Yoga poses for flexibility & strong muscles

1. Triangle Pose ( Trikonasana )

Triangle pose

Steps:- Stand straight on the mat. Keep your feet at a distance slightly more than shoulder width apart. Now turn your right toe towards the right side and left toe little inwards. Inhale raising your arms by your sides in line with the shoulders and parallel to the ground. Palms facing downward. Keep your arms straight, feet firm and do not bend the knees. Keeping the back straight Exhale and bend sideways from your hip on your right side, sliding the right hand down the right thigh and reaching the front of right toe/foot with palm facing forward and your left arm stretching upwards pointing the ceiling. At this point your both arms and shoulders will be in line with each other and perpendicular to the ground. Look up towards your left hand. The left hip will point forward and the right hip back. Inhale and release by raising yourself up and getting your hands on the sides in line with the shoulders. Exhale and repeat on the left side. This should be done for 2-3 rounds.

Core benefit :- Gives flexibility to hip joints, legs and spine. Stretches the sides of the body, back, chest, hamstrings, ankles. Provides strength to neck, knees, ankle and thigh.

Other benefits:- Calms the mind. Helps shed excess fat around the waist and thighs. Stimulates kidney functioning. Improves digestion. Promotes proper blood functioning. Therapeutic application- sciatica, osteoporosis, back pain.

2. Plank Pose ( Kumbhakasana )

Plank pose

Steps:- Lie down flat on your tummy. Your forehead touching the mat. Your forearms by your sides in way that your hands are right under the shoulders with palms facing down. Tuck your toes inwards. Now pressing the ground with the your toes, palms and index finger inhale to push your entire body up away from the ground till your arms are straight. Lengthen your body supported only on your toes and hands. Your head, back and buttocks should be kept in straight line and legs stretched straight and heels pushing out to help keep you away from the ground. Do not bend the knees or lower your pelvis. Hold the pose for 5- 10 minutes. To release the pose exhale and bring yourself back to the mat. Incase if you find it difficult to stay in the pose for long then you can repeat it couple of times with smaller duration.

Core benefit:- Strengthens the wrists, arms, shoulders, back and legs.

Other benefits:- Helps tone the entire body especially the abdomen. Builds stamina.

3. Chair pose ( Utkatasana )

Chair Pose

Steps:- Stand straight on the mat with your feet an inches apart from each other. Inhale and lift your arms straight upwards over your head. With palms facing inwards join both the hands and let your shoulders be back and relaxed down. Keeping your neck straight look in front at the wall/any object and focus. Exhaling bend your knees and lean forward from your torso without arching the back. Now your torso and front of thigh will form a 90º angle. Your knees will be little in front than your toes. Your body will be balanced on your heels mainly. Hold the pose for 30-60 seconds. To release, inhale and straighten the legs and exhaling bring your arms down by your sides.

Core benefit:- Stretches and strengthens the ankles,calves and thighs, tones the thighs.

Other benefits:- Stretches the chest, stimulates the organs of the abdomen and diaphragm.

4. Side Plank ( Vasisthasana )

Side plank pose

Steps:- Start in downward dog pose and then shift to plank pose stretching the legs. Join both the feet together and keeping your left arm straight place it little ahead of your left shoulder. Press the palm, index finger and thumb of the left hand firmly in the ground to avoid pressure on the wrist. Now keeping the left hand firm, shift your body on the left side in a way that you stack the right foot on your left foot and right side of body over left side, the right hand should be straight upwards pointing to the ceiling, thighs kept firm. Your entire weight will be balanced by the left hand and the outer part of the left heel. Now without tilting your head downwards just turn it in natural position and let the eyes focus on the tip of the fingers of the right arm. Your body will be in sideways direction facing the right side and will look like a straight slant line from head to heels. Hold the pose for 20-30 seconds. Exhale and release the pose by returning back to plank pose and then downward dog pose. Repeat in the same way with your right arm. Once the complete round is done then relax for few minutes in child pose ( Balasana ).

Core benefit:- Improves core strength of the body, stretches and strengthens the wrist, arms, thighs, legs and abdomen

Other benefits:- improves body balance, tones the muscles of legs. Tones the abdomen. Therapeutic application- eases anxiety , depression and improves concentration.

5. Cow face pose ( Gomukhasana )

Cow face pose

Steps:- Sit on the mat with your legs stretched out straight in front of you. Now bend your left leg and rest the left heel under the right thigh and knee resting on the mat. Similarly bend your right leg and rest the right heel over the left thigh and knee rested over the left knee. Try bringing both knees as close as possible and also stacked on one another. Press your sitting bones to the mat. Bend your left arm and bring it behind your back from below placing the hand in the center between the blades of the shoulder elbow pointing the mat, fingers pointing upwards and palm facing out. Bend your right arm and bring it over your right shoulder so that the elbow is pointing the ceiling and finger pointing down, palms facing the back. Get both hands close to each other behind the back. Now try grasping the fingers of both hands together ( initially it might not touch but with practice you will get better ). Keep the back erect and keep your head straight, chest expanded. Breathe normally as you hold this pose for 20-30 seconds. Exhale releasing the hands and return to initial pose. Now repeat with right leg under left leg and left arm over the shoulder and right arm bending below.

Core benefits:- One of the best hip opener pose, stretches the arms, armpits, shoulders and thighs. Helps expand the chest.

Other benefits:- Strengthens the knee joints, releases tension and stiffness from shoulders. Stimulates kidney and digestion function. Therapeutic application- Diabetes , sexual problems.

6. Half spinal twist pose/ half lord of fish pose ( Ardha matsyendrasana )

Steps:- Sit in easy pose on the mat. Then straighten your leg in front of you. Bend your left leg and rest your knee on the mat and the left heel placed close to the right hip. Cross your right leg over your left leg resting the right foot flat on the mat next to the outer side of the left knee. Keep your spine and arms straight and don’t let your hips be off the ground. Inhale and turn your upper body/torso and your head to the right side. Place your right hand flat on the mat behind your back, it will also support your back to be straight. Keeping your left arm straight and close to the outer side of right knee hold the toe/foot of the right leg. Breathing normally stay in this pose for 30-60 seconds. Exhale and release the pose and come into easy pose. Repeat on the other side by bending your right leg on the ground and left leg over your right.

Core benefit:- Gives flexibility and strength to the spine. Eases the stiffness in hip joints and shoulder joints. Gives a good stretch on the sides of the upper body.

Other benefits:- Stimulates the functioning of kidney, lungs and liver. Improves digestion and . Therapeutic application- helps cure mild slipped disk, sciatica, spondylitis, lower back pain, releases discomfort during menstrual, cures infertility problems , diabetes, asthama.

7. Prasarita Padottanasana ( Wide legged forward bend )

Wide legged forward bend

Steps:- Start by standing in mountain pose ( Tadasana ). Now move your feet apart from each other at a distance of 3-4 feet. Toes pointing forward. Place your hands back on the hips. Keep your upper body straight and shoulders back and relaxed. Bend your knee very slightly to avoid getting any damages to the knee caps and press your feet flat to the mat for better grip. Once you master the pose then you can stretch your legs wide without bending the knees. Lengthen your torso and spine by stretching upper body in direction towards the ceiling. Exhale and bend forward from your hips. Slowly try bending more and more so that the crown of the head touches the mat and your hips push upwards to the ceiling. In the beginning you may not be able to touch it which is absolutely fine. You can keep your hands on the hips or then bring them in front of your shoulders and rest the palms facing down and flat on the mat and elbows can be bend. The hands will help you keep the balance of your upper body. Breathe normally and hold the pose for 30-60 seconds. Inhaling rise your self up. Exhaling bring the feet together. If you wish you may repeat the pose for 2-3 times.

Core benefit:- Stretches the leg muscles and spine. Strengthens the spine.

Other benefits:- Relieves mild back pain and sciatica. Provides flexibility to the legs and spine. Stretches the hamstrings. Improves blood circulation and cures headaches and depression.

8. Warrior Pose ( Virabhadrasana )

Warrior pose


Steps:- Stand straight on the mat. Toes pointing forward. Inhale and move your feet apart from each other at a distance of 3-4 feet or as maximum as possibly comfortable. Raise your arms by your sides inline with your shoulders and palms facing down. Arms will be parallel to the ground. Now turn your right foot in 90º i.e to the right so that your toe is pointing to the right. Exhale and bend your right leg in 90º i.e bringing your knee above your ankle forming a right angle of leg. The left foot should be facing little inwards and pressed into the ground for balance. Turn your head to the right and look straight. Breathing normally hold the pose for 30-40 seconds. To release, inhale and straighten your legs then exhale to come back to initial position and bring your arms down by your side. Repeat now with bending left leg.

Core benefit:- Strengthens and stretches the legs. Improves body balance and stamina

Other benefit:- Opens the chest and lungs. Stretches the thighs, ankles and shoulders. Improves flexibility of the body.

9. Reverse warrior pose ( Viparita virabhadrasana )

Reverse warrior pose

Steps:- Start in warrior pose ( as above ) with right leg bent first. Now bring your left arm down to the the back of left thigh and rest your left hand on the thigh. Palm of right hand facing the ceiling. Inhale and raise your right arm straight upwards so that the fingers point towards the ceiling and the biceps of the right arm touch the right ear. Lengthen through the sides of the torso, shoulders relaxed and chest out. Tilting your head fix your eyes looking at the fingertips of the right arm. With a little backbend and lowering the hips and bending the right leg little further, stretch the left hand further down the thigh towards back of the knee. Breathe normally and hold the pose for 30-40 seconds. Exhaling bring both the arms parallel to the floor. Inhale and return to standing pose. Repeat with left leg now.

Core benefit:- Strengthens the legs and stretches the shoulders, hips, thighs and groin. Gives flexibility to the back, arms and neck.

Other benefits:- Stretches and tones the sides of the upper body. Calms the mind. Relieves mild back aches.