STHIRA SUKHAM ASANAM PTYS 46

स्थिरसुखमासनम् ॥४६॥ 

Practicing yoga with strength and in a relaxed manner gives rise to harmony with the physical body (asana). sthira = (nom. sg. m.) strong; steady; stable; motionlesssukham = (acc. from sukha) comfortable; ease filled; happy; light; relaxedāsanam = (acc. sg. n./nom. sg. n. from āsana) asana; posture; seated position; physical practice

Intention

Take a moment before you begin to tune in and to set an intention for your practice. Here’s a great start: http://www.yogajournal.com/wisdom/1631

 

Pranayama

Instructions :Simply inhale to a count of 5-6Exhale to a count of 6-7Do this for 3 minutes (I have an app called Zen timer on my phone which is wonderful!)  Therapeutic Benefits:

  • Stimulates the vagus nerve
  • enacts the rest & digest response of the parasympathetic nervous system
  • lowers blood pressure
  • decreases stress, worry and anxiety

 

Asana: Instructions form Yogajournal.com

 

Bitilasana – Cow Pose 

Instructions:

Start on your hands and knees in a “tabletop” position. Make sure your knees are set directly below your hips and your wrists, elbows and shoulders are in line and perpendicular to the floor. Center your head in a neutral position, eyes looking at the floor. As you inhale, lift your sitting bones and chest toward the ceiling, allowing your belly to sink toward the floor. Lift your head to look straight forward.

Therapeutic Benefits:

  • Stretches the front of the torso and neck
  • Provides a gentle massage to the spine and belly organs

Marjaryasana – Cat Pose 

Instructions:Start on your hands and knees in a “tabletop” position. Make sure your knees are set directly below your hips and your wrists, elbows and shoulders are in line and perpendicular to the floor. Center your head in a neutral position, eyes looking at the floor. As you exhale, round your spine toward the ceiling, making sure to keep your shoulders and knees in position. Release your head toward the floor, but don’t force your chin to your chest.Therapeutic Benefits:

  • Stretches the back torso and neck
  • Provides a gentle massage to the spine and belly organs

Dolphin Plank Pose

Instructions:Align your shoulders directly over the elbows and your torso is parallel to the floor. Press your inner forearms and elbows firmly against the floor. Firm your shoulder blades against your back and spread them away from the spine. Similarly spread your collarbones away from the sternum. Press your front thighs toward the ceiling, but resist your tailbone toward the floor as you lengthen it toward the heels. Lift the base of your skull away from the back of the neck and look straight down at the floor, keeping the throat and eyes soft. Stay anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute. Breathe fully as you feel the body expand and contract. Then, release your knees to the floor with an exhale.Therapeutic Benefits:

  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
  • Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, and arches
  • Strengthens the arms and legs, and core
  • Helps prevent osteoporosis

Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog

Instructions:From Tabletop –  Spread your palms, index fingers parallel or slightly turned out, and turn your toes under. Exhale and lift your knees away from the floor. At first keep the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis and press it lightly toward the pubis. Against this resistance, lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling, and from your inner ankles draw the inner legs up into the groins. Then with an exhalation, push your top thighs back and stretch your heels onto or down toward the floor. Straighten your knees but be sure not to lock them. Firm the outer thighs and roll the upper thighs inward slightly. Narrow the front of the pelvis. Firm the outer arms and press the bases of the index fingers actively into the floor. From these two points lift along your inner arms from the wrists to the tops of the shoulders. Firm your shoulder blades against your back, then widen them and draw them toward the tailbone. Keep the head between the upper arms; don’t let it hang. Adho Mukha Svanasana is one of the poses in the traditional Sun Salutation sequence. It’s also an excellent yoga asana all on its own. Stay in this pose anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes. Then bend your knees to the floor with an exhalation and rest in child’s pose.Therapeutic Benefits:

  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
  • Energizes the body
  • Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands
  • Strengthens the arms and legs
  • Helps prevent osteoporosis
  • Improves digestion
  • Relieves headache, insomnia, back pain, and fatigue
  • Therapeutic for high blood pressure, asthma, flat feet, sciatica, sinusitis

Utthita Trikonasana – Triangle

Instructions:With an exhalation, step or lightly jump your feet 3 1/2 to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them actively out to the sides, shoulder blades wide, palms down. Turn your left foot in slightly to the right and your right foot out to the right 90 degrees. Align the right heel with the left heel. Firm your thighs and turn your right thigh outward, so that the center of the right knee cap is in line with the center of the right ankle. Exhale and extend your torso to the right directly over the plane of the right leg, bending from the hip joint, not the waist. Anchor this movement by strengthening the left leg and pressing the outer heel firmly to the floor. Rotate the torso to the left, keeping the two sides equally long. Let the left hip come slightly forward and lengthen the tailbone toward the back heel. Rest your right hand on your shin, ankle, or the floor outside your right foot, whatever is possible without distorting the sides of the torso. Stretch your left arm toward the ceiling, in line with the tops of your shoulders. Keep your head in a neutral position or turn it to the left, eyes gazing softly at the left thumb. Stay in this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Inhale to come up, strongly pressing the back heel into the floor and reaching the top arm toward the ceiling. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left.Therapeutic Benefits:

  • Stretches and strengthens the thighs, knees, and ankles
  • Stretches the hips, groins, hamstrings, and calves; shoulders, chest, and spine
  • Stimulates the abdominal organs
  • Helps relieve stress
  • Improves digestion
  • Relieves backache
  • Therapeutic for anxiety, flat feet, infertility, neck pain, osteoporosis, and sciatica

Utthita Parsvakonasana – Extended Side Angle Pose

Instructions:

From Triangle –  Once again firm your thighs and turn your right thigh outward, so that the center of the kneecap is in line with the center of the right ankle. Roll the left hip slightly forward, toward the right, but rotate your upper torso back to the left. Anchor the left (back) heel to the floor by lifting the inner left groin deep into the pelvis. Then exhale and bend your right knee over the right ankle, so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor. As you bend the knee aim the inner knee toward the little-toe side of the foot. If possible, bring the right thigh parallel to the floor. Firm your shoulder blades against the back ribs. Extend your left arm straight up toward the ceiling, then turn the left palm to face toward your head and with an inhalation reach the arm over the back of your left ear, palm facing the floor. Stretch from your left heel through your left fingertips, lengthening the entire left side of your body. Turn your head to look at the left arm. Release your right shoulder away from the ear. Try to create as much length along the right side of your torso as you do along the left. As you continue to ground your left heel to the floor, exhale and lay the right side of your torso down onto (or bring it as close as possible to) the top of the right thigh. Press your right fingertips (or palm) on the floor just outside of your right foot. Actively push the right knee back against the inner arm; counter this by burrowing your tail bone into the back of your pelvis, toward the pubis. The inside of your right thigh should be parallel with the long edge of your sticky mat. Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Inhale to come up. Push both heels strongly into the floor and reach the left arm forcefully toward the ceiling to lighten the upward movement. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left. Then come up and return to Tadasana.

Therapeutic Benefits:

  • Strengthens and stretches the legs, knees, and ankles
  • Stretches the groins, spine, waist, chest and lungs, and shoulders
  • Stimulates abdominal organs
  • Increases stamina

Anjaneyasana – Low Lunge/ Crescent Lunge 

Instructions:From downward facing dog, exhale and step your right foot forward between your hands, aligning the right knee over the heel. Then lower your left knee to the floor and, keeping the right knee fixed in place, slide the left back until you feel a comfortable stretch in the left front thigh and groin. Turn the top of your left foot to the floor. Inhale and lift your torso to upright. As you do, sweep your arms out to the sides and up, perpendicular to the floor. Draw the tailbone down toward the floor and lift your pubic bone toward your navel. Lift your chest from the firmness of your shoulder blades against the back torso. Take your head back and look up, being careful not to jam the back of your neck. Interlace your fingers and press your palms into your thigh. Lift the low belly off of the thigh and extend the spine. Hold for a minute, exhale your torso back to the right thigh and your hands to the floor, and turn your back toes under. With another exhale, lift your left knee off the floor and step back to Adho Mukha Svanasana. Repeat with the left foot forward for the same length of time. Therapeutic Benefits:

  • Strengthens the muscles of the spine, buttocks, and low belly
  • Stretches the psoas
  • Improves posture
  • Stimulates abdominal organs
  • Relieves sciatica

 

Fire Breathing Dragon 

Instructions:From downward facing dog, step one foot between the hands. Walk the front foot forward until the knee is right above the heel. Slide the back knee backward as far as you can. Keep the hands on the inside of the front foot. Lower down to the forearms if possible. Therapeutic Benefits:

  • Deep hip and groin opener that gets right into the joint
  • Stretches the back leg’s hip flexors and quadriceps
  • Many variations to help work deeply into hip socket
  • Can help with sciatic

Ardha Navasana – Half Boat Pose

Instructions:
Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Press your hands on the floor a little behind your hips, fingers pointing toward the feet, and strengthen the arms. Lift through the top of the sternum and lean back slightly. As you do this make sure your back doesn’t round; continue to lengthen the front of your torso between the pubis and top sternum. Sit on the “tripod” of your two sitting bones and tailbone. Exhale and bend your knees, then lift your feet off the floor, so that the thighs are angled about 90 degrees relative to the floor with knees bent. Lengthen your tailbone into the floor and lift your pubis toward your navel. If possible, slowly straighten your knees, raising the tips of your toes slightly above the level of your eyes. If this isn’t possible remain with your knees bent, perhaps lifting the shins parallel to the floor. Stretch your arms alongside the legs, parallel to each other and the floor. Spread the shoulder blades across your back and reach strongly out through the fingers. If this isn’t possible, keep the hands on the floor beside your hips or hold on to the backs of your thighs.  While the lower belly should be firm, it shouldn’t get hard and thick. Try to keep the lower belly relatively flat. Press the heads of the thigh bones toward the floor to help anchor the pose and lift the top sternum. Breathe easily. Tip the chin slightly toward the sternum so the base of the skull lifts lightly away from the back of the neck. At first stay in the pose for 10-20 seconds. Gradually increase the time of your stay to 1 minute. Release the legs with an exhalation and sit upright on an inhalation.
Therapeutic Benefits:
  • Strengthens the abdomen, hip flexors, and spine
  • Stimulates the kidneys, thyroid and prostate glands, and intestines
  • Helps relieve stress
  • Improves digestion

Salahbasana – Locust Pose

Instructions:

Lie on your belly with your arms along the sides of your torso, palms up, forehead resting on the floor. Turn your big toes toward each other to inwardly rotate your thighs, and firm your buttocks so your coccyx presses toward your pubis. Exhale and lift your head, upper torso, arms, and legs away from the floor. You’ll be resting on your lower ribs, belly, and front pelvis. Firm your buttocks and reach strongly through your legs, first through the heels to lengthen the back legs, then through the bases of the big toes. Keep the big toes turned toward each other. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and stretch back actively through your fingertips. Imagine there’s a weight pressing down on the backs of the upper arms, and push up toward the ceiling against this resistance. Press your scapulas firmly into your back. Gaze forward or slightly upward, being careful not to jut your chin forward and crunch the back of your neck. Keep the base of the skull lifted and the back of the neck long. Take long deep breaths as you focus on the expansion and contraction of the body. Hold and repeat as desired.

 

Therapeutic Benefits:

  • Strengthens the muscles of the spine, buttocks, and backs of the arms and legs
  • Stretches the shoulders, chest, belly, and thighs
  • Improves posture
  • Stimulates abdominal organs
  • Helps relieve stress

 

Ardha Matsyandrasana – Half Lord of the Fishes/ Seated Twist 

Instructions:

Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you, buttocks supported on a folded blanket. Bend your knees, put your feet on the floor, then slide your left foot under your right leg to the outside of your right hip. Lay the outside of the left leg on the floor. Step the right foot over the left leg and stand it on the floor outside your left hip. The right knee will point directly up at the ceiling. Exhale and twist toward the inside of the right thigh. Press the right hand against the floor just behind your right buttock, and set your left upper arm on the outside of your right thigh near the knee. Pull your front torso and inner right thigh snugly together. Press the inner right foot very actively into the floor, release the right groin, and lengthen the front torso. Lean the upper torso back slightly, against the shoulder blades, and continue to lengthen the tailbone into the floor. You can turn your head in one of two directions: Continue the twist of the torso by turning it to the right; or counter the twist of the torso by turning it left and looking over the left shoulder at the right foot. With every inhalation lift a little more through the sternum, pushing the fingers against the floor to help. Twist a little more with every exhalation. Be sure to distribute the twist evenly throughout the entire length of the spine; don’t concentrate it in the lower back. Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then release with an exhalation, return to the starting position, and repeat to the left for the same length of time.

 

Therapeutic Benefits:

  • Stimulates the liver and kidneys
  • Stretches the shoulders, hips, and neck
  • Energizes the spine
  • Stimulates the digestive fire in the belly
  • Relieves fatigue, sciatica, and backache

Balasana – Child’s Pose 

Instructions:

Lie supine on the floor, and if necessary, place a thickly folded blanket under your shoulders to protect your neck. Bend your knees and set your feet on the floor, heels as close to the sitting bones as possible. Exhale and, pressing your inner feet and arms actively into the floor, push your tailbone upward toward the pubis, firming (but not hardening) the buttocks, and lift the buttocks off the floor. Keep your thighs and inner feet parallel. Clasp the hands below your pelvis and extend through the arms to help you stay on the tops of your shoulders. Lift your buttocks until the thighs are about parallel to the floor. Keep your knees directly over the heels, but push them forward, away from the hips, and lengthen the tailbone toward the backs of the knees. Lift the pubis toward the navel. Lift your chin slightly away from the sternum and, firming the shoulder blades against your back, press the top of the sternum toward the chin. Firm the outer arms, broaden the shoulder blades, and try to lift the space between them at the base of the neck (where it’s resting on the blanket) up into the torso. Stay in the pose anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute. Release with an exhalation, rolling the spine slowly down onto the floor.
Therapeutic Benefits:

  • Stretches the chest, neck, and spine
  • Calms the brain and helps alleviate stress and mild depression
  • Stimulates abdominal organs, lungs, and thyroid
  • Rejuvenates tired legs
  • Improves digestion
  • Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
  • Reduces anxiety, fatigue, backache, headache, and insomnia
  • Therapeutic for asthma, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and sinusitis

Bridge Pose

Instructions:
Lie supine on the floor, and if necessary, place a thickly folded blanket under your shoulders to protect your neck. Bend your knees and set your feet on the floor, heels as close to the sitting bones as possible. Exhale and, pressing your inner feet and arms actively into the floor, push your tailbone upward toward the pubis, firming (but not hardening) the buttocks, and lift the buttocks off the floor. Keep your thighs and inner feet parallel. Clasp the hands below your pelvis and extend through the arms to help you stay on the tops of your shoulders. Lift your buttocks until the thighs are about parallel to the floor. Keep your knees directly over the heels, but push them forward, away from the hips, and lengthen the tailbone toward the backs of the knees. Lift the pubis toward the navel.  Lift your chin slightly away from the sternum and, firming the shoulder blades against your back, press the top of the sternum toward the chin. Firm the outer arms, broaden the shoulder blades, and try to lift the space between them at the base of the neck (where it’s resting on the blanket) up into the torso. Stay in the pose anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute. Release with an exhalation, rolling the spine slowly down onto the floor.

Therapeutic Benefits:

  • Stretches the chest, neck, and spine
  • Calms the brain and helps alleviate stress and mild depression
  • Stimulates abdominal organs, lungs, and thyroid
  • Rejuvenates tired legs
  • Improves digestion
  • Reduces anxiety, fatigue, backache, headache, and insomnia
  • Therapeutic for asthma, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and sinusitis

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana – Shoulderstand

Instructions:
Lie on your back with your arms on the floor alongside your torso, then bend your knees and set your feet against the floor with the heels close to the sitting bones. Exhale, press your arms against the floor, and push your feet away from the floor, drawing your thighs into the front torso. Continue to lift by curling the pelvis and then the back torso away from the floor, so that your knees come toward your face. Stretch your arms out parallel to the edge of the blanket and turn them outward so the fingers press against the floor (and the thumbs point behind you). Bend your elbows and draw them toward each other. Lay the backs of your upper arms on the floor and spread your palms against the back of your torso. Raise your pelvis over the shoulders, so that the torso is relatively perpendicular to the floor. Walk your hands up your back (toward the floor) without letting the elbows slide too much wider than shoulder width. Inhale and lift your bent knees toward the ceiling, bringing your thighs in line with your torso and hanging the heels down by your buttocks. Press your tailbone toward your pubis and turn the upper thighs inward slightly. Finally inhale and straighten the knees, pressing the heels up toward the ceiling. When the backs of the legs are fully lengthened, lift through the balls of the big toes so the inner legs are slightly longer than the outer. Soften the throat and tongue. Firm the shoulder blades against the back, and move the sternum toward the chin. Your forehead should be relatively parallel to the floor, your chin perpendicular. Press the backs of your upper arms and the tops of your shoulders actively into the floor support, and try to lift the upper spine away from the floor. Gaze softly at your chest. As a beginning practitioner stay in the pose for about 30 seconds. Gradually add 5 to 10 seconds to your stay every day or so until you can comfortably hold the pose for 3 minutes. Then continue for 3 minutes each day for a week or two, until you feel relatively comfortable in the pose. Again gradually and 5 to 10 seconds onto your stay every day or so until you can comfortably hold the pose for 5 minutes. To come down, exhale, bend your knees into your torso again, and roll your back torso slowly and carefully onto the floor, keeping the back of your head on the floor.
Therapeutic Benefits:

  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
  • Stimulates the thyroid and prostate glands and abdominal organs
  • Stretches the shoulders and neck
  • Tones the legs and buttocks
  • Improves digestion
  • Reduces fatigue and alleviates insomnia
  • Therapeutic for asthma, infertility, and sinusitis

Savasana – Final Resting Pose

Instructions:
In Savasana it’s essential that the body be placed in a neutral position. Sit on the floor with your knees bent, feet on the floor, and lean back onto your forearms. Lift your pelvis slightly off the floor and, with your hands, push the back of the pelvis toward the tailbone, then return the pelvis to the floor. Inhale and slowly extend the right leg, then the left, pushing through the heels. Release both legs, softening the groins, and see that the legs are angled evenly relative to the mid-line of the torso, and that the feet turn out equally. Narrow the front pelvis and soften (but don’t flatten) the lower back. With your hands lift the base of the skull away from the back of the neck and release the back of the neck down toward the tailbone. If you have any difficulty doing this, support the back of the head and neck on a folded blanket. Broaden the base of the skull too, and lift the crease of the neck diagonally into the center of the head. Make sure your ears are equidistant from your shoulders. Reach your arms toward the ceiling, perpendicular to the floor. Rock slightly from side to side and broaden the back ribs and the shoulder blades away from the spine. Then release the arms to the floor, angled evenly relative to the mid-line of torso. Turn the arms outward and stretch them away from the space between the shoulder blades. Rest the backs of the hands on the floor as close as you comfortably can to the index finger knuckles. Make sure the shoulder blades are resting evenly on the floor. Imagine the lower tips of the shoulder blades are lifting diagonally into your back toward the top of the sternum. From here, spread the collarbones.  In addition to quieting the physical body in Savasana, it’s also necessary to pacify the sense organs. Soften the root of the tongue, the wings of the nose, the channels of the inner ears, and the skin of the forehead, especially around the bridge of the nose between the eyebrows. Let the eyes sink to the back of the head, then turn them downward to gaze at the heart. Release your brain to the back of the head. Stay in this pose for 5 minutes for every 30 minutes of practice. To exit, first roll gently with an exhalation onto one side, preferably the right. Take 2 or 3 breaths. With another exhalation press your hands against the floor and lift your torso, dragging your head slowly after. The head should always come up last.
Therapeutic Benefits:

  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
  • Relaxes the body
  • Reduces headache, fatigue, and insomnia
  • Helps to lower blood pressure