Parsva means side and Uttana means intense. The direct translation is intense lateral stretching posture.
Pyramids are strong, durable and solid. Climbing the steps of a pyramid can be an allegory for the journey to enlightenment. Pyramids can also symbolize the sense of harmony and unity we can sometimes feel and create within. The steps of a pyramid represent lessons we have successfully learned. When someone completes a pyramid, it means they are in complete harmony with themselves, society and the environment.
Parsvottanasana, or Intense Side Stretch Pose, is a particularly challenging side stretch that requires strength, stability, presence and patience to perform safely. Also referred to as Pyramid Pose, Parsvottanasana is all about commitment in the legs—creating a solid foundation and strong container to release and expand into.
The pose is definitely more of an intense hamstring (and hip) opener than a side body stretch, and should be approached mindfully and methodically, using the support of a wall or blocks. When done properly, the benefits of Parsvottanasana come from lengthening the spine and strengthening the legs while stimulating digestive organs and calming the mind (as forward folds tend to do).
Health Benefits Of Parsvottanasana
The Intense Side Stretch Pose stretches the hamstrings, spine, shoulders, wrists and hips. It lengthens the spine and relaxes the shoulders and neck. It stimulates the digestive organs thereby improving digestion. This pose strengthens the legs and knees as well.
Parsvottanasana improves sense of balance and calms the mind. This pose improves posture of the body and tones the abdomen.
Hal’ stands for ‘plow’ and ‘Asana’ stands for ‘pose‘. Halasana or ‘the plough pose’ takes its name from the farming instrument, plough, used by farmers across India to prepare the soil for sowing of seeds. In the sequence of asanas, Halasana is usually performed after Sarvangasana, which is basically a shoulder stand. According to Meenakshi Swami, the author of The Science of Yoga, “asanas like halasana, suryanamaskara, seershasana and kapalbharti increase the flow of blood to your head, improving intellectual power as well as memory
Do not practice this pose if you are currently experiencing diarrhea. Also avoid this pose if you have glaucoma or other eye problems, or a serious back or neck injury. Women who are menstruating should consult with their teacher before practicing inversions, such as Halasana. Women who are pregnant can practice Halasana if it is already a part of their regular practice; otherwise, wait at least eight weeks after giving birth before attempting this pose. Those with asthma or high blood pressure should only practice a version of the pose with the legs supported if the feet do not come all the way to the ground (see Modifications & Variations, below).
Improves the tone and strength of back muscles as the back is folded, as well as the leg muscles and abdominal muscles. It also removes the rigidity of the back muscles. Improves the working of the spinal nerves, putting pressure on the nerves in the neck region which are predominantly sympathetic. Improves the function of the thyroid, parathyroid and pituitary glands. All of the other endocrine glands are regulated by these main glands and so the overall function of the endocrine system is improved. This results in the improved functioning of all the systems of the body. Gives a complete stretch to the spine which increases its elasticity and overall functioning. Activates digestion and helps with constipation, improves the efficiency of all the abdominal organs such as the spleen, pancreas, liver and kidneys. The breathing movements of the diaphragm help to massage the abdominal organs. Activates the thyroid gland and thymus gland, stimulating metabolism and immunity. Can induce states of pratyahara (sense withdrawal).
How To Do Halasana
- Lie on your back. Join the legs together. Relax the whole body (Shavasana position).
- Keep the palm flat on the ground. Keep breathing normally.
- While exhaling press the palm on ground and raise both the legs upwards straight then try to touch the ground just behind.
- Breathe slowly and hold the posture for several minutes (1-2 minutes).
- Now slowly release the pose to return to Shavasana.
- Repeat this for 3-5 times.
Yoga originated around 5,000 years ago in India, and is a form of exercise that unites the mind, body, and spirit. The combination of stretching, muscle-toning, controlled breathing, and meditation will help you feel more energized and focused throughout the day, even in stressful situations.
The best thing about yoga is that anybody, of any age and any fitness level, can do yoga and feel its benefits. And no, you don’t need to rush out and buy overpriced yoga pants to find your inner peace.
Yoga does a body good. Some of the many health benefits of practicing yoga include improved balance, flexibility, coordination, strength, and endurance. All of these physical benefits lend themselves to improved performance in many other sports and can reduce the risk of injury during other physical activity. Practicing yoga allows kids to use their muscles in new and challenging ways. Learning different yoga poses allows children to become better acquainted with and more aware of their bodies, helping them realize just how powerful and capable their bodies are!
Practicing yoga can teach children discipline, resulting in them making better choices, as well as taking more accountability for their actions. Developing self-discipline teaches children to exercise self-control and be more thoughtful and purposeful in their daily lives. Learning to practice self-control can provide children with the structure and tools that they need to be more responsible, productive, and independent. When a child is better equipped in self-regulating, impulsivity and erratic behaviors drastically decrease.
Yoga offers numerous benefits that can have long-lasting effects. When we expose a child to the many gifts of yoga, we are providing them with tools of empowerment and strength that can last a lifetime. Could yoga be right for your child? We’d love to hear from you.
Yoga’s mental health benefits:
- Improves concentration, focus, and mental clarity
- Reduces stress, depression, and anxiety through increased endorphin secretion
- Mood stabilization
- Improves sleep and reduces sleep disturbance
- Increases feelings of well-being and self-image
The Matsyasana causes a stretching on the thyroid and parathyroid glands, thereby improving their function and counter balancing the effects of the Jalandhar bandha. It stretches the intestines, liver, pancreas, bladder and other abdominal organs which improves their functioning and efficiency. Reduces blood supply to the legs and redirects it to the reproductive and pelvic organs. Stagnant blood around vertebral column is drained. Improves supply to brain and face, also stretches the carotid artery. The reproductive system is improved due to the increased blood supply. Toning of abdominal, thigh and intercostal muscles. Toning of intercostals muscles help in deep breathing, so it is helpful in asthma and bronchitis. It opens up the chest and lungs. Haemorrhoids. Increases circulation to the back which helps in backache and cervical spondylitis. Boosts the immune system due to its effect on the thymus gland. Loosens the spine and prevents round shoulders. Loosens the legs and prepares them for meditation poses
Benefits Of Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
Stretches and stimulates the muscles of your abdomen, neck, and throat
Strengthens the muscles of your upper back and the back of your neck
Helps relieve tension in the neck and shoulders
Helps to improve your posture and provides relief from respiratory disorders
How To Do Matsyasana
Begin by lying on your back with your legs extended and your arms resting alongside your body, palms down.
Press your forearms and elbows into the floor and lift your chest to create an arch in your upper back. Lift your shoulderblades and upper torso off the floor. Tilt your head back and bring the crown of your head to the floor.
Keep pressing through your hands and forearms. There should be very little weight pressing through your head.
Keep your thighs active and energized. Press outward through your heels.
The complicated name of Trianga Mukhaikapada Paschimottanasana means Forward Bend With Three Limbs Facing Forward. In this seated posture one foot is bent and placed on the outside of the buttock, while the other leg is kept straight. To not fall over the practitioner needs to actively push the buttocks on the side of the bent leg down towards the floor utilizing the abdominal muscles. Initially one may use a hand to avoid falling over to one side, but as with all props, also the natural ones, it is important to be vigilant not to rely on them longer than absolutely needed as this might hinder the development into the full posture. Persons with knee injuries might find this painful, as well as those with tight quadriceps. One way to approach the full posture is to start by keeping both legs bent with the feet at the outsides of the hips.When performed correctly Trianga Mukhaikapada Paschimottanasa works to build abdominal stregnth and to increase the range of movement in the joints of the hip and knee.
- Tones and stimulates the abdominal organs.
- Assists digestion.
- Reduces flatulence and constipation.
- Creates flexibility in the knee joint.
- Creates flexibility in hips and hamstrings.
STEP BY STEP GUIDE – THREE PARTS FORWARD BEND POSE
- Start with forming the Dandasana (Staff Pose) on yoga mat.
- Bring your left foot back as for Hero Pose (Virasana).
- Exhale; try to take hold of the outer edge of your right foot by bending forward.
- Inhale; now pull the arms back.
- Slowly lift and open your chest.
- Exhale; drawn the chin towards your shin.
- Bend your elbows and extend the trunk forward.
- Hold in this position for few seconds (10 to 60 seconds).
Chair Pose clearly works the muscles of the arms and legs, but it also stimulates the diaphragm and heart. We know this one can be killer, but it’s definitely worth it. Do you know what “utkata” means in Sanskrit? It means fierce, and “asana” means pose. We get Chair Pose from the fact that you mimic the position of sitting in a chair. Nevertheless, if you’re looking to tone those tired legs, Utkatasana can bring out your fierce side!
To emphasize the health benefits of this posture, you can try a more advanced variation. Once you are in position, brings your hands together at your heart like you are praying. Twist to the right side, keeping the left elbow outside the right knee. Stay low and keep the knees pressed together. Come back to center and repeat on the opposite side.
If you are having trouble relaxing into this pose, stop trying to force yourself into a shape your body isn’t ready to make. Try one or more of the above modifications to help find the right chair for you.
How To Do Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
- Stand in Tadasana. Inhale and raise your arms perpendicular to the floor. Either keep the arms parallel, palms facing inward, or join the palms.
Exhale and bend your knees, trying to take the thighs as nearly parallel to the floor as possible. The knees will project out over the feet, and the torso will lean slightly forward over the thighs until the front torso forms approximately a right angle with the tops of the thighs. Keep the inner thighs parallel to each other and press the heads of the thigh bones down toward the heels.
- Firm your shoulder blades against the back. Take your tailbone down toward the floor and in
toward your pubis to keep the lower back long.
4. Stay for 30 seconds to a minute. To come out of this pose straighten your knees with an
inhalation, lifting strongly through the arms. Exhale and release your arms to your sides into Tadasana.
When you practice Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend), the aim is to fold forward from the hips so that you can stretch your hamstrings without straining your back. It doesn’t matter how close you get to the ground. What matters is that you learn to stabilize your legs and your spine while you bend forward.
When you do Prasarita Padottanasana mindfully, it stretches your hamstrings, calves, and hips; strengthens your feet, ankles, and legs; and builds awareness of how to protect your lower back. This pose is also a mild inversion, as it lowers your head and heart below your hips. The combination of the inverted shape and the forward fold tends to bring a wonderful feeling of calmness. Finally, this pose will build strength in your shoulders and upper back, and it will give length and ease to your neck muscles.
If you have tight hamstrings or hips, this pose will require a bit more skill and patience. Tight hamstrings will make it difficult for you to fold very far before your lower back begins to round. If this happens to you, bend your knees slightly to ease the stretch on your hamstrings so that you can keep your low back long and fold forward from your hip joints. Or you can choose to not go all the way to the floor: Place blocks under your hands to lift the floor to you.
How To Do The Prasarita Padottanasana
- To begin this asana, stand at the front of your mat in the Tadasana.
- Inhale. Take a step backward with your right foot so that your body faces the long edge of the mat.
- Stretch your hands out such that they are at shoulder height and right above your feet. Then, bring your hands to your hips.
- Inhale, and lengthen your chest and heart skywards, such that your torso is stretched as well. Exhale and bend forward until your fingertips touch the mat in front of you.
As beginners, it might be hard for you to touch your crown to the floor. Push yourself only as much as you can. Use a blanket, bolster, or a padded block to support your head in this asana.
Revolved Side Angle Pose is a deep, standing twist that challenges your balance and strengthens your legs and core. It’s a powerful variation on Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana). It also combines the benefits of Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I) and Crescent Lunge Twist (Parivrtta Anjaneyasana).
The Sanskrit name for this pose, “Parivrtta Parsvakonasana” (PAHR-ee-VREE-tah PARZH-vuh-ko-NAHS-uh-nuh), comes from four words:
“Parivrtta” — meaning “revolved””Parsva” — meaning “side” or “flank””Kona” — meaning “angle””Asana” — meaning “pose”
It also goes by various English names, including “Twisting Side Angle,” “Rotated Side Angle,” “Side Angle Twist,” and others. But no matter what your yoga teacher calls it, you’ll still gain all of the benefits from practicing this challenging, standing twist!
Benefits of Revolved Side Angle Pose
Revolved Side Angle stretches, tones, and strengthens the entire body, inside and out. It stretches the thighs, knees, ankles, calves, groins, chest, and shoulders. This pose builds strength in the legs, as well, particularly in the quadriceps and ankles. It also stimulates and tones the abdominal organs and lungs, which improves digestion, elimination, metabolism, and breathing capacity.
How To Do Revolved Side Angle Pose
- Start by standing on your knees, and take your left leg in front into a 90 angle.
2. Lean your body towards your left leg, and twist towards the left.
- Bring your right elbow past your left knee, and place the hands in prayer position.
- Straighten the back leg and leave the heel open.
5. To enter the full pose, place your right hand on the floor (or on a block) on the outer side of the left leg, and bring the left arm up towards the ceiling. If this feels comfortable, you can bring your right arm further to form one line with the rest of the body.
The name ‘Vrikshasana’ is comes from Sanskrit, in which ‘Vriksha’ means Tree and meaning of Asana is to seat, pose or posture. When this pose is performed effectively, it would seem that a tree. As it were, you stop like a tree in the last position of this stance. The leg that you are remaining on resembles a trunk attached to the ground with arms and the other leg and the head go about as branches and clears out. So it is called Tree pose. This Pose has a place with the Inverted Balancing gathering of stances. It is a standout amongst the most troublesome, intriguing and powerful yoga postures.
Benefits of Vrikshasana:
Vrikshasana (tree pose yoga) is useful for people suffering from spine deformities, upper and lower extremities joint arthritis, shoulder and leg weakness, and also giddiness. It alleviates pain in rheumatism patients, strengthens the ligaments of feet, tendons and arches, helps in improving neromuscular coordination, and makes your leg stronger. This pose also increases concentration power, balance, and flexibility.
Tree Pose Step-By-Step
- Start with Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
- Bring your palms together at heart center.
- Rooting through the four corners of your right foot and engaging your right quadricep and your core, slowly lift your left leg and bring the sole of the foot anywhere above or below your right knee. *Never on your knee!!
- Inhale and lengthen through the crown of your head. Find your focus directly in front of you and keep it at a soft gaze.
- As you take your five deep breaths here, you can choose any arm variation such as raising your arms over your head, keeping it in prayer or separated but still in alignment with your shoulders–growing your tree.
- Slowly release your arms back to heart center and release the left leg. Repeat on the right side.
Sanskrit Name: Marjaryasana
Marjari = Cat
Asana = Cow
The cat pose yoga is fairly a simple pose. But in the event you find it hard to round the top of your upper back, you could ask a friend or your instructor to help you out. Ask them to place their hand between and above the shoulder blades so that it can help activate that region.
It might be a good idea to start off the practice with the preparatory poses so that your muscles are flexed enough by the time you come to this asana.
According to the CDC, back pain strikes 80 percent of the people in our population at some time in their life. This makes it imperative that we teach our spines to be more flexible through poses such as Cat and Cow. Think about it, your back health means everything when it comes to living your life fully! Keeping a healthy spine is crucial and part of that includes flexibility training.
Step by step
- Start on your hands and knees (all fours). Knees directly under hips and wrists, elbows and shoulders in line with each other. Neck in line with your spine, gaze resting softly on the floor.
- Spread your fingers and press through the base of the fingers and the finger tips.
- Exhale and round your spine towards the ceiling, lifting the side waists.
- Pull in your abdominals and tuck your tailbone, gently contracting your glutes. Try to keep your shoulders and knees in position.
- Release your head towards the floor and press firmly into your hands.
- Inhale and come back into your neutral starting position.
If you experience anxiety, it is best to avoid breath retention due to the potential spike in the sympathetic nervous system (fight/flight response center) and focus on the exhale to promote the parasympathetic nervous system (rest/digest response center).
Benefits of Marjariasana (The Cat Pose)
- Marjariasana loosens up the spine and make it flexible. It gets rid of stiffness in the back muscles.
- It is good for those suffering from Spondylitis and slipped disk.
- Marjariasana also has an indirect effect on the organs of the lower abdomen, including the digestive system, intestines and the reproductive organs. It gives a good massage and stretch to these organs.