Read these 37 Yoga Poses Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Yoga tips and hundreds of other topics.
As you hold a yoga pose for a long period of time, it can be tempting to let your mind wander and lose your focus, and then you are no longer actively involved in the pose. If you aren't feeling anything in your muscles, find a way to work deeper into the pose by bending your knee more, or deepening a twist.
To stay active in any yoga pose, breathe deeply and evenly, and engage your core muscles. Think about pulling your navel in towards the back of your spine. Also, think about tucking your tailbone towards your pubic bone. This motion helps to engage muhlabanda, or root lock, and concentrating on moving the tailbone towards the pubic bone helps to engage your core muscles. It sounds weird, but once you practice it a few times you'll find that it does engage the core and help you stay aligned.
Downward-facing dog is a restorative yoga pose that is done often throughout the course of many yoga classes. This yoga pose looks simple, but there are many elements you can focus on as you hold the pose.
Some tips for a good down dog include the following:
-Keep your hands shoulder-width apart and spread your fingers while pressing the palms into the floor.
-Tuck your tailbone. Many people make the mistake of arching the low back in this pose in an attempt to stretch the hamstrings. Instead, concentrate on lifting the sit bones towards the ceiling.
-Walk your dog. Slowly alternate bending and straightening each knee to stretch your calves and hamstrings.
-Keep the outside edges of your feet parallel to each other and keep your feet about hip width apart.
-Slowly raise your toes off the floor and lower them; this motion helps to release the hamstrings and bring your heels closer to the floor.
There is a reason that the yoga poses in yoga classes and yoga videos or DVDs follow a certain order. Some yoga poses are invigorating and some are calming. The invigorating moves, including standing poses such as the warrior series, and balancing poses such as the standing big toe pose and half moon pose, are usually done earlier in the class, while seated poses and twists are done towards the end of a class to calm the body in preparation for final relaxation poses.
Some poses are done in preparation for others because their basic movements are the foundation of the more complicated postures. For example, dolphin, which is essentially downward-facing dog using your forearms instead of your palms, is often done earlier in a yoga class as a preparation for inverted forearm balancing poses later in the class.
One of the best ways to decide which style of yoga is right for you is to take a look at the kind of person you are. How physically active are you? Are you more meditative than active? There are many yoga styles that appeal to a wide range of personalities. Ashtanga Viniyasa Yoga is good for medidating and breathing exercises. It can be very difficult physically, but the basis of Ashtanga Viniyasa yoga is the method and flow of breathing with the various yoga postures. Iyengar Yoga is a more passive and peaceful yoga exercise that focuses on posture and body alignment. Iyengar yoga uses blocks, ropes and other props to help in the various positions. This type of yoga is especially good for people with disabilities or injuries. Hatha Yoga is often referred to as "beginner yoga". The practice of Hatha Yoga combines physical and breathing exercises to calm the mind. Reviewing each style's yoga technique with an honest eye will help you find a style that works best with your personality.
As you learn different yoga poses, you will find your intellectual mind entering your practice. You'll be thinking about how to execute the pose more than the connection is has with your body. Be patient. Once the movements become memorized by your body, you will be better able to relax into them and combine the physical movements with breathing and meditation, creating an ideal balance.
Staff pose (dandasana) is the foundation for all seated yoga poses, so it's important to establish correct alignment.
Here's how: Sit up straight with your feet straight out in front of you. Press outward through your heels and keep your feet flexed and your toes pointing towards the ceiling. Use your hands to move the flesh of the buttocks away from the sit bones to make sure that you are sitting on your sit bones as much as possible. Place your palms on the floor beside your hips and try to press down into your palms while straightening your arms and rolling your shoulder blades back.
This is an active pose, so keep your quads engaged and your feet pointing towards the ceiling as you hold the posture for several breaths.
Keep in mind as you move through asanas, that each yoga pose represents a different symbol. Although each motion has a spiritual purpose, many of the poses are given common names such as "child's pose," "downward dog" or "sun salutation" to help you visualize how your body should move during each pose.
Spinal twists are gentle and effective ways to help realign and lengthen your spine. They also stretch and open back muscles.
As with other postures, the key here is to move carefully and deliberately. Don't pull or jerk as you twist; smooth, gentle movement is the right way to do these postures.
Shoulderstand, Headstand and Plow are advanced inverted poses. But you can get some of the same benefits from other poses. Standing-Forward Bend and Downward-Facing Dog both reverse the body's relationship to gravity, and they do not require as much supervised training.
The emphasis in Tree Pose is maintaining your equilibrium – which can sometimes be easier than others.
Remember to gently focus your gaze on a spot a few feet in front of you to help your balance.
On days when you can't seem to keep your balance, don't be discouraged. Often factors beyond your control, like subconscious thoughts and difficulties during your day, may just have you “off” balance. Try again another day – never force the posture.
Sun Salutation, or Salute to the Sun, has different variations depending on the style of yoga.
In Hatha Yoga, students gracefully step from one pose to the next. But in Ashtanga Yoga, also known as Power Yoga, the transition between poses is done in jumps. This is a much more vigorous practice and requires strength and stamina.
Doing yoga is a great way to improve your posture. When poses are done properly, they encourage correct body alignment – standing tall, shoulders over hips, knees over toes, etc. Additionally, inverted poses like headstands decompress the spine helping to lengthen it. Both the improvement in posture and the spinal decompression and alignment will have the added benefit of making you feel taller.
Use Corpse Pose in the following ways: * at the start of your session, use it to relax and get your mind ready for the practice ahead; * during your session, between series of postures, to reap the benefit of the postures, and to refresh and renew before the next series; * at the end of your practice, to again reap the benefits of your session, and to prepare you to return to the outside world.
While holding any yoga position, it is imperative that you not over exert yourself. Many postures involve advanced levels of flexibility. This does not mean that you cannot approximate these poses if you are not at that advanced level. However, you should perform each pose as accurately as you can, without forcing your body into a painful place. Yoga is meant to be connective and flowing. If your body is in pain during the exercises, you will be off-center and the full benefits of the exercise will be lost.
The best way to keep your balance is to look at a spot a few feet in front of you. It can be a mark on the floor or wall, anything as long as it's something that doesn't move.
Don't stare at it, just softly focus your gaze on the spot. Stay focused on the spot while you move into the pose and as you continue to hold it.
You can use this technique for any balancing pose. I find it particularly helpful when I'm in a group class because I'm not distracted by others around me who are not able to remain balanced.
The way to relax and warm up your shoulders is another familiar move – simple shoulder rolls. Just about everyone has done them before. Right?
Lift and slowly roll your shoulders forward three or four times; then do the same thing in the opposite direction. Couldn't be easier!
Remember, the key here again is to do it SLOWLY. You're just preparing your joints for the work you'll be doing during your practice. Don't overdo it!
The most common backward bends are Cobra, Locust, Bow and Camel. Each involves arching the back in different ways. Backward bends improve flexibility in the spinal column. They also help relieve tension. These poses compliment forward bends, and a good practice follows a pose/counterpose format, for example a forward bend followed by a backward bend. This helps balance the spine and avoid injury.
A simple restorative yoga pose is a great way to rejuvenate your body and mind. The pose can be done by nearly anyone. Lie flat on the floor and rest your legs on a chair or up the wall. Be sure your body is in a comfortable position. If you need help, a bolster is available to provide support and relieve tension in your neck and chest while lying down. Doing this anywhere from one to fifteen minutes a day helps calm the mind and aids in headaches, digestion, elimination, insomnia and much more. Be sure to check with your doctor to be sure this kind of leg elevation is safe for you to perform.
Whenever you're in a reclining pose, you should be sure to leave the pose carefully so that you don't injure your back or become light-headed as you rise. Here is the proper way to get up: - Roll slowly onto your side; - Move the top arm in front of you, placing the palm on the floor; - Using the elbow of the arm underneath you and hand that is resting palm-down in front of you, raise your shoulder off the floor; - Place the other palm on the floor when you comfortably can; - Using your hands (both palms should be on the floor now) and arms for support, gradually lift yourself to a seated position.
Believe it or not, you already know how to relax your neck to get ready to do yoga. You've probably done it thousands of times.
Simply move your head as if you were slowly saying yes, no and maybe. Do each three or four times slowly. Yup, that's all there is too it.
The key here is to do it SLOWLY – all you want to do is to gently stretch the muscles in your neck to prepare it for the work ahead.
Mountain Pose, the basis for all standing poses, is great for your posture.
As you become grounded and stand fully, you should notice that you become more aware of relaxing and straightening your shoulders.
I've found that doing Mountain Pose has made me more aware of how I stand in general. If I'm waiting in a line at the supermarket or bank, I'll often consciously straighten my back, relax and pull shoulders down and back. It feels great.
Yoga does not have to be practiced only at home or in a studio. You can perform some asanas pretty much anywhere. You can even try a yoga position or two in your office. Here's one position that will help ease tension in your upper back. Cross your right arm over your left elbow and bend them upward. Wrap your upper arms around each other until your two palms are facing, directly in front of your face. Take a deep breath. As you exhale, stretch and expand your upper back and shoulders. Repeat by reversing your arms, left over right.
While doing Dancer Pose, you'll be focusing on balance and concentration. But you'll also be working on stretching your hips, back and shoulders.
Move into the posture gradually, stretching slowly and evenly. Go only as far as is comfortable for you. In time your flexibility will increase, and you'll be able to move fully into the posture as well as hold it longer.