Health-promoting yoga poses

Journal contributor and Feel Yoga volunteer Macey Nielissen offers step-by-step directions for simple yoga poses that will invigorate your body and mind

Warrior II Pose (Virabhadrasana II)
Warrior II Pose (Virabhadrasana II)
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Half-Tortoise Pose (Ardha Kurmasana)
Half-Tortoise Pose (Ardha Kurmasana)
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Plank Pose (Uttihita Chaturanga Dandasana)
Plank Pose (Uttihita Chaturanga Dandasana)
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Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
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Yoga is one of the rare forms of activity that allows us to massage all of our organs and tissues. It exercises the joints and ligaments that, without such activity, are ignored by other forms of activity, and lead to future injury and disease. Yoga helps achieve emotional balance, become aware of your own body, and more efficiently control the mind.

It’s a perfect practise for students, allowing you to remain active, tone, strengthen and stretch, while also relieving yourself from the stress of second semester.

Warrior II Pose (Virabhadrasana II)

Instructions: 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 right foot in slightly to the right and your left foot out to the left 90 degrees. Align the left heel with the right heel. Firm your thighs and turn your left thigh outward so that the center of the left knee cap is in line with the center of the left ankle.

Exhale and bend your left knee over the left ankle, so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor. If possible, bring the left thigh parallel to the floor. Anchor this movement of the left knee by strengthening the right leg and pressing the outer right heel firmly to the floor.

Stretch the arms away from the space between the shoulder blades, parallel to the floor. Don’t lean the torso over the left thigh: Keep the sides of the torso equally long and the shoulders directly over the pelvis. Press the tailbone slightly toward the pubis. Turn the head to the left and look out over the fingers.

Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Inhale to come up. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left.

  • Strengthens and stretches the legs and ankles
  • Stretches the groin, chest and lungs, shoulders
  • Stimulates abdominal organs

Half-Tortoise Pose (Ardha Kurmasana)

Instructions: Begin by sitting on your knees. Suck your stomach in and lean forward, folding your body at the waist. Be sure to keep your bottom near your ankles as you bend. Rest your forehead on the floor and reach your arms out in front of you, keeping them as straight as possible. Bring your palms together, resting the sides of your hands on the floor. You should feel the stretch along the back of your arms and in your shoulders. Hold this post for 30 seconds and breathe deeply.

  • Provides maximum relaxation to the body
  • Improves the circulation of blood and air to the brain
  • Tones up the abdomen and the thighs
  • Reduces problems related to indigestion, constipation and flatulence
  • Increases hip flexibility
  • The lower part of the lungs get stretched, which is good for asthma
  • Alleviates stress, insomnia and migraine.

Plank Pose (Uttihita Chaturanga Dandasana)

Instructions: Draw the torso forward until the shoulders are over the wrists and the whole body is in one straight line (similar to a push up position) Press the forearms and hands firmly down, do not let your chest sink, press back through the heels. Keep the neck in line with the spine and broaden the shoulder blades.

  • Strengthens the arms, wrists and spine
  • Tones the abdomen

Chair Pose (Utkatasana)

Instructions: Inhale, raise your arms and join the palms. Exhale and bend your knees, trying to take the thighs as nearly parallel to the floor as possible. The knees will project out over the feet, and the torso will lean slightly forward over the thighs until the front torso forms approximately a right angle with the tops of the thighs. Keep the inner thighs parallel to each other and press the heads of the thigh bones down toward the heels. Firm your shoulder blades against the back. Take your tailbone down toward the floor and in toward your pubis to keep the lower back long. Stay for 30 seconds to a minute.

  • Strengthens the ankles, thighs, calves and spine
  • Stretches shoulders and chest
  • Stimulates the abdominal organs, diaphragm and heart

Any yoga sequence should finish in a posture known as corpse pose or Savasana.
Instructions: Lay on your back with your palms facing the ceiling, feet straight out and falling outwards. Neck flat on the floor with head tilted slightly forward. Every muscle should be relaxed, allowing the body to soak up the benefits of the previous postures.

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