Advanced Yoga Poses..

yogapedia lotus pose

(pod-MAHS-anna)
padma = lotus

Lotus Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1

Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front. Bend your right knee and bring the lower leg up into a cradle: The outer edge of the foot is notched into the crook of the left elbow, the knee is wedged into the crook of the right elbow, and the hands are clasped (if possible) outside the shin. Lift the front torso toward the inner right leg so the spine lengthens (and the lower back does not round). Rock your leg back and forth a few times, exploring the full range of movement of the hip joint.

Step 2

Bend the left knee and turn the leg out. Rock your right leg far out to the right, then lock the knee tight by pressing the back of the thigh to the calf. Next swing the leg across in front of your torso, swiveling from the hip and not the knee, and nestle the outside edge of the foot into the inner left groin. Be sure to bring the right knee as close to the left as possible, and press the right heel into the left lower belly. Ideally the sole of the foot is perpendicular to the floor, not parallel.

Step 3

Now lean back slightly, pick the right leg up off the floor, and lift the left leg in front of the right. To do this hold the underside of the left shin in your hands. Carefully slide the left leg over the right, snuggling the edge of the left foot deep into the right groin. Again swivel into position from the hip joint, pressing the heel against the lower belly, and arrange the sole perpendicular to the floor. Draw the knees as close together as possible. Use the edges of the feet to press the groins toward the floor and lift through the top of the sternum. If you wish, you can place the hands palms up in jnana mudra, with the thumbs and first fingers touching.

Step 4

Padmasana is the sitting asana par excellence, but it’s not for everybody. Experienced students can use it as a seat for their daily pranayama or meditation, but beginners may need to use other suitable positions. In the beginning, only hold the pose for a few seconds and quickly release. Remember that Padmasana is a “two-sided pose,” so be sure to work with both leg crosses each time you practice. Gradually add a few seconds each week to your pose until you can sit comfortably for a minute or so. Ideally you should work with a teacher to monitor your progress.

Pose Information

Sanskrit Name

Padmasana

Pose Level

1

Contraindications and Cautions

  • Ankle injury
  • Knee injury
  • Padmasana is considered to be an intermediate to advanced pose. Do not perform this pose without sufficient prior experience or unless you have the supervision of an experienced teacher.

Modifications and Props

Matsyasana (pronounced mot-see-AHS-anna, matsya = fish), dedicated to one of the 10 main incarnations of the god Vishnu, the fish.

A preliminary step on the way to full Padmasana is Ardha Padmasana (pronounced ARE-dah, ardha = half). After bringing the first leg into position, as described above, simply slip the lower leg under the upper and the foot to the outside of the opposite hip. If the upper leg knee doesn’t rest comfortably on the floor, support it with a thickly folded blanket. As with its companion, be sure to work with both leg crosses for the same length of time during each practice session.

Deepen the Pose

When using Padmasana as a seat for meditation or pranayama, there’s a tendency for students to cross their legs in the same way day after day. Eventually this can lead to distortions in the hips. If you are regularly using this pose as a platform for meditation or formal breathing, be sure to alternate the cross of the legs daily. One simple method to help you remember to do this is to bring the right leg in first on even-numbered days, the left leg first on odd-numbered days.

Benefits

  • Calms the brain
  • Stimulates the pelvis, spine, abdomen, and bladder
  • Stretches the ankles and knees
  • Eases menstrual discomfort and sciatica
  • Consistent practice of this pose until late into pregnancy is said to help ease childbirth.
  • Traditional texts say that Padmasana destroys all disease and awakens kundalini.

Variations

Matsyasana (pronounced mot-see-AHS-anna, matsya = fish), dedicated to one of the 10 main incarnations of the god Vishnu, the fish.

Perform Padmasana. Then hold your feet with the opposite-side hands, lift your chest, and extend your neck and head. Slowly lean back with an exhalation until the crown of your head touches the floor. Cross the forearms, clasp the elbows with the opposite hands, and swing the forearms overhead, onto the floor. Take a few breaths. Finally, release the torso fully onto the floor and stretch the arms out on the floor, parallel to each other. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute. Inhale to come up, leading with the sternum and keeping the head back. Repeat with the other leg on top for the same length of time.

Peacock-master

(my-yer-ahs-anna) mayura = peacock

Peacock Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1

Kneel on the floor, knees wide, and sit on your heels. Lean forward and press your palms on the floor with your fingers turned back toward your torso (thumbs pointing out to the sides). Bend your elbows slightly and touch the pinky sides of your hands and the outer forearms (up to the elbows) together. Then bend your elbows to a right angle and slide your knees to the outside of your arms and forward of your hands. Lean your front torso onto the backs of your upper arms and burrow your elbows deep into your belly at or below the navel.

Step 2

If your elbows slide apart, you can bind them together with a strap. Position the strap just above your elbows. If you can’t quite manage the full pose (as described in the next step), support your feet on a block (sitting on one of its sides), placed near the back end of your sticky mat.

Step 3

Firm your belly against the pressure of the elbows. Lower your forehead to the floor. Then, straighten your knees and stretch your legs out behind your torso, tops of your feet on the floor. Firm your buttocks and round your shoulders slightly downward. Lift your head off the floor and look forward. Lean your weight slightly forward—if your legs and buttocks are firm and active, this slight shift of weight will lever your feet off the floor. Position your torso and legs approximately parallel to the floor.

Step 4

Hold at first for about 10 seconds, gradually increasing your time to 30 seconds as you gain more experience with the pose. Then lower your head and feet to the floor, bend your knees, and lift your torso off your arms.

Pose Information

Sanskrit Name

Mayurasana

Pose Level

1

Contraindications and Cautions

Any wrist or elbow injuries

Beginner’s Tip

To balance in this pose, support your forehead and/or your front ankles on a block.

Benefits

Strengthens the wrists and forearms
Tones the abdomen
Strengthens the back torso and legs

Did You Know?

In Hindu lore, the peacock is a symbol of immortality and love. In the Peacock Gesture (Mayura Mudra), which represents a peacock’s beak, the ring finger and thumb are joined and the middle finger is slightly bent, while the other two fingers are extended.

Nov 14 Yogapedia Eka Pada Koundinyasana 1

Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya I: Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1

Come into it from a standing position. First bend your knees as if to squat, then take your left knee to the floor. Turn your left foot so it points to the right and sit on the heel. Cross your right foot over your left thigh and place it, sole down, beside your left knee. Your right knee should point toward the ceiling.

Step 2

To twist, bring your left waist, side ribs, and shoulder around to the right. Place your left upper arm across your right thigh and slide your left outer armpit down the outside of the thigh. Use movements similar to those you used in Parsva Bakasana to maximize your twist and make good contact between your left upper arm and right outer thigh. Maintaining this contact high on the arm and far to the outside of the thigh is the secret to the pose.

Step 3

To place your hands on the floor, first straighten your left elbow and put your left palm down (you may need to lean to the right to bring your hand all the way down). To place your right hand, carefully lift both hips without losing the left-arm-to-right-thigh placement, lean even more to the right, and put your right hand on the floor. Your hands should be shoulder width apart, with your middle fingers parallel to each other. Most of your weight will still be on your knees and feet.

Step 4

Without losing contact between your left arm and your right outer thigh, lift your hips so you can flip your left foot and stand on the ball of the foot, heel up. Next, lift your left knee off the floor so most of your weight is on your feet. Lift your hips a little higher and start shifting your weight to bring your whole torso above and between your hands with its midline parallel to your middle fingers. Leaning your weight slightly forward, bend your left elbow a little, then tilt your head and shoulders a bit toward the floor. This should leverage your right foot up in the air. When your right foot is up, lean your weight farther forward until your left foot becomes light, then lifts up with an exhale.

Step 5

To finish the pose, straighten both knees simultaneously with an inhale. Lift the left leg until it’s parallel to the floor. Bending your left elbow more, lift your right foot higher, and reach out through the balls of both feet. Adjust the height of your right shoulder so it’s the same as the left. Lift your chest to bring your torso parallel to the floor. Breathing smoothly, hold the pose for 20 seconds or longer, then release both feet to the floor with an exhale. Repeat on the other side for the same length of time.

Pose Information

Sanskrit Name

Eka Pada Koundinyanasana I

Pose Level

1

Contraindications and Cautions

Any wrist or lower back injury

Beginner’s Tip

You can secure your balance if you support the side leg on a bolster and/or the back leg on a chair seat.

Benefits

  • Strengthens the arms and wrists
  • Tones the belly and spine

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