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posture lab

This is a breakdown of every pose in the "Standard Vinyasa Sequence", including the Sanskrit name of each pose, translation, benefits, critical alignment, verbal cues, variations, modifications, props, join positions, directional terms, anatomical focus & contraindication.  Familiarise yourself with this guide and you will have covered most of the common yoga postures that we know in yoga today. 

childs pose

balasana

Bala = child

BENEFITS

Gently stretches the hips, thighs, and anklesocus

Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and fatigue

Relieves back and neck pain when done with head and torso supported

Creates an energetic feeling of being nurtured and protected

 

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Shoulders, knees, hips

VERBAL CUES

More important to keep your forehead down on your matthan your hips on heels

Draw your hips toward  your heels

Relax your shoulders

Passive or variations

Big toes touch

Knees open to hip width 

Arms stretch forward

Draw your arm pits toward floor 

Tent finger tips

Sit bones toward heels

Widen your shoulders and collarbones

Gently massage forehead into the floor

VARIATION(S)

Knees open or together

Arms forward or back

Dynamic (to modified cow)

Walk over

Walk over with thread the needle arms

MODIFICATION(S)

Knees together

Arms to side

One ear to floor

PROP(S)

Bolster under torso

Sand bag on sacrum

Blanket rolled under ankles

Blanket under thighs

Pad, towel or blanket under knees

JOINT POSITION(S)

Hips in gentle flexion

Ankles planter flexion

Elbow extension

Shoulder eversion / extension

Knees in flexion

Wrists gentle flexion

Spine in neutral

Jaw, gentle depression

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Elevated shoulders

Elevated scapula 

Flexion of spine

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Pelvic stretch

Lengthens spine

Opens shoulders

Creates space between the erector spinae and lengthens the quadratus lumborum

Stretches the gluteus maximus in the buttocks and the anterior tibias in the lower leg

With arms are overhead, it broadens and lengthens the latissimus dorsi in the middle back

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Diarrhea

Pregnancy

Knee injury: Avoid Balasana unless you have the supervision of an experienced teacher.

 

DOWNWARD FACING DOG

ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA

Adho = down

Mukha = face

Svan = dog

BENEFITS

Strengthens core

Improves circulation

Rejuvenates mind and body 

Can be full-body stretch

Tones arms and legs

Opens and strengthens shoulders

Lengthens hamstrings

Stretches calves

Prepares body for inversion

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Shoulders * See below

Neck

Wrists 

VERBAL CUES

If it doesn't feel ok to let your head hang from your body, slightly tuck your chin to your chest to engage Jalandhara bandana

Connect to the natural curves of your spine

Slightly soften your knees

You do not have to push your heels into the floor, it's more important to lengthen your spine

8 fingers spread wide, pointer fingers face forward

Thumbs come in a LITTLE BIT

Grip your mat with your fingers (yoga claw)

Press your knuckle mounds down

Lengthen your tail bone toward the sky 

Relax your face, jaw, and throat

Open your mouth and rock your bottom jaw from side to side

Gently push the ground away from you

Widen your shoulders and collar bones

Create a gentle stretch through your hamstrings by drawing  your heels toward the floor (they do not have to touch!) 

Feet hip width, hands shoulder width * can be wider if shoulders and hips are tight

VARIATION(S)

Drop to forearms 

3 legged dog

Peeing dog 

Flip dog

Dynamic to plank

Dynamic to up dog

Dynamic open, knee to nose

Downdog Twist

Cross Fascia Connection (cross ankles)

Fallen star

MODIFICATION(S)

Draw chin toward chest slightly to support neck

Bring forearms down

Bend knees a lot 

PROP(S)

Support the head with bolster or blankets

Support heels with blanket or soft blocks

Arms to chair

JOINT POSITION(S)

Ankles dorsi flexion

Elbow extension

Shoulder eversion

Knees in gentle extension

Wrists gentle flexion

Spine in neutral

Jaw, gentle depression

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Spine extension 

Slight elevation of scapula 

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Rejuvenating / resting posture

Full body stretch / strengthener 

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Wrist or shoulder injury

High blood pressure

Glaucoma 

Headache

Tight hamstrings 

Late-term pregnancy

* Shoulders 

The shoulder is the most complicated join in the body.

It is made up of the four rotator cuff muscles: subscapularis, infraspinatus, teres minor and supraspinatus.

All these muscles originate on the shoulder blade and insert on the upper arm bone.

The subscapularis is under the scapula, between the ribs and the front surface of the scapula.

Supraspinatus sits above and infraspinatus sits below the spine of the scapula.

 

If the downward facing dog pose is new to us or if we have tight shoulders, then we may notice that they tend towards internal rotation, with the elbows sticking out to the sides and maybe even bent.

In such cases, maintaining some external rotation will keep the teres minor and infraspinatus contracting, and we will probably notice more space opening up in the region of our collar bones.

Hence the cue: Pointer fingers face forward

 

Once we have mastered keeping the external rotators engaged in Downward Dog, we can then apply the action to more challenging poses such as Four-Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana) and Upward-Facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana).

RAGDOLL (we hold for more than one breath)

UTTANASANA​ (forward fold)

Ut = intense, powerful,  deliberate

Tan = stretch, extend,  lengthen.

 

BENEFIT

Calms the brain

Stretches the hamstrings, calves, and hips

Lengthens spine

Strengthens the thighs and knees

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Low back, neck, hamstrings

VERBAL CUES

When holding pose longer than one breath, cue to widen feet to hip width or wider

Relax your face, neck, jaw and throat

Soften your knees

Ground down through your feet 

Pretend you are plugging your feet into an imaginary triangle beneath your big toe mound, pinkie toe mound and centre point of your heel

Pretend your feet are glued to the floor and energetically draw your heels apart

Hold opposite elbow with your opposite hand

Let arms hang

Gently rock from side to side 

Release tension with your exhale

Allow all the thoughts to drop out of your head

Let any weight that you carry on your shoulders to rinse away

VARIATION(S)

Alternate knee bends

Dynamic to half way lift

Padahastasana (gorilla pose / reverse bikram gorilla) / peace fingers to big toes

Shoulder rinse (strap)

Hold opposite elbow with your opposite hand

Let arms hang

Gently rock from side to side 

Walk hands from side to side

Fold over one ankle, and then the other

Twist: one arm down, one arm up

MODIFICATION(S)

Hands to blocks, chair, wall or thighs

Bend knees

PROP(S)

Blocks under hands

Strap for shoulder rinse

JOINT POSITION(S)

Spine flexion

Hip flexion

Knee flexion or extension, depending on position

Elbow flexion, depending on position

Jaw, gentle depression

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Forward flexion of spine

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Hamstrings, spine, neck

CONTRAINDICATIONS

High blood pressure

Glaucoma 

mountain pose

tadasana​ (in every asana - mostly 90%)

Tada = mountain

Tadasana is also known as samasthitih.  What is the difference?  Nothing.  They are the exact same posture.  There difference is within the meaning.  As you can see from above, "tada" means mountain.  Samasthitih 

 

Sama = same, equal  or upright

Sthiti = to establish or to stand

Some yoga schools state that although the anatomical position is the same in both asanas, tadasana is a pose, while samasthitih is more of a command of attention, which can help bring the practitioner into the present moment.

 

BENEFIT

Physically and mentally grounding

Can cultivate confidence and emotional security with "standing on one's own two feet"

Can cultivate a connection with the earth

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Knees, low back, neck

VERBAL CUES

Bring your ankles directly under your hips

Ground down equally through both feet 

Imagine a triangle beneath each foot, and plug your feet into that triangle through your big toe mounds, pinky toe mounds and the centre point of each heel

Pretend your feet are glued to the floor and energetically draw them apart 

Bring equal weight into each foot

Slightly soften your knees

Pretend you have flashlights on each sit bone, and you want them to shine straight down toward the floor

Pretend your pelvis is a bowl of water and you don't want to spill the water to the front back or over either side

Bring your bra line back slightly 

Widen your shoulders and collar bones

Extend your hands toward the floor

Energize your fingers

Grow tall through the top of your head

Slightly tuck your chin to bring length to your neck

Align your ears above your traps (helpful to have a mirror to see sideways)

Allow your head to balance on top of your spine - on your first vertebrae (which is called your atlas)

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATIONS / PROPS

Against wall

Holding onto the back of a chair

Feet hip width or wider

Hands to Anjali Mudra

Hold a foam block between your thighs

JOINT POSITION(S)

Jaw, gentle depression

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

A slight external rotation of your humerus bones

Extend your fingers

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Natural curves of spine

Soft joints

Balance head on spine

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Low back pain

Knee pain

HALF WAY LIFT

ARDHA UTTANASANA

Ardha = half

Ut = intense, powerful,  deliberate

Tan = stretch, extend,  lengthen

 

BENEFIT

Stretches the front torso
Strengthens back, supports spine

Improves posture
Stimulates the belly

Stretches the hamstrings, calves, and hips

Lengthens spine

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Low back, neck

VERBAL CUES

Press your hands into your shins  or thighs

Lengthen your tailbone toward the wall behind you as you reach the top of your head toward the wall in front of you

Connect to the natural curves of your spine

Balance your weight equally on each foot

Soften your knees

Pretend you have an eye in the back of your neck and keep it open

VARIATION(S)

Bend knees a lot 

MODIFICATION(S)

Hands to blocks, chair, wall or thighs

Bend knees a lot 

PROP(S)

Blocks under hands

Strap for shoulder stretch

JOINT POSITION(S)

Hip flexion

Slight knee flexion

Jaw, gentle depression

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Pronation of hands​

Slight flexion of knees

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Hamstrings, spine, neck

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Neck

Plank
Phalakasana or Kumbhakasana

Phalaka = plank

Kumbhak = breath retention

BENEFIT

Strengthens muscles around the shoulders, upper arms, forearms, and the wrists 

Strengthens quads and calves

Strengthens core and back muscles

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Wrists, low back, neck

VERBAL CUES

Face your index fingers forward, and ground your knuckle mounds, widen your fingers and bring your thumbs in slightly

Soften your elbows slightly and turn your elbow eyes toward one and other

Connect to the natural curves of your spine

Widen your shoulders and collarbones

Keep the curve in your lumbar spine

Engage  your thighs (quadriceps), draw your kneecaps toward your thighs

Guide your heels back toward the wall behind you

Stack your heels over your toes

 

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Knees to floor​ (table top)

PROP(S)

Blocks under hands

Block between thighs

JOINT POSITION(S)

Knee extension / unless in modification of knees to floor

Jaw, gentle depression

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Dorsi flexion of feet

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Whole body strength ​

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Neck, wrists, low back

low Plank (four limbed staff pose)
Chaturanga Dandasana

Chaturanga = four limbs

Danda = staff 
 

BENEFIT

Strengthens muscles around the shoulders, upper arms, forearms, and the wrists 

Strengthens quads and calves

Strengthens core and back muscles

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Wrists, low back, neck

VERBAL CUES

Push forward onto your tippy toes

Eyes slightly forward

Face your index fingers forward, and ground your knuckle mounds, widen your fingers and bring your thumbs in slightly

Elbows stack over wrists

Connect to the natural curves of your spine

Widen your shoulders and collarbones

Engage your thighs (quadriceps), draw your kneecaps toward your thighs

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Knees to floor​ (table top)

PROP(S)

Blocks under hands

Block between thighs

Blocks under chest and pelvis

JOINT POSITION(S)

Knee extension

Jaw, gentle depression

Elbow angular flexion 

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Dorsi flexion of feet

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Whole body strength ​

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Neck, wrists, low back

upward facing dog
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

Urdhva = up

Mukha = face

Svan = dog

BENEFIT

Strengthens muscles around the shoulders, upper arms, forearms, and the wrists 

Strengthens quads and calves

Strengthens core and back muscles

Opens chest

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Wrists, low back, neck

VERBAL CUES

Shoulders are above wrists (to make sure shoulders are not moving past the wrists)

Pretend you have an eye on the back of your neck and you want to keep it open

Widen your shoulders and collarbones

Engage your thighs (quadriceps), draw your kneecaps toward your thighs, knees lift up

Draw your bellybutton toward your spine

Slightly engage your glutes

Pinky toe nails down (when top of foot is grounded)

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Tuck toes under

PROP(S)

Blocks under hands

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Elbow extension

Jaw, gentle depression

Spine extension

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Slight internal rotation of thighs ​

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Whole body strength , backbend​

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Neck, wrists, low back, or shoulder injury, abdominal pressure  *pregnancy or menstruation, high or low blood pressure

chair pose
Utkatasana

Utkata = powerful, fierce, uneven, awkward

BENEFIT

Strengthens quadriceps, inner thighs, gluteus, calves, ankles, shoulders, upper back

Stabilizes core

Heats body

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Low back, neck, knees

VERBAL CUES

Connect to the natural curves of your spine

Shine your sit bones toward the floor

Widen your shoulders and collarbones 

Bra line back toward the wall behind you

Energize your fingers

Pretend you are holding a big beach ball between your hands

Feet and knees together (for twist)

Squeeze your legs together (for twist)

Keep your knees behind your toes

Weight back into your heels

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Bring your feet hip width apart 

Arms forward

Anjali mudra

Arms crossed, opposite hand to opposite shoulder

PROP(S)

Squeeze a block between your thighs 

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Knee flexion

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Elevation of arms

Dorsi flexion of feet

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Engages the muscles in your glutes, hips, and thighs

Engages your core to stabilize

Works on developing balance

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Shoulder injury / tightness 

Knee injury

warrior one
Virabhadrasana I

Virabhadra =  ‘hero’ (vira) and ‘friend’ (bhadra); the word holds the essence of a peaceful yet brave warrior, instead of just translating to the actual word warrior. The origin of the warrior poses, Virabhadrasana I, II and III is derived from the ancient text: The Bhagavad Gita.  

To put it very simply, the 700 verses play out a conversation between Arjuna (the archer and warrior) and Krishna (God, our higher consciousness, or our ‘higher Self’, an incarnation of Shiva). 

 

The story begins in Kurukshatra, ‘the land of righteousness’, or ‘dharmakshetra’, a battlefield upon which Arjuna is faced against an army consisting of his teachers, uncles, fathers, brothers, and friends. It is his duty or ‘dharma’ to fight and kill the opponents in order to win back the kingdom that is rightfully his, and was wrongly stolen by the other party.

 

Seeing the faces of those he knows so well, Arjuna finds himself full of doubt and unable to fight, and throws down his bow and arrow. The story begins as Krishna and Arjuna’s conversation starts, and from there on we’re lead through a tale of overcoming self-doubt, non-attachment to actions, trust in a higher power, and the ability to know your ‘dharma’ or ‘life purpose’ and to do it with all your might, amongst other valuable and practical life lessons.

 

In order to derive the most meaning from the story, it needs to be understood that Arjuna represents us – each one of us – in human form, complete with our ego, self-doubts, fears and fluctuating thoughts. Krishna represents our ‘higher consciousness’and the battlefield represents the mind. The opponents are often thought to represent our negative thoughts, habits and life-obstacles which we must overcome in order to live our life’s dharma or duty.

BENEFIT

Strengthens legs and arms

Opens the back hip

 

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Shoulders, low back, knees, back hip, *neck

VERBAL CUES

Back foot at a 45 degree angle 

Lift the inner arch of your back foot

Engage your leg muscles by energetically drawing your feet apart

Ground down through the triangle of weight beneath your feet

Front knee bent, thigh parallel to the floor

Have a clear view of your front big toe, this will bring your knee slightly toward the outer edge of your foot

Keep your front knee stacked above your ankle

If your knee is moving past your ankle, take a wider stance

Reach your arms up

Pretend you are holding a giant beach ball above your head

Slightly raise your scapula (shoulder blades)

Energize your hands 

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Bring your feet closer together

Hands to Anjali mudra or to back of chair or wall

Widen width of feet

Crescent lunge

PROP(S)

Chair​

Hold a light block in your hands

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Front knee flexion

Back knee extension 

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Elevation of arms

Elevation of scapula

Internal rotation of femur bones

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Strengthens your legs and arms

Strengthens your back ankle

Works your hips

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Shoulder injury / tightness 

Knee injury

High blood pressure

Heart stuff

warrior two
Virabhadrasana Ii

BENEFIT

Strengthens legs and arms

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Shoulders, Low back, knees, 

VERBAL CUES

Back foot parallel to the backside of your mat

Lift the inner arch of your back foot

Engage your leg muscles by energetically drawing your feet apart

Ground down through the triangle of weight beneath each foot

Front knee bent, thigh parallel to the floor

Have a clear view of your front big toe, this will bring your knee slightly toward the outer edge of your foot

Keep your knee stacked above your ankle

If your knee is moving past your ankle, take a wider stance

Reach your arms in opposite directions, but draw your humerus bones into your shoulder sockets

Energize your hands 

Grow tall through the top of your head

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Bring your feet closer together or widen to sides of mat

Hands to Anjali mudra or to back of chair or wall

PROP(S)

Chair​

Hold a light block in each hand

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Front knee flexion

Back knee extension 

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Lateral abduction of arms

External rotation of femur bones

If cuing palms up = supination of hands

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Strengthens your legs and arms

Strengthens your back ankle

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Shoulder injury / tightness 

Knee injury

High blood pressure

Heart stuff

CRESCENT LUNGE
anjaneyasana / ashta chandrasana

Anjanay = Son of Anjana - the mother of Hanuman (usually anjaneyasana is LOW lunge)

Ashtanga = eight, Chandra = moon

BENEFIT

Strengthens legs, arms, back and core, can open heart with backbend implementation, improves balance, opens hips

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Shoulders, Low back, knees, neck

VERBAL CUES

Step your "right" foot between your hands

Knee is at a 90 degree angle

Ensure your knee is stacked on top of your ankle and angled slightly toward the pinky toe side of your foot 

Shine your sit bones toward the floor

Lift through your pelvic floor

Engage your back leg by drawing your knee cap into your thigh

Draw your back heel toward the wall behind you

Draw your feet away from each other 

Reach your arms up above your head

Pretend you are holding a heavy beach ball between your hands and energize your arms and hands

Connect to the natural curves of your spine (alternative to back bend), if cuing this, insert "optimal alignment" cues

Pretend you have an eye in the back of your neck and keep it open (especially for the back bend)

Widen the back of your skull * 

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Bend your back leg to align your pelvis if need be

Front leg doesn't have to go to 90 degrees

Turn your pinky fingers toward each other to feel the external rotation of your humerus bones 

Cross your thumbs and take your arm bones back behind your ears

Lift your front heel up

Arms crossed at chest

Hold hips with hands

PROP(S)

Chair​

Hold a light block in each hand

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Front knee flexion

Back knee extension 

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Elevation of arms

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Strengthens your legs and arms

Strengthens your back ankle

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Shoulder injury / tightness 

Knee injury

High blood pressure

Heart stuff

revolved (twisting) CRESCENT LUNGE
parvrtta anjaneyasana 
parvrtta Parsvakonasana 

Parvritta =  to turn around, revolve

Parsva = side, flank

Kona = angle

BENEFIT

Cleanses organs, ​strengthens back, core, legs

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Shoulders, Low back, knees, neck

VERBAL CUES

From crescent lunge (use crescent lunge for set up cues); bring your hands to Anjali mudra

Grow tall through your spine

As you exhale, draw your belly button toward your spine and slowly twist brining your elbow to your thigh *hover *

Lengthen your neck

Lift your top temple toward the sky 

Draw your feet away from each other 

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Bend your back leg to align your pelvis if need be

Stay tall and twist without bringing your elbow to your thigh 

Lift your front heel up

Place your hands on your hips

Open your hands up - bottom hand to the floor, top hand to the sky

PROP(S)

Block under bottom hand

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Front knee flexion

Back knee extension 

Elbow flexion / extension

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Elevation of top arm

Rotation of torso

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Twists - cleanse organs​

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Shoulder injury / tightness 

Knee injury

Low back injury / tightness 

SI joint issues

Sciatica 

Extended Side Angle
Utthita Parsvakonasana

Utthita =  extended

Parsva = side, flank

Kona = angle

BENEFIT

Lengthens spine, strengthens legs and core

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Shoulders, Low back, knees, neck, wrist *

VERBAL CUES

From crescent lunge; flatten our your back heel and switch your arms

Connect to the natural curves of your spine

Take the top of your head toward the wall in front of you

Lift your top temple toward the sky 

Draw your feet away from each other 

Lift inner arch of back foot

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Elbow to thigh

Top arm reaching up or forward 

Lift your front heel up

Top hand to top hip

Open your hands up - bottom hand to the floor, top hand to the sky

PROP(S)

Block under bottom hand

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Front knee flexion

Back knee extension 

Top elbow extension

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Elevation of top arm 

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Lengthens side body​, strengthens legs, core

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Shoulder injury / tightness 

Knee injury

Side Plank

Vasisthasana

Vasistha =most excellent, best

BENEFIT

Strengthening the wrists, forearms, shoulders, core, legs, back and spine, connection to pelvic floor

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Shoulders, Low back

VERBAL CUES

Draw your pelvic floor up

Connect to the natural curves of your spine

Engage your quadriceps by drawing your knee caps into your thighs 

Dorsi flex feet

Push the ground away from you with your bottom hand, reach toward the sky with your top hand

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Float your top leg to the sky

Bring your bottom knee to the floor

Flip plank: bend your top leg, and step it behind you * top hand behind your head

Knee elbow touches - dynamic

Forearm to the floor

PROP(S)

n/a​

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Elbow and knee extension

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Abduct your top leg

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Whole body strengthener ​

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Shoulder & wrist injury or weakness


prayer twist
Parivitta Utkatasana

Parvritta =  to turn around, revolve

Utkata = powerful, fierce, uneven, awkward

BENEFIT

Twist cleanses organs, strengthens legs, tones core and back

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Shoulders, Low back, knees, neck

VERBAL CUES

From chair pose; hands to Anjali mudra

Draw your belly button back toward your spine

As you exhale slowly twist, resting your elbow on top of your thigh 

Bring your knees together in one line ****

Connect to the natural curves of your spine

Lengthen your top temple up toward the sky 

Draw your tail bone back toward the wall behind you while you lengthen the top of your head toward the wall in front of you

Knees back to see your toes

Take your weight back into your heels

Hips in line with heart * set up, fingers to mat, hold hips there * connecting to the natural curves of the spine will make this happen

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Simple twist 

PROP(S)

Squeeze a block between thighs 

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Elbow and knee flexion

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Adduct thighs

Elevation of top arm

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Whole body strengthener, organ cleanser

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Shoulder, low back, neck, knees


yogi squat
Malasana
 

Mala =  meditation garland: mala beads used for japa meditation

Japa = to recite

Mala also means poop!

BENEFIT

Stimulates ascending and descending colon, connects us to our pelvic floor, opens pelvis

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Natural curves of the spine / knees

VERBAL CUES

Widen feet, squat down

Bring your hands to Anjali mudra

Gently push your upper arm bones into your thighs, while you hug your arms with your thighs ***

Let your tailbone weight down toward the floor

Reach the top of head toward the sky

Ground down through the triangle of weight under your feet

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Arms on outside of knees​

Legs together, hugs knees

PROP(S)

Block under pelvis

Towel or mat rolled under heels

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Elbow and knee flexion

Ankle dorsiflexion

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

External rotation of femur bones

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Pelvis opener, core strengthener ​

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Knee issues, tight hamstrings

crow
Bakasana
 

Baka =  crane

Traditionally birds like the crane and the crow were thought to be messengers from the gods. When the first Dalai Lama was born, it was said that he was visited by black crows.  And through the ability to fly, these birds transcend the heaviness of a mortal existence and live in the expanse between this finite world and the next. Cranes are symbols of loyalty and communication, and in many traditions are thought to bridge the gap between the earth and the heavens.

Whether you know Bakasana as the crane or the crow, its effect is one of transcendence. Rising above our perceived limitations and taking off in flight. Bakasana is a pose that requires strength and focus and the ability to trust. The initial approach to this asana is often one of trepidation. Just like a baby bird that has all of the tools for flight, but doubts their strength and ability, Bakasana can often bring up doubts and fears. “What if I fall flat on my face? What if I’m not strong enough to hold myself?”

BENEFIT

Strengthens arms, writs, hands, core, trust, confidence

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Hands, eyes slightly up

VERBAL CUES

From malasana; take your knees to your armpits

Engage your fingers

Shift your gaze forward

Draw your pelvic floor up

Float your heels toward your glutes

Press the inner arches of your feet together

Fan your toes apart - imagine  your toes are your feathers

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Bend arms, knees to elbows 

PROP(S)

n/a

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Elbow and knee flexion

Ankle plantar flexion

Spine flexion

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

External rotation of femur bones

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Core strengthener ​

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Wrists

gorilla
Padahastasana

Pada =  feet

Hasta = hands

BENEFIT

Writs relief, forward fold, hamstring stretch, back stretch

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Low back

VERBAL CUES

Feet hip width 

Fold forward

Relax your neck, face, jaw and throat

Step on your hands

Bring your toes to your wrists ***

Wiggle your toes to massage your wrists

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Hands to blocks

Less flexion in spine

PROP(S)

Blocks under hands

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Ankles dorsiflexion

Elbows extension

Spine flexion

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Elevation of arms

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Spine, wrists 

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Low back, neck

eagle
Garudasana 

Garuda =  devour

Garuda is a bird creature from Hindu mythology that has a mix of eagle and human features. He is mentioned in the Mahabarata as the vehicle (vahana) of Vishnu the preserver/sustainer/protector of the creation ( vish, which means "to enter into," ­ "to pervade."). Garuda represents birth and heaven, and is the enemy of all snakes. Vishnu sustains, preserves, and protects the universe by entering into it, never for a moment being absent—just as in meditation you choose an object of focus and then, to sustain your meditation, you continually choose that same object again and again with each moment. 

BENEFIT

Stretches the upper back and shoulders, improves hip mobility, strengthens the ankles and calves, improves balance

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Knees, shoulders

VERBAL CUES

From chair pose; set your drishti

Shift your weight into your left foot, connect to the triangle of weight beneath your left foot

Lift your right leg and place it on your left, if you can, wrap your foot around your calf

Squeeze your legs together like you have one leg

Take your right arm and place it under your left, twist your arms like ropes, perhaps your hands can meet at Anjali mudra

Squeeze your arms together

Bring your wrists over top of your elbows

Lift your elbows parallel to your shoulders 

Connect to the natural curves of your spine *optimum alignment cues here

*Eagle is typically taught to put the twist the arms and legs in opposite directions ie. right leg over, right arm under.  You may experience that the posture is easier to hold, however you can also teach it with the same arm/leg cross ie. right leg over, left  arm under.  This is a little more of a challenge, but, you can connect to the left side / right side energy.

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Take your elbows to your knees (spinal flexion), move dynamically

Kickstand your lifted foot

Take your hands to your shoulders 

Hold strap in hands

PROP(S)

Block under lifted foot

Hold strap in hands

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Elbow flexion

Grounded foot dorsiflexion

Lifted foot plantar flexion 

Knee flexion

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Flexion of arms

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Rhomboids, balance

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Knee / shoulder issues

standing leg raise / hand to big toe
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana A + B

Utthita = stretched

Hasta = hand

Angustha = big toe 

BENEFIT

Strengthens and tones the thighs, calves, abs, pelvic floor muscles and ankles, stretches hamstrings and pelvis, builds balance, improves concentration and promotes a sense of stability

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Humerus bone into shoulder socket

Natural curves of spine

VERBAL CUES

From tadasana; set your drishti

Shift your weight into your left foot, connect to the triangle of weight beneath your left foot

Keep your left knee slightly soft, while engaging your left thigh

Raise your right knee to your chest, take hold of your shin

Connect to the natural curves of your spine

If you can maintain the natural curves of your spine, you can reach for your foot, or wrap your peace fingers around your big toe and extend your foot toward the wall in front of you (A)

Keep your hips in one line

Draw your right humerus bone back into your shoulder socket

Keep your shoulders in one line

Take your left hand to your hip, open your leg to your right (B)

For an additional challenge, you can shift your drishti over your left hand

To release bring your leg back to centre, hug your knee into your chest

Keep your knee up, release your hands to your sides, extend your foot toward the wall in front of you and release to mountain pose.

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Keep your hand on your shin

PROP(S)

Strap to foot

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Lifted foot dorsiflexion 

Knee extension (in full version)

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Flexion of arms

Abduction of lifted leg in (b)

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Hamstrings, balance

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Knee and shoulder issues

warrior III
Virabhadrasana III

BENEFIT

Full body strengthener, esp with arms forward

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Neck, knees, shoulders

VERBAL CUES

From tadasana; set your drishti

Shift your weight into your left foot, connect to the triangle of weight beneath your left foot

Keep your left knee slightly soft, while engaging your left thigh

Extend your right leg behind you, dorsi flex your right foot, bring your torso and lifted leg in one line

* Internal rotation of femur bone

Reach your arms forward; pretend you are holding a giant beach ball between your hands

Shoulder and collarbones wide

Engage your pelvic floor

Eyes and chest are slightly lifted

Release to mountain pose

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Hands on hips, chair, wall

Arms out to the side like airplane wings

Arms reach back (airplane pose)

Keep torso lifted and leg lower

PROP(S)

wall / chair

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Lifted foot dorsiflexion 

Knee extension

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Elevation of arms

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Full body strengthener, balance

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Ankle or back injury, dizziness, hyperextension of knee

dancer's
Natarajasana

Nataraja = Lord of The Dance

Shiva is known by many names, and appears in many different forms – approximately 64 in fact. Each form represents an aspect of Shiva’s persona.  One of these is Nataraja - Lord of The Dance of King of Dancers.  In this form, Shiva is often shown in a circular frame, which represents the cosmic fire that both creates and destroys everything. He holds agni (fire) in one hand, again representing the significance of creation and destruction, another hand is wrapped with a snake and gesturing an Abhaya or ‘fear not’ mudra. The third holds an hour-glass shaped drum known in Sanskrit as a damaru, and is held with the damaru-hasta (literally; damaru-hand) mudra, representing time and rhythm of both music and the universe. The fourth hand points towards one of his raised, dancing feet. This draws the viewer’s eye to the aspect of dance, upliftment, energy, movement, and the strength to dance the dance of life, no matter the obstacles we may face. The use of fire within the depiction of Nataraja is also a significant nod towards transformation. Fire transforms form, it turns solid matter to ash, boils water to steam, and has also been used in ritual sacrifice in many religions for thousands of years. The dance Nataraja is shown performing is known as the Ananda Tandava, translated as the ‘dance of bliss’. It is this dance that represents all movement, flow, rhythm, creation, manifestation and transformation of life.

BENEFIT

Strengthens chest, ankles, hips, and legs, stretches groin, hip flexors, psoas, abs and thighs , improves balance, helps digestion

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Shoulder * Hand grip on foot 

VERBAL CUES

From tadasana; set your drishti

Reach your left arm up

Shift your weight into your left foot, connect to the triangle of weight beneath your left foot

Keep your left knee slightly soft while engaging your left thigh

Reach your right hand out like you are holding a tray (palm up)

Drop it down with our changing the direction of your wrist

Take your right foot from the inside

Lengthen your spine as you inhale, and reach your left arm higher

As you exhale, lean forward and start to press your foot into your hand

Keep your hips in one line and lift your leg as high as you can

Widen your shoulders and collar bones 

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Left hand to hip

Both hands to lifted foot

PROP(S)

Strap to lifted foot

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Lifted foot plantar flexion  

Lifted knee flexion

Standing knee extension  

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Elevation of top arm

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Heart opener, balance

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Knee and shoulder issues

tree
Vrksasana 

Vrksa = tree

BENEFIT

Balance, grounding, promotes stability

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Knees

VERBAL CUES

From tadasana; set your drishti

Shift your weight into your left foot, connect to the triangle of weight beneath your left foot

Keep your left knee slightly soft while engaging your left thigh

Engage your pelvic floor

Lift your right foot as high as you can without using your hand and place your foot on your left leg

Your foot will be either above or below your left knee

Slightly push your foot into your leg as you open your knee to your right

Keep your hips in one line (often times students right hip will lift)

Ground through your standing foot, imagine you have roots going into the ground

Grow tall through the top of your head

Allow your head to balance on top of your first vertebrae   

Connect to the natural curves of your spine

Shine your sit-bones toward the floor

Soften your face and jaw

Hands can be on hips, or come to Anjali mudra, or reach up, or do any organic position or movement 

To release, bring your knee forward, extend your foot toward the wall in front of you and release to tadasana

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Kickstand lifted foot

Hands on hips

Back bend

PROP(S)

Block your foot

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Extension of standing leg

Dorsi flexion of lifted foot

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Abduction of lifted femur bone

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Balance, grounding

CONTRAINDICATIONS

knee issues

triangle
Utthita Trikonasana 

Utthita = stretched

Trikona = triangle

The triangle is widely recognized as a powerful geometric shape, which manifests enlightenment, revelation, and a higher perspective. It is often used to mark the cycles of growth that lead to a higher state of being. Spiritually, it represents a path towards enlightenment or connection to our highest self.  In Vedic astrology, the dharma trikona (triangle) consists of the 3 aspects:our soul's mission, our accumulated merit and our past karmic manifestations that we must overcome. These 3 aspects are located in the vedic astrology houses 1, 5 and 9, which form a triangle. The 9th house has a connection to the Goddess of Lakshimi, as it is also known as the Lakshmisthanas; Lakshmi is the Goddess  of luck and prosperity.

BENEFIT

Stretches inner thighs, grounds, lengthens side body, engages core

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Front knee, neck, top shoulder

VERBAL CUES

From Warrior II (right leg forward);  straighten your front leg without locking it out

Hinge forward from your hips while keeping the natural curves of your spine

Reach your top arm forward and allow your torso to follow

Pivot your arms, bottom hand toward the floor, top arm toward  the sky

Reach your left temple up and extend the top of your head toward the wall in front of you

Keep your side bodies long

Press your bottom hand against your lower leg for stability 

If your fingers or hand can  come to the floor while maintaining the natural curves of your spine, go for it

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Hands to hips

Torso more elevated

PROP(S)

Block to bottom hand

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Right hip flexion

Knee extension 

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Abduction of arms

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Hamstrings, lengthening, grounding

CONTRAINDICATIONS

knee and shoulder issues

Wide Legged Forward Fold
Prasarita Padottanasana

Prasarita = spread out, stretched, expanded

Pada = feet

Uttana = intense stretch

BENEFIT

Opens the hamstrings (inner and back) and quadriceps (upper and side), hips, stretches entire back body, stimulates abdominal muscles

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Knees soft to avoid locking out * When cuing to come out of the postures, it is very important to keep your knees very soft, this will prevent a hamstring injury.

VERBAL CUES

From triangle; walk your hands to the side of your mat for Wide Legged Forward Fold

For a deeper stretch, you can turn your slightly toes toward each other 

Keep your knees soft

Lift the inner arches of your feet

Balance your weight on the triangle of weight beneath each foot (or play  and transfer the weight to toes and heels)

 

Arm Variations

Relax your torso, neck and arms (like ragdoll)

Shoulder rinse - interlace hands behind your back , stretch your arms away  from your body as you inhale, exhale fold forward and rinse your shoulders

Hands to the mat in half way lift (to protect and strengthen spine) - bring your fingers to your mat and push the ground away from you, connect to the natural curves of your spine

Peace sign twist -  plant your right hand down on to your mat, push the ground away  from you, lengthen your spine, and lift your left arm toward the sky

Skandasana variation (careful with knees) Keep your hands on your mat to support you and take alternate knee bends, follow your breach - exhale bend to one side, inhale back to centre, exhale bend to your opposite side

Hands to hips - bring your hands to your hips, push your hands into your hips to lengthen your spine, connect to the natural curves of your spine (watch the neck)

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

See arm variations

Transition into any inversion -  headstand, handstand, forearm stand, scorpion  

PROP(S)

Hands to blocks

Strap between hands (for shoulder rinse)

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Hips flexion

Knee extension 

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Abduction of legs

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Hamstrings, forward fold, grounding

CONTRAINDICATIONS

knee and shoulder issues

pyramid
Parsvottanasana

Parsva = side or flank

Uttana = intense stretch

BENEFIT

Strengthens, tones and stretches thighs, calves, abs, pelvic floor muscles and ankles, stretches hamstrings and pelvis, builds balance, improves concentration and promotes a sense of stability and grounded energy, if flexing forward and bringing nose to knee can stimulate thyroid, if reverse namaste can open shoulders and chest

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Knees, back heel, low back

VERBAL CUES

From wide legged forward fold; bring your hands to your hips, lift halfway up, soften your knees, rise to standing

Decrease your stance and turn both feet forward

* Note your hip bones will face the  same direction as your toes

Connect to the natural curves of your spine

Inhale to grow tall

Exhale  hinge at your hips to fold forward

Keep working your back heel to the floor

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Reverse namaste

Anjali mudra stretched out with pinky fingers to the floor

Flexion of spine with nose toward knee

PROP(S)

Hands to blocks

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Hip flexion

Knee extension

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Extension of back leg

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Hamstrings, balance, grounding

CONTRAINDICATIONS

knee, shoulder, low back, high blood pressure, heart stuff

Revolved triangle
Parivrtta Trikonasana

Parivrtta = revolved

Triko = triangle

BENEFIT

Strengthens and tones the thighs, calves, abs, pelvic floor muscles and ankles, stretches hamstrings and pelvis, builds balance, improves concentration and promotes a sense of stability, rinses organs and spine, opens chest and shoulders

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Back heel to floor

Natural curves of spine

VERBAL CUES

From pyramid (right foot forward); bring your left hand to the inside edge of your foot

Reach your right arm up toward the sky

Continue to press your back heel down 

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Left hand to sacrum

PROP(S)

Right hand to block

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Knees and elbows extended

Hips flexed

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Extension of back leg

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Hamstrings, balance, grounding, twist

CONTRAINDICATIONS

knee, shoulder, low back issues

Locust

Salabhasana 

Salabha = locust

BENEFIT

Strengthens the muscles of the spine, buttocks, and backs of the arms and legs, stretches the shoulders, chest, belly, and thighs, helps to improve posture, stimulates abdominal and reproductive organs, and tones kidneys 

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Lengthening of cervical spine 

VERBAL CUES

From advasana (belly down savasana), lengthen your legs toward the wall behind you 

Shift your gaze about one foot in front of your mat to keep length in your neck
Reach your hands back behind you, palms face toward your body (variation)

As you inhale lift everything up

Engage your quadriceps by drawing your kneecaps up into your thighs

Bring your big toes together to touch

Take your arm bones up as high as you can

Use your breath, with every inhale lift up toward the sky, and with every exhale reach back toward the wall behind you and the top of your head toward the wall in front of you

VARIATIONS

Interlace your fingers behind your back stretch your knuckles toward your feet take your arms away from your back body

Reach your arms forward for Superman or Superwoman, bring your arm bones up past your ears toward the sky, palms face each other 

Bring your fingertips underneath your shoulders so your elbows poke up like little grasshopper legs, as you inhale lift everything up including your hands

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Feet hip width apart, keep forehead on the floor

PROP(S)

Strap between hands for shoulder stretch

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Knees and elbows extended

Spine extension 

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Extension of legs

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Spine

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Back, neck or shoulder injury, abdominal pressure  *pregnancy or menstruation, high or low blood pressure

Bow

Dhanurasana

Dhanu = bow

BENEFIT

Engages hamstrings and glutes, rinses organs and spine, opens chest and shoulders

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Neck eye open, stand on thighs 

 

VERBAL CUES

From advasana;  bend your knees, reach back and take your ankles with your hands
Dorsi flex your feet and draw your toes back toward the wall behind you; aim to stand on your thighs
Feel your chest open and your back muscles engage
Keep your gaze slightly forward to keep length in your neck

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

One leg at a time

PROP(S)

Strap ankles / thighs

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Knees flexed

Elbows extended

Spine extended

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Extension of spine

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Spine

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Back, neck or shoulder injury, abdominal pressure  *pregnancy or menstruation, high or low blood pressure

 

Upward Facing Dog

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

See above

Camel

Ustrasana

Ustra = camel

BENEFIT

Opens chest, stretches and opens the front of the body, strengthens the back and shoulders, improves digestion, can help relieve low back ache, improves flexibility of the spine and also improves posture

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Neck, low back, knees, breath

VERBAL CUES

Stand on your knees, your toes can either be tucked under or feet flat on the floor

Ensure your Thighs stay parallel toward the wall in front of you

Start to draw your pubic bone toward the wall in front of you to tuck your pelvis

As you inhale length in your spine grow tall

As you exhale take your backbend

As long as your thighs remain parallel to the wall in front of you, you can reach down as far as possible, hands can go to our low back, to the back of your thighs, or all the way to your ankles

Maintain your Ujjayii breath

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Toes tucked​

Hands to low back, glutes or thighs 

Keep eyes forward

Chin slightly tucked (jalandhara bandha)

Half Camel (upper hand to back of head, open elbow)

PROP(S)

Hand to block beside ankle

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Knees flexed

Ankles either plantar flexion or dorsi flexion ​

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Spine extension

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Spine

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Back, neck or shoulder injury, abdominal pressure  *pregnancy or menstruation, high or low blood pressure

bridge

Setu Bandhasana

BENEFIT

Strengthens and energizes back muscles, stretches chest, lengthens the neck and spine, a slight inversion so brings calm and reduces stress, compresses thyroid, helps digestion, can relieve mensural pain and symptoms of menopause

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Neck, low back, knees

VERBAL CUES

From any supine pose; bring your feet hip width apart, ensure your knees do not move past your ankles

Keep your toes in front of your heels (avoid duck feet)

Do not say reach down and graze your heels with your fingers

Ground down through the triangle beneath each foot and lift your hips up

Imagine your feet are glued to the floor and gently draw your heels back toward your body to feel your hamstrings engage

Slightly engage your glutes to support your low back

Create some space between your chin and chest, soften your face,  jaw and throat​

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Fingers interlaced beneath your back body, walk your shoulders under your body

Hands to low back, allow  the weight of your pelvis to be supported by your upper arms (humerus bones)

Keep your shoulders and collar bones wide, and press your palms and arms into the floor, energetically draw your hands toward your body

Float your right leg to the sky (hold, flex and point foot, small leg pulses to engage glues, leg lifts with stable be pelvis

PROP(S)

Block to low back

Blocks to feet

Block between thighs

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Knees flexed

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Spine extension

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Spine

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Back, neck or shoulder injury

wheel / upward bow pose

Urdhva Dhanurasana

Urdhva = upward

Dhanu = bow

BENEFIT​

Strengthens and energizes back muscles, arms, wrists and spine, stretches chest and lungs, lengthens the neck and spine,  brings calm and reduces stress, combats depression symptoms, increases energy

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Neck, low back, knees, shoulders

VERBAL CUES

From any supine pose; bring your feet hip width apart, ensure your knees do not move past your ankles

Keep your toes in front of your ankles (avoid duck feet)

Do not say reach down and graze your heels with your fingers

Ground down through the triangle of weight beneath each foot, bring your  hands under your shoulders, press your hands firmly into the floor and lift your body up toward the sky

Relax your neck, face, jaw and throat

Continue to press  your feet into the floor, draw your hips to the sky and press  your chest toward the wall behind you

Imagine your feet are glued to the floor and gently draw your heels back toward your body to feel your hamstrings engage

Slightly engage your glutes to support your low back

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Float your right leg to the sky

Bring your forearms to the floor

PROP(S)

Block to hands (blocks against a wall)

Blocks to feet (blocks against a wall)

Block between thighs

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Elbows extended

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Spine extension

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Spine

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Back, neck or shoulder injury

butterfly / reclined bound angle

Supta Baddha Konasana

Supta = reclined

Baddha = bound

Kona = angle

BENEFIT​

Stretches the inner thighs, connects to the natural curves of the spine, helps to relieve stress, can ease menstruation, energetically grounding and connecting

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Pelvis, knees

VERBAL CUES

From any supine pose; bring the soles of your feet together

Let  your arms rest at your sides, palms face up

Relax your neck, face, jaw and throat

Close  your eyes and connect to your whole experience 

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Left hand to heart, right hand to belly

Reclined pyramid pose

PROP(S)

Block under sacrum

Block under thighs

Block under thoracic spine

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Knees flexed

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Abduction of knees

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Pelvis

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Pelvis or knee tightness or injury

Reclined Pyramid

supta Parsvottanasana

Supta = reclined

Parsva = side or flank

Uttana = intense stretch

BENEFIT​

Relieves low back, plugs in femur bones, connects to natural curves of the spine, promotes a grounding and connected energy 

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Foot placement / knees

VERBAL CUES

From any supine pose; bring your feet to the outer edges of your mat and let your knees fall together

Let  your arms rest at your sides, palms face up

Relax your neck, face, jaw and throat

Close  your eyes and connect to your whole experience 

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Left hand to heart, right hand to belly

PROP(S)

Block under thoracic spine

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Knees flexed

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Adduction of knees

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Release / relax

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Knee tightness or injury

core activating

This category i s all about firing up your core!  It can include one or a variation of core activating postures.  Below is a list of some common core activating postures:

Scissor Legs

60/30 Lift

Abdominal Twists

Navasana (Boat)

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT FOR CORE ACTIVATING POSTURES

Neck and low back

Relax your neck, use your hands to support your neck

Be mindful of any pain, pulling or pressure on low back

Legs up

Viparita Karani

Viparita = inverted or reversed 

Karani = doing or making

BENEFIT​

Calms, soothes, rejuvenates and restores the body and mind, anti aging, cools the nervous system 

Energetically draws energy to third eye and crown chakras

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Natural curves of the spine

Slightly tuck y our chin to bring length to the neck

VERBAL CUES

You can do this posture with or without a wall
If you’re doing this posture with the wall bring one hip to the wall at the same time lie down and spin your legs up the wall
Allow your legs to relax
Relax your shoulders face jaw and throat

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Dorsi flex your feet and plantar flex your feet

Supta baddha konasana  

Take your legs wide apart

PROP(S)

You can use a block under your sacrum

You can place a block underneath your shoulder blades

You can place a bolster underneath your whole spine as long as your head is supported

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Legs extended or flexed in supta baddha konasana

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Extension of legs

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Relaxation, rejuvenation 

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Back discomfort, tight hamstrings​

 

Headstand

Salamba Sirsasana

 

Salambda = with support

Sirsa =  head

BENEFIT​

Calms and rejuvenates the mind, which can help alleviate stress and depression, activates the pituitary and pineal glands, stimulates the lymphatic system, strengthens the upper body, spine, and core, enhances lung capacity, stimulates and strengthens abdominal organs, which can aid in digestion,  can be a confidence booster and helps to overcome fear

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Natural curves of the spine

No weight on head

VERBAL CUES

We work off the five stages of traditional headstand, we prefer traditional headstand as it is easier on the neck

Stage one

From all fours, create your solid foundation; cross your arms and cup your elbows with your palms, keep your arms this distance apart the entire time

Interlace your fingers all the way to the webbing

Release your pinky fingers and let them rest side-by-side

Activate your arms by energetically drawing them together -  pretend you’re holding an egg in between your palms and you don't want to break it

Stage two

Bring your body into a modified version of downward facing dog;  hips up

Stage three

Begin to walk your feet toward your hands until you feel that you can float your knees into your chest, hold here

 

Stage four

Bring your knees over top of your hips keep your legs bent

Stage five

Feet to the sky - dorsi flex or point your toes, engage your legs, connect to the natural curves of your spine, push your arms into the floor

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Practice any stage until you have it

PROP(S)

Blocks against wall

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Legs extended

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Extension of legs

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Rejuvenation 

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Heart conditions, high blood pressure, menstruation *, glaucoma  

 

Handstand

Adho Mukha Vrksasana

Adho = down

Mukha = face

Vrksa = tree

 

BENEFIT​

Calms and rejuvenates the mind, which can help alleviate stress and depression, activates the pituitary and pineal glands, stimulates the lymphatic system, strengthens the upper body, spine, and core, enhances lung capacity, stimulates and strengthens abdominal organs, which can aid in digestion, can be a confidence booster and helps to overcome fear

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Natural curves of the spine

VERBAL CUES

Handstand is tadasana upside down

All of the natural curves alignment cues apply

Get really strong in your fingers remember your optimum hand alignment it’s applicable here

Start in downward facing dog, walk your feet toward your hands until your shoulders are over your wrists

Push the earth away from you with your hands, lock out your elbows

Lift one leg straight up, engage your core and pelvic floor, bend your grounded leg and spring up

* The partner assist is great for Handstand

It’s common to banana in this posture, if you banana the cue is to look at your belly button, once you see your belly button allow your eyes to return to look toward the floor slightly in front of you.

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Practice against wall

PROP(S)

Wall

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Legs extended

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Extension of legs

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Rejuvenation 

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Heart conditions, high blood pressure, menstruation *, glaucoma (a common eye condition where the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, becomes damaged. It's usually caused by fluid building up in the front part of the eye, which increases pressure inside the eye).​

Half Pigeon

Ardha Kapotasana

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

Ardha = half

Kapota =  pigeon

Eka = one

Pada = foot

Raja = king

Kapota = pigeon

BENEFIT​

Works liver / gallbladder meridian - helps to release stuck anger and frustration, stretches glutes,  groin, hipflexers and psoas.

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Front knee almost parallel to the top side of your mat, foot engaged with dorsiflexion  

VERBAL CUES

From downward facing dog; float your right leg up, bend your knee and open, take a deep breath in, exhale to half pigeon 

Align your femur bone (thigh bone) with the side of your mat

Bring your shin toward the top edge of your mat, while keeping your hips in one line

Dorsi flex your right foot as much as you can while keeping your ankle comfortable

Be mindful of your knees, you never want to have any pain, pulling or pressure

If your back knee has too much pressure, you can fold your mat over

Energetically draw both femur bones up toward your pelvis, keep this engagement as your inhale and grow tall, exhale fold forward

Keep your hips in one line

Relax your face, jaw, throat, neck, shoulders, arms and hands

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Stay seated and move into King Pigeon​

Lay on your back for finger four / modified pigeon

Take half pigeon into a twist

PROP(S)

Block under hip  / forehead

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Front knee flexed, back knee extended 

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Extension of back leg

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Release hip 

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Knees

Double Pigeon

Dwipada Rajakapotasana

 

Dwi = two

Pada = foot

Raja = king

Kapota = pigeon

BENEFIT​

Works liver / gallbladder meridian - helps to release stuck anger and frustration, stretches glutes.

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Knees, hip flexors 

VERBAL CUES

From half pigeon, swing your back leg around

Stack your legs like logs

Dorsiflex both feet

Grow tall through the top of your head

Take a wiggle to ensure you are grounded through your sit bones

Gently fold forward, walk your fingers out in front of you

Relax your face, jaw, throat, neck, shoulders, arms and hands

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Block pelvis

Block knees

One leg at a time

Lay on back

PROP(S)

Block

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Knees and ankles are flexed

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Flexion of legs 

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Release hips 

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Knees, hip flexors

Frog

Mandukasana / Bhekasana

Manduka = frog

Bheka = frog

BENEFIT​

A deep release for your pelvis, follows the liver meridian pathway which starts inside of the big toenail, crosses the top of the foot, passes in front of the inside ankle and up the inner aspect of the leg, which is responsible for the emotion of anger

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Knees, hip flexors, ankles 

VERBAL CUES

From all fours, spread your knees apart

Keep your ankles in line with your knees, feet dorsiflexed

Draw your sit bones to the wall behind you

Connect to the natural curves of your spine

Drop down to your forearms

If it feels ok, you can drop your chin to your chest to relax your neck 

Relax y our face, jaw and throat

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Feet against wall

Child's pose

PROP(S)

Block to forehead 

Foam blocks to knees and ankles

Wall

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Knees and ankles are flexed

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Flexion of legs 

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Release hips 

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Knees, hip flexors

Paschimottanasana

Seated Forward Fold

Paschima = West or Back

Uttana = intense stretch

BENEFIT​

A stretch for hamstrings and back body

 

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Back

VERBAL CUES

From dandasana (Staff pose), rock from side to side to connect to your sit bones

Inhale and reach up

Exhale fold forward

Let your hands land where they land, do not force your body

Remember yoga is a practice of meeting ourselves where we are at

To experience your fascia, tuck your chin toward your chest, release the tuck and notice the release

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Single leg

Twist

Knees bent, hold toes, slowly walk feet our

Hinging at hips, keeping the natural curves of your spine

PROP(S)

Block at feet to deepen

Strap around feet in hands

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Ankles are dorsiflexed

Knees are extended

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Extend legs 

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Hamstrings

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Back

Happy Baby

Ananda Balansana

Ananda = happy

Bala = baby or child

BENEFIT​

Stretches pelvis   

 

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Back, neck, head, knees

VERBAL CUES

Lay  on your back, hug your knees into your chest

Happy  baby - bring your feet toward the sky

Take the outside (or inside) edge or feet with y our hands (or take your peace fingers to your big toe)

Slightly tuck your chin to bring length to your neck

Draw your knees toward the floor, while keeping your sacrum on the ground

To deepen, connect to the natural curves of your spine

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Rock from side to side

As you rock to one side, straighten that leg and exhale, inhale back to center and exhale to your opposit side

Take ankles or back of thighs 

PROP(S)

Strap to each foot

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Ankles are dorsiflexed

Knees are fixed 

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Flexion of legs 

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Pelvis

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Sacrum

Laying down twist

Supine Twist

Supine = laying down on back

BENEFIT​

Stretches back body   

 

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Back, neck, knees

VERBAL CUES

Lay  on your back, hug your knees into your chest

Release your left leg to the floor

Take a deep breath in, as you exhale twist your leg across your body

Your gaze can be up or over y our left shoulder

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Shoulder blades down to feel stretch more int he glutes

Shoulder up (for healthy shoulder) and knee to the floor to feel the stretch in your back and shoulder

Snow angel movement with free arm with breath - inhale up, exhale down

PROP(S)

Block to twisting knee

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Twistin knee flexed

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Extension of bottom leg 

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Twist

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Ribs, knees, discs

Corpse Pose

Savasana

Sava = corpse

BENEFIT​

Deep relaxation, which calms the nervous system, which can aid in digestion, boost immunity, reduce fatigue and stress, can help lower blood pressure

 

CRITICAL ALIGNMENT

Low back

VERBAL CUES

Release to your final savasana

Return to the natural flow of your breath

Let your whole body melt down

Soften your hands and feet, legs and arms

Separate  your teeth and let your tongue float back toward your throat

Allow your eyes to soften into y our skull 

VARIATION(S) / MODIFICATION(S)

Reclined pyramid pose

PROP(S)

Block  under each knee

Bolster under knees

Towels under wrists and forearms 

JOINT POSITION(S) 

Legs extended 

DIRECTIONAL TERM(S)

Depression of jaw

ANATOMICAL FOCUS

Rest, connection

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Low back

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