Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Supta-Vajrasana - Fixed Firm Pose

Many people at first are unable even to sit on their heels. And then to get the buttocks to the floor between the heels can take weeks. But when finally they do, they feel as though they have conquered Everest. And in a way they have. For once people prove to themselves they can do something, which only the day before seemed impossible - there is no stopping them.

To get yourself limbered up and hasten your progress (and ease the inevitable cramps in your knees and feet), you might practice this pose while watching television in the evening. Just get down on the floor Japanese-style, spread your feet apart, and bounce gently but persistently to stretch the muscles and tendons in your knees and feet and accustom them to their doubled-back position.

Some people - especially men - have great difficulty going anywhere in this posture with the knees together. If you find that this is the case with you, sit with the knees a little apart at first, and then force them back together after you have become proficient.

As for putting your hands on your feet, if you cannot even get your buttocks down to your heels as yet, you won´t be able to reach the toes. But try. It will increase the stretch.

Bending down brings out the first wail of protest from your feet. The farther back you go, the louder your little pigs will squeal and the ankles, calves, knees, and thighs will take up the chorus. You have the whole-hearted sympathy of all who have gone before you, and profanities are allowed. Quitting, however, is illegal, immoral, and therefore our of the question.

But you can be confident of one important thing: the discomfort is occasioned by the newness of the position, not because you are injuring yourself. Only if you jerk into or out of the position too quickly is there the possibility of  pulling something. Do everything slowly. That advice can´t be repeated too often.

You may, as a beginner, put your hands flat on the floor behind you, rather than on the toes. This will allow you to get down onto the elbows with more security and to take some of the weight off your poor legs and feet and onto your arms and hands instead.

There are two stages in this posture where almost everything gets stuck. The first is at the point of getting both elbows lowered onto the floor. For a few days, you don´t go ant farther because you are legitimately stretching our all the muscles from chest through abdomen, hips, thighs, calves, and feet. But after that, freezing in this position is just plain fear.

Finally you summon your courage and actually drop your head back to the floor. Yet, there you freeze again, still bearing most of your weight on the elbows, not quite sure what to do next and afraid to try anyway.

The solution to both problems is to relax. Realize that by fighting the act of touching your shoulders to the floor, you are making it triply difficult for yourself! Let go completely. Let those elbows slide out from under you and relax the shoulders and upper back onto the towel. Your legs and feet will complain, but bear it as long as possible and come up slowly.

Now that you are in the final position, begin trying to keep your knees absolutely together and flat on the floor. Then turn your attention to feeling as though your buttocks have turned to lead and are dropping right through the floor. Once you get the knack of that relaxation, you COULD FALL ASLEEP in the Fixed Firm, it´s that comfortable.

But Yoga doesn´t ask for heroes or fools. Do as much as you can each day and then hold it there for the count.

You must come up slowly and in exact reversal of the way you went in!

Despite the discomfort of this pose, it´s wonderful therapy to moan and groan and complain. The noises some people make should be recorded for posterity. And the axiom about misery loving company must first have been said about a class of Yoga students doing Fixed Firm - though everyone always seems to end up laughing instead of crying.


Fixed Firm Pose helps cure sciatica, gout, and rheumatism in the legs. It slims thighs, firms calf muscles, and strengthens the abdomen. It also strengthens and improves flexibility of lower spine, knees, and ankle joints.

Read more about this poses benefits, pictures, video and tips from HERE
Drawings and info from "Bikram´s Beginning Yoga Class " Book, 1978.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Dhanurasana - Bow Pose - For Beginners

Once into this position you sometimes have the uncomfortable feeling that someone is going to come along, stuff an apple into your mouth, and start turning you on a spin. Indeed, the first few days some people can do nothing more for twenty seconds than lie there, clinging to their feet and looking helpless. (Which is at least better than the occasional person who can´t even reach the feet).

But not discouraged. You have hordes of company. This is the position that presents the most problems in the most people. It is where everyone´s inflexibility really shows, and where we seem to have the most difficult getting the messages from the brain to the muscles.

It´s a fairly easy to lift the torso - indeed, in this trussed position the torso could hardly be anything but raised. It´s those legs that sometimes refuse to budge off the floor, no matter how you kick backward or try to lift them.

To overcome that problem, first make sure that you have a good firm grip on your feet, then center your attention on the small of the back and your buttocks and forget that you are supposed to lift the torso and legs. Instead, imagine that you are going to push your abdomen, buttocks, and lower back right down trough the floor. To do this you must make the muscles tight like rocks. Now push downward. More. Simultaneously press up and back against your hands with the tops of your feet just as hard as you can. Up. Push. Hard!

Your torso, by now, will be well lifted and you should be feeling the first stirrings of lift in your thighs and will recognize the muscles you need to lift them - not in the legs but in the buttocks, lower back and abdomen.

As an added tip, once you do get the legs up off the towel, become aware of how stiffly you are holding your shoulders. Let the arms putt the shoulder blades backward. You might even have to force the shoulders back the first few times to get the fell of it. But releasing the shoulders - and rolling your body weight forward on the abdomen - will allow everything to get higher, farther, and increase the stretch and benefit.

The Bow Pose combines the difficulties of the Cobra, Locust, Full Locust, Standing Bow Pulling and Balancing Stick. But you are also combining all those wonderful benefits, which should make your rest sweeter.

If you can´t go the full 20 counts the first few days, hold it for ten counts to begin and add 2 counts each day. A raw beginner´s lack of endurance, bad cramping, high blood pressure and real complaints as from a trick knee are, however, the only permissible excuses for quitting short of 20 counts. Besides the Bow Pose is pretty once you get it. Doesn´t that make you feel better?


The Bow improves the functioning of the large and small intestines, the liver, kidneys and spleen. In helps straighten rounded spines, relieves backaches, and improves pigeon chest by opening the rib cage, permitting maximum expansion of lungs and increased oxygen intake. The Bow also revitalizes all spinal nerves by increasing circulation to the spine. It improves digestion and strengthens abdominal muscles, upper arms, thighs and hips.

Read more about this poses benefits, pictures, video and tips from HERE
Drawings and info from "Bikram´s Beginning Yoga Class " Book, 1978.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Poorna-Salabhasana - Full Locust Pose - For Beginners

Some students are tempted to let their knees and their feet part company when straining during the second step of this pose. But if you keep all your muscles tight and toes sharply pointed from the start, this will be less of a possibility.

Get those arms up and back, hands always on a level with the shoulders. This means for each inch you lift your torso, the hands must lift he same distance.

The Full Locust is a subtle sneak. Remember we mentioned doing Cobra by raising the torso without supporting yourself with hands and arms? Unmask a Full Locust and you will find a snake in the grass.

And what´s this business about raising your legs off the floor till you´re balanced on your belly button? Didn´t we just do that in the Locust, but with hands and arms to help keep us up and balance us? Now we do the same thing without benefit of arm strength, front or back.

There are no shortcuts or easier ways to develop this posture. Mastery takes sweat, strain, and determination. If sacrifices must be made (and as a beginner, the sacrifices are seemingly endless), sacrifice height in the legs in favor of getting the torso and arms arched up, and swept back just  as high as possible. The ultimate will see legs and torso raised equally, but in the beginning stages accept the fact that the legs will lag behind. Just try honestly to get the legs off the floor a speck higher each day.

Other than that - have a GOOD FLIGHT :)

To show you how subtly difficult the Full Locust is, it is the one position where we seldom play games with the 10 seconds. If you are doing honestly, giving it all you´ve got, then seconds is all you can take. But oh! the wonderful things it does to your body.


The Full Locust has the same therapeutic value as the Cobra Pose and the same upper body benefits as the Standing Bow Pulling. It also firms abdominal muscles, upper arms, hips, and thighs.

Read more about this poses benefits, pictures, video and tips from HERE
Drawings and info from "Bikram´s Beginning Yoga Class " Book, 1978.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Salabhasana - Locust pose - For Beginners

The undulations, heavings, rollings, and gruntings as you try to maneuver your arms into this new and unusual position are marvelous to see and hear. Try this technique: From your position of relaxation on your stomach, push your right toe into the floor to lift right hip and roll your body slightly to the left. Then slide the right arm directly under you with the palm flat on the floor. Lower your right hip onto the hand and arm. Then push with the left toe, roll your body onto the right arm, lift the left hip, and slide the left arm under you, palm down. Get the little fingers touching and elbows as close to each other as possible. Then lower your left hip onto the left arm.

You will thus have both arms nicely pinned, and you will suddenly feel like a trussed goose. Your head will be bobbing around trying to look casual, and your elbows will most likely begin to protest the position in which they find themselves. Put your chin solidly on the floor and wait for what follows.

Yoga Catch 23: the raising leg of a beginner is always followed by an attached hip. Why? Because raising the hip makes it easy to lift the leg. However, Yoga isn´t interested in what is easy. So keep both hipbones touching your forearms.

As with the Standing Bow Pulling and Balancing stick, this is a straight up-and-down, forward-and-back pose, no ballet turnouts. The bottom of the raised foot and the back of the leg and knee move straight up toward the ceiling, while the leg remaining on the floor stays totally relaxed.

At the same time, feel as though someone has hooked your big toe to wild horses and they are pulling it through the back wall. In the other words, stretch, not height, is the important thing.You may feel cramps at first. Flex and wiggle the foot to relieve them.

If you aim or a slightly pigeon-toed feeling you will produce the perfect "straight-up-and-down." A pigeon-toed feeling will also allow you to keep both hips on the arms more comfortably.

The third part of Locust is usually voted " Pet Hate Number One". Eventually it will be as easy as falling off a log. Until then, if you have been fussing about your aching elbows, lifting both legs and your hips off the floor will give you something new to complain about.

It is, of course, entirely possible that you won't be able to lift the legs off the floor at all. It is possible you won't even be able to figure out how to lift them. Don't give up hope. It's a simply a matter of patience. Almost like a person recovering the use of limbs after paralysis or illness, you must keep at it until the brain muscle linkage is reestablished and you can send messages to the correct muscles at will. The ideal way for those legs to go up is for the muscles of the lower back and abdomen to pick them up. So talk to tour belly as well as to your spine and lower back.

Try pressing the floor hard with palms and arms, use the grimace of your face, mighty grunts - anything to lift your legs. Try lifting on exhalation instead of inhalation. Getting them totally off the towel by hook or by crook and holding them there for ten honest counts is the name of the game

Despite the temptation, don't drop your legs to the floor. Also, collapsing out of this one could put a dent in the floor.

There is some GOOD NEWS!! First off your elbows won´t hurt after about a week, and neither will your tennis elbow, if you happen to have had on. Second, your legs are always much higher in actuality than they feel to you. After a few weeks of practice, sneak a peek sideways into the mirror. You will be pleasantly surprised - and spurred on to even greater accomplishments.


The Locust Pose has the same benefits as the Cobra, but it is even more potent in the cure of any back or spinal problem, such as gout, slipped disc, and sciatica. It cures tennis elbow and it also excellent for firming buttocks and hips!

Read more about this poses benefits, pictures, video and tips from HERE
Drawings and info from "Bikram´s Beginning Yoga Class " Book, 1978.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Bhujangasana - Cobra Pose - For beginners

As soon as you tighten your muscles, you may be attached by cramps in legs and feet, the cramps continuing throughout the floor poses. If it should happen to you, grin and bear it. Flex and wiggle the affected parts, then renew your efforts. The cramps subside as the days go by.

You probably won't be able to find a spinal muscle in that disused maze back there, much less mobilize one. As a hint, the muscles you use to arch backward when you have a backache are the very ones that lift the torso in the Cobra.

Now, just for the fun of it, try lifting the torso without putting any weight at all on your hands. You might even raise the palms slightly to prevent cheating. This will enable you to feel the muscles of the lower back and understand not only how weak or strong they are but recognize the "contact" that must be made to eventually go all the way up with spine strenght alone.

Whether you can lift five inches or no inches without weight on the hands, you do have your hands and arms to fall back upon. As a beginner you will make good use of them!

The essential point is to push that belly button through the floor with everything you've got, while arching spine, neck, head backward and releasing the small of the back. And glory in the stretch. Feel what it is doing for your waistline. Abandon worries about low-back pain and double chins. Your friend the Cobra has come to save you!

Do not collapse back onto the towel. Use your spine strength and arms to lower yourself smoothly,

This is not a hard pose requiring great strength or unusual contortions. You're not going to hurt yourself, you're not going to strain anything, there is nothing to fear. What the Cobra takes is will power - a commodity that is usually in shorter supply than strength. Barring medical problems, slow progress in the Cobra means just one thing - L-A-Z-Y!


The Cobra is one of the best ways to maintain the body in perfect condition. It increases spinal strength and flexibility helps prevent lower backache, and helps cure lumbago, rheumatism, and arthritis of the spine. It also relieves menstrual problems, cures loss of appetite, helps correct bad posture, and improves the functioning of the liver and spleen. The Cobra strengthens the deltoids, trapezius, and triceps.

Read more about this poses benefits, pictures, video and tips from HERE
Drawings and info from "Bikram´s Beginning Yoga Class " Book, 1978.