Yoga positions are a very important part of yoga, and mastering them will help you to achieve the harmony and balance that yoga can provide. The toga positions illustrated below incorporate both yoga positions for beginners, and advanced yoga positions.
Bikram Yoga is a very popular form of yoga created by master award winning yogi Bikram Choudhury.
Warning: Do not attempt any of these poses without the consultation and supervision of a professional!
1. Pranayama: (standing, deep breathing) In this position, hands are interlinked and placed flat, palms down, with the back of the hand pressing up against the underside of the chin. Then the elbows are lifted up above the head while the fingers remain interlinked and under the chin. Pranayama, the art of controlled breathing, is a perfect yoga position for beginners.
2. Ardha Chandrasana / Pada Hastasana: (half moon w/ hands-to-feet position) Standing straight with legs together, clasp hands and put arms straight above your head. Then bed to the side, making the top half of your body parallel to the ground. Variation: stand straight again, with arms straight above head, and bend backwards, looking back and pointing to the floor.
3. Utkatasana: (awkward position) While standing on your toes, crouch down – keep your knees and feet together, not spread apart. Crouch down far enough so that the tops of your legs are parallel with the ground but not far enough that your buttocks are resting on your heels. Make sure you back is as straight as possible (perpendicular to the floor), keep your neck and head straight as well, and put your arms straight out in front of you (palms down). Remember to stay on your toes! This yoga position can be difficult for beginners.
4. Garurasana: (eagle position) A difficult yoga positions to master. While standing, cross your legs above the knee so that you are balancing on one foot. Tuck the foot that is in the air behind the other leg’s calf (you should be slightly crouched for balance). While balancing, cross arm under the other above the elbow, then wrap it around the wrist so that it touches the other hand. Bend the elbows and point hands upwards. Keep balancing!
5. Dandayamana / JanuSirasana: (standing head-to-knee) Standing on one foot, bring you other leg (don’t bend the knee) so that is perpendicular to the floor. Grab the suspended foot with both hands and slowly lean forward. Try to bend far enough so that your head touches your knee.
6. Dandayamana / Dhanurasana: (standing bow pulling position) This yoga position is very high in difficulty and requires balance and the ability to do the splits. Stand on one foot, and pull the other leg straight backwards and grab it with one hand (behind your head). Then pull the leg so that it is pointing straight up in the air. Put your other arm straight forward (parallel to the floor).
7. Tuladandasana: (balancing stick position) Standing on one foot, point one leg straight back, perpendicular to the floor, pointing your toes straight back. Lean forward, and with your hands clasped and pointing straight ahead, malign your body (and arms) with your back leg, so that your entire body (beside s the leg you are balancing on) is perpendicular to the floor (‘T’ shape).
8. Dandayamana - Bibhaktapada – Paschimottanasana: (standing separate leg stretching position) While standing, spread your feet so they are approximately 2-3 feet apart. Slowly lean forward and grab the outside of your ankles with your hands, wrapping your fingers around the back of your heel. Continue to bed down until your head touches the floor. Keep your neck straight.
9. Trikanasana: (triangle position) Stand straight, then take one foot, point it to one side (for example, right foot points right, or ‘out’). Take a step with that and bend the knee of that leg until the top of the leg is parallel to the ground. (The other foot should stay planted and pointing forward). Turn your body to face forward, keep both arms straight – one pointing to the sky, the other pointing to your out-turned foot (touching). Turn your head and look to the sky.
10. Dandayamana - Bibhaktapada – Janushirasana: (standing separate leg head to knee position) While standing, step forward a few feet with one leg. With your arms clasped above your head (arms straight, not bent), slowly bend forward until your head touches your knee and your hands reach the toes of the forward foot.
11. Tadasana: (tree position) While standing with both feet together, put your hands together in front of you in a ‘prayer’ position, just under your chin. Bend one leg at the knee inward and bring your foot up to your midsection region, the pad of your foot facing upwards. The pad of your foot should be touching your other leg and should be groin level. Balance.
12. Padangustasana: (toe stand position) Similar to the Tadasana, put your hands in the prayer position. As with Tadasana, bend one leg inward so that your foot is pad up, level with your groin. Then bend the knee of your balancing leg and crouch down. At the bottom of the crouch, lift up onto your toes and rest your buttocks on the back of your heel. Balance.
13. Savasana: (dead body position) Lie flat on your back with your arms to the side. This pose is all about complete relaxation. Promotes full body circulation.
14. Pavanamuktasana: (wind removing position) While lying flat on your back, bend one knee and bring it toward your chest. Clasp both hands together around the leg just below the knee, and pull your leg up against your chest.
15. Sit up: While sitting, with your legs straight out in front of you, grab your toes and bend your body forward so that your head touches your feet. Continue to look forward. Your elbows should bend and touch the floor.
16. Bhujangasana: (cobra position) A common beginner yoga pose, lie flat on your stomach. Put both palms on the floor, just below breast level and slightly under your body (fingers point forward). Slowly bend your back and your neck so that you are looking towards the sky. Use your palms to push and hold you up.
17. Salabhasana: (locust position) Lie flat on your stomach, with your legs together and your toes pointed. Place your arms alongside you, pointing towards your feet, palm down. Slowly bend your back so that your legs lift off the ground (keep your legs straight, use your back to lift). Point toes towards the sky (keep your legs together).
18. Poorna – Salabhasana: (full locust position) Start with the Salabhasana yoga position, then slowly lift your head, upper body and arms. Your arms should stay behind you and point up in the same direction as your legs, palms out. Your head should be off the ground and pointed to the sky. Your body balances on your midsection/lower stomach area.
19. Dhanurasana: (bow position) Similar to the Poorna-Salabhanasa, you balance on your midsection and point your legs to the sky. This time however, you can bend your knees a little so your feet point straight up. Then, with your arms straight out in front of you this time, lift your body and head, grab your toes. Your arms and legs should be touching and pointing straight up. Bend your head so that you are looking at the union of your feet and hands.
20. Supta – Vajrasana: (fixed firm position) Start by kneeling, then bend backwards until your shoulder blades touch the floor behind you. The pads of your feet should still be facing up, and your toes should be pointed towards your head. The bottom half of your leg should lie alongside your body (not underneath it). Now put your arms behind your head, and grab the other arms elbow area creating a box like pose. Arch your back so that only your shoulder blades, head and legs touch the floor.
21. Ardha – Kurmasana: (half tortoise position) While kneeling, put your arms straight above your head, with your hands together in a prayer position. Lean straight forward until your head touches the floor= and your hands also touch the floor above your head.
22. Ustrasana: (camel position) An extremely difficult yoga position. In a kneeling position with your upper legs and body facing straight up, slowly bend backwards. The idea is to bend far enough back so that your head is at your calf area and your elbows are resting on the ground.
23. Sasangasana: (rabbit position) Start from a kneeling position, with the top of your legs and your body all facing straight up perpendicular to the floor. Slowly bend forward (keeping the top part of your legs straight up and down, bend at the waist) until your head touches the floor with your forehead touching your knees. Straighten your arms out and grab your heels.
24. Janushirasana with Paschimottanasana: (head to knee stretching position) Sit on the floor and spread your legs so that they are positioned at 45 degree angles. Bend one leg at the knee and bring your foot up to the base of your opposite leg (your foot should be laying on its side, against the inside of the opposite leg. Now bend forward and grab the foot of the outstretched leg at the toes (with both hands). Pull your body forward so that your head touches your knee.
25. Ardha – Matsyendrasana: (spine twist position) Start sitting with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your right leg at the knee (knee points up) and place your right foot on the ground outside the knee of the left leg. The bend your left leg so that your foot is positioned on the floor beside your right side buttocks (the entire leg should remain on the floor, bent at the knee). Now, slowly turn your body only to the right. Stabilize yourself by putting your left arm in front of your right leg’s knee, and rest your left hand on your bent left knee. Turn far to the right and turn your head to the right as well. Your right hand then goes behind your back, with your right hand grabbing the thigh of your left leg.
26. Khapalbhati: (blowing in firm) Primarily a breathing technique, this yoga position starts in the kneeling position. Simply keep your back and neck straight, and rest your hands on your knees (arms straight as well). Relax and breathe.