Urdhva Dhanurasana | Wheel Pose

Urdhva Dhanurasana is the beginning of the advanced and difficult backbending poses. It tones and streches the spine and strengthen the arms and writs. At the same time as it gets the body alert and awaken it sooths the head. Most of the restraint you might feel towards this pose is probably fear, so be fierce.

Alignments:

> Place the feet behind the buttocks, hip width apart, place the hands by the ears, thumb finger pointing towards the feet, press the feet and hands and lift the hips up, keep the knees from dropping to the sides and open the upper back. To come down slowly bend the arms and come down on the head and then release the hips down.

> Modification: Place the hands by the ears, thumb finger pointing towards the feet, press the feet and hands and lift the hips up and place the crown of the head onto the mat, keep the knees from drop-
ping to the sides. To come down slowly release the hips to the floor.

> Preparation: Hold the ankles with both hands, lift the hips and draw the tail bone forward, continue lifting the hips and interlace the fingers and walk a little bit higher up on the shoulders, don’t drop the knees to the side keep contact in the legs and press from the feet.

Key benefits:

> Stretches the chest and lungs
> Strengthens the arms and wrists, legs, buttocks, abdomen, spine
> Stimulates the thyroid and pituitary
> Increases energy and counteracts depression
> Therapeutic for asthma, back pain, infertility, and osteoporosis

urdhvadhanurasana-buildup

Duration/practise:

Preparing poses: Hold 30 sec-1 min (beginners)
Modification: Hold 30 sec-1 min (beginners)
Full position: Hold 30 sec-1 min (intermed/advanced).

Cautions:

Back injury, Carpal tunnel syndrome, diarrhea, headache, heart problems, high- or low blood pressure

Salamba Sarvangasana | Supported Shoulderstand

The Shoulderstand is said to benefit all the parts of the body, hence its Sanskrit name comes from ‘sarva anga’ which means ‘all parts’. It is also known as the queen of all yoga poses, Headstand being the king. According to some there are three asanas which alone will keep you in perfect health: Headstand, Shoulderstand and Forward-bend.

Alignments:

> Preparing pose: Keep lenghtening the back of the body, press the palms towards the floor.
> Modification: Keep the elbows close to the body, keep the head still.
> Full position: Keep your neck long, don’t collapse the chin towards the chest. Keep the head still.

Key benefits:

> Opening the chest and shoulder area, releasing pressure.
> Balances the tyroid function, beneficial to your metabolism.
> Can reduce headache and relieve indigestion/constipation and stomach problems.

sarvangasana-buildup

Duration/practise:

Preparing pose: Hold 3-5 min (all level of practitioners)
Modification: Hold 30 sec (beginners), 3-5 min (intermed/advanced)
Full position: Hold 30 sec (beginners), 3-5 min (intermed/advanced)

Cautions:

Do not practice modification or full pose in the beginning of your menstruation or if you suffer from high bloodpressure. Sarvangasana can be beneficial to stabilize the bloodpressure, but people who suffer from high bloodpressure shall always consult their doctor before attempting full inversions.

Halasana | Plow Pose

The Plow is a forward bending position that stretches the entire spine, but the main focus is on the cervical region. It renders the spine more flexible and healthy, also stretching the hips and leg muscles. The pose might look fairly easy but with the feet on the floor, it’s considered to be intermediate to advanced. Don’t attempt the full pose without sufficient prior experience unless you have the supervision of an experienced instructor as you might cause injury to the neck.

Alignments:

> Support the back and lower the feet behind the head and if possible touch the toes on the floor, if the toes touches the floor release the hands from the back and interlock the hands behind the back pressing the hands towards the floor (release the pinkie and ring finger), walk the toes towards the head if possible, create a small space between the chin and the chest.
> Modification: Keep hands on back if not able to place toes onto the floor.

Drishti: Tip of the nose

Key benefits:

> Calms the brain
> Stimulates the abdominal organs and the thyroid gland
> Stretches the shoulders and spine
> Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
> Reduces stress and fatigue
> Therapeutic for backache, headache, infertility, insomnia, sinusitis

Duration/practise:

Preparing poses: Hold 30 sec-3 min (beginners)
Modification: Hold 30 sec-3 min
Full position: Hold 30 sec-3 min (intermed/advanced).

halasana

Cautions:

> Diarrhea, menstruation, neck injury
> Asthma & high blood pressure: Practice Halasana with the legs supported on props.
> Pregnancy: If you are experienced with this pose, you can continue to practice it late into pregnancy. However, don’t take up the practice of Halasana after you become pregnant.

Matsyasana | Fish Pose

The Fish gets its name because it’s easy to float in water when in the advanced (Fish in Lotus) variation. This is because the pose releases the inhibitations on the lungs thus allowing greater capacity to fill with air. To derive the maximum benefit the Fish Pose should be done after the shoulderstand.

Alignments:

> Directly from Sarvangasana: Support the hands on the back and come back to Sarvangasana, lower the legs 90 degrees over the head and place the hands on the side of the hips, slowly roll down vertebra by vertebra and place the buttocks on the hands and legs in a cross legged position, press the elbows to the mat arch the back and place the crown of the head on the floor.
> Mod: Cross legged (no lotus), hands under buttocks (not holding feet)

Key benefits:

> Stretches the deep hip flexors (psoas) and the muscles (intercostals) between the ribs
> Stretches/stimulates the muscles of the belly and front of the neck
> Stretches/stimulates the organs of the belly and throat
> Strengthens the muscles of the upper back and back of the neck
> Improves posture
> Theraputical for constipation, respiratory ailments, mild backache, fatigue, anxiety and menstrual pain

matsyenasana-buildup

Duration/practise:
Preparing poses: Hold 15 – 30 sec (beginners)
Modification: Hold 15 – 30 sec (intermediate)
Full position: Hold 15 – 30 sec (advanced)

Cautions:

> High or low blood pressure
> Migraine
> Insomnia
> Serious lower-back or neck injury