The hips are the center of the body, connecting the upper body and the legs. Ancient yogis name this location in our bodies as the resting place of kundalini-shakti energy. When our hips are strong, balanced and flexible, they are the foundation for a yoga practice and a life that hold those same qualities.
Lizard Pose or Utthan Pristhasana in Sanskrit, comes from the words Utthan meaning “stretching out” and Pristha meaning “back of the body.” An alternate translation of Pristha is “page of a book,” an appropriate description as we hold many of our emotions in our hips. Lizard pose opens the hips and hamstrings while strengthening the inner thigh muscles of the front leg. The hips store an abundance of emotions so this stretch not only helps the muscles but also helps to release that stored energy allowing for healing and strength. Tight hamstrings are an indication of feeling stuck in our lives so this pose also helps us take on new strides and abound to new wonderful moments in our yoga journey.
How to do Lizard Pose
Begin in Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana), step your right foot forward between your hands. Heel-toe your foot towards the edge of your mat, so that your foot is slightly wider than your shoulders.
Let your hips grow heavy, so that they settle forward and down. Begin to walk your hands forwards until you are able to come down on to your forearms (You may place your forearms on the ground, or on a block). Either rest your hands palms facing down on the mat (as seen in the picture), or bring your hands together in prayer position.
Extend your heart forward, lengthening the spine. Try to soften the heart and draw the shoulder blades together, taking heed not to round your back.
Keep your right knee hugging towards your midline to get into the inner hip and thigh area of your right leg. You can keep your left knee lifted with your leg active, or for a more restorative version, you can lower your left knee (as seen in the picture).
Don’t worry if the forearms can’t come down onto the mat just yet. Work on softening into the hips as much as possible, and try placing a block underneath the elbows as you begin to find more openness in your hips. For those with sensitive knees, place some padding underneath the knee such as a rolled up yoga towel or fold your yoga mat over for extra cushion for the knee. Repeat other side (if needed).
There’s a tendency to drop the head and collapse through the chest in Lizard Pose. Keeping the head and neck aligned with the spine by lifting the chin slightly and sending the gaze forward allows for more extension along the body (rather than contraction).
Caution: Those suffering from hip, groin or knee injuries should avoid this pose. Also, those who have had any recent surgery of the abdomen, thorax, hips or legs should not attempt this pose.
Balasana (Child’s Pose) comes from the Sanskrit words bala meaning child and asana meaning pose. Child’s pose is practiced in almost every style of yoga and class. This pose is usually practiced as a way to rest after an intense pose or sequence. However, it has numerous benefits of its own. Balasana is a great pose that allows you to turn inward; providing the opportunity to calm the mind and restore energy. Child’s pose is a basic beginner pose that nearly anyone can do.
Child’s pose is one of the most common postures that you will see when using yoga for back pain due to the versatility that it offers. Child’s Pose relieves tension in your back and hips while increasing flexibility and circulation to the muscles and joints in your low back. When practiced in the full expression of the posture, Child’s Pose can produce immediate back pain relief. Above are more great benefits of Child’s pose.
Getting into the pose:
To come into this pose, kneel onto the floor, and sit back onto your ankles. Keep your knees and big toes touching one another as you sit back. Lean forward at the waist and place your forehead on the floor. If your hips pop up, don't worry about it. As you stay in the pose, keep inviting your hips to meet your heels.
Your arms can take several positions:
To open your body farther, begin the pose in the same manner as described above. Instead of keeping your knees together, spread them as wide apart as is comfortable for you. Still keeping your big toes together.
Caution: If you have a groin injury, back or hip problems, consult with your physician prior to doing this pose. Please, carefully check in with your body before doing this pose, and do NOT do anything in which your body feels unsafe!
It’s that time of year again when the weather begins to change and the temperatures get much colder. As most people spend more time indoors, the susceptibility of catching a cold rises. You have to drink plenty of fluids, get lots of rest and take the regular cold remedies, but practicing yoga during your cold or flu can also help get over your cold faster. Get on your yoga mat, but remember to take things slowly and rest when you feel like you need to rest. Remember that yoga poses for cold and flu should be easy and relaxing poses.
Here are a few yoga poses for cold sufferers:
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana): Brings energy to the head and respiratory area; helps clear the sinuses.
Supported Bridge Pose (Salamba Setu Bandhasana): Opens up the chest and increases circulation to the upper torso.
Legs up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani): Brings energy to the groin and opens the chest area to facilitate breathing.
Supported Bound Angle Pose (Salamba Baddha Konasana): Opens the chest, abdomen, and groins; relaxes the nervous system.
Reclining Twist (Modified Jathara Parivartanasana): Releases physical and stress-based tension.
Widespread Forward Bend (Upavistha Konasana): Quiets the internal organs; relaxes the mind.
Corpse Pose (Shavasana, Savasana): Most helpful with a towel roll placed from the lower spine to head to open up your breathing.
*The most important thing in practicing yoga while you’re sick is to wait until you are past the worst stages (or first few days) and regaining some of your energy. Always consult with your physician prior to beginning any yoga practice.
Savasana, also spelled Shavasana or Shivasana, means corpse pose. For many, Savasana may seem to be one of the easiest asanas, but that is not the case. Even though it may look very simple and non-beneficial, it’s actually the most important pose in yoga practice. It is the asana which gives you the opportunity to completely relax. As you lie down it makes you aware about your body and how each part of your body plays a very important role in your life.
As you go along meditating it relaxes each nerve of your body and improves your respiration which creates the areas for energy and vitality. It benefits mentally as well as physically, which helps in focusing your positive energy for a greater good. Mind and body should not waiver while in this asana. Full concentration is required and it may prove to be useful in times when you need it the most. A motionless mind and body helps you reach the level of optimum relaxation. Listening to a soothing voice or some chants may also help you reach that meditated level.
The respiratory and circulatory system is cleared and opens to a more refreshing life. The overworked muscles tend to relax when you are in this asana. Every system in the body relaxes which gives them the breathing space to conserve energy and be more useful later on. It is very beneficial for people who are heart patient as well as suffering from blood pressure. It helps in improving your stress level and may also relieve you from slight depression. Minor problems like headache, fatigue and insomnia may also be reduced.
One of yoga’s most profound teachings is to cultivate a state of surrendering to the Divine. In Savasana, we get to practice this. Every time we lie in Savasana, we experience a feeling of letting go, accepting what is, and surrendering to the present moment. It’s a great time to cultivate this relaxed and enlightened state of being.
Yoga offers many benefits, from reduced stress to improved strength and flexibility. But it can also be intimidating to some people. You may not be able to keep up with the pace in a yoga class, or have physical limitations that prevent you from easily moving from the floor to standing poses for a full hour. Seated floor yoga, is a gentle style of yoga that incorporates the breathing and mind-body benefits of a traditional class.
This is a slow, gentle and restorative yoga practice of floor stretches and seated poses perfect for beginners, those recuperating from illness or those who just want to take it easy. Use this yoga sequence on days when you need some stress relief. If you choose to practice with props, use a yoga block and belt.
*Before you begin any new physical activity, you should consult with your healthcare provider. These poses are suitable for most people, including seniors and people living with chronic pain.
The Moon Salutation sequence is perfect on days when you feel burned-out, tired or overstimulated. It is especially beneficial for people who are feeling stressed and need to balance the energy before reaching a point of exhaustion. Sunset is a great time for practicing yoga because it represents a balance between darkness and light. Energy can be low during the new moon, full moon and waning moon, making these times of the month great for boosting energy using the Moon Salutation.
The evening wind down sequence focuses on stretching the hips, hamstrings, and shoulders; all areas that accumulate tension during the course of the day. You’ll notice that there are no Sun Salutations at the beginning of the sequence and that’s intentional. The idea is to gently nurture yourself by stretching, breathing, and tuning your awareness to your body and breath; really turning inward. This act of focusing on exactly what you’re doing in your body and breathing will help slow down the momentum of your mind so that when it’s time to let go and sleep, it’s easier to do that.
*Take 5-10 breaths in each pose and do each side before moving to the next. Rest, savor, and repeat often with this evening-sequence.
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