how-to

Halasana (Plow Pose)

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Halasana is pronounced hah-LAHS-ana . The term “hala” means plow). Any pose that rejuvenates the nervous system is a good one. It will boost your mood and energy as well. With your head below the body, a feeling of calm will come over your thoughts and tension will be released.

How To Practice 

Lie flat on the floor to begin, arms beside you. You may wish to have a folded blanket under your neck and upper back. This is the area of the body that will maintain contact with the floor in the finished pose. Next bring your knees and legs up and folded into the chest. Feel your lower back stretched out and comfortable before moving into the next step.

It is at this point when you will place the hands slightly above or into the lower back. You may wish to keep your hands here until you have achieved the final pose, or throughout the entire pose for support if you are not inspired to let your legs and feet fall to the floor behind your head — in what is considered the final pose.

Release the folded legs from the chest by beginning to stretch out your legs over your head and behind you. Gravity will begin to bring your legs to the floor behind your head, so use the hands holding your lower back to slow and control this force. When inspired to do so, complete the pose by lowering your feet to the floor behind you and your stretched out arms with clasped hands flat on the floor in front of you.

 

Anjaneyasana (Crescent Moon Pose)

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When the anjaneyasana pose is complete, your body will form a crescent moon. You will feel and benefit from a full stretch of the leg muscles, the lower back, and the shoulders — as your arms reach for the sky. This pose also lifts the diaphragm and tones the neck — as your gaze looks up past the hands and into infinity above.

How To Practice 

Begin with your right foot firm on the floor, with your knee bent and directly over your ankle. You will not be moving forward or backward from this ideal positioning of the knee over the ankle. Your left leg is simultaneously stretched out behind you, with your heel up and toes pointed straight back. Your lower leg will be supported along the floor, and upper leg suspended and stretched in a straight line upward toward the bent right knee in front of you.

At this point, you will move your hands and arms — which may have supported you on the floor or on your front knee — straight up above your head, with palms together in a prayer position. Feel the stretch as you slowly breathe into the fully arched position.

Repeat the pose with the other leg in front. Rest after this pose by going into child pose.

Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)

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Setu bandhasana is pronounced set-too-bahn-DAHS-ana. The term “setu” means bridge; “banda” means lock. The bridge pose is a joy for body, mind, and spirit. It requires a good degree of coordination to initiate and achieve. When executed thoughtfully, each stretch and movement is satisfying and rewarding — even before reaching the final pose. A fresh blood supply to the brain relaxes the mind, lifts the spirits, and provides a sense of well-being. This asana revitalizes the nerves, takes pressure off the heart, massages the digestive organs, relieves back strain, and brings energy to tired legs. All-in-all, it is a most wonderful yoga pose.

How To Practice

Begin flat on the floor, arms by your sides. Bend your knees until you feel your feet strong and flat on the floor, about hip-width apart. Slowly lift your torso off the floor, supported by your feet and your shoulders, thus beginning to form your bridge.

Bring your arms close and hands interlocked directly under the center of your raised torso. Slowly continue to raise your torso into the air, exaggerating the bridge being formed. Feel the stretch in your upper legs and also in your shoulders. Rest your head comfortably on the floor without constricting your neck. Feel your chest open and your breath even out. You may wish to enter in and out of this pose several times rather than hold it — going deeper each time.

After completing the pose, hug your knees and roll from side to side. Notice your refreshed state of being — body, mind, and spirit.

 

Padangustha Padma Utkatasana (Half Lotus Toe Balance)

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Padangustha padma utkatasana is another advanced balance pose. You might want to feel mastery in the chair pose before proceeding with this asana. It will help you to feel your way into this pose successfully. Also, like other balance poses, the mind and heart will benefit from your non-judgemental, pressure-free, yet heightened focus — the end result being increased clarity of mind.

How To Practice 

Begin standing tall in mountain pose, yet loose and relaxed in preparation for entering the pose. Lift your left leg off the floor and place it over your right thigh — near the right knee. Slowly bend down as if beginning to sit in a chair. Let your left leg push down towards the ground as it supports your effort to assume the pose. Think only about the bend of your knee and the bend of your hips. Otherwise, you want to keep your spine straight and the lean of your upper body and head forward.

Bring your hands together in prayer position and let the elbows balance on your folded left leg. Slowly lower yourself to the floor, balancing on the ball of your right foot. Finish the pose by bringing your hands to the chest, keeping them in the prayer position.

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