Yoga Pose Index
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 levelsClick here to view our yoga class schedules at all locations: Syracuse, Albany and Rochester. Read more “Bhadrasana”
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 levelsClick here to view our yoga class schedules at all locations: Syracuse, Albany and Rochester.
The Health Benefits of Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
Stressed out? Sick of that stiff, achy back? Our staff at CNY Healing Arts encourages you to give this asana a try. Bhujangasana, pronounced boo-jang-GAHS-anna, can be significantly useful at relieving discomfort in the muscles of the back, neck and abdomen. Furthermore, a little time spent in cobra pose can go a long way towards alleviating stress, anxiety and even depression. The best part: it’s free!
In Sanskrit, “bhujanga” means serpent or snake and “asana” means pose; hence the English, cobra pose. This invigorating backbend was named such because Bhujangasana reflects the posture of a cobra that has its hood raised. If you would like to practice this pose with the aid a qualified yoga instructor, click our event calendar to check out the yoga class schedule for each of our centers, located in Syracuse, Rochester and Albany.
Getting into Cobra Pose:
Start by lying flat on your stomach on a comfortable, level surface, preferably a yoga mat. Make sure your feet are together with the tops of them against the floor. Spread your hands on the floor under your shoulders and hug your elbows against your rib cage. Close your eyes and inhale slowly, deeply. Feel the stability in your pelvis, thighs and tops of your feet. Imagine them rooted to the ground throughout Bhujangasana. Exhale gradually before opening your eyes. Continue breathing slow and deep.
As you inhale, steadily straighten your arms and lift your chest from the floor. Be mindful as you extend your arms. Do not fully straighten them if this feels uncomfortable. Rather, extend through and deepen your stretch to create a graceful, even arc in your back. Use the stretch in your legs and back, instead of exerting yourself to gain height and risk overarching the spine. Press your tailbone toward your pubis and lift your pubis toward your navel, narrowing your hips. Keep your shoulders broad, but relaxed, with the blades low on your back.
Lift from the top of your sternum, but avoid pushing the front of your ribs forward. Rather, puff your side ribs forward and keep your lower back relaxed. Try to distribute the stretch evenly along your spine. Breathe calmly and hold here for 5 to 10 breaths. As you exhale, gently release your body back to the floor.
Benefits of Cobra Pose:
- Stretches muscles in the shoulders, chest and abdominals
- Decreases stiffness of the lower back
- Strengthens the arms and shoulders
- Increases flexibility
- Improves menstrual irregularities
- Elevates mood
- Firms and tones the buttocks
- Invigorates the heart
- Stimulates organs in the abdomen, like the kidneys
- Relieves stress and fatigue
- Opens the chest and helps to clear the passages of the heart and lungs
- Improves circulation of blood and oxygen, especially throughout the spinal and pelvic regions
- Improves digestion
- Strengthens the spine
- Soothes sciatica
- Helps to ease symptoms of asthma
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, 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
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 Read more “Balasana”
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.
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 schedule on our event calendar for more details!
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
Adho Mukha Svanasana
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 on our events calendar.
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.
flowing in opposite directions. On an emotional level shoulder stand 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. It takes pressure off the heart, which has to work less to get blood flowing to the brain. Helps with lung function by improving blood flow to the area, making it useful for people suffering from respiratory tract disorders. After a yoga class, inversions help to divert blood from the legs into the abdominal region, which means a fresh flow of oxygenated blood to the organs. This has applications in improving both digestive and reproductive functions. Read more “Salamba Sarvangasana”
The Health Benefits of Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulder Stand)
You probably did it all the time as a kid, but for some reason you stopped experiencing the joys of hanging upside down as you got older. Inversions are amongst the most beneficial and therapeutic posters in yoga and even yogis in their 90’s are still doing it! CNY Healing Arts Center invites you to experience the magical healing benefits of the so-called “queen” of yoga inversions, salamba sarvangasana. Attend a yoga class at the CNY Healing Arts Center nearest you and we will help you explore the healing benefits of yoga. Check out our class schedules on our event calendar!
Getting Into Shoulder Stand:
Shoulder stand is not for everyone and some may find it very difficult to get into. If this is the case, it is always better to have a yoga instructor help you get into it safely.
If you have a tweak in your neck, you will want to use a folded blanket support under your shoulders so that your neck is allowed to remain relatively free rather than scrunched onto the floor.
Lie down on your back with your arms on the floor, palms down and bend your knees into towards you. Flip your legs over your head so that your back is off the floor. The shoulders remain on the floor and you are using them to balance. Make sure that your shoulder blades are tucked in underneath you and that your elbows are close together (you can do this by interlacing the fingers underneath you and pulling the shoulders and elbow together). Simultaneously bend your arms at the elbow and bring them in to support your back, with your fingers facing up towards the ceiling. Activate your pelvic floor muscles to help support your neck and back.
As a beginner, you can come into half shoulder stand by placing your knees onto your forehead. For the full pose extend the legs up towards the sky, while supporting the back. Eventually, your body should be at a 90-degree angle to the floor with the balls of your feet pointing towards the ceiling. Hold for at least 20 breaths, breathing in and out through your nose.
To come out extend the legs back over your head and roll out of it vertebrae by vertebrae. Once your whole spine is flat on the floor, you can release the feet back down to the ground.
The Benefits of Shoulder Stand:
- 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 shoulder stand 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.
- It takes pressure off the heart, which has to work less to get blood flowing to the brain.
- Helps with lung function by improving blood flow to the area, making it useful for people suffering from respiratory tract disorders.
- After a yoga class, inversions help to divert blood from the legs into the abdominal region, which means a fresh flow of oxygenated blood to the organs. This has applications in improving both digestive and reproductive functions.
The Health Benefits of Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)
CNY Healing Arts Center is presenting you with a series of yoga poses to help boost your health and well-being. Bound angle pose, also known as baddha konasana, is a therapeutic hip and groin opener that can also help boost your fertility.
Getting into Baddha Konasana:
Sit with your legs straight out in front of you. Raise your pelvis with a block or a blanket if your hips are tight. Bend your knees and pull your feet towards as close towards your pelvis as you can, with the soles of the feet touching each other. Drop your knees towards the floor and push the feet together. With your index and middle finger and thumb grab the big toes of each foot. Lengthen through the front of the torso to the sternum as you pull your body down towards the floor.
The aim of the posture is to get your knees on the floor and your head in front of your feet with your torso flat over your legs. There is no need for this to happen overnight; you will get benefits from every stage of this pose. As you fold forward in this posture, lead with the heart until you reach the edge of your flexibility then let the back round and drop the head. Never force your knees down. Instead release the heads of the thighbones toward the floor. When this action leads, the knees follow. Stay in baddha konasana for 1 to 5 minutes or at least 20 breaths, breathing constantly in and through the nose and you gently release into the pose.
The Benefits of Baddha Konasana:
- Strengthens and improves flexibility in the inner thighs, groins and the knees
- Helps prepare the hips and groins for meditative seated poses, which require more flexibility in these areas
- Helps to sooth menstrual discomfort and digestive complaints
- Stimulates the abdominal organs, potentially improving the health of the ovaries, prostate gland, kidneys and bladder.
- Alleviates fatigue, according to traditional yoga texts
- Helps open up the lower back and relieves sciatica
- Metaphysically opens up the groin area helping to relieve sexual inhibitions and guilt.
The Health Benefits of Agnistambhasana (Fire Log Pose)
When translated from Sanskrit to English, Agnistambhasana breaks up into three words: “Angi” means fire, “stambha” means statue, and “asana” means pose. It may be a mouthful, but with descriptors like fire and statue, this translation alone should hint at the nature of this posture. Agnistambhasana, as with many asanas, is all about feeling the burn… in your hips in this case.
Remember, breathing techniques are utterly essential while doing Fire Log. Also, be sure to maximize your experience by keeping your thoughts open and encouraging. Steady breathing combined with an open mind can offer you an overwhelming sense of certainty and prowess when in correct position. If you would like to practice this pose with the guidance of a licensed yoga practitioner, check out our yoga class schedule for each branch of CNY Healing Arts.
Getting into Fire Log Pose:
Begin in a seated position with your legs straight out in front of you. Now, bend your knees and bring your legs in one at a time, stacking one on top of the other. Ideally, the hip, knee, and ankle of each leg should form a ninety-degree angle, opening towards you.
If this is too strenuous on your knees, hips, or back, you can still achieve an opening in your hips by widening the space between your legs and taking the foot of whichever leg is on top to the inside of the knee of the lower leg. For an even simpler version of Fire Log, simply bend at the knees and cross your ankles.
Inhale and lengthen your spine from the tailbone to the crown of your head. Exhale and bring your chest towards the floor. Lay your hands on the floor in front of your shins. Hold for at least one minute. Be sure to continue breathing deep and steady.
To come out of the pose, inhale your torso upright and uncross your legs. Repeat for the same length of time with opposite leg stacked on top. Please be aware that this posture may be dangerous if you have a lower back or knee injury.
Benefits of Fire Log Pose:
- Opens and stretches the hips
- Stretches the groins and buttocks gently
- Stimulates the abdominal organs
- Strengthens legs and calves
- Calms the mind
- Relieves anxiety, tension and stress
The Health Benefits of Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby Pose)
We at CNY Healing Arts, invite you to try out our version of Happy Baby Pose, also known as Dead Bug Pose. When performed correctly, this posture can provide significant relief to lower back pain or discomfort. The best part about it: as you lie there, this supine stretch works out kinks in your hips, back, and buttocks.
Precautions should be taken when doing Happy Baby or Dead Bug, especially if you suffer from a prior knee or neck injury. A prop, such as a folded blanket, may be used to support the neck while in this pose. Furthermore, a woman should not perform Ananda Balasana while pregnant, unless a skilled yoga practitioner modifies the pose for her separately.
Getting into Happy Baby Pose:
Begin by laying flat on your back. Exhale and bend the knees into the belly. Inhale and grip the outside of each foot with the corresponding hand. If you are performing Dead Bug Pose, hold on to the inside of each foot instead. If you find it difficult to grip your feet, try looping a belt or yoga strap over each sole and holding on to the ends of it. Open your knees slightly wider than your torso and bring them up towards your armpits. If you are performing Dead Bug Pose, your
Stack each ankle directly over the knee so that the shins are perpendicular to the floor. With gentle movements, push your feet up into your hands and pull down with your hands to create resistance. Flex your feet. Lengthen your spine as you bring your thighs into your torso and towards the floor.
Hold this posture for 30 seconds to a minute. Exhale and release the feet back to the floor. Rest for a few breaths before moving on.
Benefits of Happy Baby Pose:
- Releases lower back and sacrum
- Opens hips, inner thighs, and groin
- Stretches the hamstrings
- Relieves lower back pain
- Stretches and soothes the spine
- Calms the brain
- Helps relieve stress and fatigue
The Health Benefits of Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
Our staff at CNY Healing Arts presents you with one of our favorite asanas. What we love about camel pose is that, when performed correctly, nearly all the major muscles of our bodies are being stretched. In addition, it stimulates and tones many of our limbs, including the chest, abdomen, and thighs. In short, the front side of our bodies are getting fully involved. Note that beginners should only hold this posture for about 20 seconds to avoid straining anything.
Ustrasana work subtly, but brilliantly, to improve conditions of the digestive, respiratory, endocrine, lymphatic, skeletal, and circulatory systems. This posture is recommended for people suffering from asthma, bronchitis, diabetes, thyroid and parathyroid disorders, spondylitis, and voice disorders. Doctors may also suggest camel pose to people who have constipation, colitis, dyspepsia, obesity of the thighs or arms, and Genito-urinary disorder of the kidney, urinary bladder, ovaries, testes and prostate. In Sanskrit, “ustra” means camel and “asana” means pose, hence the English name.
Getting into Camel Pose:
Begin Ustrasana by kneeling on the floor or a yoga mat. If your knees are sensitive, kneel on extra padding. Make sure your knees are hip width apart and thighs are perpendicular to the floor. The soles of your feet should face upward, toenails touching the floor. Place your palms on your hips and try to keep your outer hips as soft as possible. Breathe deeply.
Use your hands to lengthen your back pelvis and draw the tailbone towards the pubis. Inhale and lift your heart by pressing your shoulder blades to the back of your ribs. Begin to arc your back. Withdraw your arms one at a time from your hips and place them on your heels. Press your palms firmly against your heels to keep from losing your balance. Turn your arms outward so that the elbow creases face forward. Arch your back until your arms are straight. Imagine that there is a string tied around your waist that pulls you upward towards the sky.
If you find it difficult to keep your thighs perpendicular to the floor, try tilting the thighs backward individually as you touch hand to heel, using entirely the left or right side limbs. Press each thigh back into perpendicular position before joining the opposite hand and heel. Furthermore, if you cannot touch your feet without compressing your lower back, turn your toes under and raise your heels.
You can keep your neck at a neutral position, neither flexed nor extended, or drop your head back. Be careful not to strain your neck or tighten your throat. Maintain this posture for 30 seconds to a minute. Breathe calm and deep.
Benefits of Camel Pose:
- Reduces fat on thighs
- Opens up the hips, stretching deep hip flexors
- Stretches and strengthens the shoulders and back
- Expands the abdominal region, improving digestion and elimination
- Improves posture
- Opens the chest, improving respiration
- Loosens up the vertebrae
- Relieves lower back pain
- Helps to heal and balance the chakras
- Strengthens thighs and arms
- Improves flexibility, especially in the spine
- Stimulates endocrine glands
- Releases tension in the ovaries
- Stretches the ankles, thighs, groin, abdomen, chest, and throat
- Cures constipation
- Tones organs of the abdomen, pelvis, and neck
- Complements overall health and well-being
The Health Benefits of Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)
As you perform Bridge Pose, you will become more alert in both body and mind. This rejuvenating back bend will open your chest up and keep your spine flexible. While beginners can practice it safely, skilled practitioners can still experience its many benefits. Setu Bandhasana will also help to prepare you for more intense back bends.
This posture is relatively simple and quite exhilarating. If you find it difficult to hold the lift in your pelvis, slide a block or bolster beneath your sacrum and rest the pelvis on it for support. In contrast, if you are looking to deepen the stretch, lift your heels off the floor once in Bridge Pose and push your tailbone up towards the pubis. Once the tailbone is lifted, stretch the heels back to the floor.
Getting Into Bridge Pose:
Lie flat on your back with arms at your sides, palms down. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Keep your feet hip width apart, parallel to each other, and as close to the buttocks as possible. Simultaneously, press your upper arms and feet into the floor and begin lifting your hips towards the ceiling. Try to distribute your weight equally on the inside and outside of your feet.
Now, move your breastbone towards your chin, keeping your chin lifted only slightly as not to flatten the back of the neck. Firm your tailbone in towards the pubis and move your pubis slightly towards the belly. In order to keep the lower back extended, keep the knees over the ankles, perpendicular to the floor. Your buttocks should be firm, but not clasped.
Lift your hips as high as you are able without breaking position. If you are having trouble holding posture, you can clasp your hands behind your back and firm you arms into the floor, shoulder blades shifted down along the spine. Hold this pose for 5 to 15 breaths.
To come out of Bridge Pose, release on an exhalation, rolling your spine slowly down onto the floor.
Benefits of Bridge Pose:
- Stretches the chest, neck, spine, and hips
- Strengthens the back, buttocks, and hamstrings
- Improves circulation of blood
- Helps alleviate stress and mild depression
- Calms the brain and central nervous system
- Stimulates the lungs, thyroid glands, and abdominal organs
- Improves digestion
- Helps relieve symptoms of menopause
- Reduces backache and headache
- Reduces fatigue, anxiety, and insomnia
- Rejuvenates tired legs
- Relieves symptoms of asthma and high blood pressure
- Therapeutic for hypertension, osteoporosis, and sinusitis
Yoga Pose Series: The Health Benefits of Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Tadasana, or Mountain Pose, is a basic standing posture and is, therefore, the foundation for all others. Physically, it helps to create space within the body, allowing internal organs to work more efficiently. This can drastically improve respiration as well as digestion and circulation. Mentally, it leaves its users invigorated and motivated, making it perfect for an early A.M. yoga session.
So, start the day with Tadasana! Or, if you would rather receive instruction from a licensed practitioner, check out our yoga class schedule for each branch of CNY Healing Arts.
Getting Into Mountain Pose:
Stand erect with the bases of your big toes touching, heels slightly apart. Do not lock your knees and let your arms hang loosely at your sides. Lift and spread the toes and balls of your feet, then let them drop to the floor creating a wide, solid base.
Practice distributing your weight evenly around your feet, not just on your toes or heels. You should feel stability from all four corners of both feet. Strengthen this base by rocking back and forth, side to side. A strong base is essential to Tadasana. Gradually slow your swaying and come to a standstill. Feel yourself being supported by the floor.
Now comes the recognition and toning of several core muscles. Start by breathing deep and steady. Inhale slowly and flex your thighs without hardening your lower belly. Your kneecap will rise when you contract your quad, which is a sign that you are flexing correctly. Next you will engage your sit bones (literally the bones on which you sit). Rotate your thighs inward to automatically widen your sit bones. Once you’ve done this, lengthen your tailbone towards the floor so that it rests between your sit bones.
Your core is the group of muscles around your stomach and is where you maintain your body’s balance and control. Contract your core muscles to increase stability. Keep your posture erect. Press your shoulder blades into your back, then widen them across and release them down the back. Your shoulders should be parallel to your pelvis.
Without puffing your front ribs forward, lift the top of your sternum straight up towards the sky, widening your collarbone. Keeping your shoulders wide and your spine straight, elongate your neck so that the crown of your head rises toward the ceiling. Stay in this posture for 30 seconds to 1 minute, breathing deep and easy. To intensify this posture, try going through all prior stretching and flexing with eyes closed.
Benefits of Mountain Pose:
- Improves posture
- Strengthens thighs, knees, and ankles
- Increases awareness
- Steadies breathing
- Increases strength, power, and mobility in the feet, legs, and hips
- Firms abdomen and buttocks
- Relieves sciatica
- Reduces flat feet
- Develops strength and flexibility simultaneously, especially in the spine
- Relieves tension, aches, and pains throughout the body
- Improves blood circulation
- Encourages healthy digestion and elimination
- Leaves you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated
- Expels dullness and depression
- Harmonizes the body and mind
- Increases energy and enthusiasm
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 Virasana (Hero Pose)
A basic, seated posture, Virasana is excellent for meditation. Although it is also a wonderful pose for keeping your knees mobile and healthy, you should avoid Virasana if you have had a knee or ankle injury. In Sanskrit, “vira” means man, hero, or chief and “asana” means pose, thus the English Hero Pose.
A tip for beginners: often, when in this posture, the inner tops of your feet naturally press more into the floor than the outer tops. To correct this, firm the pinky-toe sides of the feet to the floor. To practice Hero Pose with the aid of a licensed yoga practitioner, check out our yoga class schedule for each branch of CNY Healing Arts.
Getting into Hero Pose:
Start by kneeling on your yoga mat or the floor with your thighs perpendicular to the floor. Pad your knees, shins, and/or feet with a folded blanket or towel if necessary. If you experience any strain in your knees at any time while in Virasana, come out and prop yourself up further before attempting it again.
Making sure the tops of your feet stay flat and even on the floor, bring your inner knees together, then slide your feet apart (a little wider than your hips). Point the feet in line with the shins.
Gently pull back the flesh of your calf muscles, exhale, and sit down between your feet. Evenly support your sitting bones by adjustment, allowing a thumb’s width space between your heels and hips. If your buttocks don’t rest comfortably on the floor, raise them by placing a yoga block or thick book between your feet before you sit down.
Counteract the tendency to slump by adjusting the muscles of your buttocks sideways and back with your hands. Your pelvis should be at a ninety-degree angle with your thighs. Rest your hands in your lap, on your thighs, or on your ankles. Firm your shoulder blades against the back ribs and lift the top of your sternum.
Widen the collarbones and release your shoulder blades away from your ears. Lengthen the tailbone toward the floor. Sit in silence for at least 1 minute.
Benefits of Hero Pose:
- Stretches the hips, thighs, knees, ankles and feet
- Improves circulation and relieves tired legs
- Strengthens foot arches, relieving flat feet
- Improves digestion and relieves gas
- Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
- Improves posture
- Reduces swelling of the legs during pregnancy (through second trimester)
- Therapeutic for asthma and high blood pressure
The Health Benefits of Plank Pose
Ever done a push-up? If so, then you have also done plank pose. Instead of lowering yourself to the ground as when doing a push-up, the goal of plank pose is basically to hold that starting position when your arms are extended and your body is in a straight line. This is a great way to prepare you in both mind and body for more challenging poses, especially those requiring balance and/or arm strength.
A tip to keep you on the right track: if you move back and forth between Downward Facing Dog and Plank, the distance between your hands and feet should not change.
Getting into Plank Pose:
Begin this pose in Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana). Inhale and draw your upper body forward until the arms are perpendicular to the floor, shoulders over wrists.
Press the outer arms inward and firm the bases of your index fingers into the floor. Keep the neck in like with the spine. Flex the shoulder blades against your back, then broaden them away from the spine.
Firm your thighs and press them up toward the sky. Resist this movement by lengthening your tailbone toward the heels. Hold Plank for 30 seconds to 1 minute, keeping your eyes and throat soft.
Benefits of Plank Pose:
- Strengthens your arms and wrists
- Tones your abdominal muscles
- Stretches and strengthens your spine
- Provides a sense of balance and stability
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 our event calendar 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
The Health Benefits of Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
We know this one can be killer, but it’s definitely worth it. Do you know what “utkata” means in Sanskrit? It means fierce, and “asana” means pose. We get Chair Pose from the fact that you mimic the position of sitting in a chair. Nevertheless, if you’re looking to tone those tired legs, Utkatasana can bring out your fierce side!
To emphasize the health benefits of this posture, you can try a more advanced variation. Once you are in position, brings your hands together at your heart like you are praying. Twist to the right side, keeping the left elbow outside the right knee. Stay low and keep the knees pressed together. Come back to center and repeat on the opposite side.
Getting Into Chair Pose:
Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Stand with your big toes touching, heels slightly apart. Lift and spread your toes. Feel yourself rooted to the ground. Now, raise your arms above your head, perpendicular to the floor. Either keep your arms parallel, palms facing inward, or touch your palms together.
Bend your knees and bring your thighs as parallel to the floor as possible. Your knees should come out over your feet and your torso should lean forward over the thighs, more or less forming a right angle with them. Keep your back long, with a slight curve in it, and keep the inner thighs parallel to each other.
To intensify your thigh work-out, try squeezing a yoga block or holding a thick book between them. Let your shoulder blades relax down your back. Stay in this posture for 5 to 10 long, deep breaths. To come out of Utkatasana: inhale, straighten your knees, exhale and release your arms to your sides. You are now back in Tadasana.
Benefits of Chair Pose:
- Tones the leg muscles excellently
- Strengthens hip flexors, ankles, calves, and back
- Stretches chest and shoulders
- Reduces symptoms of flat feet
- Stimulates the heart, diaphragm, and abdominal organs
The Health Benefits of Cat-Cow Stretch
Cat-Cow Stretch is the incorporation of Marjaryasana (Cat Pose) and Bitilasana (Cow Pose). The two asanas are paired together for a gentle, flowing vinyasa. For those of you who are not familiar with the term, vinyasa is defined as “breath-synchronized movement.” If you practice Vinyasa Yoga, you will move from one pose to the next as you inhale or exhale; that is, your movements will match your breathing.
Getting Into Cat-Cow:
Begin on your hands and knees in Table Pose. Your hips should be set directly over your knees and your shoulders, elbows, and wrists should be in line and perpendicular to the floor. Keep your back straight (like a tabletop) and your spine in a neutral position. Let your neck be long and your eyes soft, looking at the floor. Stabilize your shoulder blades by drawing them down your back.
Once you have established Table Pose, move into Cow Pose. As you inhale, simultaneously lift your sit bones upward, press your chest forward, and allow your belly to sink towards the floor. Lift your head, relax your shoulders away from your ears, and gaze straight ahead.
As you exhale, come into Cat Pose. Simultaneously round your spine outward, tuck your tailbone, and draw your pubic bone forward. Release your head toward the floor, but don’t force your chin to your chest. Note: if you have a neck injury, keep your head in line with your torso throughout Cat-Cow.
Go back and forth between Cow and Cat on each inhale and exhale, matching your movements to your own breathing. Do this for 5-10 breaths and try to keep an even distribution of weight between your hands and knees. After your final exhale, end the stretch in Table Pose.
Benefits of Cat-Cow:
- Improves posture and balance
- Strengthens and stretches the spine and neck
- Stretches the hips, abdomen and back
- Increases coordination
- Massages and stimulates organs in the belly, like the kidneys and adrenal glands
- Creates emotional balance
- Relieves stress and calms the mind
The Health Benefits of Salamba Sirsasana (Supported Headstand Pose)
The benefits are practically endless with this one. We at CNY Healing Arts urge you to read up on Salamba Sirsasana! Whether your practice it against a wall or alone, if you practice it regularly, you are bound to literally turn your world upside down (and reap the rewards of it). A little peace of mind: if you are in correct alignment, the center of your foot arches should align over the center of your pelvis, which should both align over the crown of your head.
Getting Into Supported Headstand Pose:
Begin by padding your head and forearms with a sticky mat or folded blanket. Come to your hands and knees with wrists underneath shoulder and knees underneath hips. Bring your elbows to the floor and keep them shoulder-width apart.
Interlace your fingers, roll your upper arms outward a bit, and actively press your inner wrists to the floor. Then, place the crown of your head on the floor. Cup the back of your head with your hands laced, keeping your arms in position.
Bring your hips upward as if your lower half were in Downward Dog. Walk your feet closer to your elbows, heels elevated, until your hips are over your shoulders. Firm your shoulder blades against your back and toward your tailbone in order to keep the torso elongated and protect your neck and head.
Now, exhale and lift both feet away from the floor at the same time (even if you need to bend your knees a bit and hop lightly off the floor). As you straighten your spine, firm your tailbone against the back of your pelvis. Rotate the thigh bones slightly inward and reach up through the balls of your feet.
Press your forearms down strongly to avoid supporting your weight with your neck and head. Keep the weight balanced evenly between on your two arms. If you came up with knees bent, straighten them now.
If you are just beginning to practice Salamba Sirsasana, stay in pose for 10 seconds. Come down exhaling, keeping your shoulder blades firm. Touch both feet to the floor at the same time. If you plan on practicing this posture often, add 5 to 10 seconds onto your stay each time you are in Supported Headstand. Once you are able to stay for 3 minutes, continue at that stay length for the next 7-15 times you practice this pose. Then, begin your steady increase until you reach a stay of 5 minutes.
Benefits of Supported Headstand Pose:
- Stimulates pituitary and pineal glands, which aid growth and the production of sex hormones
- Strengthens the spine, neck, shoulders, and arms
- Tones the legs and abdominals
- Relieves a buildup of fluid in the legs and feet
- Allows a healthy, pure blood flow to brain cells
- Stimulates the nervous system
- Aids in the treatment of headaches, anxiety, asthma, sinusitis, hay fever, depression, diabetes, insomnia, and symptoms of menopause
- Increases mental awareness and clarity
- Calms and soothes the mind
- May reverse the effects of lethargy, sleep loss, and memory loss
- Stimulates and strengthens the lungs, facilitating healthy breathing
- Improves posture and digestion
- Aids in the relief of tonsillitis, persistent coughing, common cold, bad breath, and palpitations
- Helps overcome problems of the liver, kidneys, stomach, intestines, and reproductive organs by reversing the pull of gravity
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
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 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:
- 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 Purvottanasana (Upward Plank Pose)
Purvottanasana means intense eastward facing stretch. As the sun “rises in the east and sets in the west,” the east is known as the direction of new beginnings and budding potential. In Upward Plank Pose, we draw on the strength of the core and leg muscles, as well as the support of the shoulders beneath the heart.
Note: if you are a beginner struggling with Purvottanasana, practice your posture with the support of a chair. Sit near the front edge of the seat and wrap your hands around the back edge. Inhale as you lift your pelvis, then straighten each leg with an inhale.
Getting Into Upward Plank Pose:
Start in Dandasana (Staff Pose). Place your hands behind your hips with the tips of your fingers right behind your buttocks. Either point your fingers towards your body, which is more common, or away from your body. If you point them towards your body, your shoulders will be less open, but it’s a great stretch for your wrist flexors. If you have limited range of motion of the wrist, this posture may hurt and is not recommended.
If you point your fingers away from your body, your shoulders will be more open and will allow a greater stretch in your chest, but it is more likely for your elbow to hyperextend. If you have trouble with hyperextension in your elbows, this posture may be uncomfortable for you. As you move into Purvottanasana, you could have someone press the outside of your arms inward to stabilize your elbows.
Now, keep your legs extended along the mat, or, if you need to modify, bend your knees and place your feet on the floor. Exhale and lift your bottom off the floor, pressing your hips upward. As you come into position, push through your thumbs and big toes. Straighten your legs one at a time and avoid hardening your buttocks. Ideally, your torso should be parallel to the floor, but it can take some time. Support the lift of your chest by firming your shoulder blades against your back.
As you move into posture, you will want to keep your neck elongated (you will be fighting gravity from pulling your head down). When you’re comfortable in Purvottanasana, you will want to keep a slight chin tuck as you lower the crown of your head towards the floor. You don’t want to feel any compression in your spine as you do this. Relax and breathe steadily, holding posture for 30 seconds. As you exhale, sit back down in Dandasana.
Benefits of Upward Plank Pose:
- Strengthens your triceps, wrists, back, and legs
- Stretches your shoulders, chest, and front ankles
- Frees your mind
- Helps keep you open to new possibilities
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 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 Malasana (Garland Pose)
Squatting used to be an ordinary posture for our ancestors. Through daily routine and normal practice, they were comfortable keeping their torso and upper legs hinged at a 160-degree angle. Nowadays, many of use sit in chairs, beds or cars all day long. We are most comfortable having our bodies set in a 90-degree angle.
So, we sit and we slouch; slowly, but surely, losing mobility in our hips and back. Unknowingly, our posture is fueling the fire for a wide range of health problems later in life. Fortunately, Malasana contradicts these common practices and keeps our joints well “oiled” for long-term use.
To practice Malasana with a licensed yoga practitioner, check out our yoga class schedules by location (Syracuse, Rochester, Albany).
Getting Into Garland Pose:
Begin by coming into a squat. Bring your feet as close together as you can comfortably get them, while still keeping them relatively parallel to each other. If possible, keep your heels on the floor; if not, support them with a folded mat or rolled up blanket. Move your thighs slightly wider than your torso and, as you exhale, lean forward so your torso fits snugly between them.
Try to relax your front ankles. Now, press your elbows against your inner knees, creating resistance, and bring your palms together in prayer at the center of your chest. This should help lengthen your torso. Remember to keep your body weight forward; it’s easier if you are practicing Malasana on a natural incline.
To deepen the pose, press your inner thighs against the sides of your torso. Extend your arms out and notch your shins into your armpits. Then, press your fingertips to the floor or clasp the back of your heels from outside your ankles. Your spine should be straight and your shoulders relaxed.
Hold posture for 30 seconds if you are just beginning to practice Malasana. Gradually work your way up to five minutes. To come out of the pose: inhale, straighten the knees, and come into Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend Pose).
Benefits of Garland Pose:
- Opens your hips and groin
- Stretches your ankles, lower hamstrings, back and neck
- Tones your abdominals
- Aids in digestion
- Strengthens your metabolism
- Keeps your pelvic and hip joints healthy
- Ideal for prenatal yoga
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
Utthita Hasta Padasana
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 Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I Pose)
There are generally three variations on Warrior Pose; this is the first. CNY Healing Arts encourages you to incorporate this dynamite asana into your daily yoga routine. Even better, check out our yoga class schedules by location (Syracuse, Rochester, Albany) to practice Virabhadrasana I with a licensed yoga practitioner.
Getting Into Warrior I Pose:
Begin in High Lunge with your right leg forward. If you are in correct stance, your right knee should be directly over your right ankle. Your right toes should point straight ahead and your left toes should be pointed 45-60 degrees away from your body.
Make sure your right heel is in line with your left heel, then engage your legs by pressing through your feet. Bring your hands to your hips, squaring your hips and shoulders straight ahead. Then, relax your shoulders down your back and gently draw them together.
Inhale and lift your arms straight up over your head, palms facing each other. If possible, bring your palms together. Now, reach up strongly through your arms. Avoid puffing out your sides; rather lift through your sternum so you can feel a nice stretch in your entire torso and spine. Keep your shoulders relaxed and chest lifted.
To deepen the stretch, keep your palms together and gently arch your back, gazing up towards the ceiling. Remember, your body is a temple capable of miraculous things. Feel strength and stability in your stance. Breathe deep and steady for several breaths.
To release, come back into high lunge, straighten the right leg, pivot your body 90 degress to the left, and point your toes in the same direction. Extend your arms out to your sides and you will be in Utthita Hasta Padasana (Extended Hands and Feet Pose). Take a few breaths of relaxation and repeat the exercise with your left foot forward.
Benefits of Warrior I Pose:
- Strengthens your shoulders, arms, legs, ankles and back
- Opens yours hips, chest and lungs
- Improves focus, balance and stability
- Encourages good circulation and respiration
- Stretches your arms, legs, shoulders, neck, belly, groins and ankles
- Energizes the entire body
The Health Benefits of Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose)
Posted by: Cnyha on Jun 01, 2011 in news
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
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 Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)
With so many great applications and benefits, it’s a wonder your doctor hasn’t recommended Ardha Chandrasana to you! Even if you don’t have menstrual pain, sciatica, osteoporosis or gastritis, this pose can help effectively reduce stress hormones – thereby nurturing your body and lifting your mood.
To practice Half Moon Pose with a licensed yoga teacher, check out our yoga class schedules by location (Rochester, Syracuse, Albany).
Getting Into Half Moon Pose:
Begin in Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose) to the right side. Soften and bend your right knee, resting your left hand on your hip. Now, reach your right hand forward, beyond the outer part of your right foot – it should rest about 12 inches ahead of your right foot.
Firm your right hand and right heel into the floor. Then, straighten your right leg and, simultaneously, lift your left leg so it is parallel to the floor, or raised a bit further if you cannot keep it parallel. Extend actively through your left heel, toes facing forward, and keep the entire leg engaged.
Make sure you don’t lock your right knee – this could hyperextend it. Instead, keep your right kneecap pointing in direction with your right toes, not turned inward. Also, keep your hips open, stacking your left hip on top of your right.
Support most of your body’s weight with your right leg, using your right hand only to stay balanced. When you are poised, reach your left arm up towards the sky. As you do so, open your chest. Your arms should be in line with each other and perpendicular to the floor.
Gaze upward towards your left fingertips and hold Ardha Chandrasana for 3-6 steady, deep breaths. To come out, lower your left leg to the floor as you exhale and return to Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose). Repeat to the left side.
Benefits of Half Moon Pose:
- Strengthens your legs, ankles, abdomen, buttocks and spine
- Stretches your groins, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, and spine
- Opens your hips and chest
- Builds coordination and balance
- Improves digestion
- Aids in stress relief
- Therapeutic for anxiety, fatigue, menstrual pain, backache, fertility, sciatica, osteoporosis, indigestion, gastritis and constipation
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 Read more “Virabhadrasana III”
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
Try and keep your legs fully extended, toes perpendicular to the floor. Your feet should stay together throughout Halasana. Interlace your fingers behind your back and straighten your arms away from your legs, rolling the shoulders into place one at a time. Press the arms actively down into the floor as you draw your tailbone and the tops of your thighs towards the sky. Your hips should be aligned over your shoulders. Continue to draw your chin away from your chest, softening the throat. Breathe steady and deep. Hold posture for 30 seconds to 5 minutes, depending on your skill. To release, lift your legs back into Salamba Sarvangasana and roll your body out of the pose as you exhale – one vertebra at a time, keeping your legs straight and feet together. Benefits of Plow Pose: Stretches all muscles and ligament in your calves and thighs, resulting in greater leg flexibility Therapeutic for leg cramps Stimulates your thyroid, parathyroid, throat, lungs and abdominal organs Helps relieve gas and upper/lower back pain or discomfort Promotes good digestion Stretches your shoulders and spine Therapeutic for menopause, infertility, insomnia, headache and sinusitis Relieves stress and fatigue Read more “Halasana”
The Health Benefits of Halasana (Plow Pose)
We at CNY Healing Arts invite you to bask in the many benefits of Halasana. This is an excellent pose for the morning, since it promotes alertness and a flexible spine – the spine can become somewhat compressed during sleep, which can cause tightness or stiffness in the back.
To practice this pose with a licensed yoga instructor, check out our yoga class schedule for each location (Syracuse, Rochester, Albany).
Getting Into Plow Pose:
Begin in Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand). Hesitate and breathe deeply for a few seconds. Then, bend from your hip joints, slowly lowering your toes to the floor above your head. If you cannot touch the floor with your toes, practice this pose near a wall so that your feet will reach the wall when you bring your legs over head.
Try and keep your legs fully extended, toes perpendicular to the floor. Your feet should stay together throughout Halasana. Interlace your fingers behind your back and straighten your arms away from your legs, rolling the shoulders into place one at a time.
Press the arms actively down into the floor as you draw your tailbone and the tops of your thighs towards the sky. Your hips should be aligned over your shoulders. Continue to draw your chin away from your chest, softening the throat. Breathe steady and deep.
Hold posture for 30 seconds to 5 minutes, depending on your skill. To release, lift your legs back into Salamba Sarvangasana and roll your body out of the pose as you exhale – one vertebra at a time, keeping your legs straight and feet together.
Benefits of Plow Pose:
- Stretches all muscles and ligament in your calves and thighs, resulting in greater leg flexibility
- Therapeutic for leg cramps
- Stimulates your thyroid, parathyroid, throat, lungs and abdominal organs
- Helps relieve gas and upper/lower back pain or discomfort
- Promotes good digestion
- Stretches your shoulders and spine
- Therapeutic for menopause, infertility, insomnia, headache and sinusitis
- Relieves stress and fatigue
The Health Benefits of Vasisthasana (Side Plank Pose)
The full version of this pose is taught with the top leg raised perpendicular to the floor. Since that posture is too advanced for most beginners, we have a modified version told here that is suitable for any yogi.
To practice this pose with a licensed yoga teacher, check out our yoga class schedules at each branch of CNY Healing Arts (Rochester, Albany, Syracuse).
Getting Into Side Plank Pose:
Begin in Plank Pose. Lift your hips slightly up. Shift your weight onto your right arm as you roll onto the outside of your right foot, opening your whole body to the side. Keeping both feet flexed, stack your left foot on top of your right.
In this position, your legs should be kept very straight – so, press through your heels toward the floor. Your shoulders, hips and ankles should make one straight line. Do your best to stack your hips, knees, and ankles vertically on top of each other.
Reach your left arm straight up towards the sky, forming a line from your right wrist through your left fingers. Make sure that the supporting hand – your right hand, in this case – is not positioned directly below its shoulder. Keep the hand slightly in front of its shoulder.
Now, gaze up at your left fingertips and breathe steady and deep. Hold Vasisthasana for several breaths. To release, drop your raised arm to the floor and roll your body back into Plank Pose. If you like, rest in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) before repeating Side Plank to the left side for the same number of breaths.
Benefits of Side Plank Pose:
- Builds arm and shoulder strength
- Stretches and strengthens your wrists
- Strengthens your abdomen and legs
- Improves balance and coordination
The Health Benefits of Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)
This asana targets your hips and your shoulders – two of the most common sites for chronic pain and tension in the body. If you have tight shoulders, daily practice of Cow Face can be slightly painful at first – but, after several months, it can be very therapeutic (sort of like releasing a pressure valve). It can also significantly increase range of motion in your shoulder joints.
To try Gomukhasana with a licensed yoga practitioner, check out our yoga class schedules for each branch of CNY Healing Arts (Syracuse, Rochester, Albany).
Getting Into Cow Face Pose:
Begin in Agnistambhasana (Fire Log Pose). Slide your knees together in front of you, stacking the right knee directly on top of the left. If you find this movement to be difficult, try coming forward on your hands and knees before aligning the knees. When aligned, sit back in between your feet – which should be equidistant from your hips. Support your weight evenly amongst your sitting bones.
Now for the upper body, extend your left arm up towards the sky. Then, bring your left hand down to the center of your back (hinging at the elbow). Reach your right arm out to the same side, parallel to the floor. Rotate the arm inward – your thumb will turn first towards the floor – until your palm faces the sky above.
This movement should put your shoulder in correct position for the next one. Take a deep breath and, as you exhale, sweep your right arm behind and in the hollow of your lower back (as parallel to your spine as is comfortable).
Keeping your spine long, hook fingers or hold hands behind your back. If they don’t reach, hold a belt or strap in both hands. Then, lift your left elbow toward the sky and draw your right elbow toward the ground. Keep your left arm close to your head. Center yourself.
Lift your chest and firm your shoulders blades against your lower back for stability. As a beginner, breathe steady and deep 4-6 times while holding posture. Then, release your arms, uncross your legs, and repeat Gomukhasana with the left knee on top and left elbow pointing down.
Benefits of Cow Face Pose:
- Stretches your hips, thighs, ankles and chest, shoulders, anterior deltoids, triceps, inner armpits and lats
The Health Benefits of Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
This pose in usually practiced with the yogi’s legs in Padmasana (Lotus Pose), but that is beyond the ability of most beginners. In this modified version of Fish Pose, the legs are kept straight throughout.
To practice this asana with a licensed yoga instructor, check out the yoga class schedule for each location of CNY Healing Arts (Rochester, Albany, Syracuse).
Getting Into Fish Pose:
Roll out your yoga mat and lie down flat on your back – knees straight, legs and feet together. Slide your hands beneath your thighs, palms downward, so that you are sitting on them. Keep your elbows and forearms tucked in close to the sides of your torso, pressing them firmly against the floor.
Inhale and lift your chest and head away from the floor; arch your chest until you are sitting halfway up. Then, release your head back onto the floor. Be sure to keep your legs straight and thighs active, reaching out through your heels.
You should support your weight on your forearms and elbows (absolutely not on your head). Either the back or top (crown) of your head will rest on the floor, depending on how high you arch your chest. It is important to lower your chest slightly toward the floor if you feel any pain or discomfort in your neck or throat.
As a beginner, hold posture for 3-6 steady, deep breaths. To release, exhale and gently lower your torso to the floor, activating your thighs and abdominals to do so.
Benefits of Fish Pose:
- Stretches your deep hip flexors and intercostals (muscles between the ribs)
- Relieves tension in your neck, throat, and shoulders
- Stretches and tones the front of your neck and your abdominals
- Stretches and stimulates the organs of your belly and throat
- Strengthens your upper back and the back of your neck
- Relieves stress and irritation
- Improves posture
- Therapeutic for rounded-shoulders, asthma, spasms in the bronchial tubes, and other respiratory issues
The Health Benefits of Krounchasana (Heron Pose)
We encourage you to further your knowledge and understanding of yoga by educating yourself right here! This is a great pose for stiff hamstrings, but, as with most asanas, it should be practiced with caution to avoid straining any muscles.
If you are not able to completely straighten the raised leg when in Krounchasana, place a strap or belt around the sole of the foot before you try to raise the leg. Hold the strap on both sides as close to the foot as possible when extending the leg. Be sure to keep your pelvis aligned with your sit bones throughout this pose.
Getting Into Heron Pose:
Begin in Dandasana (Staff Pose). Position your left leg in Virasana (Hero Pose) – your left foot should point in line with your same side shin, placed slightly outside the hip with the top of the foot flat on the floor. Keep your knees together with your weight distributed evenly on your sit bones.
Bend your right knee and place the foot flat on the floor, just in front of your right sit bone. Now, reach your right arm around the inside of your right leg, cross the hand in front of the ankle, and hold on to the outside of the foot. Then, grasp the inside of that same foot (the right one) with your left hand.
Lean back slightly, keeping your spine straight, torso long, shoulder blades activated, and chest up and open. Lift and straighten your right leg by bringing the foot up. When straight, your right foot should reach as high or slightly higher than your head, but you can bring it as close to your torso as is comfortable.
Hold Krounchasana for at least 30 seconds, breathing slow and deep. Keep your weight evenly balanced on your sit bones. Release and repeat with legs reversed for the same number of breaths.
Benefits of Heron Pose:
- Stretches your back, hips, and hamstrings
- Stimulates your heart and abdominal organs
- Therapeutic for flat feet and persistent gas (flatulence)
The Health Benefits of The Health Benefits of Tolasana (Scale Pose)
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 Dolphin Pose
We at CNY Healing Arts invite you to try this invigorating shoulder-opener. Dolphin Pose is a mild inversion and a great alternative for those who cannot perform Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) because of pain or discomfort in their wrists.
To perform 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 Dolphin Pose:
Begin on your hands and knees. Place your forearms on the floor parallel to each other, palms down. Your elbows should be directly beneath your shoulders, knees right under your hips. Actively press your hands and forearms into the floor.
Curl your toes under then straighten your legs as if coming into Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose). If fully straightening your legs causes your back to round, keep the legs at least slightly bent. Lift your sitting bones up toward the sky as you lengthen your spine through the tailbone. Extend down through your heels and keep your shoulder blades firmed against your back.
Don’t rest your head on the floor, which will tempt you to use it as support, or allow it to hang freely. Instead, hold your head between your upper arms in direction with the V-shape of the pose. Breathe deep and slow in Dolphin Pose for 3-8 breaths, then release your knees back to the floor.
Benefits of Dolphin Pose:
- Stretches your hamstrings, calves, and arches
- Opens your shoulders, chest, and inner armpits
- Strengthens your arms and legs
- Helps regulate digestion
- Tones your core muscles
- Therapeutic for menopause, asthma, high blood pressure, flat feet, and sciatica
- Relieves back ache, fatigue, stress, and mild depression
- Helps prevent osteoporosis
2. Take in a deep breath in through your nose very slowly.
3. As you intake air, pull your belly inwards while heaving out your chest. Keep your abdominal muscles tight.
4. Hold the breath and count five.
5. Then gradually exhale through the mouth and relax your abdominal muscles.
6. Wait for two seconds and then repeat. Note: there are some forms of Pranayama that are not suitable during pregnancy or for those who suffer asthma which involve long periods of holding your breath or those that involve contracting your stomach muscles. Read more “Pranayama”
Pranayama is a form of involuntary, continuous action of inhaling, retention, and exhaling that can be controlled quickly or slowly. The name Pranayama is Sanskrit for “extension of breath or life force”. It is used in yoga to help clear and cleanse the body and the mind. By controlling your breathing, your whole system becomes controlled. This form of breathing is helpful as a first step in preparing for the meditation process.
There is great truth behind the saying, just take a deep breath; it calms us. Oxygen is one of the most vital nutrients for our bodies. Adding Pranayama breathing techniques to your daily life can bring about many positive and healthy changes.
Some Benefits of Pranayama include:
- Cleansing and purification of the respiratory system
- Aids in detoxification of the blood stream and organs
- Tones the nervous system and slows the electrical impulses and their responses in the brain
- Assists in digestion
- Positively affects the immune system
- Strengthen and purifies the mind, enhances perception
- Increases alertness of the mind
- Beneficial in treating stress disorders
- Relieves asthma symptoms
Although there are several forms of Pranayama, here are the basic steps of performing the exercise:
1. Sit comfortably, with your back tall and shoulders relaxed. Let go of any tension.
2. Take in a deep breath in through your nose very slowly.
3. As you intake air, pull your belly inwards while heaving out your chest. Keep your abdominal muscles tight.
4. Hold the breath and count five.
5. Then gradually exhale through the mouth and relax your abdominal muscles.
6. Wait for two seconds and then repeat.
Note: there are some forms of Pranayama that are not suitable during pregnancy or for those who suffer asthma which involve long periods of holding your breath or those that involve contracting your stomach muscles.