Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-knee pose)
There are many benefits of forward bends. Janu Sirsasana (head-to-knee pose) is perfect for your new year sequence: it helps lengthen and create space in the spine, stretches out tight hamstrings, and gently tones our internal organs. This pose also guides our attention inward, calming the mind and reducing anxiety.
Ardha Matsyendrāsana III (Lord of the Fish Pose)
Twists are so good for us in so many ways. They detoxify, massage our internal organs, help with digestion and rejuvenate the spine. Twists in a yoga practice come in many different forms, for all levels of practice. Lord of the Fish is a simple seated twist that can be worked into the warm up or cool down (or both) of any yoga sequence. It’s also a great counter pose following backbends.
Connect and center with uplifting Tree Pose
Vrksasana (or Tree Pose) is a regular in Purna Yoga asana sequences. It is known to strengthen the legs; gently open the hips; and help with mental, emotional and physical balance.
Beat the winter blues and heat the body with some strengthening asana postures like this one...
Kumbhakasana (or Plank Pose) is a regular in dynamic asana sequences. It is known to strengthen the upper body, specifically the arms, wrists, and spine. Plank Pose is also great for strengthening the core and toning the abdomen.
Open the heart, boost prana flow and lighten the mental load with a backbend or two.
Dhanurasana (or Bow Pose) is a backbend known to promote flexibility of the spine, tone the abdominal organs, increase energy and counteract depression. Take the time to prepare the body and warm up before moving into any backbend.
Balancing poses in yoga do so much more than improve our physical balance. This practice in alignment, strength and focus helps us balance the mind and our consciousness.
Utthita Ardha Chandrasana (also known as Half Moon Pose) helps strengthen the abdomen, ankles, thighs, buttocks, and spine; and stretches the groin, hamstrings and calves, shoulders, chest, and spine.
Struggling with your yoga practice during the summer heatwave? Cool down with the ever-popular Legs Up The Wall pose: Viparita Karani. So much more than a restorative posture, Viparita Karani (also known as the ‘fountain of youth pose’ for its anti-aging benefits) is an
inversion and can even be a gentle backbend if using props.
Written by Stacey Clarke, Maitri Yoga
It may seem trivial to be discussing how you sit, but finding a comfortable seat while practising yoga is truly important.
Each sitting pose has a purpose and benefits and is therefore a posture in itself; so learning how to sit has many more facets than just plonking yourself down on the ground.
The overlaying benefits for all the sitting postures are that hips, knees, ankles and groin muscles become more elastic. Breathing is made smoother and easier through relieved tension and hardness in the diaphragm and throat. Blood circulation increases around the body and whilst the spine is held steady the mind is pacified and the heart muscles are stretched (Iyengar, 2008).
In all of the open-knee sitting variations, Svadisthana, the second Chakra, is stimulated (Long, 2006), which affects your sensuality, sexuality, relaxation and openness.
Whether you are sitting for the pose itself, or to be in a stable base for pranayama (breathing exercises) or meditation you need to assume the correct alignment because you may be there for some time.
Written by Stacey Clarke, Maitri Yoga
We’ve discussed the component parts to Surya Namaskar (Salute to the Sun) in past newsletters, but we’d like to delve a little deeper into the origins of this beautiful sequence of asanas.
Namaskar stems from the Sanskrit word namas, meaning ‘to bow to’ or ‘to adore’ and Surya means sun.
As the name suggests, it is the sun that is being worshipped, thanked, revered, respected and welcomed, for it is a yogic belief that the sun holds the key to life.
Written by Kara Goodsell
Translated as “intense stretch of the ‘west side’ of the body” Paschimottanasana is a basic seated forward bend, which stretches the length of the spine, and allows the life-force to flow to every part of the body.
In Vedic symbology the back of the body is considered the ‘west’, because of the traditional practice of facing the rising sun in the east when performing the morning worship of Surya Namaskar or Salute to the Sun.
The western bearing is in the direction of the setting sun and as such represents a time of turning inward as the active desires of the day dissipate into the turn of night.
The back line of the body is a continuous network of muscles and fascia (or connective tissue) that extends from the soles of the feet to the ridge of the brow and as the top half of the body folds over the bottom half, the asana creates a horseshoe of energy, which challenges the patience and the ego.
By gently surrendering to the action of the deep forward bend, we can find the humility integral to our practice.