Warrior 1 is a common yoga pose that is practiced in many styles of yoga and is often followed by other Warrior variations, such as Warriors 2. It is also a great posture for preparing the body for back-bends and is also seen in the traditional Sun Salutation B sequence. This pose was named after the mythic warrior Vibabhadra, it is meant to promote a feeling of strength and power.
Warrior poses are very physically demanding quite symbolic of the warrior energy. Although they require some strength; they also require the chest and heart area remain open. Strength and softness. Warrior 1 is a great posture for stretching many areas of both the lower and upper body.
Beginners usually find it hard to ground the back heel and lengthen the lower back in this pose. A solution to this could be to lift the back heel on a height like sand bag.
Use a chair or fitness ball under the hips to take some of the weight off of the front leg. Or hold onto the back of the chair (turned sideways) or a wall for support.
Warrior I Pose precautions:
Avoid this pose if you suffer from high blood pressure or heart problems. Those with shoulder problems/injuries should keep their raised arms either parallel or a little wider than parallel to each other.
Those with neck problems should keep their head in a position that is neutral and not look up at the hands.
Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose) is a standing pose that stretches the obliques and strengthens the legs and the core. When you think of stretching and flexibility, most people picture sitting on the floor and reaching for your feet or contorting your body in different and challenging ways. Poses like Extended Side Angle are very effective in opening the hips and stretching the torso. Using your body weight against gravity is an excellent way to open tight muscles and release connective tissue. In the traditional Extended Side Angle pose you reach your hand all the way to the floor. This is an excellent stretch, however not possible for everyone due to an inflexible spine or tight hips. Resting your elbow on your knee (as pictured) eases up some on the stretch and allows you to rest as much or as little weight on your knee as you wish. Once you are able to complete this stretch with elbow on knee you can begin to reach your hand to the ground for a deeper stretch.
How to: Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Step your feet apart, about 3-4 feet. Lift your arms out to the sides until they are parallel to the floor. Focus on reaching out through your fingers, palms down. Turn your left foot in slightly and turn your right foot out 90 degrees. Anchor the outside of your left foot into the mat and bend your right knee. Bring your left arm up toward the ceiling and turn your palm toward your head. Look to your left. Exhale and bend to your right, trying to put the right side of your torso on your right thigh. Place your right fingertips or hand on the floor or a block just outside of your right foot. If that stretch is too deep, place your right elbow on your right knee with the palm up. Hold the pose for 5 long breaths, then release and repeat on the other side.
Caution: Do not practice this pose if you are currently experiencing headaches, insomnia, or high or low blood pressure. If you have a neck injury or current neck pain, do not turn your head upward in the pose. Instead, keep your gaze straight ahead with both sides of your neck evenly extended. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.
Yoga has been proven to relieve stress by using exercises that unify the mind, body, and spirit. If you are new to yoga, these seven tips will start you on the road to a more centered life.
1. Talk to your doctor and explain what type of yoga you intend to practice. Show your doctor pictures of some poses for illustration. Your doctor may rule out specific poses if you have high blood pressure, glaucoma, a history of retinal detachment, or heart disease. Make sure you follow your doctor’s recommendations.
2. Find a yoga class that best fits your abilities. Talk to prospective teachers, and decide whether or not you can handle a program before you sign up. It’s very important to take it one step at a time. Try a few beginner classes before you attempt more vigorous classes.
3. Listen to your body and be aware of your physical abilities. You don’t want to hurt yourself. Make sure the instructor understands your level of experience and any limitations you may have. Don’t allow anyone to push you ahead too quickly. Remember, this is supposed to be fun and relaxing.
4. If you can’t find a class that meets your needs, practice yoga at home. There are many books and online resources available to help you get started. Search for the best products on the Internet and read reviews. Talk to other yoga students for recommendations.
5. Try private yoga lessons: you can schedule one-on-one sessions with a yoga teacher in your area or even online via Skype. Most yoga instructors offer private classes or can help you design your own program. This is a good way to get started. You can always take group lessons or practice at home after you’ve had private lessons and learned the basics.
6. Find a yoga buddy. It’s nice to practice with someone and it will help reduce injuries. It’s also a great way to keep up your enthusiasm and interest.
7. Eat lightly before practice. Wait at least two hours after meals before yoga class or practice. An empty stomach is best, but don’t let yourself get too hungry to think. You won’t be able to focus on the poses or enjoy yourself during the relaxation or meditation exercises.
Now go grab your mat and a towel and get the most out of your yoga practice.
While eating healthy is a great way to enhance your well-being, taking a holistic view of cleansing your system means being aware of your body at a more subtle level. That’s where the practice of yoga comes in. The alternate stretching and tightening of your muscles in yoga not only helps stimulate your digestive system, but also helps your circulatory system work more efficiently.
Yoga asanas help the lymphatic system collect and remove unwanted substances. And, the mind-body nature of a yoga practice can help trigger calming responses in the brain. Yoga is also useful for detoxifying your thinking. Every time you tell yourself about your tight hamstrings, bad balance or weak arms, you feed your mind a diet of negative thoughts. That can be a toxic way of thinking. Making the choice to practice means you believe in yourself enough to take on the challenge of whatever yoga class or at-home practice offers. Somewhere inside, you know you can move forward and grow. The more you focus on a positive attitude, the easier it will be to remove the old thought patterns that hold you back and limit you.
These 4 poses will help your digestive system. Try them the next time you feel bloated or sluggish.
1. High lunge twist
Begin in high lunge with right foot forward.
Place your hands in a prayer position at the center of your chest. Take a deep inhale, using your thumbs to slightly lift your chest.
Use your exhale to engage your abdomen and twist your torso to the right.
Place your left elbow outside of your right thigh. Breathe for at least three deep breaths
Repeat on the other side.
Strengthens the quadriceps and gluteus muscles
Stimulates abdominal organs
Improves digestion and elimination
Stretches the psoas and hips
Relieves sciatica pain
Develops stamina and endurance in your thighs
Improves your balance, concentration and core awareness
2. 1-Legged Downward Dog
From Downward-Facing Dog extend one foot up to the sky while the opposite foot is rooted into the earth.
The hips are squared and the toes are active.
The forehead reaches for the earth as the shoulder blades move back (opening the heart area).
The gaze is towards the belly button.
Stay for 5-7 breaths, then lower your leg
Repeat on other side.
Calms the brain
Helps relieve stress and mild depression
Relieves menstrual discomfort when done with the head supported
Helps prevent osteoporosis
Relieves headaches, insomnia, back pain, and fatigue
And it is therapeutic for high blood pressure, asthma, flat feet, sciatica, and sinusitis
Strengthens the glutes, arms, and core
3. Plank Pose
Start in pushup position with your hands under your shoulders, arms perpendicular to the floor
Engage your abdominal wall and draw it slightly in
Press the front of your thighs up toward the ceiling
Lengthen the back of the neck and looks down at the floor (keeping throat and eyes soft).
Breathe for 5 breaths or more
Strengthens the arms, wrists, and spine
Tones the abdomen, strengthens the core
4. Boat Pose (modified)
Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you.
Lift through the top of the sternum and lean back slightly (make sure your back doesn’t round)
Keep your arms straight out in front of you with arms parallel to the floor
Exhale and bend your knees, then lift your feet off the floor
Slowly straighten your knees (for a modified version, keep your knees bent), raising the tips of your toes slightly above the level of your eyes
Stay in the pose for 10-20 seconds. Gradually increase the time of your stay to 1 minute
Release the legs with an exhalation and sit upright on an inhalation.
Strengthens and tones the abdomen, hip flexors, and spine
Stimulates the kidneys, thyroid and prostate glands, and intestines
Helps relieve stress
When I first started practicing yoga, the simplest of balancing poses would have me teetering over again and again. There are days when I still do. What I’ve found is that the balance that I can maintain on my yoga mat is directly related to the balance I am experiencing in my life. With too much coffee, or lack of sleep, sugar and stress, I don’t stand a chance. That said, it seems to work both ways. Bringing my awareness to finding balance in my body helps translate that sense of awareness into other areas of my life.
Here are 3 beginner yoga poses to help you start bringing the idea of balance into your life:
1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose): This posture sounds simple, but it forms the foundation of all other poses. Standing with your feet hip distance apart, spread all ten toes and ground down through your feet. Let it feel as though you are drawing the energy up your legs, igniting your muscles. Draw your belly in towards your spine, staying strong in your core, your tailbone dripping down towards your heels. Lift up through the crown of your head, and actively reach your fingertips down towards the ground. Close your eyes and notice how, even here, a seemingly simple standing at attention, balance is in constant negotiation.
2. Vrksasana (Tree Pose): Rock your weight into your right leg; feel the shift. Let the sole of your other foot find a home as high up on your left leg as possible, anywhere but on the knee joint. You may start with your right toes on the earth and heel on your left ankle, working towards the sole of your right foot coming high up into your left thigh. Wherever it is, let your standing leg press actively back into your right foot, your right knee opening up. Draw your palms together in front of your heart in prayer. Spend a few breaths here. If you’d like, you can grow your arms long into the sky. Stay until you lose your balance or your standing leg gives out (enjoy the tumble!), switching sides.
3. High Lunge Pose (Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana): From a low lunge with your right leg forward, back heel lifted, press into both feet and inhale to lift your torso, arms reaching toward the sky. Sink into your right knee (no further than knee-over-ankle), with your back leg super strong, thigh lifted and heel reaching back. Make sure your ribs aren’t sticking out, draw your navel in and your tailbone down. Stay here with your breath.
A few thing to keep in mind:
You must be fully present to balance, and one thing that will take you away from the moment is judgment. No matter how many times you fall, remember, it’s no big deal; it’s just practice! Trust that you will eventually get there; the self-aggrandized thoughts do not serve you. Let your gaze (drishti) be focused onto one thing, and maintain it. Remember to breathe.
Committing to practicing yoga regularly can be difficult, and attending a yoga class may not always be possible.
Those who establish even a minimal home practice are quick to discover the rewards yoga has to offer. Practicing even just a few asanas (poses) at home on a regular basis, will reinforce what is taught in a yoga class, and best prepare you for class when you’re ready. Students who have a home practice find themselves not only becoming progressively more flexible and strong, but more resilient and calm in the face of life's inevitable ups and downs. As a practitioner of Ashtanga Yoga, I love the self-led class of a Mysore practice within a group environment. But, it is not possible for me to always attend a class, so here are 5 tips that have helped me in my at home yoga practice:
1. Set aside a minimum of 15 minutes every day, if you find this difficult to fit into your schedule, begin by making a commitment to do at least Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) each day. Some days that may be all your time will allows don’t get discouraged, keep going! But on those days when more time is available, extend your time into a longer practice. Allowing yourself the time to do yoga is often a bigger challenge than the yoga itself!
2. Find a place in your home for your practice, and clear the space so you can easily put your mat down when the time arrives. Decide which direction you will face on your mat, and place a candle or make a small alter at the front. Depending on the amount of space you have, you may decide to keep this space sacred and make your dedication to yoga part of your permanent living space. For me, I have created a space uncluttered so that I can be easily convert it to a yoga space when I practice.
3. Note the times of day that are ideal for your home yoga practice. Maybe it’s first thing in the morning or maybe it’s after work. Whenever it is, try to commit to practicing at that time and make it a priority.
4. Wear loose, comfortable clothing –don’t worry if you don’t have that “picture-perfect” yoga outfit, perhaps you have a comfy pair of sweats or even your pajamas! Wear clothing that’s comfortable for you; you wouldn’t want tight body-hugging outfits coming in the way of doing some wide stretches!
5. Respect your body and do yoga poses gently with a smile. Doing them fast or going beyond what your body can take will not bring faster results. It will only make the practice more difficult and painful. Let go of perfection and fear of failure. The beauty of your home yoga practice is that you listen to your body and find the teacher within.
Remember, distractions happen. Dogs come and lay on your mat, your cat curls up on your lap when you meditate, the kids show up to watch, or your partner decides it is a good time to talk. This is the practice of yoga. It is learning to be present and receive the gifts of your life. It is letting go of expectations and goals, it’s returning to your breath and being mindful of your response to the distractions. This is yoga, this is life. Take a breath and start!
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