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STEP BY STEP YOGA


BRIDGE POSE - ASANA
The "Bridge" Variation:
Chakra-asana - The Wheel Pose
Although this variation is much easier to perform than the full chakra-asana, it shares several of its benefits. In particular it will help to stretch the spine and relieve tightness in the upper back and shoulder area.

To get the full benefit of the bridge variation continual effort should be applied to raising the back upward and creating the greatest possible arch with the spine. 

While holding the bridge breath slowly through the nostrils. If there is no discomfort felt in the spine or shoulders then one should advance to the full variation of the 
chakra-asana as described above. Both variations strengthen the back and promote flexibility of the spine. Tightness in the back and spine results from poor posture, stress, a sedentary lifestyle and/or emotional disturbances. You should begin to feel the tightness being released after just a few repetitions.
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C Whee
l Pose - asana
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The Cobra Pose - Naga-asana
Naga-asana - The Cobra Pose
Posture: Naga-asana - The Cobra Pose
Translation: The Sanskrit word naga means snake or serpent. The naga-asana is also known as the bhujanga-asana. The Sanskrit word bhujanga, which also means snake, is derived from the root bhuj which means to bend or curve.
Pronunciation: na-gah-sa-na
Difficulty: (4-5)

"Let the body, from navel to toes, touch the ground, the palms placed upon the ground, and raise gently the upper part of the body (from navel to head) like a snake. This posture increases the gastric fire; it destroys all diseases and by constant practice leads to the awakening ofKundalini." 
The Gheranda-samhita II.42-43.
The Cobra Pose (Naga-asana) Instruction:
1
Lie on the stomach with the head turned to one side and the arms alongside the body with palms facing upward.
2
Turn the head and place the chin on the floor. Inhale then exhale slowly through the nostrils and swing the arms around until the hands are placed just below the chin with the palms down and the finger tips of each hand almost touching and the elbows on the floor.
3
Inhale slowly through the nostrils, press down on the hands and lift the torso from the waist up off the floor, arching the spine backwards and straightening the arms. Keep the hips on the floor.
4
Tilt the head as far back as possible and hold the posture for the duration of the inhaled breath.
5
Exhale and reverse the process to return to position #1.

Comments:
If you find it uncomfortable holding the breath while the posture is held, breath gently through the nostrils. Some may find that they are able to arch the spine back even more than in the initial arch in step 3. In this case try "walking" the hands toward the pelvic region and stretching the head further back.

In addition to the obvious benefits to the spine and lower back, the standard variation of the naga-asana strengthens the wrists and stretches the muscles in the chest. By maintaining a constant exertion to create a greater arch in the spine, the stomach and pelvic muscles are strengthened. Greater strength in these areas can be cultivated by performing the variation where the arms remain on the ground. B.K.S. Iyengar, a renowned expert in yoga-asanas, claims that displaced spinal discs can be placed back in their original position by practicing the naga-asana.


Durations/Repetitions:
Hold the posture for either the duration of a held inhaled breath or from one-half to three minutes. Repeat the naga-asana two to five times.

Variations:
The are two variations to the naga-asana. For the first, keep the arms alongside the body with the palms facing down and lift the head and chest off the ground. This variation requires a little more strength in order to get the full arch of the spine. The second variation is for those who have a great deal of flexibility in the lower back. At the peak of the naga-asanabend the knees and attempt to touch the top of the head with the soles of the feet.



Posture: Anjanaya-asana - The Salutation Pose
Translation: The Sanskrit word anjaneya means salutation or praise from the root anj which means to honor, to celebrate, to anoint.
Pronunciation: Ahn-jah-nay-ah-sa-na
Difficulty: (7)

"As inumerable cups full of water, many reflections of the sun are seen, but the sun is the same; similarly individuals, like cups, are inumerable, but spirit, like the sun, is one." 
The Shiva-samhita I.35 II.42-43.
The Salutation Pose (Anjanaya-asana) Instruction:
Anjanaya-asana - The Salutation Pose
Posture: Anjanaya-asana - The Salutation Pose
Translation: The Sanskrit word anjaneya means salutation or praise from the root anj which means to honor, to celebrate, to anoint.
Pronunciation: Ahn-jah-nay-ah-sa-na
Difficulty: (7)
"As inumerable cups full of water, many reflections of the sun are seen, but the sun is the same; similarly individuals, like cups, are inumerable, but spirit, like the sun, is one." 
The Shiva-samhita I.35 II.42-43.

Anjanaya-asana - The Salutation Pose
1
Sit comfortably in the vajra-asana (thunderbolt pose).
2
Kneel up on your knees until your back, buttocks and thighs are aligned.
3
Extend your left foot foward bending your left knee at about a 90 degree angle.
4
Place the palms of your hands together at the heart in the anjali-mudra.
5
Raise your arms stright up keeping the palms together while bending the head backward and looking up.
6
Slowly bend backward stretching the arms backward and straightening out the right leg. Hold this position for as long as comfortable while breathing gently through the nostrils.
7
Come back to the vajara-asana (thunderbolt pose) then reverse the posture by alternating legs.

Comments:

The anjaneya-asana combines several postures and mudras (gestures) in a fluid, evolving flow that combines motion, stretching and holds. It delivers great benefits for the back, arms, chest, legs and hips. Regular practice will strengthen concentration and improve balance.

Perform this posture with a sense of reverence and praise. Take a moment to reside in silence and peace as your hands are held at the heart in the gesture (mudra) of salutation (anjali-mudra). Keep the intention of praise in mind as you extend your arms skyward. Feel your entire body-mind-heart extending outward in recognition of the sacredness of life.


Durations/Repetitions:
Repeat twice on each side.
img MATSYA - ASANA
Hala Asana - Plow Pose
Posture: Matsya-asana - The Fish Pose
Translation: The Sanskrit word matsya means fish, therefore this is the fish posture. Matsya (depicted to the left) is a divine being, found in Hindu mythology, that saved mankind from a universal flood.
Pronunciation: maht-see-yah-sa-na
Difficulty: (3-4)
"Posture should be steady and comfortable. By relaxation of effort and meditation on the "Endless" (ananta) posture is mastered."
Patanjali's Yoga-sutra II.46-47
Fish Pose (Matsya-asana) Instruction:
1
Lie flat on the back in the shava-asana.
2
Keeping the buttocks on the floor, inhale and raise the head, shoulders, back and upper arms off the floor arching the back and raising the chest up. Tilt the head back and place the top of the head flat on the floor.
3
Raise the elbows off the floor bring your hands up just below the chest and join them at the palms with the fingers pointing straight up (form the anjali-mudra or salutation hand gesture). Hold for the duration of the inhale breath or breath gently through the nostrils to remain in the posture longer.
4
Return to the shava-asana.

Comments:
The matsya-asana creates a great expansion and stretching of the chest which helps relieve upper respiratory congestion as well as benefits the heart. Additionally, the sinus are drained and opened from the inversion of the head, stretching of the neck and pressure placed on the top of the head. The thyroid and parathyroid glands are stimulated as well.

Durations/Repetitions:
Since this is not a difficult posture, it is recommended that you breath while holding it for between two and four minutes. If you are uncomfortable breathing, hold the posture for the duration of the inhaled breath. Repeat two or three times.

Variations:

Matsya-asana Variations

There is one major variation in the matsya-asana and it is a bit more challenging than the one described above (illustrated above). It calls for beginning the posture in padma-asana or the full lotus seated posture and then lying flat on the back while the legs are still locked. From there on the posture is done the same way as described above.


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