The four important elements of yoga practice are breathing, meditation, basic postures and relaxation. Here in Yoga poses part II are presented four more important postures, including The Corpse Pose for total relaxation.
Hatha Yoga, what we usually know as just “yoga” in the West, aims to control the body and breath to still prana (energy) that in turn stills the mind. Yoga poses (asanas) purify and strengthen the body and control and focus the mind.
The Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) The Cobra Pose opens the chest and strengthens the core body. It helps relieve stress and fatigue and aligns the spine invigorating the kidneys and nervous system.
- Lie prone on the floor. Stretch your legs back, tops of the feet on the floor. Spread your hands on the floor under your shoulders. Hug the elbows back into your body.
- On an inhalation, begin to straighten the arms to lift the chest off the floor, going only to the height at which you can maintain a connection through your pubis to your legs.
- Hold the pose anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds, breathing easily. Release back to the floor with an exhalation.
The Cat Pose (Marjaryasana) The Cat Pose stretches the middle to upper back and shoulders and provides a gentle massage to the spine and belly organs.
- Start on your hands and knees in a "tabletop" position. Make sure your knees are set directly below your hips and your wrists, elbows and shoulders are in line and perpendicular to the floor. Center your head in a neutral position, eyes looking at the floor.
- As you exhale, round your spine toward the ceiling, making sure to keep your shoulders and knees in position. Release your head toward the floor, but don't force your chin to your chest.
- To release, inhale and flatten the back moving into Table.
- Do this a few times for one minute.
The Child Pose (Balasana) The Child Pose calms the body, mind and spirit and stimulates the third eye point. It gently stretches the low back, massages and tones the abdominal organs, and stimulates digestion and elimination.
- Kneel on the floor. Touch your big toes together and sit on your heels, then separate your knees about as wide as your hips.
- Lay your hands on the floor alongside your torso, palms up, and release the fronts of your shoulders toward the floor. Feel how the weight of the front shoulders pulls the shoulder blades wide across your back.
- Balasana is a resting pose. Stay anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes. Beginners can also use Balasana to get a taste of a deep forward bend, where the torso rests on the thighs.
End with total relaxation using the The Corpse Pose
The Corpse Pose (Savasana) Corpse pose is essential to practice at the end of every yoga practice. This posture rejuvenates the body, mind and spirit while reducing stress and tension.
- Lying on your back, let the arms and legs drop open, with the arms about 45 degrees from the side of your body.
- Close the eyes, and take slow deep breaths through the nose. Allow your whole body to become soft and heavy, letting it relax into the floor. As the body relaxes, feel the whole body rising and falling with each breath.
- Scan the body from the toes to the fingers to the crown of the head, looking for tension, tightness and contracted muscles. Consciously release and relax any areas that you find.
- Stay in Shavasana for 5 to 15 minutes.
Other articles in this series:
- Yoga introduction
- Yoga poses I
- Yoga basics; Timothy Burgin.
- The yoga journal; Cruz Bay Publishing, Inc.
- Yoga; The holistic Care.
- The Health Benefits of Yoga; WebMD.
- Acrocore yoga and fitness; Andreas Fetz.
- The Practical Sanskrit Dictionary; Apte, Vaman Shivram.
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