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Welcome to your yoga posture guide!

What You Need:

Yoga mat
A Towel Or Strap
A Cushion Or Pillow
Water

A Few Tips To Get You Started:

Make sure to wear comfortable clothing that does not restrict your movement in any way.

Try to practice around the same time every day.

Choose a practice area that is flat and fairly quiet.

Do not eat a heavy meal before practicing.

Rest any time you feel dizzy or faint and then come back to the practice at another time.

Using props like blocks or straps will help you to build flexibility over time.

Be patient with your practice, flexibility takes time.

Have fun! Put together poses that feel good in your body and play around with the movements you do on your mat.

What Is Yoga?

Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word ‘yuj’ which means to join or unite. Yoga as a practice has many aspects, in this guide we will focus on Asana (postures).
Asana is a series of movements done alone or strung together as a Vinyasa (flow). These postures are meant to be linked with your breathing.

How To Practice

Practice each posture slowly and with control. Bring a deep focus in to your breathing. Feeling a slow and controlled breath. Hold each posture for 5 full
rounds of breath. Allow yourself to relax completely while you practice.
Begin each practice with a warm up in order to avoid injury. Use modifications provided as you build up your flexibility and strength. Listen to your body, if
certain postures feel uncomfortable or cause pain, discontinue doing them
until a later time.

Practice Structure

While most postures can be practiced on their own, a well rounded practice will
include postures in the following categories:

1. Warm Up/Standing Postures
2. Forward Folding Postures
3. Back bending Postures
4. Side bending Postures
5. Twisting Postures
6. Closing/Cool Down Postures

Warm Up Postures

Across most styles of Yoga there are postures which are meant to warm up the body. These postures create movement and connection within the body and the breath.

Surya Namaskar A is the main series of postures which are used at the beginning of any yoga practice. Surya Namaskar literally translates to Sun Salutation, aptly named as the movement generates heat in the body when practice is linked with breath.

See below images for the standard movement script with breath. From standing inhale to lift arms overhead, exhale hands draw to the center of your chest. Inhale arms sweep over head, exhale forward fold hands release to the mat. Inhale half forward fold (spine elongates from base through top of head), step back to high plank, exhale lower down to low push up. Inhale upward
facing dog, exhale, hips lift downward facing dog. Hold in down dog for five breaths and repeat several times until body heat is increasing.

Standing/Tadasana

Urdvha Hastasana (Inhale)

Standing Forward Fold/
Uttanasana (Exhale)

Half Forward Fold/Ardha Uttanasana (Inhale)

 

High Plank/Chaturanga Dandasana

Low Plank/Chaturanga
Dandasana (Exhale)

Upward Facing Dog/Urdhva Mukha
Svanasana (Inhale)

Downward Facing Dog/Adho Mukha
Svanasana (Exhale and breath for 5 breaths)

Sun Salutations are a great way to warm up the body but can also be a practice in themselves where you repeat the above actions any number of times. When being incorporated into a longer asana practice it is best to start with 2 to 3 rounds and eventually work your way up to 5 rounds.
If at any point you begin to feel dizzy discontinue the practice and take a seat until you begin to feel better.

Standing Postures

Many postures in a yoga practice are considered standing postures. Included in this are several of the warm up postures as well. Standing postures not only build strength, they also help gain balance, and add an aerobic element to a yoga practice. Try holding your standing postures
for 3 to 5 rounds of breath or approximately 30 seconds.

Tadasana - Mountain Pose

1. Stand with feet together.

2. Allow your weight to distribute
evenly across both feet.

3. Bring the hands together at the
center of the chest.

Benefits & Tips:

• Assists in finding balance.

• Acts as a starting point for practice
and most standing postures.

Vrksasana - Tree Pose

1. Standing in Tadasana, begin to shift your weight
into the left foot.

2. Slowly lift your right foot away from the ground and
gently place it on the inside edge of your left leg.

3. Press down firmly through the standing leg.
Bring hands to rest together at the center
of the chest.

4. Repeat on the opposite side.

Benefits & Tips:

•  Increases balance and coordination.

• Strengthens the quadriceps and stretches
the hip flexors.

• Can be done against a wall if balance is
too unstable.

Virabhadrasana - Warrior I

1. Standing in Tadasana, begin to step your left foot towards the
back of your mat.

2. Let your left heel spin to the mat until it presses firmly against
the mat.

3. Extend both arms overhead and draw them back slightly until
the biceps frame your ears.

4. You may need to widen your stance slightly by separating the
feet further until there is a 90 degree bend behind the knee.

5. Repeat on the other side.

 

 

Benefits and Tips

• Increases balance and coordination.
• Strengthens the quadriceps and hamstrings.
• Stretches the hip flexors.
• Can be done with feet closer together if balance feels unsteady in a wider stance.

 

Virabhadrasana II - Warrior II

This pose can be entered from Tadasana or from Warrior I.

1. From the Warrior I position, sweep the arms open.

2. Allow your shoulders to line up just above your hips.

3. Look forward over your front finger tips.

4. Repeat on opposite side.

Benefits & Tips:

• Increases balance.
• Strengthens the ankles.
• Stretches the groin, chest, and shoulders.
• Can be done with feet closer together if balance feels unsteady in a wider stance.
• Do not look over the front shoulder if it causes neck pain.

Virabhadrasana III - Warrior III

This pose can be entered from Tadasana or from Warrior I.

1. From the Warrior I position,
begin to put weight into your
front foot.

2. From the waist, begin to lean forward reaching your
arms towards the front of your mat.

3. Let your back foot lift away from the ground as you
continue to shift your weight forward. Slightly straighten
your standing leg as you lift your back leg higher.

4. Flex your back foot, pressing it towards the back of
your mat, reach forward through your fingers.

5. Your body should be in a straight line from the tips of
your finger through the shoulders, hips, and down to
the heel of your lifted foot.

6. Repeat on opposite side.

Benefits & Tips:

• Increases balance.
• Strengthens the legs, ankles and abdominal muscles .
• If balance feels unsteady keep the back toes on the ground until you feel steady enough to lift the back leg.

Forward Folding Postures

Forward folding postures are incredibly beneficial for spinal health. In the reverse they can also cause additional issues for individuals with spinal disk issues or low back pain. When this is the case the spine should be kept straight to allow the body to open at a slower rate and decrease instances of low back injury. In seated variations the hips can be elevated by blankets or a bolster
and a strap can be used to help gradually build up the hamstring flexibility required to go forward. Forward folding postures are found across both seated, standing and reclining variations.

Uttanasana - Intense Forward Fold

This pose can be entered from Tadasana.

1. Slowly begin to fold forward, extending your arms towards the mat.
2. Allow your head to hang and your fingers to graze the mat.

Benefits & Tips:

• Stretches the spine, back muscles, and the hamstrings.
• If hamstrings feel too tight, bend the knees slightly until your fingers can reach the ground.
• Place your hands on blocks if reaching the ground is causing strain.

Adho Mukha Svanasana - Downward Facing Dog

1. Begin on hands and knees.
2. Curl the toes under and slowly lift your hips
up towards the ceiling.
3. Spread all ten fingers and press the palms
firmly into the mat.
4. Allow the head to hang.
5. Gently press the heels towards the mat.

Benefits & Tips:

• Stretches the spine, back muscles, and the hamstrings.
• If hamstrings feel too tight, bend the knees slightly.
• Shorten the distance between the hands and feet if it feels difficult to hold your weight.

Balasana - Childs Pose

This pose can be entered from Downward Facing Dog or from hands and knees.

1. From Down Dog, lower your knees to the mat and allow your hips to sit back towards your heels.
2. Either reach your arms forward or let them reach back by your sides as your forehead rests against the mat.

Benefits & Tips:

• This is a resting posture and can be used anytime during your practice when you need to rest.
• Stretches the muscles of the back and lengthens the spine.
• If it is uncomfortable to fully sit back on the heels, place a block between the legs to sit back on.
• Arm position is based on preference and what feels the most comfortable.

Paschimottanasana - Seated Forward Bend

1. From a seated position, extend both legs straight forward.
2. Slowly reach forward towards the feet, grabbing the shins, ankles or sides of feet.
3. With each breath, attempt to bring your chest closer to your legs.

Benefits & Tips:

• Stretches the backs of both legs and lengthens the spine.
• If hamstrings are tight use a strap or towel to wrap around the feet.
• If any pain occurs in the low back, elevate the hips by sitting up on a blanket or cushion.

Back Bending Postures

Back bending postures are an excellent way to not only stretch but to also strengthen the muscles of the back and front of the torso. Back bends work to compliment Forward Folding Postures. Back bends can further aggravate spinal disk and lower back issues so care should be taken when entering and exiting these postures.

Marjariasana/Bidalasana - Cat/Cow Pose

This pose can be entered from hands and knees, hands are shoulders distance apart and toes can be curled under.

1. Begin with a neutral spine.
2. Inhale deeply and let the belly and chest drop towards the mat as you lift your head upwards.
3. Exhale slowly and round the spine, drawing your chin to your chest and your navel upward.

Benefits & Tips:

• This posture stretches muscles across the front and back of the body.
• If knees against the mat is uncomfortable, place a blanket underneath.
• If any neck pain arises, don’t look upward and instead look forward.

Setu Bhandasana - Bridge Pose

1. Begin with your back against the mat, both feet
planted on the ground, and your arms resting down
by your sides.
2. Press down through your hands and feet until your
hips begin to lift away from the mat.
3. Keep your gaze towards the ceiling and press the
knees forward until they are just above the ankles.

Benefits & Tips:

• This posture stretches muscles across the front and back of the body.
• Only lift the hips up as high as feels comfortable.

Urdvha Mukha Svanasana - Upward Facing Dog

1. Begin lying flat on your stomach.
2. Place your hands flat on the mat at the base of
your ribs.
3. Press firmly through both palms and gently lift
the chest away from the mat.
4. Rise as far as feels comfortable.

Benefits & Tips:

• This posture stretches muscles across the front of the body.
• Strengthens the muscles of the back.
• Only press up as far as feels comfortable for your low back and remain a little lower if rising higher
causes back pain.

Salabhasana - Locust

1. Begin lying flat on your stomach.
2. Your arms can start by reaching them out to your sides and can change position depending on your experience or preference.
3. Slowly lift back through the feet until the legs begin to rise away from the mat.
4.Lift through the hands as well until the arms float away from the mat.
5.Use the muscles of the back to help lift the body a bit further from the mat.

Benefits & Tips:

• This posture stretches muscles across the chest.
• Strengthens the muscles of the back.
• Only press up as far as feels comfortable for your low back and remain a little lower if rising higher causes back pain.
• Experiment with arm position to find where you feel the most stretch.

Side Bending Postures

Side bending postures are typically found in standing and seated postures. These postures help to bend the spine and to create length across the side body. Side bending postures also help to loosen up the side body to make certain twists and back bends more accessible.

Ardha Chandrasana - Standing Half Moon

1.Begin in Tadasana.
2. Reach both arms overhead and interlock the fingers.
3. Gently bend to one side until you feel a stretch across the opposite side.
4. Keep the chest facing forward.
5. Repeat on the opposite side.

Benefits & Tips:

• This posture stretches the muscles across the side of the body.
• Find a spot to focus your gaze to help balance.
• This can be done with your back against a wall for stability.

Twisting Postures

Twisting postures have many benefits in a yoga practice. Many twisting postures are variations of standing, seated or reclining positions. It is believed that twisting postures help to cleanse the stomach and organs in the body. Twisting postures are also an excellent way to release tension acquired during a back bend and are best taken after a side bending posture.

Parivrtta Utkatasana - Revolved Chair

1. Begin in Tadasana.
2. Bending at the knees slowly lower your hips down.
3. Gently rotate your torso to one side until your elbow meets
your knee.
4. Come back through center and repeat on the opposite side

Benefits & Tips:

• This posture stretches the muscles across the side of the body.
• Strengthens the muscles of the leg.
• Look down towards the front of your mat to maintain balance.
• If your balance is unsteady do not hook your elbow over the knee and instead just twist to the opposite side keeping your hands at the center of your chest.

Ardha Matsyendrasana - Half Twist

1. Begin in a seated position with both legs straight in front of you.
2. Bend one knee and place the foot on the outside edge of the opposite leg.
3. Slowly twist towards the bent knee.
4. To go further cross your elbow over the leg and let your other hand rest on the mat behind you.
5. Repeat on the opposite side after switching the legs.

Benefits & Tips:

• This posture stretches the muscles across the side of the body and abdomen.
• Look over your back shoulder if your neck feels comfortable.
• You may elevate the hips slightly with a blanket or cushion.

Closing Postures

Closing postures are used to help the body signal the end of practice before coming into Savasana. It should be noted that these postures can be taken at any point during a yoga class. These are postures that are generally used as resting poses and to allow the body a proper cool down so that Savasana can be taken in a completely relaxed manner.

Sukhasana - Easy Sit

1. Begin in a seated position.
2. Gently cross the legs.
3. Lengthen the spine by sitting up
straight.

 

Benefits & Tips:

• This posture opens the hips and inner thighs.
• If sitting directly on the floor is uncomfortable, place a block or blanket under the hips to ease stress on the hips.
• Blocks can be placed as supports under both knees if discomfort occurs.

Savasana - Corpse

1. Come to a fully reclined position on the back.
2. Let the legs naturally separate.
3. Arms rest gently to the sides.

Benefits & Tips:

• This posture is the final pose of practice and allows the body to relax completely.
• The eyes can be closed if that feels comfortable.
• You may use a blanket for warmth or any other props to make yourself as comfortable as possible.

Thank You for reading and Happy Practicing!

As you make your way through this guide, you can practice the postures individually or linked together in whatever way feels best for your body.

Committing to a yoga practice 2 to 3 times a week is the best way to gain flexibility.

Here are a few final tips for you:

1. Be mindful of how your body feels as you practice. If you feel pain, stop.
Your body knows best when you move.
2. Breathe deeply in every pose. Your breath supports your posture.
3. Be patient with your practice. Flexibility takes time and doesn’t come over night.
4. Enjoy your time on the mat!

 

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