Basic yogasanas (part 6) (improving flexibility and balance)
Padahastasana (hands-to-feet forward bend)
Another forward bending pose, padahastasanna may look quite similar to uttanasana, but is performed in a different way. This is an important warm up pose, implied in executing different yogasanas that will be discussed later in the series.
Way to execute:
- Stand up straight with your feet slightly apart. Inhale and exhale deeply.
- After exhaling, bend forward from the hips.
- Keep on bending till your fingers touch the floor. Be careful, that your legs remain straight.
- Try to bring your forehead as close to the knees as possible and extend your arms such that the palms start touching the floor.
- Hold on to this position for 20 seconds with steady breathing and then come upright with taking a deep breath in.
- Repeat the above pose from step 1 to 5 three times.
- Again, repeat the same pose for the fourth time, but then instead of releasing immediately, fix your fingers and palms under the toes and balls of your feet to complete the padahastasana.
- After holding on for a few seconds, you can come out of the prose by releasing your hands from beneath the feet, straighten your arms, inhale and slowly come back up. Take a few deep breaths.
Benefits of padahastasana:
- The flow of blood in the entire body and especially to the head is one of the greatest benefits of this asana and because of that the problems related to the mind are relieved to some extent.
- It tones the abdominal organs and help to get rid of stomach related problems like constipation, gastric and indigestion.
- It enhances the flexibility and strength of the spine and also helps relieve sciatica.
Note: inflexible people may find to execute this pose in the beginning, but they can start with just touching their feet with their fingers and then gradually attain the complete pose. However, people suffering with severe back pain should avoid practicing it.
Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
You can comfortably sit and relax on your chair, but sitting in an imaginary chair might be as difficult. And this is exactly what utkatasana is all about. Called the chair pose, this yogasana is one of the most powerful of all yoga postures as it literally means an intense posture (Utkat=Intense, Powerful; Asana= Posture). Although a powerful pose, the utkatasan is quite easy to perform.
Way to execute:
- With a slight distance in your feet, stand upright.
- Stretch your arms straight in front of you with palms facing downwards
- Bend your knees and push your pelvis down and imagine as if you are sitting on a chair.
- Balance yourself properly in this position and try to make yourself as comfortable as possible.
- Make sure that your arms remain stretched and parallel to the ground as long as you stay in the seated position.
- While in the seated position, make sure that you sit straight and elongate your spine.
- Taking long breaths, sink deeper into the chair by going down deep.
- You can either come straight up on your feet or go down to sit down in a cross legged or sukhasana position and relax. Repeat the process if you do not feel restless.
Benefits of Utkatasana
- This asana helps improve overall balance of the body.
- It strengthens the torso as well as the lower back and also exercises the spine, hips and muscles of the chest.
- This asana tones the thighs, ankles and legs.
Note: If you suffer with chronic knee pain, arthritis, any knee problem or damaged ligaments, you should avoid practicing this asana.