until it is perpendicular to the floor.

  • Lift your hips off the floor and bring your legs up, over and above your head.

  • At this point, lift your lower back as you move your legs further above your head.

  • Straighten your spine and keep your back straight. Move your arms downward, still perpendicular to the raised legs.

  • Place your arms against the upper back and place your hands to the shoulder blades. Set your elbows at shoulder-width. If you cannot do this, try setting your elbows at a wider width.


Shoulder stand

Your body is resting on your shoulders. The should stand improves circulation, strengthens the abdominal area and the lower back muscles, and stimulate the thyroid gland. In this pose, you build up both power and a new structure in your back. It also relaxes the tension in well-known stress areas like the neck and the lower back.

  • This pose begins with the Plow. Once completed, proceed to the next steps.

  • Push your back upwards with your hands, with your weight resting on on the back side of the shoulders.

  • Lift your legs—one at a time—and see to it that the pelvis is placed straight over your back and your hands. Your legs are supposed to be placed a little forward. Divide the weight of your legs between the hands and the shoulders.

  • After some time, try placing your arms a little lower in the direction of the shoulder blades on your back. See to it that the elbows do not stand too far apart. Breathe in and out quietly and try finding your balance.

  • Once you are done, slowly bring your legs back to the mate—one by one. Stretch out your arms above your head, away from you, and slowly roll your back downward.