Yoga Pose of the Month Library
Lord of the Dance Pose
Natarajasana, or Lord of the Dance Pose Improves balance, strengthens back body, legs, glutes and ankles, opens chest and shoulders. It’s basically a balancing backbend. Intermediate pose.
Activate your divine feminine with this simple but powerful pose. Grounding and centering and calming at the same time. There are many variations to this pose. When you add the heel raises it strengthens your legs, feet and ankles like crazy. Focus on opening your heart center in this pose and breathing deeply down into Mother Earth and radiate it back up through your heart and out through your hands. I am woman, I am strong, I am powerful, I am rooted, I am.
Bird of Paradise
Advanced balancing pose
Promotes: mental focus, core strength, quad strength, balance, hip and hamstring opening, shoulder opening
I have been practicing this pose all year. It got easier the more I practiced. Doing it in the sand at the water break was a huge challenge!
Before you attempt this pose you must be able to do extended side angle pose with a bind, in order to prevent tears or injuries.
Variation of Warrior III, or Virabhadrasana III
Warrior III strengthens the whole back side of the body, including the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, ankles, and back. It also tones and strengthens the abdominal muscles. Warrior III improves balance, posture, and full-body coordination. As all balancing poses, it helps to promote proprioception, which starts to weaken around age 50. Warrior 3 is a dynamic balancing pose that builds cores strength and promotes lightness in your body and mind, feels like you are flying!
Mantra: I relax into the flow of life.
Seated twist with a smile. Healthy spine, healthy blood. Breathe, breathe, breathe and enjoy even the gentlest of twists.
Halasana: Plow Pose
Mantra: I am calm and serene
This is a great pose for the spine. It’s one of my favorite stretches for my back and neck. There are modifications to this pose, you do not need to get your toes to the ground for the benefits. Some benefits are:
• Strengthens and opens up the neck, shoulders, abs and back muscles
• Calms the nervous system, reduces stress and fatigue
• Tones the legs
• Stimulates the thyroid gland, strengthens the immune system
• Helps women during menopause
There are also contraindications so you must do this pose with an experienced yoga teacher if you are a beginner or have suffered neck injuries or any spinal disorders, or if you have high blood pressure. Women avoid this pose during pregnancy and first two days of menstrual cycle.
Remember to BREATHE!!!
Four Limbed Staff Pose: Chaturanga Dandasana
Mantra: I am strong, balanced and light.
This is a very challenging pose but you can get it over time with practice and body awareness.
It needs to be done with mirror or experienced teacher to help you with correct form and alignment in the beginning. It is very easy to do this pose incorrectly, which can cause wrist and shoulder issues and injuries.
This pose build core strength like crazy and it also helps to strengthen your shoulders, wrists, and legs.
Working on the this pose and holding it for 10-30 seconds will build strength to lead up to other arm balances. It is a good foundation pose for arm balances.
Ardha Matsyendrasana, or the Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
Mantra: Breathe into the goodness that you are.
I am calm and flexible.
- Calms the nervous system
- Enhances health of disks and facet joints between the vertebrae
- Maintains the mobility of the spine
- Improves digestion and the processing of the liver and kidneys
- Relieves backaches, sciatica, and menstrual discomfort
- Stretches the upper body and brings flexibility into thoracic spine
Twists are the most cleansing and purifying of all asana.
A twist a day keeps the doctor away!
Type Pose: Hip Opener
This is a typical way that people in India sit, since chairs are rarely found.
Opens the hips, the groin, brings flexibility into the ankle joints and great stretch for the lower back if you walk your hands forward on the ground while you round your back.
If squatting is difficult you can put a blanket under your heels or a rolled up yoga mat. You can also add more stretch of the groin by gently using your elbows to press your knees open.
If you have knee injury, do not do this pose if causes pain in knee.
Makarasana: Dolphin Pose
Type Pose: Inversion
dolphin yoga pose
A must for swimmers! This pose build core strength as well as arm, leg and upper body strength while opening the shoulders and upper back, muscles that get very tight. The key to this pose is to engage your abdominals by sucking your navel up toward back of spine, while pressing gently up through the forearms and pressing chest gently back toward the legs. If your hamstrings are tight it will be challenging to press the chest back while keeping straight legs so you can slightly bend the knees. I love to use this pose in my thai yoga massages, I can help people open up even more with my special adjustment. Who wants one?
Urdvah Mukha Svanasana: Upward Facing Dog
• Strengthen the spine, arms and wrists
• Stimulate the organs of the abdomen
• Improve posture, by stretching anterior spine and strengthening posterior spine
• Stretch chest and lungs, shoulders and abdomen
• Help to relieve depression, fatigue and pain of sciatica
• Increase lung capacity to relieve the symptoms of asthma
Fish Pose: Matsyasana
This is one of my favorite poses, it is great if you sit a lot or at the computer and get all hunched up. To me this is therapy for my neck.
- Opens your pectoralis muscles of your chest, the intercostal muscles between your ribs, and upper portion of psoas muscles in your hips.
- Improves the quality of your breath by opening the accessory muscles of breathing.
- Stretches muscles in your abdomen and in the front of your neck.
- Relieves mid back spinal tension.
- Strengthens musculature in your neck and back
- Opens the heart and stimulates organs in the abdomen and throat.
- It is also cited this pose helps speed up metabolism. I’m not sure how true that is, but I do know that I am hungry when I come out of pose!
*Caution: Please follow an experienced teacher, if you have neck or back weakness or injury you can hurt yourself even more.
**Variations: There are many different variations of this pose, including restorative, therefore almost anyone can enjoy the benefits of this wonderful pose.
Headstand Yoga Pose: Sirsasana
Known as the “King” of all yoga poses.
There are many different variations of headstand. It took me over 4 years to get the courage to try headstand, since I have 2 herniated and 2 bulging disks in my neck. Once I did it felt great. If done properly and when your core and neck is strong enough for this pose, it is wonderful for your neck and calming for the mind. It also has been cited that 2 minutes a day in headstand is a natural way to counteract depression. During the winter months I practice headstand regularly. I get a little blue without the warm sun.
• The inverted position of Sirsasana increases the flow of blood to your brain.
• This freshly oxygenated blood stimulates your pituitary and pineal glands to calm and revitalize your mind.
• Strengthens your core, back, neck, shoulders and arms
• Lengthens your spine
• Eases pressure on your lower back
• Strengthens your lungs
• Helps relieve colds, cough, sinusitis, sore throat and asthma
• Alleviates stress, insomnia and depression
• Regulates your metabolism
• Improves memory and concentration
Viparita Karani: Legs Up the Wall
Mantra: I am free to breathe deeply.
Health Benefits of Pose:
• Relieves tired or cramped legs and feet
• Gently stretches the back legs, front torso, and the back of the neck
• Relieves mild backache
• Calms the mind
• Boosts circulation
Perfect pose for the busy holidays!
*Note: There are many different variations of this pose. I am showing the basic one. I slide up to the wall on my side until my butt is against the wall then I swing my legs around and up. In this picture I have a pillow under the middle of my back which opens my chest more and stretches the front of my neck. I added an eye mask to relieve tension in my eyes and head. You can also bring your arms up over your head to stretch your shoulders more as well. Enjoy!!!
Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana: Revolved Head to Knee Pose
Mantra: I am free to breathe deeply.
Health Benefits of Pose:
Side-stretching poses lengthen the muscles between the ribs and pelvis, including parts of the low back, and open the sides of the rib cage, improving rib cage mobility and the expansiveness of the lungs, which makes breathing easier in all situations, including aerobic activities. In sidebends where an arm stretches overhead to reach for the foot, the latissimus dorsi muscle, which extends from the back waist to the armpit, will also stretch.
One of the most important muscles stretched during a sidebend is the quadratus lumborum (QL). In theory, it’s a good idea to regularly practice sidebends to keep the QL, latissimus dorsi, and rib cage supple and flexible. However, tight hamstrings and adductors (inner thigh muscles that pull the thighs together) can throw a wrench into this theory. That’s why working with an experienced yoga teacher is so important.
Urdhva Dhanurasana: Upward Bow Pose or Wheel Pose
Mantra: I am strong and free
Benefits of the Upward Bow Pose
- Stretches the chest and lungs
- Opens the shoulders
- Deep stretch for psoas
- Strengthens the arms and wrists, legs, buttocks, abdomen, and spine
- Stimulates the thyroid and pituitary
- Increases energy and counteracts depression
- Therapeutic for asthma, back pain, infertility, and osteoporosis
There are many contraindications to this pose so should be done with assistance of professional teacher.
This is one of the best poses to open the front of the body and keep the spine supple. One of my favs!
Triangle pose is known as Trikonasana in Sanskrit—tri meaning three and kona meaning corner. Triangle is a therapeutic pose that provides many benefits including strengthening of the core and legs and the spine.
Benefits of Triangle Pose
Done properly and consistently…
- Stretches legs, muscles around the knee, ankle joints, hips, groin muscles, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, chest and spine
- Strengthens legs, knees, ankles, abdominals, obliques and back
- Stimulates function of abdominal organs
- Relieves stress
- Improves digestion and constipation
- Helps to alleviate back pain and symptoms of menopause
- Used therapeutically for anxiety, infertility, neck pain and sciatica
- Just overall feels good!
Uttanasana or Standing forward fold
Mantra: I am calm awareness
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
Tittibhasana or Firefly Pose
Mantra: I am strong calm confidence
Type of pose
Benefits of Firefly Pose
Strengthens the wrists, forearms and core abdomen; stretches the hamstrings and strengthens the quads
Bakasana: Crow Pose
Mantra: I am calm determination
Type of pose
Benefits of Crow Pose
Strengthens core, arms, wrists
Cultivates inner SELF confidence!
Not as hard as it looks!
Ustrasana: Camel Pose
Mantra: My vulnerability is my strength.
Type of pose
Benefits of Camel Pose
Stretches the front of the body including the chest, abdomen, and quadriceps. Improves spinal flexibility.
How to get into the pose
- Come up onto your knees. Take padding under your knees if they are sensitive.
- Bring your hands to your lower back, drawing your shoulder blades and elbows together as you start to open your chest.
- Slight pelvic tilt under, drawing the tailbone toward the ground to lengthen through your lower back.
- Reach your hands back one at a time to grasp your heels. (Or do one hand at a time for half Camel Pose).
- Keep your hips forward so that they are over your knees, and keep your heart center soft and rising upward.
- Let your head come back opening your throat.
Beginners: Curl your toes under and come to the balls of your feet if you cannot reach your heels when the feet are flat, or use blocks on either side.
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana: Standing Big Toe Pose
Mantra: I stand strong and rooted in my power. Om Namah Shivaya!
Type of pose
Benefits of Standing Big Toe Pose
Improves leg strength, core strength, and balance, stretches the hamstrings
How to get into the pose
- From mountain pose, shift your weight into your right leg.
- Bend the left knee, bringing the left foot off the floor.
- Hold your left big toe with your left hand in a yogi toe lock.
- Straighten your left leg as much as possible. Keep both hips squared to the front of the room.
- Try to keep the spine straight, the shoulders sliding down your back, and your left arm in the socket.
- Release the left foot and repeat the pose on the other side.
Eka Pada Kapotasana: Pigeon Pose
Mantra: May your heart remain open and love be your guiding force.
Type of pose
Hip opener, Backbend
My favorite hip opener! A must if you are a runner or cyclist!
Benefits of Pigeon Pose
Stretches the gluteus maximus, thighs, groins, back, and psoas. Opens the chest and shoulders.
Helps with tight lower back and lower back pain, including sciatica
There are many variations of this pose, for everyone including if you have tight hips! I am doing the above…Eka Pada Rajakapotasana which gives an added benefit of stretching the chest and front of shoulder as well as the quadriceps and psoas much deeper.
There are many ways to come into this pose. One of the best is from downward facing dog. You must be careful if you have knee injuries doing pigeon pose; that is why one on one instruction is best for beginners or someone with injuries.
Note: Don’t be surprised if you well up with tears or full on cry in pigeon pose. The hips are where we store repressed emotions. It is a great emotional release. Let it flow and let it go! I did and it was great!
Garuda-asana: Eagle Pose
Mantra: Be the calm in the chaos
This is one of my favorite balancing poses. I feel very at home in this pose. With practice you will grow to love it too!
Health Benefits of the Eagle Pose
- The eagle pose strengthens and enhances the flexibility of your knees, ankles, legs, upper back, hips and shoulders.
- It enhances your blood circulation system, increasing the blood flow to the kidneys, sex organs and reproductive system. This improves the functioning of the reproductive system, and enhances your sexual vitality.
- It strengthens your body’s core sense of balance.
- The eagle pose also enhances your concentration level and cultivates inner strength and peace.
Remember to do your kegel while you eagle 🙂