Yoga Postures

Hatha Yoga was developed as a means of enhancing spiritual communion. The wisdom of utilizing our whole body to gain heightened awareness still holds true. Contemplative breath treatments have, likewise, incorporated the use of postures to maximize the contemplative state. The postures and the breathing practices, among other benefits, help normalize and stabilize our physiological processes and our mind. The postures are highly beneficial for those people who have poor carriage. When they are practiced, they profoundly lower agitation and enhance our ability to concentrate.

The breathing technique used in the postures differs from that used in the sitting practice. In the postures all the breathing can be done by funneling air, in and out, though the lips. This is a fundamental form of breath control. It provides a means of extending the period of time for each inhalation and exhalation. What are essential are that a gradual, complete and satisfying inhalation occurs and that a gradual and complete expulsion follows. This suggests that at the peak of each inhalation the stomach and chest will be extended. It likewise suggests that at the end of each expulsion the lower stomach will squeeze in to get the last of the air out. Consequently, an isometric contraction of the muscles of the stomach will tend to occur at the end of every breath.

Some practitioners may prefer to generally or always inhale through the nose. This is fine. However, keep the breathing practice gradual, complete and satisfying. It may be necessary while practicing the postures to pant a bit to get extra air. This will occur less as your breathing capacities gradually increase. However, if you pant or rest, it is important to return to the long breath as soon as you can. When practicing alone you may, of course, proceed at your own pace. You may also choose what postures you will practice. It is certainly not necessary for everyone to do them all.

Your attitude about the practice will impact the outcome of your practice. Focus on satisfying your body with each breath and each posture. Avoid being overly ambitious about becoming flexible or gaining a large breath. Let nature do it through regular practice. We are, already, nature-incarnate. We are aligning ourselves with the health promoting tendencies of nature.


You may begin by lying on your back. Reflect on what you are about to do. You are about to change your consciousness. You are also about to oxygenate the cells of your body.

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Extend your legs, place your palms on the floor, and drop your chin. Breathe in calmly through the lips (or nose). Allow the air to fill your lungs, expanding your chest and stomach. Then, calmly expel gradually, funneling the air out though the lips. Expel until you need to pull your stomach in. Feel the decompression along the spine. (You may do this for more than two breathes, if you require the benefits of this initial posture).


Next, bend your knees, placing your feet flatly on the ground or on your stomach as shown. Donít let the feet turn outward. In fact, you might turn them in somewhat, as shown.

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Drop your chin to align your upper spine more closely with the ground and breathe in through the lips. Fill your lungs with air allowing your chest and stomach to extend, then expel, funneling your breath outward through the lips. Your cheeks may tend to expand like a balloon on the expulsion. This is fine. It indicates that you are funneling air out gradually. Gradually blow all the air out, pulling your stomach in at the end of your breath. Feel your lower back as it touches the ground at the end of your breath. ( Do this posture at least twice. There is much to learn from this posture, especially if you are just beginning. The floor helps hold the back position throughout the inhalation and the exhalation. You will want to be able to do the same thing when you are sitting.)


The next movement will stimulate the front of your body including your stomach, quadriceps, and neck. (1) Laying on your back (as demonstrated in the previous motion), bend one of your legs, pulling it into your chest with the help of your hands. Flex your foot back and extend through your heal. Breathe in filling your lungs with air, allowing your chest and stomach to expand. (2) Initiate your expulsion as you extend the bent knee. Extend through the heel, keeping your foot well flexed. (3) Lift your head off the ground, initiating a stretch along the back.

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(4) Continue expelling as you reach towards the flexed foot with your arms. Let the your shoulder blades lift off the ground as you curl your torso. Pull your stomach in as you expel all the air out from your stomach. Feel your lower back press against the ground. This completes the movement. Breathe in, returning to the initial position. Or, switch your legs and execute the posture with the other leg.


Next, (1) bend your knees, placing your feet flatly on the ground. Donít let the feet turn outward. In fact, you might turn them in somewhat, as shown. Drop your chin to align your spine with the ground and breathe in through the lips. Fill your lungs with air, allowing your chest and stomach to expand.

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Then, (2) press down with your legs and begin to expel your breath. As you gradually expel your air, pull in your stomach and allow your hips to rotate so that your buttock is raised fro the ground. Your middle back, however, will remain on the floor. You will experience a strong isometric contraction of the muscles of your stomach buttock and thighs. You may vary the height of your arch.


(1) Lie on your side, as shown, and bring both your thighs to a right angle with your torso. Straighten the top leg keeping the bottom leg bent. Use one arm to couch your head and the other for leverage on the ground. Calmly breathe in through the lips as you flex your foot back and extend through the heal. (2) Lift your leg off the ground as you begin to exhale.

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Donít let your body fall back when you reach your maximum height. This will keep the muscles of the buttock engaged. Blow all your air out as you pull in your lower stomach. You may do this movement once or twice on each side.


(1) Sit up and extend one of your legs straight forward. Bend the other leg and place the sole of your foot against the thigh of the extended leg. Hold your leg and lift your back up as you breathee in through the lips (or nose). Fill your lungs with air allowing your chest and stomach to expand. (2 and 3) Then, begin to expel trough the lips. Lift your elbows as you descend towards your shin. This will help prevent the torso posture from collapsing. In other words, try not to curve the torso too much. Rather, reach out with your chest in your descent; let the head drop over the shin lastly at the very end of your expulsion.

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There is no need to pull to hard. When you expel completely, you will feel a rather profound stretch. The stretch occurs through the back and thought the hamstrings of the extended leg. The bent leg will stretch in the buttock area. This will help you cultivate a relaxed and stable half lotus posture.


(1) Place the soles of your feet together, leaving an area between your legs, so that the top of your head can descend into it. Place your hand palm down under your feet so that your forearms are under your shins. Breathe in through the lips, filling your lungs to capacity. Then, (2 and 3) expel and bring the top of your head towards the ground in between your legs. This will require that your torso curve round as the air is expelled and your stomach draws inward. Remember to aim the top of your head towards the ground to get the full effect. You will feel a stretch along the back, from the neck done to the lower back. Plus, your buttocks will also receive a stretch, due to their positioning.

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Note that the forearms can lift your shins if you want them to. Again, do not pull hard; allow the full expulsion and the accurate positioning to produce the stretching effect. Repeat this motion once or twice if you feel you need the stretching.


(1) Bring the soles of your feet together and grasp your feet with your hands, as shown. Pull your feet in close to your torso as you pick up your back. Breathe in calmly through the lips (or nose). Fill your lungs with air, allowing your chest and stomach to expand. Then, (2) expel through your lips and gradually lower your head towards your feet. Pull gently with your arms; gradually pull in your lower stomach and allow your elbows to approach the floor.

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At the end of your breath you will have your head at the lowest point, as shown. This movement asserts a stretch in the lower back and trough the inside of your thighs. If your lower back is tender, you may avoid this movement or do it very gently.


From an uncrossed, half lotus position, (1) place your right foot flatly on the ground at the outside of you left thigh. Use your left arm to embrace your right knee and pull it close to your chest, as shown. Then, place your right hand on your hip, lift your back and breathe in through the lips. Fill your lungs with air, allowing our chest and stomach to expand.

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Upon the expulsion, straighten your posture and twist to look behind you. At the end of your expulsion, pull your lower stomach in an stretch your neck up so that you are as tall as possible. You will feel an exceptional stretch along the neck and middle back, plus our buttock. Do this movement once or twice on each side.


If you have developed some flexibility in the legs and buttock, you may (1) assume a half lotus, crossed leg posture, as shown. Breathe in through your lips (or nose), filling your lungs to capacity.

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(2 and 3) Upon the expulsion, reach forward and gradually lower your chest and head towards the ground in front of you. Near the end of your expulsion, you may place your hands behind your head and draw in your lower stomach.


(1) Sit upright and spread your legs as far as possible, extending through the heels and straightening the knees. Breathe in calmly through the lips, filling your lungs with air. (2) Upon initiating your exhalation, reach out to the floor in front of you.

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Expel calmly and steadily through the lips as you bring your body forward, lowering you chest and head toward the ground. Pull in your stomach in at the end of your breathe as your reach your maximum stretch.


Lay flat on your back and pull both knees into your chest supporting the posture with your hands, as shown. Breathe in calmly through the lips, filling your lungs with air. Then, calmly exhale through the lips as you gently press your neck down, allowing your lower back and spine to stretch. Pull in your stomach at the end of your stretch for the maximum effect.

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(1) Lie on your stomach with your forehead on the ground, your elbows and forearms relatively close to your body, as shown. Your palms, facing down, should be placed around neck level, as shown. Calmly breathe in through your lips (or nose), filling your lungs with air. (2) Initiate your exhalation as you lift your head and then your chest off the ground.

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(3) Continue to expel through your lips as you carry through the movement, stretching the front of your neck, arching your back and allowing your upper stomach to lift off the floor. As you reach your maximum stretch, press your shoulders down and pull in your stomach.


Assume a kneeling position and place your palms on the ground behind you, as shown. Breathe in calmly, filling your lungs with air.

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(2) As you initiate your exhalation, thrust your hips forward, drop your head back and lift the flat of your palms off the ground, as shown. Press your shoulders down at the end of your exhalation.


(1) Assume a posture supporting your body on the flat of your palms and the flat of your feet, as shown. Breathe in calmly through the lips, filling your lungs with air. (2) Upon initiating your exhalation through your lips, drop you head through your arms so that your back and arms form a relatively straight line, as shown.

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Breathe in calmly through the lips, filling your lungs with air. (2) Upon initiating your exhalation through your lips, drop you head through your arms so that your back and arms form a relatively straight line, as shown. At the end of your expulsion press your heels down and straighten your knee.


Stand on the flat of your feet allowing your knees to have a slight bend. Dangle your torso over towards the ground and breathe in, filling your lungs with air.

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Exhale steadily through the lips. At the end of your exhalation, pull in your stomach.


Squat with your feet far apart, enough to allow your heels to be well planted on the ground. Wedge your forearms between your knees, as shown and breathe in calmly through the lips (or nose).

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Fill you lungs with air. Then, steadily exhale through the lips. At the end of your expulsion, pull in you stomach.


Stand on your legs with your feet comfortably spread apart. Clasp your hands behind you. Bend over, allowing your head to drop forward and your arms to swing over your back, as shown. If your shoulders are tight, this posture my not be possible for you. The wider your legs are held, the easier it will be to get your arms over.

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In this posture, breathe in through the lips calmly. Allow our stomach to expand, then expel steadily through the lips. Blow out all your air, before inhaling once again.