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Yoga dictionary

A

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Adho Mukha Svanasana / Downward Facing Dog Pose

Benefits  

  •  Strengthens the upper body, arms, shoulders, chest and legs
  •  Stretches chest, shoulders
  •  Stretches the whole back of the body, ankles, calves, hamstrings and  spine
  •  Calms the mind
  •  Energizes the body overall

 

Please find an image and a step-by-step description of the Downward Facing Dog Pose.

Advaita

Advaita means nondual or "not two." It is the teaching found in the Upanishads that reality is one.

Agni

Agni is the Sanskrit word for fire.  Agni is part of the five elements, of which the physical universe is composed of. Fire is related to the transformational force and used in yoga it usually refers to the the digestive fire. Fire burns; it changes one thing into another. Think of the metabolism of food, thoughts and breath. A healthy digestive system, a healthy 'change engine', enhances your yoga practice greatly. The sense organ of Agni is the eyes.

Ahamkara

Ahamkara is a Sanskrit word. Aham means "self" or "I" and Kara means "making" or "to do". So you could say Ahamkara is the "I maker". It is active when the mind has identified itself with an external object or thing. Like 'I am my car', or 'I am what I believe in'. It creates an illusion. 

Ahimsa

Ahimsa is the first of the Yamas (moral codes) of Patanjali's 8 limbs of yoga. It means non-violence or non-harming. Ahimsa applies to physical violence but also applies to causing harm through words and thoughts. It means to do no harm to yourself, others and the environment. 
Read more our article on Ahimsa

Akasha

Akasha means ether or space and is part of the five elements, of which the physical universe is composed off. It is the subtlest in the material world. You can see it as the background, the space in/against which everything else becomes perceptible. Akasha is related to the sense of hearing.

Anatomical Planes - or Planes of Movement

There are three main anatomical planes in the body. These are flat plates or surfaces that divide up the body. Movements can be described as taking place in one of these planes, or in parallel with them. They are the Saggital, Coronal and Transverse Planes.

Aparigraha

Aparigraha is one of the five Yamas or moral observances, which are part of Patanjali's 8 Limbs of Yoga. Aparigraha translates to non-grasping, non-possessiveness, non-holding through the senses, non-greed, non-indulgence, non-acquisitiveness.

Ardha Bhekasana

Ardha Bhekasana / Half Frog Pose

Benefits 

  • Releases the thigh muscles, quadriceps
  • Increases the flexibility in the back
  • Opens the chest and shoulders
  • Stimulates  energy
  • Prepares the body for back bending


Click to see an image and a step-by-step description of this Yoga pose.

 

Ardha Matsyendrasana

Ardha Matsyendrasana / Half Lord Of The Fishes Pose

Benefits :

  •  Helps to restore the spines natural range of motion
  •  Cleanses your organs
  •  Stretches your hips, shoulders and neck
  •  Improves digestion
  •  Relieves backache and sciatica

View an image and a step by step description of this Yoga Pose here.

Asana / Yoga posture

Asanas are yoga poses or postures. What we think of as a 'yoga class' will usually be an asana class. Asana is just one aspect of yoga. Besides stretching and strengthening the body, asanas open the energy channels and bring about balance in body and mind.

Ashram

An ashram is usually a secluded place or retreat. In an ashram people traditionally take part in spiritual practices like yoga and meditation. The spiritual teacher / leader is often called the "Guru".

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga has become popular in the West through Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. This form of Yoga is very physical and athletic and originally developed for prepubescent boys in India. It is a prescribed series of asanas linked with the breath. There are different series, for beginners up through very advanced students. Practiced diligently, this form of Yoga will strengthen, stretch, and cleanse the body, mind, and spirit.

Read more about Ashtanga here

Asteya

Asteya is one of the five Yamas or moral observances, which are part of Patanjali's 8 Limbs of Yoga. Asteya refers to non-stealing. 

 

B

Backbends

Backbends are a classification of yoga poses that work on opening the front body including the hip flexors. For most people they are usually strengthening and invigorating poses.

To find out more about Backbends read "All About Backbends"

Baddha Konansana

Baddha Konasana / Bound Angle Pose or Butterfly Pose.

Benefits 

  • Helps in opening your hips
  •  Stretches groins, inner thighs and ankles
  •  Uplifts mood
  •  Stimulates abdominal organs
  •  Beneficial for menstrual pains
  •  Stimulates the circulation in the pelvic area
  •  You can stay in this pose anywhere between 1-5 minutes
  •  To come out you lift your knees and straighten you legs again

 View an image and a step-by-step description of this this Yoga Pose.

Bandha

Bandhas are internal muscular ‘locks’ that, when engaged, support the toning and lifting of strategic areas of the body. Essentially, bandhas are engaged to gain control and lock your energy - prana, being life force - the way you want. The locks are employed to attain control of your energy system, and to direct this energy to the parts of your body where you desire it to go and whatever action you want to perform. The 4 major bandhas are:

  • Mula Bandha - the root lock
  • Jalandhara Bandha - the throat lock
  • Uddiyana Bandha - lifting of the diaphragm lock
  • Maha Bandha - all three locks at the same time 

Read more about the bandhas in yoga practice

Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti Yoga is the yoga of devotion and love. First mentioned in The Bhagavad Gita around 300BC, the word Bhakti comes from the root word ‘Bhaj’, of which the essence is ‘to share’. This form of yoga is based upon the heart, love and devotion towards a chosen deity (Ishta Devata). Dedicating all actions towards a deity or ‘God’ is an intrinsic part of Bhakti yoga. 

Mantra chanting is a key practice of Bhakti yoga.

Bhujangasana

Bhujangasana / Cobra Pose.

Benefits 

* Strengthens legs, upper back, arms, and shoulders
* Stretches the front of the body
* Energizes 
* Relieves mild depression
 

View an image and a step-by-step description of this Yoga Pose.

C

Chakra

Chakras are referred to as energy centres or wheels of energies in the body. They are located between the base of the spine and the crown of the head. It is said that we have seven chakras. How we feel and where we are in life (mind, body, and spirit) is reflected in these energy centres, and the other way around. So keeping the chakras balanced has a positive effect on our well-being.

D

Dandasana

Dandasana / Staff Pose

Benefits 

* Strengthens the quads
* Improves core stability
* Strengthens the muscles of the back

View an image and a step-by-step instruction of this Yoga Pose.

Dharana

Dharana can be translated as “holding,” “concentration,” or “one pointed focus.” Dharana is the first step in meditation. You concentrate deeply, with single, pointed focus on an object, keeping the mind steady without wavering. You are yourself consious of the act of meditation.


 

Dhyana

You can compare Dhyana with meditation or contemplation. It means consciousness of being. You are not conscious of the act of meditation anymore; you are just aware that you are, and you have become one with the object of meditation. The duality in experiencing is gone.

Drishti

Drishti is the point of focus of the eyes during your yoga asana practice. It is meant to focus the mind and to prevent distractions; to keep your eyes from wandering around the room. During your yoga practice it helps to bring your awareness inward rather than outward. There are different drishti points: for example in Downward Facing Dog we gaze at the navel centre, in Upward Facing Dog Pose we gaze at the third eye centre.

E

Expansion

Expansion on a spiritual level means that you have let go of enough unconscious contraction to be present to the here and now.

To find out more about the concept of Expansion read Esther's article "What is Expansion"

F

Foundation

The foundation in a yoga pose is what is in contact with the floor. If a house is built on a poor foundation, it will be out of alignment, with crooked floors, cracked walls and a sagging roof. It is the same with yoga.

In a yoga pose, when the foundation is strong and solid, the rest of your body will be safe and properly aligned. It will also feel lighter, since you need less muscle energy to maintain the pose.

When the foundation isn’t right - for example, if your ankles and arches collapse in the Mountain Pose -everything above them will be at risk. In this case, the knees, the hips and the spine will all be affected.

So, the first thing to check in a pose is your foundation.

H

Hatha Yoga

Hatha Yoga is known as the Yoga for the physical body. In Sanskrit, “Ha” represents sun and “tha” represents moon, alluding to the opposites in our lives, such as yin and yang, light and dark, hard and soft, vigorous and gentle.

Hatha Yoga is about finding balance. Through working with the physical body, releasing tensions and traumas stored in the body, you create space in yourself and, through that space and balance, the opportunity for spiritual growth.

Heart centre

The term heart centre refers to the centre of the chest. You'll hear the term in yoga classes - for example "Bring your palms together in front of your heart centre". It can also be used to describe the location of the heart chakra - Anahata.

High Chaturanga

High Chaturanga / Plank Pose

Benefits 

* Strengthens upper body, arms, wrist, spine
* When done correctly; strengthens abdomen, core, legs
* Prepares the body for more challenging arm balances

View an image and a step by step instruction of this Yoga pose.

I

Inversions

Inversions are a classification of a group of yoga poses / asanas where the head is lower than the heart. Inversions include shoulderstands, headstands, handstands and forearm balances. To find out more about Inversions read Esther Ekhart's article "All about Yoga Inversions"

J

Jala

Jala means water and is part of the five elements, of which the physical universe is composed off. Water relates to all the fluids/ liquids in our body, such as urine, plasma and lymph. Its sense organ is the tongue.  

Janu Sirsasana

Janu Sirsasana / Head to Knee Pose

Benefits 

* Calms the mind and is therapeutic for mild depression
* Stimulates digestion
* Stretches the hips, back of the body and groins
* Relieves menstrual discomfort, headache, anxiety and fatigue
* Relieves insomnia and high blood pressure
* Stimulates the kidneys and liver

View an image and a step by step instruction of this Yoga pose.

K

Krounchasana

Krounchasana / Heron Pose

Benefits:

  • Stretches the top of the bent leg's thigh, ankle and shin
  • Stretches the back of the straight leg, including the Achilles tendon
  • Stimulates the abdominal organs and the heart
  • Relieves flatulence

View an image and a step-by-step instruction of this Yoga pose.

 

M

Malas

Malas comes from Tantric yoga scriptures. We all have moments in our lives when we feel connected and we have moments in our lives when we feel separate, different, disconnected. This experience of differentiation comes from a power called Maya which operates via The Three Malas 

Mala beads are a string of beads used in meditation. They can be used for counting repetitions of mantras or rounds of breaths.

Mantra

A mantra is a word, sound or phrase repeated either out loud (chanting) or in the mind - said to increase concentration while meditating.

Read more in Mantra and vibration

Meditation

In meditation we practise being fully aware of our actions, thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Meditation teaches us to stay in this present moment. Meditation is usually practised in a seated position with the eyes closed although movements can also have meditative qualities. There are different traditions of meditation but most include a focus on stilling the mind (not necessarily emptying the mind) and being present in the 'now'.

Midline

Midline is a term frequently used in yoga to refer to the centre line of the body. It is used to bring awareness to an imagined line running down one’s centre -a vertical axis that runs down the spine, the pelvis, and down between the legs into the ground- that can increase stability and support.

Modification

Modifications are variations of yoga poses to make them suitable for your body. Not all poses are suitable or available to everyone. This can be due to lots of different reasons including bone structure, body proportions, degree of flexibility, injury, pregnancy or trauma. Every body is different, and what works for one person might not work for another.

You can use yoga blocks or straps to modify a pose, or just do a simpler version of the pose.

Take, for example, sitting on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. It is not possible for everybody to sit like this with a straight back. If you cannot, the pose will have to be modified. You are better off sitting on a block to raise your hips so that you can straighten your back, rather than compromising your posture.

Monkey mind

Monkey mind describes a mind that jumps from one thought to another, like a monkey jumps from one branch to another.

During yoga and meditation, you aim to calm the mind, or 'tame the monkey mind'.

Moon Salutations / Chandra Namaskar

Chandra Namaskar or Moon Salutation is a sequence of asanas. Like Sun Salutations, Moon Salutations can be included as part of a longer class, or practised by themselves as a restorative sequence to cool and soothe the body. The meditative, calming quality of the poses helps to form a stronger connection to the breath, preparing the body and the mind for a restful night’s sleep. Sun Salutations are associated with Yang while Moon salutations are associated with Yin qualities. Read more Chandra Namaskar Moon Salutations 

Mudra

Mudra are gestures - usually hand positions - used to aid concentration, focus and connection to yourself during your meditation and asana practice. The most common are Anjali Mudra - pressing palms together at the heart in a prayer position and Jnana (pronounced nyah-nah) - forefinger and thumb touching to form a circle, the other three fingers stretching away, often used during seated meditation and pranayama with the back of the hand resting on the knee or thigh.

Read more in An introduction to mudras

 

N

Nadis

Nadis are the energy channels or meridians through which prana or ‘life force’ flows. Pranayama uses the breath to direct and expand the flow of prana in our energy channels - the nadis.

Learn more: Pranayama - the benefits

Namaste

Namaste is an Indian greeting. It means 'the higher consciousness in me greets the higher consciousness in you'. “Nama” in Sanskrit means “bow” in English, “as” means “I” and “te” means “you.”

The greeting is performed by bringing your palms together in front of your heart, bowing your head a little and closing your eyes if you like. It is also performed by bringing your palms together in front of your forehead. You can say Namaste with the hand gesture.

It is common to start and end a yoga class with Namaste, performed with your hands in front of your heart. It is a nice way to set the tone at the beginning of the class; for a moment, you acknowledge the existence of something much bigger than you, which you can call the divine if you like.

At the end of a yoga class, Namaste is a nice way to express gratitude.

Natarajasana

Natarajasana / Lord of the Dance Pose

Benefits

  • Strengthens the ankles, legs, core, and arms.
  • Stretches the chest, shoulders, groin, and abdomen.
  • Improves balance and concentration.

View an image and a step-by-step description of this Yoga pose.

Nauli Kriya

Nauli Kriya is a yogic cleansing exercise. Nauli cleanses the internal organs and tones the abdominal region via a side-to-side rolling motion of the abdominal muscles. For Andrew's take on this read his article Nauli Kryia, my explanation and practice 

Navasana

Navasana / Boat Pose

Benefits 

* Improves core strength
* Strengthens the hip flexors and spine
* Helps to relieve stress
* Improves digestion

View an image and a step-by-step instruction of this Yoga pose.

Niyamas

Niyamas are the second limb of the 'Eight Limbs of Yoga' originating from the ancient Indian philosophical text, ‘The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali’. The Niyamas refers to duties directed towards ourselves - inner observances. 

Read more about the 5 Niyamas

P

Padanghustasana

Padanghustasana / Foot to Fingers Forward Bend

Benefits 

* Stretches the back of the legs, the hips and spine
* Balances the nervous system and calms the mind
* Improves digestion
* Relieves tension in the lower back
* Restores your energy

View an image and a step-by-step instruction of this Yoga pose.

Parivrtta Trikonasana

Parivrtta Trikonasana / Revolved Triangle Pose

Benefits 

  • Improves balance
  • Strengthens and stretches the legs, hips, spine, chest and upper back
  • Stimulates abdominal organs, and detoxes them
  • Relieves back pain

View an image and a step-by-step description of this Yoga pose.

Paschimottanasana

Paschimottanasana / Seated Forward Bend

Benefits :

* Stretches the spine, hamstrings, and shoulders
* Calms the mind, prepares it for meditation
* Relieves mild depression
* Stimulates internal organs like ovaries and uterus, liver, and kidneys
* Good for digestion
* Therapeutic for high blood pressure, insomnia, and sinusitis

View an image and a step-by-step instruction of the Seated Forward Bend.

Patanjali

Patanjali was a 2nd / 3rd BCE sage said to have compiled the Yoga Sutras, a guide or ‘instruction manual on how to live in order to advance along a spiritual path towards enlightenment. 

Power Yoga

Power Yoga is a style of yoga. It is a dynamic and physically challenging practice that can be used as a “work-out".  Read more in What is Power Yoga?

Prana

Prana is the life energy or life force in all living things. It is called Chi or Qi in Eastern traditions.

Pranayama

“Prana” is our life force or chi. Pranayama techniques are breathing exercises which clear the physical and emotional obstacles in our body to free the breath and so the flow of prana - life energy. 

Prasarita Padottanasana

Prasarita Padottanasana / Wide-Legged Forward Bend

Benefits 

* Stretches the back and inside of the legs
* Opens the hips
* Stretches the spine
* Grounds and calms the mind
* Can relieve mild backache

View an image and a step-by-step instruction of this Yoga pose.

Prasarita Padottanasana C

Prasarita Padottanasana C / Wide-Legged Forward Bend C

Benefits 

  • Stretches the back and inside of the legsOpens the hips
  • Stretches the spine, shoulders and chest
  • Grounds and calms the mind
  • Can relieve mild backache

View an image and a step-by-step description of this Yoga pose.

Prasarita Padottanasana D

Prasarita Padottanasana D / Wide-Legged Forward Bend D

Benefits 

* Stretches the back and inside of the legs
* Opens the hips
* Stretches the spine
* Grounds you and calms the mind
* Can relieve mild backache

View an image and a step-by-step instruction of this Yoga pose.

Prithvi

Prithvi is a Sanskrit term and means earth. Earth is part of the five elements, of which the physical universe is composed off. Earth in our body represents everything that is dense and solid. Think of bones, teeth, muscles and fat. Earth is related to the sense of smell.

Purvottanasana

Purvottanasana / Upward Plank Pose

Benefits

  • Stretches the front of the shoulders, the chest and the front of the ankles
  • Strengthens the arms, core, legs and back
  • Excellent counterpose for chaturanga dandasana

View an image and a step-by-step description of this Yoga pose.

 

 

Q

Quadriceps

The quadriceps or quads is the large muscle group at the front of your thigh made up of four muscles.

R

Restorative Yoga

In Restorative Yoga, the idea is to promote deep relaxation while holding the poses for longer periods of time, commonly with the help of props (blankets, blocks, bolsters, pillows).

The parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated, promoting relaxation, which helps balance and heal the body.

This practice is great to balance an active yoga schedule or to give yourself a break when you feel under the weather.

S

Sacrum

Your sacrum is a triangular shaped bone situated at the base of your spine. It is formed of five sacral vertebrae which fuse in early adult life. Attached to the bottom of it is your tailbone, or coccyx. The sacroiliac joints connect the sacrum to the hip bones (ilium) at either side.

Salabhasana

Salabhasana / Locust Pose

Benefits 

* Strengthens the back muscles
* Stretches the front of the body
* Improves stamina
* Opens the chest
* Stimulates abdominal organs

View an image and a step-by-step instruction of this Yoga pose.

Salamba Sarvangasana

Salamba Sarvangasana / Supported Shoulderstand Pose

Benefits 

  • Queen of the Yoga-asanas
  • Stretches the shoulders and neck
  • Cooling, calming, quiets the nervous system
  • Reduces fluid retention in the legs and feet
  • Regulates and normalizes elimination
  • Nourishes the thyroid and parathyroid with blood
  • Reduces fatigue and can help improve sleep
  • Improves digestion

View an image and a step-by-step instruction of this Yoga pose.

Salamba Sirsasana

Salamba Sirsasana / Supported Headstand

Benefits 

*  Draws fresh blood into the upper body while stimulating drainage and  circulation to the legs
*  When properly practiced, effectively counters upper back and neck problems
*  Quiets the mind and so prepares you for meditation
*  Strengthens the arms, legs and back
* Strengthens the core
*  Heats up the upper back;  you can do headstand as a preparation for back  bends
*  Relieves mild depression

View an image and a step-by-step instruction of this Yoga pose.

 

Sama vritti ratio - Square breath

Sama vritti = Equal movement

Sama vritti Ratio or Square Breath is a Pranayama technique used to equalise the four components of the breath. 

Inhalation (puraka)
Internal retention (antara-khumbaka)
Exhalation (rechaka)
External retention (bahya-khumbaka)

The benefits of Sama vritti include:

Refining the breath and awareness of prana flow
Calming the body 
Focusing the mind helping to remove distractions making it easier to concentrate and meditate.

Sanskrit

Sanskrit is an ancient Indic language of India, in which the Hindu scriptures and classical Indian epic poems are written, it is also the language of Yoga and Ayurveda.

Savasana

Savasana or Corpse pose is one of the most important parts of a yoga practice. Spending at least 5 minutes in Savasana after a class is helps assimilate any changes brought on in your practice and allow your nervous system to settle.

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana / Bridge Pose

Benefits 

* Stretches neck, chest, and spine
* Strengthens legs, upper back
* Improves digestion
* Reduces backache and headache
* Calms the mind, relieves mild depression
* Can help to open the sinuses

View an image and a step-by-step instruction of the Bridge Pose.

Shala

Shala is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘house’ or ‘home’. You'll hear the phrase Yoga Shala used to refer to a yoga studio.

Sitali

Sitali is a Pranayama technique that can help to cool the body. It also adds moisture to the system and soothes a Pitta imbalance. 

Sitting bones

The sitting bones or sit bones are the two bones that extend out of the pelvis in your buttocks. If you sit straight on a firm surface and rock forward and backward or from side to side, your sitting bones are the two knobbly bones you feel sticking out.

They are more formally known as your ischial tuberosity.

Somatics

Somatics is a movement therapy, a way of re-educating the way our brain senses and moves the muscles. It is an incredibly subtle but effective way of working with the body.

Watch Lisa Petersen, Somatics teacher, explain in this class So what is Somatics?

Sun Salutations

Sun Salutations or Surya Namaskara are a sequence of asanas (yoga poses) often performed at the beginning of a yoga class to create heat in the body. Different variations of Sun Salutations are practised in Ashtanga yoga, Vinyasa yoga and Hatha yoga classes.

Supta Padangustasana

Supta Padangustasana / Reclining Big Toe Pose

Benefits 

* Stretches the back of the legs, the hips, and lower spine
* Balances the nervous system and calms the mind
* Improves digestion
* Relieves lower back ache, menstrual pains, and sciatica
* Restores energy
* Strengthens the muscles around the knees

Viewan image and a step-by-step instruction of this Yoga pose.

Sutras

One of the most important collections of teachings about yoga, originating from the sage Patanjali. These writings consist of 196 sutras (aphorisms). The Sutras describe the philosophical basis of yoga. A path to enlightenment.

T

Tadasana

Tadasana / Mountain Pose

Benefits 

*  Helps to strengthen the legs
*  You can easily identify imbalances in the body
*  Helps easily identify imbalances in the body: An imbalance in the body disrupts the flow of energy (prana), causing muscular and postural compensation
*  Improves posture
*  Prepares the body for all other standing poses

View an image and a step by step instruction of the Mountain Pose.

Tapas

Tapas is a Sanskrit term that translates as 'discipline' or 'heat'. It is one of the 5 Niyamas or moral behaviours from Patanjali's 8 limbs of yoga. Read more in Understanding the Niyamas - Tapas 
 

Thai Massage

Thai Massage was created long ago to help relieve the feelings of stuck energy from hours of seated meditation and has since evolved into many lineages, techniques and forms that support mobility of joints, flexibility of muscles and the movement of energy through the various energy lines in the body.

Read more about it in David's article The Sacred Dance of Healing Touch

U

Ujjayi breath

Ujjayi is a type of breathing commonly translated as the victorious breath or ocean breath. The back of the throat is slightly constricted to regulate the flow of breath and create heat in the body. This makes the breath audible, similar to soft wind through the trees or gentle waves coming to shore. Ujjayi breath is calming and encourages awareness on the breath.

Upavishta Konasana

Upavishta Konasana / Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend

Benefits 

* Stretches the back and the insides of the legs
* Opens the hips and back of the body
* Stimulates the abdominal organs
* Makes you happy and relaxed!
* Strengthens the spine

View an image and a step-by-step instruction of this Yoga pose.

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana / Upward Facing Dog Pose

Benefits 

* Opens the heart, chest and lungs
* Stretches your upper back and the whole front of the body
* Strengthens  wrists, arms, shoulders, spine
* Can relieve sciatica, mild depression, and fatigue
* Can be very therapeutic for asthma because it stretches the lungs and chest
* Counteracts bad posture

View an image and a step-by-step instruction of this Yoga pose.

Utkatasana

Utkatasana / Powerful Pose / Chair Pose

Benefits 

* Strengthens the muscles of the legs
* Strengthens the pelvis
* Strengthens the lower back
* Stabilizes the knee joints
* Opens and stretches the abdomen, diaphragm, and heart
* Stretches the shoulders

View an image and a step-by-step instruction of the Chair Pose.

Uttanasana

Uttanasana / Standing Forward Bend

Benefits 

*  Stretches the back of the legs, the hips and spine
*  Strengthens the legs, thighs, and knees
*  Balances the nervous system, calms the mind, relieves stress and mild depression
*  Improves digestion, stimulates the liver and kidneys
*  Relieves tension in the lower back

View an image and a step-by-step instruction of this Yoga pose.

Utthita Hasta Padangustasana

Utthita Hasta Padangustasana / Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose

Benefits 

* Opens and strengthens the hips
* Strengthens the legs and ankles
* Increases flexibility in the legs
* Improves concentration
* Improves balance

View an image and a step-by-step instruction of this Yoga pose.

Utthita Parsvakonasana

Utthita Parsvakonasana / Extended Side Angle Pose

Benefits 

* Opens the hip joints, stretches the groins
* Releases the shoulders and neck
* Trims the waist
* Strengthens and stretches the legs, ankles and knees
* Opens the chest and lungs and increases stamina

Viewr an image and a step-by-step instruction of this Yoga pose.

Utthita Trikonasana

Utthita Trikonasana / Extended Triangle Pose

Benefits 

*  Strengthens the legs and back
*  Stretches inner thighs, hamstrings, calves, spine, shoulders, chest, and opens  hips
*  Helps to relieve back pain
*  Energize, balances and focuses you

View an image and a step-by-step instruction of this Yoga pose.

V

Vayu

Vayu means air and is part of the five elements, of which the physical universe is composed off. Air is about movement, all empty spaces are filled with air and air flows freely through the body. Air controls the breathing and fills the cells with oxygen. The skin is the related sense organ.

Vinyasa

Vinyasa means “movement linked with breath.” In Vinyasa yoga postures are sequenced together in a short or longer flow.

A Vinyasa also refers to a short sequence of poses used as a transition between other poses. A common example being:

Jumping back to Chaturanga Dandasana, moving to Upward Facing Dog and back to Downward Facing Dog.

Vinyasa Krama

Vinyasa Krama means a step by step progression into something, or to a certain goal. The goal in most cases being a complex or advanced asana (posture).

Find out more about Vinyasa Krama in What is Vinyasa Krama?

Virabhadrasana II

Virabhadrasana II / Warrior II Pose

Benefits

* Opens hips
* Stretches inner thighs, groin, chest, lungs, and shoulders
* Strengthens legs
* Correct painful conditions around sacrum
* Increases stamina

View an image and a step-by-step instruction of the Warrior ll Pose.

Virasana

Virasana / Hero Pose

Benefits 

* Stretches ankles, knees, and legs
* Stimulates digestion; great after a big meal!
* Calming
* Energizes the legs when they are tired

View an image and a step-by-step instruction of this Yoga pose.

Vrksasana

Vrksasana / Tree Pose

Benefits 

* Improves balance
* Opens the hips
* Strengthens the ankles, legs and spine
* Lengthens the spine
* Improves focus/ concentration

View an image and a step-by-step instruction of the Tree Pose.

Y

Yamas

Yamas - the first limb of the 'Eight Limbs of Yoga' originating from the ancient ‘Yoga Sutras of Patanjali’. Each limb describes a different aspect of a yoga practice, all leading towards freedom and enlightenment. 

Read more about the Yamas

 

Yin Yoga

Yin Yoga targets the deeper tissues of the body - ligaments, joints and bones- rather than the muscles.

Yin Yoga uses specific poses that can be held for longer periods of time, from 3 to 10 minutes, depending on the pose. Because you’re holding the pose longer, it’s harder to stay present, to keep your mind alert.

This practice is challenging and almost like a meditation it balances the yang yoga practices, which are focused more on muscle energy.
 

Yoga block

A yoga block is a yoga prop usually made from foam or sometimes cork, which makes it comfortable and sturdy. Blocks are useful in sitting postures to raise your hips, making it easier to sit with a straight back. Yoga blocks can be used in many ways to help with alignment in poses - for example under the hands in Half moon pose or Triangle pose. You can substitute blocks with cushions, blankets or other household items, depending on the pose.

 

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