What is an asana?
Asana is roughly translated from Sanskrit as “pose” or “posture.” This simply means a “yoga pose.”
The literal translation actually means “to be in a comfortable seated position.” This comes from the branch of yoga called ashtanga yoga, and it refers to the physical exertion and also the mental relaxation that happens in yoga. Practicing these asanas will bring you awareness both internally and externally.
The poses below also have their Sanskrit name beside them.
Many of the poses below have the instructions to “repeat on the other side.” This means that it is a two-sided pose, and it only works muscles in one side of the body at a time. Always repeat the pose on both sides of the body to build strength and flexibility equally in the body.
Wide-Legged Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana)
wide legged forward bend yoga poseTraditionally, your hands should be touching the floor in front of you in this pose, but we like the extra shoulder stretch!
Spread your feet 3-4 feet apart, and bend forward at the HIPS, not the waist. This means that your back should be as straight as possible when you bend, and you should not simply “hunch” forward.
If you’re bending properly, you will actually feel a strong stretch in the hamstrings. Practice in front of the mirror to try to get the correct form.
Hold for 5-6 breaths. If you feel comfortable enough, clasp the hands behind the back. Try to bring them up towards the ceiling to give the arms and shoulders an extra stretch.
lunge asana for weight lossThis is one of the best poses for stretching the hips. Many people tend to have tight hips from sitting in front of a computer all day. It will also help increase your flexibility for the splits if that happens to be one of your goals.
Keep in mind that your hands can be wherever you want them to be in this asana, and their location often determines what muscles you are stretching.
If you raise the arms up and tilt them backward, you will bring this stretch into the back as well as the hips. You can also bring the arms down to your sides and behind you a bit to stretch the lower back. The third option is to rest them on the knee in front of you, although you won’t get as deep of a stretch in the hips.
Make sure your front knee is as clos