The Top 3 Basic Yoga Postures and Their Variations

Basic Yoga Postures and Their Variations. Yoga and Pilates have both become very popular additions to the fitness routines of many people around the world, and for good reason, which is why people are learning about yoga and its many benefits for the mind and body. Welcome to our site Health and Wellness – To Achieve Balance in Your Whole Life.

The benefits of yoga are many, and if you haven’t tried it already, you owe it to yourself to liberate your soul and reach the next level of enlightenment, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Anyone can do yoga, at any age, and in most any physical condition.

Here Basic Yoga Postures And Their Variations

Basic Yoga Postures and Their VariationsPhoto by ANTONI SHKRABA: https://www.pexels.com

1. The Cobra Basic Yoga Postures

Do this in easy stages. Lie down, face prone, legs tightly together and stretched back, forehead on the floor. Put your hands, palm down, just under your shoulders. Inhale and raise your head, pressing your neck back, now use your hands to push your trunk up until you are bending in a beautiful arc from your lower spine to the back of your neck.

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You need go no further than this. However, if you are supple enough, you can now straighten your arms completely, bend the legs at the knees and drop your head back to touch your feet. Even if your head goes nowhere near your feet, drop it back as far as possible and hold the posture with deep breathing.

Come out of the posture very slowly, returning to the face prone posture. Relax with your head to one side.

2. The Bow Basic Yoga Postures

This is also an extreme version of the simple bow. It is surprising how many children can do it immediately. Take it, once again, in easy stages. Lie face prone on your mat. If you are very slim have a nice thick, padded mat for this one. Inhale and bend your knees up.

Stretch back with your arms and catch hold of your ankles, keeping fingers and thumbs all together on the outside. Inhale and at the same time raise your head and chest, pulling at your ankles and lifting knees and thighs off the floor.

Breathe normally, trying to kick up your legs higher and lifting your head up. You are now bent like a bow, balancing the weight of your body on your abdomen. You can stop right here but if you can still stretch further, then slide your hands down your legs, lift them higher, keep the knees together and pull back as much as you can.

Hold for a few normal deep breaths, then relax back to the face-prone position, head to one side.

3. The Shooting Bow Basic Yoga Postures

In Sanskrit this is known as Akarna Dhanurasana and one leg is drawn up like a shooting bow. Sit with both legs stretched out in front and back straight. Reach forward with both hands and clasp your feet, catching the right foot with the left hand and the left foot with the right hand.

Inhale, bend the left knee and pull the foot across the body, close to your chest, pointing the elbow up and twisting the body slightly to the right. The left hand stays firm and tight, holding the right foot. Hold posture with normal breathing, release slowly, and relax. Repeat on other side. In the beginning it is enough to hold the bent left leg with the right hand.

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When this is easy, stretch down and hold the left foot with the right hand. Continue to pull on the left foot, lifting it higher on each exhalation.

Basic Sitting Postures with Benefits

Basic Sitting Postures with BenefitsPhoto by ANTONI SHKRABA: https://www.pexels.com

1. Correct foot placement

Sit up straight with legs evenly extended in front. Bend the right leg at the knee and place the foot so that the heel is in the right groin and the front of the foot touches the left thigh. Turn the foot so that the bottom of the foot is facing upward and press the knee back to form an obtuse angle with the body.

This position will be difficult at first; don’t force it. Put a folded blanket under the knee and also under the hips. Gradually the knee will move farther back. Just keep the foot correctly positioned.

2. Correct, perfect posture

Having positioned the foot and knee correctly, stretch the left leg out, keeping the leg firmly on the mat. Settle the heel firmly and stretch the toes up. (The heel should pull gently away from the ankle).

Now inhale and bend forward over the straight leg, catching the foot with both hands if possible. Beginners should bend only as far as they can without rounding the back. When this posture is done correctly and completely, the body will roll forward over the extended leg, absolutely flat from the tail bone to the head.

Stay there breathing normally for as long as you can. Inhale, release the handhold, come up smoothly, straighten the bent leg and relax. Repeat on other side.

3. Wrong posture

The heel is not positioned against its own thigh. The knee has not been pushed back as far as possible to form an obtuse angle. The back is humped and curved because the pelvis is jammed and unable to lift properly.

Instead of a smooth, complete stretching of the spine, the lumbar is over-stretched and the rest of the spine constricted. The left leg is not flat on the floor.

4. Sitting, forward-bending pose over one leg

This posture generally follows the previous one. Sit with your legs stretched in front. Bend the right leg so that the right foot is near the right hip.

The toes should point back. The right calf presses against the right thigh. The body will tilt in this position so put a small folded towel under the left buttock to keep the hips level and the forward stretch even and extended. Hold the left foot with both hands, inhale and bend forward, keeping both knees together as you stretch forward over the straight leg.

Many students will find it difficult in this position to even take hold of the foot of the outstretched leg. Do not despair. Just hold the knee, shin or ankle, and sit, breathing deeply, in whichever position represents your best extension. If the back is tight and the spine inflexible, this will take time.

Release the hold and straighten the bent leg. Repeat on the other side.

Breathing and Relaxing

Basic Yoga Postures and Their VariationsPhoto by Vlada Karpovich: https://www.pexels.com

You don’t need to fall into the stress mode of life. You can use breath to relax, rather than stress, your mind and body. Yoga helps you to relearn that natural state that your body and mind want to be in: relaxation.

Deep breathing is both calming and energizing. The energy you feel from a few minutes of careful breathe is not nervous or hyper, but that calm, steady energy we all need. Slow, steady, and quiet breathing gives a message to your nervous system: Be calm.

Whole books have been written on yoga breathing.

Here is one 5-minute Breath Break. (Read through the instructions several times before you try the practice.)

  1. Sit with your spine as straight as possible. Use a chair if necessary but don’t slump into it. Feet flat on the floor with knees directly over the center of your feet. Use a book or cushion under your feet if they do not rest comfortably on the floor. Hands are on the tops of your legs.
  2. Close your eyes gently and let them rest behind closed lids.
  3. Think about your ribs, at the front, back, and at the sides of your body. Your lungs are behind those ribs.
  4. Feel your lungs filling up, your ribs expanding out and up. Feel your lungs emptying, your ribs coming back down and in. Don’t push the breath.
  5. The first few times you do this, do it for 2 to 3 minutes, then do it for up to 5 to 10 minutes. At first, set aside a time at least once a day to do this. When you learn how good it makes you feel, you’ll want to do it at other times as well.
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Just as one stressful situation goes into your next challenge, relaxing for a few minutes every day gradually carries over into the rest of your daily life and activities.

Finding Balance And Health With Yoga

Basic Yoga Postures and Their VariationsPhoto by Editor Belal: https://www.pexels.com

Have you heard about the Gunas? No, they are not Disney characters! According to yoga there are three basic qualities or energies that make up everything. They are, rajas, tamas and sattva.

Rajas is the energy of action, change and movement. Rajas is the fuel of passion and fire. Rajasic energy is also associated with the day light hours. We obviously need rajasic energy to create energy to move successfully throughout our world and lives.

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When we have too much rajasic energy we might appear to the outside world as extremely busy, go go go, do do do! Does this sound like you? Maintaining a high degree of rajasic energy leads to burn out! When rajas is out of balance the mind and body are overstimulated, the mind becomes restless and you experience a lot of uncontrollable thoughts.

Foods that are rajasic include: spicy food, fried foods, coffee / caffeinated beverages/ stimulants/ fish, eggs, chocolate, foods that are very bitter, sour, dry and salty. Eating in a hurry is also considered rajasic

Tamas can be thought of as the opposite of rajas. Tamasic energy is associated with a state of inactivity and inertia, heaviness and darkness. When tamas is out of balance your ability to reason becomes clouded and you might experience the darker emotions such as anger or greed.

Just as there is more rajasic energy present in daylight hours, tamasic energy is present during nighttime. People who are very tamasic might be depressed or appear lazy. Generally speaking disease states are tamasic.

Examples of tamasic food include: meat, alcohol, tobacco, onions, fermented foods – vinegar or strong cheese, stale food or over ripe food, overly processed food or chemically treated. Overeating is considered tamasic.

Sattva is energy that is in a state of harmony and balance. Positive mental and emotional states of joy and intelligence are associated with sattva. A person who was experiencing a lot of sattvic energy would appear very happy.

Sattvic energy also is consistent with healing states and in Ayurveda (yoga’s sister science) sattvic energy is actively cultivated.

Sattvic energy is most present during the times between light and dark- in other words dusk and dawn. A person on the yogic path is focused on developing sattva and for this reason yoga asana and meditation are classically performed at these times.

Foods that are sattvic include: whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, pure fruit juice, legumes, milk, butter, nuts, seeds, sprouted seeds, honey and herb teas.

It is important to realize that we all have all three gunas within us. And while this is true we tend to have a predominant guna. Based on the descriptions above can you figure out what yours is? It is good to be aware of this because once you are aware of your predominant guna then you can predict how might react to certain life circumstances as well know your strengths and weaknesses.

You’ll know when you will tend to be thrown out of balance and what you will need to do to bring yourself back into balance.

You also might have times in our lives when one guna is more active then another. Perhaps you have very active time and very productive (rajasic). Or a period when you have been depressed (tamasic). Or a time when we are very balanced and in tune with your spirituality (satvic).

Another way the gunas show up in our lives and directly effect us is through the food we eat. Consider for a minute the average American diet with overly processed and chemically treated foods which are very tamasic.

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Modern science now confirms that these food items are directly linked to major illnesses including cancer, obesity, diabetes and heart disease. As mentioned above too much tamasic energy leads to disease states. We also know that foods in their whole form such as grains, fresh fruits and vegetables (sattvic foods) are life sustaining and bring health and energy.

Do you practice yoga postures (asana)? How do the gunas show up here? Is your asana practice fiery and passionate? Was your practice was slow and lazy? Or was it balanced?

It is probably becoming clear to you by now that to be healthy, happy, and live a balance life it is important to cultivate sattva in your life.

This can be done by :

  • Reducing rajas and tamas
  • Becoming aware of when you are out of balance- which guna seems most present?
  • Increase activities and environments that produce positive thoughts
  • Eating a healthy, sattvic oriented diet
  • Certain herbs (subject for another article)
  • The practice of yoga: pranayama (breathing practices), asana (postures), meditation

Getting Healthy With Yoga

People have always believed that yoga can do more for your body than just keeping it fit and flexible. Research now shows it can help weight control, lower back pain, insomnia and even heart disease. Studies indicate yoga helps with weight loss and maintenance.

In a study of 15,000 adults, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that those who did not practice yoga gained approximately 18.5 pounds more over a 10-year period than those who practiced for at least four years. There was also a study done at the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California.

This study found people who regularly practiced yoga and meditation, exercised and watched their diet lost more weight than those who exercised, and ate a balanced diet, but did not practice yoga.

This study found people who regularly practiced yoga and meditation, exercised and watched their diet lost more weight than those who exercised, and ate a balanced diet, but did not practice yoga.

Additionally Yoga can improve your range of motion in your hips, reducing lower back pain. A study done at The American College of Sport’s Medicine, suggest that yoga increases lower back flexibility and decreases pain. It was a small study conducted on older women age 44-62.

Persistent back pain however should always be professional diagnosed before embracing on any exercise program including yoga. Yoga’s backbends and forward bends may exacerbate some back conditions.

Yoga can also calm your body and your mind, which can help people who suffer from insomnia. Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, PhD., an instructor of medicine, division of Sleep Medicine at the Harvard Medical School recently published a study.

He found a half hour to 45 minutes of daily yoga practice with a focus on meditation and breathing, helped chronic insomniacs sleep through the night. The subjects increased their overall sleep by 12%.

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Yoga breathing can help lower your heart rate and calm your nervous system. The breathing techniques can help alleviate serious anxiety and depression and reduce stress. Practicing yoga for an hour and a half three times a week can make your heart healthier in just six weeks. A recent study out of Yale University School of Medicine had 33 men and women who practiced yoga at that rate. This lowered their blood pressure and improved their blood vessels’ ability to expand and contract by 17%. Researchers believe the improvements are based on the stress-reducing benefits of yoga.

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