Yoga Exercises

The following exercises are intended to expand your physical and mental horizons.

Eye Training:
Like any other muscles, the eye muscles also need exercise to be healthy and strong. Most of the time, we only shift our gaze minimally from left to right, as when reading, and turn our heads if we want to look elsewhere. By moving the eyes in every direction, without turning your head at all, these Five Yoga Eye Exercises will strengthen the eye muscles, help prevent eyestrain and improve eyesight. Breathe normally while you practice.

First look up, then look down. Now look to the far right and then look far left. Next look up to the right, then look diagonally downward to the left. Repeat in the opposite direction. Now imagine a large clock - look up at 12 o'clock, then circle around it clockwise, quite slowly for two rounds then quicker for three. Repeat the exercise in a counterclockwise direction. Lastly, hold your thumb up about a foot from your face, and move your eyes from the thumb to the wall beyond and back. To end, always "palm" your eyes as shown below.

Rolling the Eyes

1. Look up; look down (5 times).

2. Look far right, look far left (5 times).

3. Look top right, look bottom left (5 times); look top left, look bottom right (5 times).

4. Look up, circle around clockwise (5 times), anticlockwise (5 times).

5. Look at the thumb, then wall, then back, near to far focusing (5 times).

Palming

Rub your palms together vigorously until they feel warm. Now cup your hands over your closed eyes, without pressing. The heat and the darkness will soothe and relax your eyes.

Shoulder Lifts
Many people hold tension in their necks and shoulders, leading to stiffness, bad posture and tension headaches.

Repeating these five Shoulder Exercises Do them slowly and keep your spine straight. Your neck relaxed and your shoulders facing forward. Raise your right shoulder, then drop it down. Repeat with the left. Lastly, raise both shoulders at once, then drop them down again


1. Right shoulder up; down; left shoulder up; down 5 times.

2. Both shoulders up; both shoulders down 5 times.

Cat Pose (Bidalasana)
The Cat Yoga Pose teaches you to initiate movement from your center and to coordinate your movement and breath. These are two of the most important themes in Yoga Asana practice. The alignment of your center depends on the positioning of your pelvis. Therefore, think of your hip positioning as the center of each Pose. This is important because your spine is the most significant line of energy in every pose and because the way your spine elongates from your center depends solely on which way your pelvis is turning. If your sacrum is tilted forward (Dog tilt), your spine will project forward before beginning its upward ascent, increasing the curve of your lower back. If your sacrum is tilted backward just like in the Cat tilt, your spine will project backward, rounding your lower back. Every Yoga Pose involves positioning your pelvis in either "cat tilt," "dog tilt," or "neutral" or in moving toward one of these. In most Yoga Poses, only one of these choices is appropriate.

Cat Yoga Pose (Bidalasana)

1. Start on your hands and knees. Position your hands directly beneath your shoulders and your knees directly beneath the hips. Have your fingers fully spread with the middle fingers pointing straight ahead. Make your back horizontal and flat. Gaze at the floor. This is your "neutral" positioning. When your pelvis is in neutral, your spine will be at full extension, with both the front and back sides equally long.

2. As you wait for the inner cue, do not sag into your shoulders (photo 1). Instead, create a line of energy through each arm by pressing downward into your hands and lifting upward out of your shoulders (photo 2). Go back and forth like this several times to make sure you understand the movement. As you exhale, sag into your shoulders and do the incorrect action; as you inhale, lengthen the arms, lift out of the shoulders and do the correct action

Cat Tilt

3. When you are ready to begin, breathe in deeply. As you exhale, turn your hips into "Cat Tilt" (photo 3). Do this by gently pulling the abdominal muscles backward toward the spine, tucking the tailbone (coccyx) down and under, and gently contracting the buttocks. Press firmly downward with your hands in order to stay lifted out of the shoulders, and press the middle of your back toward the ceiling, rounding your spine upward. Curl your head inward. Gaze at the floor between your knees.

Dog Tilt

4. As you inhale, turn your hips into "Dog Tilt" (photo 4). Do this by releasing the grip of the buttocks, reversing the tilt of your pelvis, and curving your spine into a smoothly arched backbend. The pubic bone will move backward through the legs, the sitting bones will turn upward, and the sacrum will change its angle.

5. Keep the navel backward toward the spine as you do this, and continue pressing downward into your hands to lengthen the arms and stay lifted out of the shoulders. Lift your chest away from the waist, lift your head, slide the shoulder blades down your back, and either gaze at a point on the floor in front of you or upward toward the ceiling - or close your eyes and immerse yourself in the way this feels.

6. Feel the flow of the curve. Increase the curve by tilting your pelvis more and moving the spine deeper into your back, bringing the curve up your back. Do this without sagging into the shoulders. Arch the full length of your spine to its maximum.

The Cat Pose loosens your back and spine. It also stretches the front and back of your body and frees your neck and shoulders. Doing the Cat Tilt elongates your back muscles and makes your abdominal muscles contract while performing the Dog Tilt makes your back muscles contract as the abdominal muscles stretches. Doing the Cat and Dog Pose benefits your health by stimulating spinal fluid and the digestive tract, and by improving circulation through the spine and core. The Cat Pose is also beneficial in managing stress.

If you have any difficulty doing this exercise, you may place a folded Yoga Blanket under your knees to protect you from pressure or pain. Caution must be observed if you suffer from any chronic or recent Back pain or injury.

Neck Exercises
Many people hold tension in their necks and shoulders, leading to stiffness, bad posture and tension headaches. Repeating these five yoga Neck Exercises eases tension, increases flexibility and tones the muscles. Do them slowly and keep your spine straight. Your neck relaxed and your shoulders facing forward. First drop your head back, then drop it right forward. Now keeping your head erect, turn it all the way to the right, back to center, then all the way to the left. Next drop your head forward and roll it around as wide a circle as possible. Repeat in the opposite direction. Now, raise your right shoulder, then drop it down. Repeat with the left. Lastly, raise both shoulders at once, then drop them down again.

Neck Rolls

1. Head back; head forward, chin to chest (5 times)

2. Right ear to right shoulders; left ear to left shoulder (5 times).

3. Neck circles; head forward, chin to chest; right ear to right shoulder; back; left eat to left shoulder (5 times); then opposite (5 times).

Shoulder Stretches
The following seven Shoulder Stretches are great in relieving stress and tension on your shoulders, as well as your entire upper back. Practice them daily for several weeks and notice the changes. You will need a long strap for the first three.

Shoulder Stretch 1
1. Sit in any comfortably erect position. Clasp hold of the strap and straighten your arms. As you inhale, sweep your arms forward and up until they are vertical, and exhale as you bring them down behind you.

2. Coordinate this movement with your breathing, making the movement smooth. Make sure the strap is sufficiently long and your hands sufficiently far apart, so that you call keep your arms straight. If you cannot keep your arms straight, lengthen the strap.

3. The idea is to circumscribe as large a circle as possible with your hands as they go up and over. Therefore, at every given moment you are stretching outward through your arms in the direction they are pointing.

Shoulder Stretch 2
1. Shorten the strap so your hands are approximately twenty-four to thirty inches apart. Adjust the distance to suit your need. Raise both arms up, bringing the right arm alongside the ear, and swivel the left arm around and down behind you. 2 .Inhale as you energize upward through the right arm, and exhale as you reach outward through the left arm and pull down with the hand. This is a fantastic stretch. Breathe smoothly and create the degree of intensity you find pleasurable. Be here several breaths, then change sides.

Shoulder Stretch 3
1. Shorten the strap until your arms are parallel with one another and your hands are shoulder-width apart. Pull outward with your hands until the strap is taut.

2 .Take your arms up. Get as long as you can from your navel to your hands. Be here a few moments.

3 Slowly bend your arms. Pull hard on the belt as you slowly bring it down behind your head until it touches the back of your neck. Keep the abdominals in, your chest lifted, and firmly squeeze the elbows backward - and continue pulling the strap taut. Then slowly take the strap back up again, straightening the arms. Try to feel every subtle change of sensation. Do not be surprised if the strap starts jiggling. It's a long way up. This is more difficult than you'd think. Do this several times, then release the strap.

Shoulder Stretch 4
1. Clasp your hands behind you, straighten your arms, then lift your hands as high as you can. Roll the shoulders backward, gently squeezing the shoulder blades together, and expand your chest by lifting it up and pressing it forward. Pull straight backward through your arms in the direction they are pointing. Be here several breaths.

2. Bring your interlaced hands to the left side of your waist. Pull the abdominals in and lift the chest, then roll both shoulders backward as you squeeze the elbows inward toward one another and press forward with your hands. Breathe deeply and expand your chest, deliberately pressing it forward through the shoulders. Be here several breaths, then change sides.

Shoulder Stretch 5
1. Stretch the left arm straight up, then bend your elbow and bring your hand down behind your back. Clasp the left elbow with your right hand. Find the groove of your spine with your left fingertips.

2. Keeping your abdomen in, backward toward the spine, and your chest lifting and expanded, use your right hand to pull the left elbow behind your head. Maneuver your fingertips down the groove of the spine, gently squeeze the right elbow comfortably far backward, and allow the stretch to penetrate for half a minute. Breathe smoothly. Change sides. 

Shoulder Stretch 6
1. Place the back of your right hand on your lower back, then wriggle it up your back as far as it will comfortably go. Pause here, acclimatize for a moment, then wriggle it farther up.

2 Stretch the left arm straight up, bend your elbow so your hand comes down behind your back, and clasp your hands. Move the left elbow away from your head and elevate your chin slightly. Stretch straight up, into the left elbow, straight down into the right elbow, and attempt to move both elbows baackward - chest up, shoulder blades down, navel backward toward the spine. Be here half a minute, breathing smoothly, then switch sides. 

Shoulder Stretch 7
1. Entwine your arms and bring your palms together. Turn your palms until they are straight. Be here half a minute, then entwine them with the other arm on top.

2. Bring your hands into prayer position behind your back. Start with your fingertips together, pointing down, then turn your hands inward and bring them up into prayer position.

3. Bring the abdominals in, lift and expand the chest, then roll the shoulders backward. Move the elbows backward so the shoulder blades flatten into your back, and gently press your palms together. Wriggle your hands higher when you can. The higher you get them, the more comfortable this will be. Be here several breaths.

Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
This is called Mountain Yoga Pose because it promotes the experience of stillness, strength, relaxed power, and immovable stability associated with mountains. Remember that experiencing yourself in stillness is the most direct way to experience yourself with clarity. This yoga posture, and coming back to this stillness after other poses, is one of the very best ways of becoming acquainted with stillness. 

Mountain Yoga Pose (Tadasana)
Tadasana is the most basic pose and is, therefore, the foundation for all others. Being stationary and passive, involves learning to stand erect, relaxed, and still. The position has two primary lines of energy radiating outward from your center: one line moving upward through the spine and one line downward through the legs. Your hips will be in cat tilt.




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