Yoga is a spiritual, ascetic and physical set of practices focusing on breathing, movement, posture, and meditation. Yoga, translated as ‘union’ or ‘connection,’ is an ancient Hindu teaching that is undergone for a variety of purposes including health, relaxation, rehabilitation, and exercise. Most commonly understood as the physical practice of Hatha yoga in the Western world, yoga is performed through a series of asanas (yoga poses) and pranayama (breathing exercises) meant to prepare the body for a combined spiritual and meditative experience. Asanas include many interrelated poses that combine reclining, standing, inversion, twisting, balancing, and sitting postures for specific beneficial effects.
Tree Pose (Vrksasana) is an essential balancing pose in yoga known for enhancing both physical and mental focus and concentration. Understood as a standing version of a seated meditative posture, the Tree Pose requires you to stand steadily on only one foot. To perform Tree Pose, begin in Mountain Pose, shift your weight to your left foot, and raise your right knee up to your inner left thigh. With your hands raised in prayer position at your chest, fix your gaze on an unmoving point in front of you while drawing down through your left foot.
Sanskrit Name: Vrksasana
Benefits (Physical): Opens hips, strengthens legs, knees, ankles, spine
Benefits (Core): Balance, focus, concentration
Modifications: Can be practiced with hand on wall for support
Variations: Rest your foot on calf muscle or ankle if unable to bring up to thigh, hands above head or in prayer at chest
Male and female Tree Pose front elevation
Plank Pose (Phalakasana) is a balancing yoga pose that tones all the muscles of the body through endurance and stamina training. Using the arms for balance, Plank Pose tones the abdominal muscles while strengthening the arms and spine in a push-up like position. To practice the Plank Pose, begin on your hands and knees and press down through your forearms and hands until you lift up into a lifted position. Pull your pelvic muscles toward your spine while you gaze at a space between your hands. Hold the pose for five breaths.
Sanskrit Name: Phalakasana
Benefits (Physical): Strengthens and tones core muscles of the body
Benefits (Core): Strength and stability
Modifications: Place palms onto rolled edge of mattress if they are sore
Variations: Lower knees to the floor, deepen pose by lifting individual legs
Yoga Plank Pose side elevation (Male & Female)
Child’s Pose (Bālāsana) is a resting yoga position used for reducing stress and fatigue. Relaxing bodily muscles while stretching the hips, thighs, and ankles, Child’s Pose calms and restores the body through centering and calming positioning. To perform Child’s Pose, from your hands and knees, rest your buttocks on your heals and bow and lengthen forward with your forehead coming to the floor. Extend your arms and press your palms down with your eyes closed and inward.
Sanskrit Name: Bālāsana
Benefits (Physical): Stretches hips, thighs and ankles
Benefits (Core): Resting, relaxation, reduces stress and fatigue
Modifications: Place a thick blanket between thighs and calves if difficult
Variations: Spread the knees to have a deep stretch in hips, rest arms alongside thighs for a more calming pose
Yoga Child’s Pose side elevation (Male & Female)
Mountain pose (Tadasana) is the foundational pose for all standing yoga poses. Performed and aligned correctly, the Mountain Pose uses every muscle in the body, improves posture and calms the mind while it finds balance. To perform the Mountain Pose, bring the feet together while standing, ground down through your heels and legs, draw up with your thighs, broaden your collarbones, align your shoulders with your body, and elongate your neck upwards. Your hands and arms can be in a variety of poses from palms to the side facing inward, to outward facing, or in prayer at the chest.
Sanskrit Name: Tadasana
Benefits (Physical): Strengthens things, knees, ankles, abs, buttocks
Benefits (Core): Posture, balance, focus
Modifications: Can be practiced with back against wall
Variations: Turn palms forward to open chest and shoulders, place palms together in prayer at chest for center and balance, can stand with feet hip-distance apart if difficulty with together
Yoga Mountain Pose side elevation (Male & Female)
Downward-Facing Dog (Adho mukha śvānāsana) is a standing mid-inversion yoga pose that stretches the entire body. Named for the similar manner in which a dog stretches its entire body, the Downward-Facing Dog pose stretches the whole back, ankles, calves, hamstrings, spine, chest, and shoulders while strengthening the arms and legs. To perform Downward-Facing Dog, start in all fours and bring your hands forward of the shoulders. Firming the hands down, press the floor away from you while lifting your pelvis. Engage your arm muscles and push your fingers into the floor.
Sanskrit Name: Adho mukha śvānāsana
Benefits (Physical): Stretches whole back, ankles, calves, hamstrings, spine, chest, shoulders
Benefits (Core): Calms mind, blood circulation, energizes body
Modifications: Use a belt loop around upper arms, belt loop on upper legs
Variations: Incase the stretch by lifting onto the balls of your feet
Yoga Downward-Facing Dog side elevation (Male & Female)
Triangle pose (Trikonasana) is one of the first yoga poses and is identified by a clear structural simplicity and the creation of several triangles with the body. The pose is achieved by placing your legs apart, turning your right foot 90°, leaning forward with your left leg, and stretching your arms parallel to the floor. Rotate your torso and extended arms upward. Your arms should now be perpendicular to the ground with your upper hand open and pointing to the sky and the lower hand touching the ground. The Triangle Pose engages nearly ever part of the body and energizes by opening the hips, and stretching the legs, chest and shoulders.
Sanskrit Name: Trikonasana
Benefits (Physical): Engages every part of body, core strength, opens hips, stretches legs, chest, and shoulders
Benefits (Core): Energy, balance, focus
Modifications: Yoga block to support hand
Variations: Lower hand on inside or outside of leg
Male and female Triangle Pose side elevation