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The Health Benefits of Tolasana

This pose is not recommended for yogis who are not able to comfortably perform Padmasana (Lotus Pose). If you have a shoulder, wrist, ankle, or knee injury, be cautious before entering into this asana.

If you are a beginning yogi and find Tolasana difficult to perform, try starting in Ardha Padmasana (Half Lotus Pose) before raising yourself. In this way, your bottom foot will rest under the top thigh while the top leg is in regular Lotus.

To try this pose with a licensed yoga practitioner, check out our yoga class schedules for each branch of CNY Healing Arts (Syracuse, Rochester, Albany).

Getting Into Scale Pose:

Begin in Padmasana (Lotus Pose). Place your palms on the floor beside your hips. Press your hands against the floor, slowly activating your arms and abdomen as you lift your legs and buttocks upward and off the floor.

Your legs should still be positioned in Padmasana. Your torso should be vertical with your head and neck relaxed, softly gazing forward. If you want to raise yourself higher, you can place each hand on a yoga block before lifting.

Hold yourself in suspension for 2-5 deep, slow breaths. Then, lower your legs and buttocks back to the floor, uncross your legs, perform Padmasana with the opposite leg on top, and repeat Tolasana for the same number of breaths.

Benefits of Scale Pose:

  • · Strengthens your arms and wrists
  • · Tones your abdominal muscles
  • · Stimulates your abdominal organs
  • · Improves your sense of balance
  • · Calms your mind

The Health Benefits of Virabhadrasana III (Warrior III Pose)

This is a great pose to practice with a partner for support, especially if you are a beginner. If you don’t have a partner available, try Warrior III against a wall. Either face the wall so your fingers can just reach it or face away from the wall with your lifted foot resting lightly against it.

To practice this pose with a licensed yoga teacher, check out the yoga class schedules for each branch of CNY Healing Arts (Rochester, Syracuse, Albany).

Getting Into Warrior III Pose:

Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Step your right foot 12 inches forward and put all of your weight on your right leg. Inhale and raise your arms above your head – palms facing toward each other, arms parallel to each other and perpendicular to the floor.
Now, exhale and lift your left leg up and out. Hinge at the hips, lowering your upper half towards the floor. Gaze down at the floor and focus on a point. This will help you balance. Reach through the crown of your head and your left toes, in opposite directions of course. Reach through your fingers as well. Contract your abs for stability and keep them engaged throughout.

At this point, your body should make a straight line, parallel to the floor – save your right leg, which should be perpendicular to the floor. A tip: As you bring your upper half towards the floor, don’t swing yourself into position. This causes imbalance and make the yogi tend to shift all body weight to the ball of his or her standing foot. You want to support your weight evenly throughout all parts of the foot.
Breathe and hold for 2-6 deep, steady breaths. To release, slowly move your torso back to an upright position, lowering your left leg to the floor. Step both feet back into Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Repeat Virabhadrasana III for the same number of breaths with all weight on your left leg.

Benefits of Warrior III Pose:

• Strengthens the legs, ankles, shoulders and back
• Tones the entire body, especially your abdomen
• Improves memory and concentration
• Encourages better posture and better
• Invigorates and energizes

The Health Benefits of Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

In Sanskrit, “utthita” means extended, “trikona” means three angle or triangle, and “asana” means pose. If you have neck issues or are uncomfortable in our version of Extended Triangle Pose, turn your gaze down to the floor and consciously relax your neck. Then shift your gaze slowly upward if you can. Alternatively, keep your head centered and gaze forward.

To practice this pose with a licensed yoga teacher, check out our yoga class schedule for each location (Syracuse, Rochester, Albany).

Getting Into Extended Triangle Pose:

Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Exhale and step your feet apart about 4 feet wide – it’s usually wider than you think – keeping your feet parallel to each other. Your heels should be in line. Raise your arms and reach out to the sides, palms down. Try to keep certain postures throughout Utthita Trikonasana: shoulders wide, arms parallel to the floor and torso long and upright.

Now, turn your left foot in slightly to the right and your right foot out 90 degrees to the right so the inner part of your right foot faces forward. Remember to keep your heels in line with each other. Then, turn your right thigh outward so it faces in the direction of your right toes. Remain facing forward.

Inhale and reach strongly to the right, allowing your hips to shift to the left as you do so. Now, exhale and bend to the right – hinging at the hips, not the waist. The key is to lengthen your torso: extend through the crown of your head while drawing your hips and tailbone toward your back heel.

Lower your right hand to your right shin, ankle, or the floor on either side of the foot (it depends on the flexibility in your hips, legs, and/or shoulders). Make sure to keep your legs straight, thigh muscles engaged and front right foot pressed firmly into the ground.  At this point, your arms should be perpendicular to the floor. Stretch your left arm straight up toward the sky.

Gaze up softly at your left hand. Hold this pose for 3-6 slow, deep breaths. To come out, inhale and press your back heel strongly into the floor. Repeat to the left for the same length of time.

Benefits of Extended Triangle Pose: 

  • Strengthens your legs, feet and ankles
  • Stretches your hips, groins, hamstrings, calves and spine
  • Opens your chest and shoulders
  • Strengthens your back, neck and abdominals
  • Stimulates your abdominal organs, aiding in digestion
  • Therapeutic for stress, anxiety, infertility, flat feet, neck pain, osteoporosis, sciatica and symptoms of menopause
  • Relieves backache, especially during pregnancy

The Health Benefits of Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose)

            According to Hindu mythology (specifically the Mahabharata), there was a certain Lord Shiva who loved the daughter, Sati, of his enemy, Daksha. Daksha refused to accept Shiva, even when Shiva and Sati were married. This animosity between Sati’s father and husband upset her so greatly that she killed herself.

Distraught by his wife’s death, myth tells that Shiva created the fiercest warrior from a bead of sweat on his forehead. This warrior’s name was Virabhadra, and Shiva set him out to destroy those who had caused the death of his beloved Sati.

In Dr. Svoboda’s dynamic book The Greatness of Saturn, he describes Virabhadra as looking “like a flaming fire, having many heads and many eyes, and tens of thousands of arms and legs. The embodiment of concentrated might…”

The fiery power of Virabhadra takes form in three different Warrior poses, this being the second. So, each time you perform Virabhadrasana I, II or III, think of the mighty conqueror from which your posture gets its name. Feel that and try to embody it.

Getting Into Warrior II Pose:

Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Inhale and lift your arms over your head, then bring your hands into prayer position at your chest. Take several long, deep breaths before stepping your feet 4-5 ft. apart and simultaneously raising your arms parallel to the floor, palms facing down. Actively reach out to the sides, drawing your shoulder blades apart.

At this point, your feet should be parallel to each other and your heels in line. Now, turn your left foot in slightly to the right and your right foot out 90 degrees to the right. Make sure to keep your heels in line. Firm your thighs and turn the right one outward. Notice that everything is pointing to your right.

Now, exhale and bend your right knee over your right ankle so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor. Bring your right thigh parallel to the floor if possible. To anchor yourself in Virabhadrasana II, firm your left leg and press the outer part of your left heel into the floor. Tuck your tailbone in slightly. Your weight should be distributed evenly on both feet, and your arms should stay outstretched and parallel to the floor throughout this movement.

Once you have your lower body in place, focus on your upper body. It should be centered over your hips, keeping both sides of your torso equally long. Avoid leaning over your right thigh. Turn your head to the right and look out over your fingers. Hold posture for several long, deep breaths. Inhale as you come up, then repeat with your left leg forward.

Benefits of Warrior II Pose:

Strengthens and stretches your legs, ankles and feet

  • Stretches your hips, groins and shoulders
  • Opens your chest and lungs
  • Builds stamina and concentration
  • Energizes tired limbs
  • Stimulates your abdominal organs
  • Helps relieve backaches, especially through your 2nd trimester
  • Develops balance and stability
  • Improves circulation and respiration
  • Therapeutic for flat fleet, sciatica, osteoporosis, carpal tunnel and infertility

Massage: A Natural Boost for Your Body

Many of us know how wonderful it feels to receive a massage from a licensed therapist, yet we often overlook the true, long-lasting benefits of a good massage. In 2010, studies done by researchers from Cedar-Sinai Medical Center, led by Dr. Mark Rapaport, showed that a single massage can produce significant changes in the health of the immune system and endocrine system.

This, along with numerous other studies, indicates that there is more to massage therapy than just feeling good; it holds actual scientific and medical credibility, which stems from the body’s heightened immune response to massage treatment. Massage therapy can benefit you by:

  • Increasing your body’s “natural killer cells,” the immune system’s first line of defense against invading sickness
  • Decreasing stiffness and discomfort, especially from injury
  • Reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol
  • Boosting feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine
  • Controlling blood pressure
  • Lessening the effects of stress, anxiety and depression
  • Decreasing pain by blocking your nervous system’s pain receptors
  • Easing symptoms of migraines, mood swings, labor pain, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), cancer, carpal tunnel, fibromyalgia, and multiple sclerosis
  • Encouraging better sleep by increasing the brain waves associated with deep sleep (delta waves)
  • Boosting alertness and improving attention span
  • Improving circulation of bodily fluids like blood and lymph
  • Encouraging less aggressive behavior by reducing levels of the hormone arginine vasopressin

At CNY Healing Arts, we offer customized massage treatment, Maya Abdominal Massage, prenatal massage, Reiki treatment for reproductive health, and much more. To learn more about us, including our team of Licensed Massage Therapists (LMT), check out our staff by location: Syracuse, Rochester, or Albany.

The Health Benefits of Utthita Hasta Padasana (Extended Hands and Feet Pose)

Utthita Hasta Padasana can easily be overlooked as an intermediary pose. Truthfully, it is rarely practiced at yoga class by itself, yet still holds important benefits. This asana will help you measure the correct distance your feet should be spread apart when in standing postures.

When you complete that simultaneous step of hopping your feet apart and spreading your arms to their full extent, your ankles should be somewhat below your wrists. This is your ideal stance for standing poses.

If you are having trouble completing a standing pose, like the Warrior Poses, whatever is going wrong can often be traced back to an intermediary pose like this one. It is much easier to correct your initial stance here then in the full pose.

Getting Into Extended Hands and Feet Pose:

Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Your weight should be balanced evenly throughout your thighs, calves, ankles and feet. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Simultaneously, lengthen your entire spine and firm your thighs as you turn them inward.

Make sure to straighten the spine through the neck, balancing your head evenly between your shoulders so your chin in parallel to the floor.  Gaze softly ahead of you, then, rest your shoulders down on your back.

Lift your elbows to shoulder-height and brings your fingertips together in front of your chest, palms facing down. Lift and open your chest – avoid puffing your sides forward, but lift through the sternum.

Inhale and hop (or lightly step) your feet about 4-5 feet wide, extending your arms out straight at the same time. Your feet should be parallel to each other. Actively stretch from your shoulders to the tips of your fingers and from your hips to your heels. Hold posture for several long, deep breaths.

Benefits of Extended Hands and Feet Pose:

  • Opens your chest
  • Strengthens your legs
  • Helps you develop good stance for standing poses

The Health Benefits of High Lunge

            Although this pose is quite popular in most yoga classes, the high lunge does not have an official Sanskrit name. Some refer to it as Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana, while others leave out the word “utthita,” which means raised in English. By itself, “ashwa sanchalanasana” can be translated to mean equestrian pose or riding posture.

Just as it has several Sanskrit names, high lunge also has many variations. To practice this pose with a licensed yoga teacher, check out our yoga class schedules by location. If you have any sort of knee injury, we especially recommend that you consult a practitioner before performing high lunge.

Getting Into High Lunge:

Begin in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog). Inhale and step your right foot forward between your hands, or use your hand to inch it up. Keep your left foot toward the back edge of your mat, with the ball of the foot on the floor.

Take a stance so your right knee can form a right angle: knee over ankle, shin perpendicular to the floor. Try to keep your right thigh parallel to the floor, but, if your right groin is too stiff, you can allow your thigh to sink toward the floor. Keep your hips squared. Anchor the left (back) heel to the floor by lifting the inner left groin deep into the pelvis.

Now, exhale and lay the right side of your torso on your right thigh (or bring it as close as you can get it). Lengthen your torso forward, stretching the spine. Make sure you are distributing your weight evenly on your right foot, not too much on the heel or toes. You should be able to feel the hamstring engage as well as the quad.

Press your fingertips or palms into the floor (shoulder-width apart). Breathe deeply and hold for as long as is comfortable. Look forward as you hold, or down at the floor if you have neck problems. When you are ready to release, exhale and step your right foot back beside the left, coming into Downward Dog once again. Repeat with your left foot forward.

Benefits of High Lunge:

  • Opens your groins and hips
  • Stretches and tones your legs, especially thighs
  • Strengthens your knees, ankles and waist
  • Stimulates abdominals organs
  • Increases stamina and lung capacity
  • Lengthens the spine, thereby stretching the chest
  • Therapeutic for indigestion, constipation, sciatica

The Health Benefits of Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose)

We at CNY Healing Arts are big fans of and true believers in the range of benefits offered by Ardha Matsyendrasana. In Sanskrit, “ardha” means half, “matsya” means fish, “indra” means ruler, and “asana” means pose. Translate that to English and it reads: Half Lord of the Fishes Pose.

It is helpful to warm up your hips for this most freeing, balancing, and energizing of seated twists. Try some hip openers like Baddha Konasana (Cobbler’s Pose), Padmasana (Lotus Pose), or Ustrasana (Camel Pose) before practicing this posture. If you have a spine or back injury, do not perform this pose unless under the supervision of an experienced yoga practitioner.

Check out our yoga class schedule by location – Syracuse, Rochester, Albany – and plan your next visit to CNY Healing Arts.

Getting Into Half Lord of the Fishes Pose:

Start in Dandasana (Staff Pose). Bend your right knee and place the foot flat on the floor. Cross your right leg over your left and position the sole of your right foot on the floor outside your left thigh. Bend your left knee and tuck the foot in near your right buttock. Lay the outside of the left leg on the floor.

Now, inhale and bring your upper left arm to rest on your right thigh. Exhale and twist at the waist, rotating towards the inside of your right thigh until it snugly meets your front torso. Place the palm of your right hand against the floor just behind your right buttock and press it firmly into the floor. Hint: your spine should stay straight in this posture.

Look out over your right shoulder, but don’t overturn the neck. Try to draw your spine longer and longer with each inhale, and deepen the twist a little more with each exhale. The twist should be distributed evenly throughout the entire length of your spine, so avoid concentrating it in any specific area like the neck or lower back. Be sure to keep your right foot flat on the floor. Hint: the twist should be in the waist, not the neck.

Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute. End on an exhale and take a slight counter twist in the opposite direction. Now, release your legs, rest for several moments, and practice Ardha Matsyendrasana when twisting to the left. Hint: don’t always start by twisting to the right first, then the left – switch it up to keep balance in your routine.

Benefits of Half Lord of the Fishes Pose:

  • Tones and strengthens abs and obliques
  • Stretches and energizes the spine
  • Open the shoulders, neck, and hips
  • Increases flexibility, especially in hips and spine
  • Cleanses the internal organs
  • Improves digestion and elimination of wastes
  • Relieves symptoms of backache, fatigue, menstrual discomfort and sciatica
  • Stimulates liver, heart, lungs, kidneys and spleen
  • Releases excess heat and toxins from organs and tissues

The Health Benefits of Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge Pose)

This is a great pose for athletes. It treats the typical sources of lower-body soreness, especially in runners: tight quads, hamstrings, and hips. Low Lunge may seem simple at first, but there are a plethora of benefits to this posture.

If you are having trouble balancing, try practicing this pose facing a wall. Press the big toe of the front foot against the wall and stretch your arms up, fingertips to the wall if necessary.

Getting Into Low Lunge Pose:

Start in Downward-Facing Dog. From there, exhale and step your right foot forward between your hands. If you have trouble reaching, use your hand to move your foot up, aligning knee over heel. Then lower your left knee to the floor, placing the top of that foot on the floor.

Slide the left leg back until you feel a comfortable stretch in the front thigh and groin. Make sure to keep your right knee fixed in place as you do this. As you exhale, gradually take the lunge deeper by allowing the right knee to move slightly in front of the ankle.

Now, inhale and lift your torso upright while sweeping your arms out to your sides and up overhead. Your arms should be straight and perpendicular to the floor. Remember to avoid slouching! Engage your core and grow taller from your pelvis through the crown of your head. Keep your chin lifted slightly, but not so much that it compresses your neck.

Hold for 1 minute then exhale your torso down so you can place your hands on the floor on each side of your right foot. Turn your toes back under and, with another exhale, lift your left knee off of the floor and step back to Downward-Facing Dog. Repeat Anjaneyasana for the same amount of time with your left foot forward.

Benefits of Low Lunge Pose:

  • Releases tension in your hips
  • Stretches your hamstrings, quads, and groin
  • Strengthens your knees
  • Helps build mental focus

The Health Benefits of Paripurna Navasana (Full Boat Pose)

In Sanskrit, “paripurna” means entire, full, or complete, “nava” means boat, and “asana” means pose; hence, the English name: Full Boat Pose. Despite the effort and many actions involved, finding stability in this posture can help calm and align your body, mind, and emotions.

To practice Full Boat Pose with a licensed yoga practitioner, check out our yoga class schedules by location (Syracuse, Rochester, Albany).

Getting Into Full Boat Pose:

Sit on the floor with knees bent, feet flat, and legs together. Slide your hands a little behind your hips, fingers pointing toward your feet and elbows bent away from you. Lean back slightly and lift your heels an inch or two off the floor. Make sure your back does not round, but stays straight throughout this pose.

Draw your shoulder blades together momentarily to lift and open your chest. Slowly begin to straighten your legs through the heels. Ideally, when your legs are fully straightened, your thighs should be angled about 45 degrees to the floor and the tips of your toes should be slightly above the level of your eyes. If you are unable to straighten your legs while raising them, try keeping your knees bent (shins parallel to the floor).

Now, stretch your arms forward alongside your legs, palms facing down. Spread your shoulder blades across your back and reach strongly out through your fingers (while maintaining a straight back and long torso). Your arms should be parallel to each other as well as to the floor. If you are unable to raise your arms while in Paripurna Navasana, either grip the back of your thighs or keep your hands behind your hips where they were.

Open your chest and relax your shoulders down your back. Put as much effort into lifting your chest as you are in lifting your legs. Breathe steadily and hold for 2-6 breaths. Gradually increase your endurance until you can hold the posture for a full minute. To release: bring the legs in as you exhale and sit upright as you inhale.

Benefits of Full Boat Pose:

  • Tones and strengthens your abdominal muscles
  • Improves balance and digestion
  • Stretches your hamstrings
  • Strengthens your spine and hip flexors
  • Stimulates the kidneys, thyroid and prostate glands, and intestines
  • Aids in stress relief
  • Improves confidence