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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 Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend Pose)

In Sanskrit, “ut” means intense, “tan” means to stretch or extend and “asana” means pose. In English, we call this pose the Standing Forward Bend. But in any language, this incredibly beneficial posture is both therapeutic and revitalizing. In Uttanasana, your head is below your heart. This allows the unusual occasion for blood to rush to your head (rather than your feet), giving your cells a rejuvenating boost of oxygen.

To practice Uttanasana with a licensed yoga practitioner, check out our yoga class schedule for each branch of CNY Healing Arts: located in Syracuse, Rochester, and Albany.

Getting Into Standing Forward Bend Pose:

Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Rest your hands on your hips, exhale, and bend forward from the hip joints rather than the waist. Draw your belly slightly in and focus on lengthening your front torso as you go deeper in Uttanasana.

Keeping your knees straight, place your fingertips or palms on the floor beside your feet, or touch the back of your ankles with your palms. To modify this movement, cross your forearms and hold your elbows.

To help tone your thighs, press your heels into the floor, lift your sit bones toward the sky, and turn the tops of your thighs slightly inward. Let your head hang loose, releasing all tension in your back and shoulder blades.

Try lengthening the front torso a little bit more on each inhale. On each exhale, release fully into the bend. Stay in this posture for 30 seconds to 1 minute. To come out of Uttanasana, bring your hands back to your hips and rotate at the hip joints until you stand strong and tall. Do not simply roll your spine up.

Benefits of Standing Forward Bend Pose:

  • Stretches the hips, hamstrings, and calves
  • Strengthens the thighs and knees
  • Keeps your spine strong and flexible
  • Reduces stress, anxiety, depression, and fatigue
  • Calms the mind and soothes the nerves
  • Relieves tension in the spine, neck, and back
  • Activates the abdominal muscles
  • Eases symptoms of menopause, asthma, headaches, and insomnia
  • Stimulates the kidneys, liver, spleen
  • Improves digestion
  • May lower high blood pressure
  • Therapeutic for infertility, osteoporosis, and sinusitis

The Health Benefits of Simhasana (Lion Pose)

In this asana, the body and face are manipulated at once to invoke the force and intensity of a lion’s roar. In fact, this posture is thought to be one of the best face exercises you can get. People often overlook another benefit of Lion Pose: it stimulates the platysma, which is a thin, rectangular-shaped muscle in the front of throat. This exercise will keep the platysma strong as you age.

Getting Into Lion Pose:

Begin by kneeling on the floor with knees shoulder-width apart. Cross your right ankle over your left and carefully sit back on your heels. Make sure your feet are pointing outward and your calves are kept flat on the floor. Lift your chest up just enough that you are not slouching and your spine is fully straightened, but don’t over-arch your back.

Now, place both your hands on top of your knees. REMEMBER: don’t slouch as you do this. Widen your palms and press them firmly against your knees. Splay your fingers like a lion’s claws. Inhale deeply through your nose.

This next step is the focal point of Simhasana, but it can also be quite challenging. If you struggle here, be sure to practice your movements in coordination with each other. So, simultaneously do the following:

  • Lower your jaw and open your mouth as wide as possible
  • Stretch your tongue out and curl its tip down toward your chin
  • Open your eyes wide, looking upward
  • Focus your eyes in between your eyebrows or on the tip of your nose
  • Contract the muscles at the front of your throat
  • Activate your hands, splaying your fingers further out

Now, hold this position and exhale slowly through your mouth. Feel the air pass over the back of the throat as well as the contraction of your throat and neck muscles. You should make a distinct “haaaaa” sound as you exhale.

Don’t forget to give your best lion roar. In fact, roar two of three times then retract your tongue. Relax your face, mouth, eyes, throat, and hands. Cross your ankles the opposite way and repeat Simhasana.

Benefits of Lion Pose:

  • Relieves tension in the face and chest
  • Improves circulation of blood to the face
  • Keeps your eyes healthy by stimulating the nerves
  • Stimulates and firms the platysma
  • Helps prevent sore throat, asthma, and other respiratory ailments
  • May help treat bad breath
  • Is said to eradicate disease

The Health Benefits of Uttana Shishosana (Extended Puppy Pose)

We at CNY Healing Arts are proud to present you with this invigorating inversion. A good warm-up or closer to your yoga sequence, Uttana Shishosana is one of those feel-good poses, like Child’s Pose or Happy Baby: simple, sensory, and stretchable.

A beginner’s tip: to activate the leg and hip muscles, place a bolster lengthwise from the knees to the ankles and squeeze. This will, also, help protect your lower back and perfect your posture while in Extended Puppy.

Click here to view a yoga class schedule for each branch of CNY Healing Arts (located in Syracuse, Rochester, and Albany).

Getting Into Extended Puppy Pose:

            Begin on all fours: shoulders over wrists, hips over knees, tops of feet on the floor. Slowly walk your hands out as you drop your chest towards the floor (keeping hips over knees and arms shoulder-width apart).

If you are having trouble with your form, try drawing your navel up and your hips back as you extend the hands forward, in order to keep your hips over your knees. Now drop your forehead to the floor and let your neck relax. You may want to place a bolster under your forehead to support your weight.

Like other inversion poses, Uttana Shishosana changes the direction of blood flow, which can cause headaches or discomfort (especially for people with high blood pressure). If this is the case, the few inches of elevation from a bolster should correct the problem.

Now, press down through the hands and stretch the arms while pulling your hips back toward the heels (keeping a slight curve in your lower back). Make sure your elbows are not touching the ground, but keep your arms active.

You should feel a rather intense inner-shoulder stretch. If you aren’t feeling the stretch, check your form. If all is in order, extend your arms out further and lay your chest on the floor. You should feel a nice long stretch in your spine.

Hold this posture for 30 seconds to 1 minute. When you are ready, exhale and walk your hands in, lifting your body up to a kneeling position. Remember that a sudden change in blood flow can cause dizziness, so take your time when coming out of an inversion pose such as Extended Puppy.

Benefits of Extended Puppy Pose:

  • Stretches the spine and shoulders
  • Calms the mind and invigorates the body
  • Improves flexibility, especially in the spine
  • Relieves symptoms of chronic stress, tension, and insomnia
  •  Strengthens and stretches the arms, hips, and upper back

Health Benefits of Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall Pose)

Also known as Inverted Lake, this mild inversion is known for a wide range of health benefits as well as its anti-aging effects. Old Hindu scriptures claim that Viparita Karani hides wrinkles in addition to banishing old age and death.

The restorative nature of this posture gets blood flowing to parts of the body that need it, making it good for most any ailment including arthritis, high or low blood pressure, respiratory ailments, and menopause. To practice this pose with a specialist at CNY Healing Arts, check out our yoga class schedule for each location.

Getting Into Legs Up the Wall Pose:

Start by collecting the items your will need for this session, which ideally includes a yoga mat, yoga block, and two small towels. Lie on the floor near a wall and practice deep, steady breathing. Exhale and swing your legs up onto the wall so that your heels and sitting bones are supported against it. If you have any discomfort in your lower back, adjust your body slightly back from the wall so that your sitting bones are not touching it. Rest your head on the mat or floor, keeping your spine straight, and bend your knees a little so your kneecaps won’t lock.

When using support: If you have any lower back pain, support your body by placing a yoga block or folded blankets on the ground beneath your back. When positioning your support, you must consider its height and its distance from the wall. Be honest with yourself to avoid straining any muscles! If you are not very flexible, your support should be lower to the ground and farther from the wall. If you are flexible, keep your support higher and closer to the wall. Your sitting bones do not need to be against the wall, rather “dripping” down into the space between the wall and your support. Keep a gentle arc in your torso from the pubis to the top of the shoulders.

If your neck feels strained, place a small, rolled-up towel under it. Cover your eyes with the other towel and keep your them closed for 5 – 15 minutes as you soften and release. Rest your arms out to your sides. Open your shoulder blades away from the spine, relaxing your hands and wrists. Keep your legs held vertically in place, but only partially flexed.

Release the weight of your belly toward the back of the pelvis, deeply into the torso. Soften the eyes and turn them down towards your heart. After you come out of this restorative pose, be sure to lie on your side for a few breaths before sitting upright with your back against the wall, then slowly rising to your feet.

Benefits of Legs Up the Wall Pose:

  • Regulates blood flow
  • Alleviates menstrual cramps
  • Relieves swollen ankles and varicose veins
  • Helps testicular, semen, and ovarian problems in men and women respectively
  • Improves digestion
  • Restores tired feet or legs
  • Stretches the back of the neck, front torso, and back of the legs
  • Improves problems of the eyes and ears
  • Relieves mild backache
  • Provides migraine and headache relief, especially when done with a bandage wrapped tightly around the forehead and back of the skull
  • Helps keep you young and vital
  • Calms anxiety
  • Relieves symptoms of mild depression and insomnia

The Health Benefits of Padmasana (Lotus Pose)

CNY Healing Arts encourages you to put this pose to the test. While the concept of Padmasana may seem simple, it is considered an intermediate to advanced pose and may not be comfortable for beginners. In basic terms, Lotus Pose is sitting cross-legged with the spine vertically straight, making it ideal for meditation and concentration.

The religious correlation between Padmasana and Buddhism is rather significant. In Sanskrit, Padmasana is derived from the words padma (meaning lotus) and sana (meaning seat or throne). Interestingly, the lotus, a sacred aquatic plant, is one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols and one of Buddhism’s most recognized motifs. Every important Buddhist diety is pictured either sitting on a lotus or holding one in their hand. Buddha himself has even been shown standing with each foot on a separate lotus. Traditional Hindu texts claim that Padmasana destroys all disease and awakens kundalini (a dormant energy residing at the base of the spine that can be awakened through meditation and yoga).

Getting into Lotus Pose:
With palms down, sit on the floor with legs stretched straight out in front of you. Bend the right knee and bring the lower leg up into a cradle. The outer side of the foot should settle in the crook of the left elbow, while the knee should settle in the crook of the right elbow. Clasp hands outside the shin and hold this posture for a few moments.

To lengthen the spine, lift the front torso towards the inner right leg, but try not to round the lower back. Explore the full range of motion of the hip joint by gently rocking the leg back and forth. Repeat this process with the opposite leg.
Come back to sitting with the legs stretched out in front of you. Now, bend the right knee and bring the right ankle to the left hip crease, allowing the right foot to face upwards. Settle the foot into the hip crease. Repeat this process with the left leg and right hip crease.

Remember not to cross your legs the same way every time your try this pose. Make sure to alternate bringing your right and left legs in first. If you are a novice at yoga, try coming into half lotus before attempting full lotus, this means only coming into one side of the pose at a time. Consistent practice of this pose throughout pregnancy is said to help ease the pains of childbirth.

Benefits of Lotus Pose:

  • Opens up the hips
  • Stretches the ankles and knees
  • Calms the brain
  • Increases awareness and attentiveness
  • Keeps the spine straight
  • Helps develop good posture
  • Eases menstrual discomfort and sciatica
  • Helps keeps joints and ligaments flexible
  • Stimulates the spine, pelvis, abdomen, and bladder
  • Restores energy levels

Click here to view our yoga class schedules at Syracuse and Rochester.

The Health Benefits of Dandasana (Staff Pose or Stick Pose)

We here at CNY Healing Arts Center are proud to present you with Dandasana, the foundation of all seated Yoga poses. Although often used as a resting or preparatory pose, Staff pose holds real benefits for your body and mind. When performed correctly, Dandasana strengthens all major core muscles, improves posture, and increases stamina! Trust us, this is one of those poses that looks simple at first glance, but can really kick your butt if you follow the instructions below. We utilize this pose daily as well as in our Yoga practices. We offer classes at our centers in Syracuse, Rochester, and Albany. To attend a class, click here to check out our current class schedule.

Getting into Staff Pose:
Roll out a mat and sit on it, or take a spot on the ground. Extend your legs straight out in front of your body with your thighs as flat on the floor as possible. If it is difficult to keep your spine stacked vertically, try sitting with your back against a wall for straight posture. The sacrum and the shoulder blades should touch the wall, but not the lower back or back of the head. If your head is touching the wall, you are slouching!

Use your hands to pull the flesh of your buttocks back and out of the way of your sitting bones so you can sit more directly on them. To make this posture more comfortable, you may fold a blanket under yourself or sit on a piled carpet. Rest your arms alongside the body with palms on the floor. Warm up your leg muscles by pressing your heels into the floor, but avoid locking your knees. Firm the thighs and rotate them gently towards each other, keeping the feet flexed.

Gradually lift your chest and drop your shoulder blades down towards your back. Inhale slowly throughout this entire process and keep your chin at a slightly lowered position. Imagine your spine as the “staff” in this pose, rooted firmly in the earth. Do not flex your abdominal muscles, but make a conscious effort to pin your thighs down. Hold this position for a minute or two.

The Benefits of Staff Pose:

  • Helps improve posture
  • Strengthens back muscles
  • Lengthens and stretches the spine
  • May help to relieve complications related to the reproductive organs
  • Stretches shoulders and chest
  • Nourishes your body’s resistance to back and hip injuries
  • Helps to calm brain cells
  • May improve functionality of the digestive organs
  • Creates body awareness
  • Helps improve alignment of body
  • Provides a mild stretch for hamstrings

The Health Benefits of Balasana (Child’s Pose)

The staff at CNY Healing Arts Center invites you to try out this most calming and restorative of yoga poses. Balasana, also known as child’s pose, is a resting pose practiced in the fetal position. The name is derived from the Sanskrit words “bala” and “asana”, which translate to “child” and “pose” respectively. Its main anatomical focus is the thighs, although it is useful in relieving back, shoulder, neck, and hip strain. If performed with an open mind, the full-body, gravitational pull of Balasana is sure to induce users with a great sense of physical, mental and emotional relief. Looking to try out this pose with an instructor? We offer yoga classes at all of our locations. Click here to view our current class schedule per location (Albany, Syracuse, Rochester).

Getting Into Child’s Pose:
Begin by kneeling on a yoga mat or the floor. Bring your knees together and your buttocks to your feet. Exhale and slowly rest your torso over your thighs so that your forehead touches the mat.

For active child’s pose, lift your buttocks slightly and stretch your arms over your head. Place your palms on the floor and reach your arms until you feel your shoulder blades stretching across your back. Sit back down on your heels without changing the position of your arms. Feel your torso lengthening. For a more passive version, let your arms rest palms up at your sides. Feel the stretch in your spine. Close your eyes, steady your breathing and allow a deeper level of relaxation. Alternate between these two versions of Balasana if you like.
Breath control is a significant element of child’s pose. Since breathing is usually an involuntary action, not a conscious choice, Balasana allows us an opportunity to breathe fully into the back of the torso. Imagine your spine lengthening and widening with each inhalation. As you exhale, fall deeper into relaxation, allowing the stretch to release a little more tension with each breath. Focus on your breathing to help increase concentration and shut out distractions.

The goal is to have your forehead touching the ground in front of you while your buttocks remains in contact with your heels. If you find it strenuous to sit on your heels throughout this posture, modify it by placing a thickly folded blanket between the backs of your thighs and your calves.

Avoid child’s pose if you have diarrhea or are pregnant. Do not perform Balasana if you have had a knee injury, unless you are under the supervision of an experienced teacher. If you are pregnant, have had hip surgery, or suffer from acid reflux, you can practice this pose with a slight modification. Instead of bringing your knees together, touch your big toes and keep your knees at least hip distance apart. This will allow room for your big belly, lessen the strain on your hips, and avoid putting unnecessary pressure on the stomach, which can aggravate heartburn.

The Benefits of Child’s Pose:

  • Releases tension in the back, shoulders and chest
  • Recommended if you have dizziness or fatigue
  • Helps alleviate stress and anxiety
  • Flexes the body’s internal organs and keeps them supple
  • It lengthens and stretches the spine
  • Relieves neck and lower back pain when performed with the head and torso supported
  • It gently stretches the hips, thighs and ankles
  • Normalizes circulation throughout the body
  • It stretches muscles, tendons and ligaments in the knee
  • Calms the mind and body
  • Encourages strong and steady breathing

The Health Benefits of Vrikshasana (Tree Pose)

CNY Healing Arts Center wants you to feel balanced and stable on your journey in life and yoga is one of the best ways to achieve this. Vrikshasana or tree pose is a wonderful pose that teaches balance while toning the muscles of the legs. This elegant pose is not as easy as it looks, but over time it builds tremendous inner and outer strength and a great feeling of accomplishment as you learn to balance on one leg. Besides being lots of fun, the health benefits of vrikshasana or tree pose are worth the effort and initial challenges of falling out of the pose.

Attend a yoga class at the CNY Healing Arts Center nearest you, conveniently located in Syracuse, Rochester and Latham, and we will help you explore the healing benefits of yoga. Check out our class schedules here.

Getting into Tree Pose:
Stand in Tadasana or mountain pose with your toes and ankles touching, your pelvis perpendicular to the floor and your shoulders relaxed and open. The arms are by your side. Ground through your left foot, especially focusing on the big toes joint and then lift your right leg folding at the knee. Place the sole of the right foot up against the upper left inner thigh with the toes pointing downwards and the folded leg perpendicular to the standing leg. Make sure your hips are even- avoid the temptation to sink into the hip of the standing leg. Once you have established your balance, fold the hands in front of your chest in a prayer position. Keep your balance and stretch the arms above your head with your gaze forward. Once you are more comfortable in this pose you can begin to play with curling the chest back and looking up. Keep the balance and hold for as long as possible. Repeat with the left leg.

Health Benefits of Tree Pose

  • Improves balance and stability in the legs
  • On a metaphysical level, helps one to achieve balance in other aspects of life
  • Strengthens the ligaments and tendon of the feet
  • Strengthens and tones the entire standing leg, up to the buttocks
  • Assists the body in establishing pelvic stability
  • Strengthen the bones of the hips and legs due to the weight-bearing nature of the pose
  • Builds self-confidence and esteem

 

The Health Benefits of Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

CNY Healing Arts Center invites you to enjoy the benefits of one of the most popular yoga poses, adho mukha svanasana or downward facing dog pose. You’ve probably observed your dog doing this pose several times a day. It so happens that our canine friends have been on to something for some time and downward facing dog pose can benefit dogs and humans alike. We have many yoga classes available at all of our locations. View our current class schedule per location here.

Getting Into Downward Facing Dog Pose:
Start on all fours with your knees directly underneath your hip and your hands directly underneath your shoulders. The palms are firmly grounded onto the mat and your fingers are spread. Pull your stomach in and melt your chest towards the floor. Tuck your toes underneath you. Lift your knees away from the floor, lengthen your spine backwards and shoot your tailbone up towards the sky as you straighten out your legs. Push the top of your thighs back and stretch your heels towards the floor. Form the shoulder blades onto the back, release the neck and extend your heart towards your thighs. Hold the pose for 5 inhales and exhales and then rest in child’s pose with your knees on the floor, your forehead on the floor in front of your knees and your hands beside you on the floor.

Health Benefits of Downward Facing Dog Pose:

  • Inverted poses are extremely important because they reverse the action of gravity on the body and get the blood and lymph flowing in opposite directions.
  • On an emotional level downward facing dog helps turn everything on its head and helps us see things from a different angle.
  • It helps boost self-confidence.
  • Because of the increased blood flow to the top of the body, shoulder stand can help improve brain function and cognition and reduce anxiety and depression.
  • Takes pressure off the heart, which has to work less to get blood flowing to the brain.
  • Strengthens and tones the arms and legs
  • Because of the weight bearing nature of the posture on the arms and legs it helps strengthen the bones and prevent osteoporosis.
  • Lengthens and straightens the spine, helping to relieve pain in the upper, middle and lower back.
  • The body gets a 360-degree stretch in just one pose.