Hello oxygen! Pranayama improves your lung capacity, while relaxing your mind, warming up your body, and setting the tone for your entire practice. A few other benefits: opens cervical vertebrae, loosens shoulder girdle, helps regulate blood pressure, and counteracts emphysema, asthma, and other breathing problems.
This posture warms up, strengthens, realigns, and improves flexibility of the spine. It helps alleviate lower back pain, indigestion and constipation, and bad posture. Please note: the warm up to Padahastasana is the only time during class when booty shaking is not only allowed, but encouraged.
A tremendous strengthening posture for the upper arms, abdominal muscles, hips, thighs, and calves. Awkward improves flexibility of the hip joints and circulation in the knees and ankles. It also may provide relief to those suffering lower back pain and rheumatism or arthritis in the legs. And for you yoginis, Awkward pose strengthens all the muscles that allow you to hover while using a public restroom.
It’s simple: just twist your arms and legs like ropes while sitting in an imaginary chair, sucking your stomach in, bending backward, and balancing on one foot. Well, maybe it’s not that simple. But the payoff is big. Eagle opens and improves the mobility of all the major joints in your body—hips, ankles, knees, shoulders, elbows, wrists—while firming your legs, arms, and abdomen. Added bonus, it also improves your sexual vitality and control.
Standing Head to Knee is probably one of the most intimidating postures for beginners. Always remember, it’s mind over matter, and, if you try the right way, you’ll get 100% benefit. Standing Head to Knee strengthens the muscles around the knee joint and in the abdomen and arms. It improves circulation, digestion, and flexibility in hamstrings, shoulders, and entire back. It also improves concentration, determination, memory, and patience while relieving nervousness.
Who says your yoga can’t also be your cardio routine? The first set alone delivers 120 seconds of heart-pounding goodness. Standing Bow improves the health and function of your cardiovascular system, helps remove plaque from your arterial walls, revitalizes your endocrine system, promotes elasticity of your rib cage and lungs, and strengthens your spine. In addition to those physical benefits, Standing Bow develops your mental concentration, determination, and patience.
In just 10 seconds, Balancing Stick strengthens your heart muscle, improves your lung capacity, helps develop balance, and reduces symptoms of asthma. It also stretches and strengthens the spine and shoulders and firms the arms, hips, abdomen, buttocks, and upper thighs. It is also good mental conditioning, boosting your focus and control.
After Standing Bow and Balancing Stick, it feels good to just hang upside down and take a little break, right? Wrong! You’ve got to lock your knees and then pull, as hard as possible, to stretch your body straight down from the lower spine toward the floor. Do that, and you’ll be rewarded with improved flexibility in the hips, hamstrings, calves, pelvis, ankles, and lower spine. Your abdominal organs and sciatic nerve will also thank you. This posture also brings blood to the brain, stimulates the hypothalamus, and helps combat depression.
Triangle is a total body workout, requiring you to engage every muscle in your body. It will work your circulatory, cardiovascular, digestive, immune, and reproductive systems all at once. Triangle pose opens the hips, firms the thighs, strengthens the arms and shoulders, straightens the spine, and relieves lower back pain. It can also help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
This posture improves the flexibility of the shoulder, hips, and spine, relieving sciatica. It stretches and strengthens the legs, shoulders, arms, back, and abdomen. It also boosts blood flow to the brain, improving mental clarity and memory and reducing depression and headaches. This posture massages the pancreas, liver, gall-bladder, kidneys, spleen, intestines, gonads, and bladder. It is good for diabetes and digestive problems, including constipation and dyspepsia.
Tree pose will improve your posture, balance, and grace. Tree pose strengthens the oblique muscles, helping prevent hernia. It also serves as natural traction for the spine, relieving tension in the neck and shoulders, and increasing the cushioning function of the intervertebral discs. Like Triangle pose, Tree pose improves hip mobility.
To master Toe Stand, you’ll need to learn not only to how to balance your body, but your mind. This posture strengthens the stomach and joints while combating arthritis and rheumatism in the knees, ankles, and feet. It also helps develop the mental balance between determination and patience.
Though it’s called the Dead Body Pose, Savasana will actually reenergize your system by allowing your circulation to return to normal. Try to remain completely still to improve your concentration and reduce nervousness, anxiety, irritability, and hypertension.
Wind Removing pose improves all aspects of digestion by massaging the colon, normalizing production of stomach acid, reducing production of excess gas, and stimulating the liver, small and large intestines, and spleen. This posture can provide relief to those suffering from constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. It also alleviates lower back pain and improves flexibility in the hip joints and neck.
Like all of the spine strengtheners, Cobra pose relieves back pain (and spinal disorders, including arthritis) by improving spinal strength and flexibility. Cobra pose targets the lower back, in particular, while improving functioning of the large and small intestines, liver, kidneys, and spleen. Cobra pose may also give relief to women suffering menstrual problems. If you keep a tight cobra tail, you will also strengthen your legs and hips.
Locust pose targets the upper back, building strength and improving flexibility. Like Cobra pose, Locust pose improves functioning of digestive organs. It also restores flexibility in the hip and shoulder joints and firms the abdomen, hips, legs, buttocks, and arms. The positioning of the arms also relieves tennis elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome. At first, this posture may seem impossible, but, remember, you can do anything for 10 seconds!
Ever have dreams that you’re flying? Now’s your chance to try it out with your eyes wide open. Full locust pose targets the middle of the spine, improving strength and flexibility. Like Locust pose, it improves digestive functioning. This posture helps to open the rib cage, allowing the lungs to expand and take in more oxygen.
Bow pose is a 360-degree backward bend against gravity. It works the entire spine, improving strength and flexibility. Like all of the spine strengtheners, it improves digestive functioning, relieves menstrual problems, and opens the chest to boost lung capacity. Bow pose is also great for opening the shoulder and pelvic girdles.
Fixed firm pose strengthens and improves flexibility of the lower spine, knees, and ankles. It helps restore the full range of motion to the knee joints. It also firms and strengthens the thighs, calf muscles, and abdomen, boosts immune functioning, relieves sciatica, and combats symptoms of rheumatism, edema, arthritis in the legs. This posture is an excellent reminder that, whether you do 1% or 100% of the posture, you get 100% of the benefit as long as you try the right way.
By bringing your head below your heart, this posture increases blood circulation to the brain. It provides relaxation and a little boost of energy to get you through the rest of class. Half tortoise pose also stretches the shoulders and spine—it’s natural human traction!
Camel pose is the deepest backward bend of the series. It stretches the entire front side of the body, improving digestive functioning and opening the rib cage to allow expansion of the lungs. It compresses the spine, improving flexibility of the neck and spine. Camel pose can also provide mental and psychological benefits, combatting anxiety and depression.
Rabbit pose is the deepest forward bend of the series. It extends the entire spine, removing tension from the back and neck and improving posture and mobility. Rabbit pose is also a deep front side compression, improving digestion and strengthening and firming the abdomen. In addition to physical benefits, Rabbit pose may help nurture the nervous system and relieve depression.
By compressing the front side of the body and extending and lengthening the back side of the body, Head to Knee pose improves digestion and kidney function and helps to balance blood sugar levels. It also relieves sciatic nerve pain and improves flexibility of the ankles. Stretching pose is a deep hamstring stretch.
Spine Twist is your final chance to wring out the spine from top to bottom. This posture improves spinal elasticity and flexibility while increasing circulation and nutrition to spinal nerves, veins, and tissues. Spine twist pose relieves a number of back problems, including rheumatism, sciatica, and lower back pain. The benefits also extend past the spine to the hip and shoulder joints, where flexibility will improve.
Time to clean house. Blowing in Firm removes exhalable toxins from the body, while strengthening the core, improving circulation and digestion, and boosting energy.