Ardha Matsyendrasana – Half Lord of the Fishes Pose

ardha matsyandrasanaWhat is ardha matsyandrasana – Half Lord of the Fishes Pose?

Ardha matsyandrasana is a yoga pose where ‘ardha’ means half, ‘matseyandra’ means ‘king of the fish’ where ‘matsya’ means ‘fish’ and ‘indra’ means ‘ruler’. It is also known as sitting half spinal twist.

Ardha Matsyendrasana, literally translated is the Half Lord of the Fishes Pose; Sanskrit word ardha means half, matsya is fish and eendra means king. But there was also a great yogi by the name of Matsyendranath. By virtue of the way this pose twists the spine, it is also called the Half Spinal Twist Pose or Vakrasana, with vakra meaning twisted.
The pose has many variations depending on the flexibility of the practitioner and is one of the 12 basic poses of Hatha Yoga and focuses on the upper back. It gently twists the spine from its base to the very top and, thus tones the spinal nerves and ligaments. Since the abdominal cavity is also exercised, it improves digestive fire and is especially therapeutic for asthma and infertility.

Ardha Matsyandrasana -Half Lord of the Fishes Pose steps and technique

1. Sit in Vajrasana position or sit straight with stretching your legs in front of you.

2. Bend your left leg and try touching your feet to your right bottom as shown in the image.

3. Bring your right leg outside of your left knee. Touch your feet to the ground. Keep your spine erect.

4. Exhale and turn your upper body to the right. Hold your right feet with your left hand and place your right hand behind you on the ground as shown in the image.

5. Breath normally and hold this posture for 20-30 seconds. After practising you can hold this posture for 3-5 minutes.

6. Now release this posture and repeat this cycle by bending the right leg and bringing left leg outside of the right knee (twisting in the opposite direction).

Ardha Matsyandrasana for Anxiety

This pose not only rejuvenates the entire body and mind but also brings soothing relaxation to one’s mind. It brings fresh oxygen to the mind and increases the capacity of the brain. It enhances blood circulation in the whole body and relieves one from stress and anxiety.

Ardha Matsyandrasana – Half Lord of the Fishes Pose during Pregnancy

This asana i.e., Ardha Matsyandrasana should be avoided during pregnancy. It is quite heavy to perform for pregnant ladies, thus it is being asked to be avoided during pregnancy. Pregnant woman cannot do the half spinal twist with ease; therefore this asana is not for the pregnant lady.

Ardha Matsyandrasana – Half Lord of the Fishes Pose Side Effects

1. It should be avoided during pregnancy and menstruation due to the strong twist in the abdomen.

2. Those that have gone through heart, abdominal or brain surgeries should not do this exercise.

3. Those who are suffering from peptic ulcer or hernia should also avoid this asana.

4. People suffering from severe spinal problems should avoid this asana.

Ardha Matsyandrasana -Half Lord of the Fishes Pose for eyes

This asana is very good for getting a clear vision. This asana enhances the blood circulation in the eye region and thus provides fresh oxygen to the whole face. This massages the eyes in the most proper manner. This enables a more, clear vision. There is more clarity in your seeing things around.

Caution: Do not perform if you have spinal strain or injury.
Here’s a step by step guide to perform this pose:

  1. Sit on the floor and straighten your legs, back straight.
  2. Bend knees and put feet on the floor.
  3. Slide left foot under right leg, trying to get the heel on the outside your right hip.
  4. Swing the right foot over the left leg and place it on the floor outside your left knee.
  5. At this point, the right knee should point straight up at the ceiling.
  6. Exhale and twist gently to the right, stretching slowly.
  7. Place the right hand against the floor, palm down, behind your right buttock.
  8. Place your left on the outside of your right thigh, position the elbow by the right knee in Ashirvad mudra.
  9. Stay in this pose for 30 seconds to a minute and release with an exhalation.
  10. Repeat to the left.

Navasana – Boat Pose

Navasana –The Boat PoseNavasana –The Boat Pose

What is Navasana–The Boat Pose?

The name comes from the Sanskrit word ‘nava’ meaning ‘boat’ and ‘asana’ meaning ‘posture’. In the Boat Pose, the body could be imagined to resemble a boat, entirely balanced on the bottom.

Navasana, Nav meaning boat in Sanskrit, is the Boat Pose with full pose and half pose variations. In the Full Boat Pose the body resembles a boat balanced entirely on the buttocks. It is suggested that beginners start with the half pose variation until their abdominal, leg and back muscles are strong enough.
Since the full pose works the complete abdominal muscles, legs and lower back it improves digestion and aids function of organs in the lower abdominal, like kidneys, thyroid gland, prostate and intestines.
The half pose works on the upper abdominal organs, like pancreas, gall bladder, spleen and liver. Either of the poses are especially beneficial for strengthen the function of the thyroid gland.
Caution: Do not perform either of the poses if you have neck injury, asthma, runny stomach, headache, cardiac problems, have trouble sleeping, low blood pressure or during menstruation. It is an absolute no-no for pregnant women.

Here’s a step by step guide to perform the half pose:

  1. Come into Dandasana, lock the fingers and place behind the head.
  2. Exhale and lift legs up. Exhale and lift the upper back just till the waist.
  3. Now lower the legs so that toes are at eye level. Hold this position for up to 1minute or as strength allows.
  4. Relax in Shavasana or Dandasana.

For the full pose:

  1. Sit on the floor and straighten your legs while keeping them together.
  2. Place palms a little behind your hips with fingers pointing toward the feet, straighten arms.
  3. Lift upper back and lean back like one half of a V.
  4. Exhale and bend your knees, lift your feet off the floor, so that the thighs are at an angle of 45 degrees.
  5. If possible, rise your toes slightly above eye level.
  6. Stretch your arms out parallel to each other and the floor. Stay for 10-20 seconds.
  7. Gradually increase to 1 minute.

Navasana Steps

1. Be in seated position. Bring the legs straight up to a 45 degree angle.

2. Don’t let the spine collapse, the torso will fall back naturally. With your body, make a ‘v’ shape.

3. Bring the arms out straight in line with the shoulders.

4. Create a balance on the bottom.

Navasana Benefits

1. It strengthens your hips, thighs and abdominal muscles.

2. It develops focus and concentration.

3. It improves balance and coordination.

4. It improves digestion.

5. It stimulates kidneys, thyroid and prostate glands.

Navasana Dos and Don’ts

Don’t practice this asana if you suffer from lower back injuries, late term pregnancy or obesity.Also, if you suffer from frequent headaches, diarrhoea and heart problems then also you should avoid this asana. You should not do this asana if you suffer from low blood pressure. Don’t do this asana while menstruating.

Ardha Candrasana

Ardha CandrasanaArdha meaning half and candra meaning shinning often translated as the moon is a standing pose in Hatha Yoga; “Ha” meaning the Sun and “tha” meaning the moon, together represent solar and lunar energies. This posture taps into the energy of the moon.

It engages and strengthens the abdomen, ankles, thighs and buttocks, and also stretches the shoulders and chest and offers benefits like relief in anxiety and backaches. Strengthens bones and prevents osteoporosis, relieves sciatica and busts stress. Since it works the core, it improves digestion, and relieves menstrual pain.

Caution: Don’t look upward if you have any neck problems. Instead look straight ahead. Do not perform if you have a headache, low BP or diarrhea.

Here’s a step by step guide Ardha Candrasana:

  1. Perform Extended Triangle Pose to the right side.
  2. Rest your left hand on the left hip. Inhale, bend right knee, and slide left foot forward to a maximum of 12 inches.
  3. Simultaneously, place your right hand at least 12 inches forward ahead of right foot’s little toe, palm facing down.
  4. Straighten right leg and simultaneously lift left leg parallel (or a little more) to the floor. Push left foot out and keep raised leg steady. Keep knee soft, but straight.
  5. Turn your body to the left and bear the body’s weight with the standing leg; balance. Now, touch the floor with the lower hand.
  6. Find new balance by lifting the ankle of the standing foot upward as if drawing energy towards the groin from floor; press the spine and shoulder blades against the torso, and lengthen the groin toward the raised heel.
  7. Stay in this position for 30 seconds.
  8. Exhale and lower the raised leg to the floor, and return to Trikonasana.
  9. Repeat with left leg.

Anjaneyasana – The Low Lunge Pose

Anjaneyasana – The Low Lunge PoseAnjaneyasana – The Low Lunge Pose

What is Anjaneyasana?

This asana has lots of names. The name Crescent Moon is the form it takes.Also,’Anjaneya’ refers to the Hindu God Hanuman because his mother’s name was Anjani.

A standing asana, the Low Lunge Pose is great for athletes as it treats sources of the lower body, especially tight quads and hamstrings. Being a hip opener, it releases tension in hips, stretches groin. It also strengthens knees and builds focus by promoting balance. The Pose of Anjaneya, son of Anjani, helps build mental focus.

Caution: Patients with high blood pressure or a knee injury should avoid it.

Here’s a step by step guide:

  1. Start in Downward Facing Dog Pose.
  2. Exhale and step forward with your right foot and bring it next to your right thumb.
  3. Lower your left knee and place it in alignment with your right hip.
  4. Steady your stance, exhale. Inhale and raise your torso.
  5. Sweep your arms above your head in the Namaste position till your biceps are beside your ears.
  6. Exhale a third time and lunge deeper until you feel a stretch in the in the front thigh and groin.
  7. Stretch your lower back as you bend backwards trying to reach the back of your body with your thumbs.
  8. Gaze up at the sky.
  9. To release the pose, place hands on the mat and step back to Downward Facing Dog Pose.
  10. Now bring your left leg forward and repeat the step.

Anjaneyasana Benefits

1. It strengthens the quadriceps and gluteus muscles.

2. It stretches the hips.

3. It relieves one from sciatica pain.

4. It expands your chest, lung and shoulders.

5. It develops stamina and endurance in your thighs.

6. It improves your balance, concentration and core awareness.

Anjaneyasana Dos and Don’ts

Those suffering from high blood pressure and knee injuries should not practice this asana. People suffering from shoulder problems should also not do this asana. Those with neck and spinal injuries should not perform this asana.

 

Anantasana

AnantasanaAnantasana

What is Anantasana?

The word is derived from the Sanskrit term ‘Anant’ meaning ‘without any end’ or ‘never ending’. It is derived from the thousand headed serpent Sesa on which Lord Vishnu used to rest. Hence this pose is popularly known as ‘Anantasana’.This is also known as ‘side reclining left leg pose’ or ‘Sleeping Vishnu Pose’.

Ananta meaning eternal in Sanskrit, this pose is also called the Eternal One’s Pose or Vishnu’s Pose. Technically, in English, it is Side-Reclining Leg Left.

A balancing pose, it engages the pelvis, hamstrings and calves, strengthening them and therefore improving balance; it also stretches legs making them flexible and shapely. The pose sides of the torso and by extension the abdominal area, thus preventing the practitioner form developing hernia. Physiological benefits aside, the pose, regular practice of this asana relieves problems like arthritis, peptic ulcers, and colitis. By working the pelvis, the Anantasana cures disorders of the urinary bladder and reproductive organs.

Caution: If you have hip or neck pain then please consult your yoga teacher and doctor before performing this pose.

Here’s a step by step guide:

  1. Lie on your back, in Suptasana.
  2. Turn right and lie on that side — upper arm on the floor, elbow bent and palm supporting the head.
  3. Balance complete body weight on the side; do not lean forward or backward.As a beginner you can perform this asana against the wall to ensure if you lose balance, you don’t hurt yourself.
  4. Bend your left knee, grab your left big toe with your left hand and stretch the leg up straight, sole facing upwards (if you cannot reach your toe, use a cloth sling to get a grip).
  5. Pull your foot closer towards your head; pull as much as possible. Increase this stretch over a period of next few days or weeks.
  6. Stay in this pose for 30 to 60 seconds. Release pose, relax and roll over to the other side and perform the pose again

Anantasana Steps

1. Lie down on your back in a straight position.

2. Turn towards your left hand side.

3. Now, lift your right leg in a 90 degree angle. In order to support your head place your left hand below it.

4. Raise your right hand up in the air and now try to catch the toes of your right leg with your fingers.

5. Stay in this position for about 20 seconds and then release.

6. Slowly turn towards the other side and repeat the same activity on the right hand side too.

Anantasana Benefits

1. It helps in toning the abdominal muscles.

2. It stretches and strengthens the sides of the torso.

3. It increases the flexibility of the spine and muscles in legs.

4. It reduces the obesity of the hips and thighs through the stretching action.

5. It promotes better blood circulation in the leg muscles.

6. It also helps in the development of the pelvic region.

7. It also prevents problems like hernia.

8. It helps in maintaining an overall body balance.

9. It helps in relieving one from physical and mental fatigue.

10. It helps in treating urinary disorders.

11. It is also beneficial in correcting menstrual disorders.

Anantasana Dos and Don’ts

Avoid this asana if you suffer from Sciatica, slipped disc or cervical spondylitis.

Dhanurasana

Dhanurasana

What is Dhanurasana?

The name comes from the Sanskrit words ‘Dhanur’ meaning ‘bow’ and ‘asana’ meaning ‘posture’.

Dhanurasana is the Bow Pose since the body looks like the archer’s bow once in this state. Dhanur translated from Sanskrit means bow.

Also known as Urdva Chakrasana, the upward wheel pose, immensely strengthens the back and abdominal muscles, the legs and arms, while making the back flexible. The stretch opens up the chest giving more space for the lungs to expand. Since it works the core, it relieves constipation, aids digestion, keeps reproductive organs vital, relieves menstrual pain in women and is also beneficial for the kidneys and spleen. Though not a beginner’s pose, it can be attempted after a few weeks of training.

Caution: Never practice the Bow Pose if you are pregnant. Avoid if have hernia, have had abdominal surgery recently, neck or back injuries, headache, migraine or if you have high or low blood pressure.

Here’s a step by step guide:

  1. Lie on your stomach, hands by the side, palms down and feet as apart as the width of your shoulders.
  2. Now, bend your knees and hold your ankles, not toes.
  3. Breathe in and lift your chest off the mat and pull your legs up.
  4. Feel the stretch as you hold the pose for a minimum of 15 seconds. Exhale and slowly bring your legs and chest to the ground.
  5. Relax in Shavasana. After some time you will also be able to hold the pose for longer while watching your breath, but never overdo it.

Dhanurasana Steps

1. Lie on your stomach with your feet hip-width apart and your arms by the side of your body.

2. Fold your knees and hold your ankles.

3. Inhale and lift your chest off the ground and pull your legs up and back.

4. Keep the pose stable while paying attention to your breath.

5. After 15-20 seconds exhale while you bring your legs and chest to the ground. Release the ankles and relax.

Dhanurasana Benefits

1. It strengthens the back and abdominal muscles.

2. It stimulates the reproductive organs.

3. It opens up the neck, chest and shoulders.

4. It tones the leg and arm muscles.

5. It gives flexibility to the back.

6. It relieves one from stress and fatigue.

7. It relieves one from menstrual discomfort and constipation.

8. It helps in kidney disorders.

Dhanurasana Dos and Don’ts

Do not practice Dhanurasana if you suffer from low blood pressure, pain in the lower back, headache, migraine or recent abdominal surgery. Pregnant ladies should avoid this asana.

 

Adho Mukha Vrksasana or Downward-Facing Tree

Adho mukha VrksasanaAdho mukha Vrksasana – Downward Facing Tree

What is Adho mukha Vrksasana?

The Adho Mukha Vrkasana or downward facing tree, Vrk meaning tree in Sanskrit, is meant for highly skilled practitioners of Yoga.The word comes from the Sanskrit word ‘adho’ meaning ‘downward’ , ‘mukha’ meaning ‘face’ , ‘vrksa’ meaning ‘tree’ and ‘asana’ meaning ‘posture’.

An inverted pose, it supplies fresh, oxygen-rich blood to the brain and relieves the heart as it does not have to pump against the gravity. A great reliever of stress, this asana stretches and strengthens your arms, shoulders and wrists. It is perfect to build stamina, a sense of balance and coordination. Your spine, lungs and pituitary glands also benefit; improves immunity.

Caution: Pregnant women, those with high blood pressure and complaints of headaches should not perform this asana. There are chances of neck injury.

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Place the mat parallel to the wall. Place palms about 1.5 feet away from the wall and spread as wide as your shoulders.

Bring your legs in until hips are lifted as high as possible with shoulders are directly above the hands. Steady your shoulders, keep forearms vertical, lift upper arms and straighten elbows.

One at a time, raise legs as high up as possible. Then repeat with the other leg. Keep knees steady while performing this. The movement must be smooth, not fast.

Feel the weight and steady yourself by pressing palms and fingers on the floor; keep elbows straight, support weight with shoulders while opening the collar bones. Lift your legs with the torso; straighten your spine and tighten your knees as you stand parallel to the wall.

Hold the pose for 10 to 15 seconds initially. As you attain mastery over it, try to hold it for up to a minute.

To come out of the pose, keep body steady and lower one leg at a time, bent. Over a period of time, try to bring both legs down together, bent or straight.

Rest in Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend).

Adho mukha Vrksasana Steps

1. Come into adho mukha svanasana (Downward facing dog) with the hands about a foot away from the wall.

2. Walk the feet in closer to the hands. The wall should be close to the shoulders.

3. Bend one knee and kick up with the other leg.

4. Try to practice taking the heels away from the wall and balancing.

5. Try to remain in this posture from 15-30 seconds. Try to bring one leg down one at a time and take maximum rest before trying to kick up with the opposite leg so you stay balanced.

Adho Mukha Vrksasana Benefits

1. It decompresses the spine.

2. It strengthens the wrists, arms and shoulders.

3. It is therapeutic for headaches and mild depression.

4. It improves sense of balance.

Adho Mukha Vrksasana Dos and Don’ts

Don’t do this asana if you suffer from back, shoulder or neck injury.Also,don’t perform this asana if you suffer from Carpel Tunnel Syndrome or high blood pressure.Also,avoid this asana if you have glaucoma or pregnant with a child.

Adho Mukha Svanasana Pose | The Downward Facing Dog

Adho Mukha Svanasana is a combination of words which literally translates to ‘Downward Facing Dog’ asana. Adho comes from Sanskrit word ‘adhas’, meaning downward, mukha means face and svana is Sanskrit for dog.

A beginner’s level asana, on a physical level it stretches the entire body, especially arms, shoulders, legs and spine. By strengthening the entire body, it channelizes energy and removes fatigue. Since the asana specially works on the spine and improves blood flow, it also strengthens the immune and digestive systems. The downward bend improves blood flow to the brain and sinuses, calming the mind.

Here’s a step by step guide:

Start on all fours so that your hands are directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hip, both at 90° angle.

The palms should be firmly on the mat and fingers should be spread out. Now, straighten your knees, straighten your spine and lift your tailbone up as you also straighten your legs. Push the front portion of your thighs back and stretch your heels so that the ankle touches the floor and stays there. Simultaneously, let your chest sink a little towards the floor, and let your neck relax so your heart faces your thighs.

Hold the pose for 5 breaths, or anywhere between a minute and 3, and then rest in Balasana (child’s pose).