Yoga Stretches

Yoga and Relaxation – Tony Crisp

Stretches – The foothills of Yoga – Chapter 1


Easy pose Sukhasana:(Illus. no. 1)


(a) Sit cross-legged on floor, each foot under opposite calf.

(b) Spine must be kept erect constantly without slightest slouch,

(c) Keep mind fixed on the body sensations; relax all muscles not involved in staying erect; eyes closed or fixed on one point. Learn to hold for up to ten minutes or more, starting at one minute.

Aims Results


(a) To train muscles in spine to keep the body erect.

(b) The muscles and posture are eventually so trained, that it literally becomes an “easy” posture, and can be used for meditation or breathing methods.

(c) It is an excellent cure for backaches suffered from driving or sitting in office, or any aches due to weak muscles in spine, and poor posture.

Yogasana: Stretching version Illust. no. 2Method(a) Sit as in easy pose.(b) Clasp hands behind the back, Straighten arms as much as possible, thus pulling shoulders back “soldier” fashion.(c) Begin to push the hands upwards behind you, at the same time allowing the head to bend forward towards the ground.(d) Do not force the pose. Neither worry if at first you hardly bend forward at all, Begin by holding the pose for 15 seconds, working up to one minute.Aims and Results(a) To stretch spine, shoulders, neck, knees and hips; to massage the nerves of the spine, and the organs in the abdomen.(B) Can be used for poor posture, indigestion, constipation (helps by massaging internal organs), Releases greater nervous energy because of toning up of nervous system. Because it aids digestion, it enables body to make greater use of food eaten.  




Leg Stretch:(Illus. no. 3)



(a) Sit on floor with legs stretched out in front.

(b) Pull one heel towards groin, causing knee to come up to chest,

(c) Hold this until it can be felt that muscles have stretched, Then, keeping heel in position, start taking knee sideways to the floor, One aims at having heel in groin with leg flat on floor, The knees and hips are often very stiff, If you force these leg stretches, or those following, great pain will be experienced in the knees. Even should this occur, do not think there is no cure. Do the poses gently, and the trouble wilt be cured. Up to one minute.

Aims Results

(a) To make knees and hips more flexible and to lead up to more difficult postures.

(b) Aids in cartilage, and rheumatic conditions and eases stiffness in the knee.








Thunderbolt Pose, Vajrasana: Stretching version

(Illus. no. 4)


(a) Kneel with feet and knees together.

(b) Slowly sit back on heels, or as near to them as possible.

(c) If well back hold head high, hands on knees. Stay in posture for up to 2 minutes.

Aims Result

(a) Same as knee stretching, except that feet are now fully extended backwards also. Helpful for flat feet and stiff or swollen ankles.

Thunderbolt Extended


(a) As above. Only take the next stage, if you can easily sit on heels.

(b) Put the hands behind you on the floor. Take the weight of your body and lift hips up from heels, head hanging back. 15 seconds to one minute is sufficient,

Aims Results

(a) Front of thighs stretched, lower spine stretched, muscles in lumbar region strengthened.








Cow Head – Gomukhasana





(a) Sit on heels. Then reach one hand up the back, the other down from shoulders, and try to touch fingers together.

Aims and Results

(a) To stretch shoulders and arms.







Camel Pose: Stretching version


(a) Kneel on ground, knees and feet apart.

(b) Let the hips push forward so that body bends slightly backward.

(c) Keeping this position, turn slightly to the left, reaching the left hand to left heel, (d) Rest and do the same to the right. Hold up to one minute.

Aims and Results

(a) To stretch the thighs, abdomen, spine and shoulders.



Knee Stretch Bhadrasana (illus. no. 5)



(a) Sit on floor, soles of feet together in front of you, and pull the heels as near to the groin as possible.

Aims and Results

(a) To stretch knees and hips as in leg stretch










Gas Ejection Pose – Pavanamuktasana (Illus. no. 6)


(a) Lie on floor, face up.

(b) Draw knees up to chest, hugging them close with the arms.

(e) Another version is to keep arms on the floor and draw knees up unaided, Then lift chin to knees. Hold up to one minute.

Aims and Results

a) To dispel flatulence,

(b) The second method develops strength in abdominal muscles, making the body ready for “stretched” poses.

(e) Very good for righting posture.






Saucer Pose (Illus. no. 7)


(a) Lie on floor face up.

(b) Lifting head and shoulders slightly, reach hands towards knees.

(c) Lift legs a few inches from floor. Hold for only up to 15 or 30 seconds.

Aims and Results

(a) To strengthen muscles in the front of the body.

The Wheel – Chakrasana (Illus. no. 8)


(a) Lie on floor, face up.

(b) Bring feet towards hips, knees raised.

(c) Keeping shoulders and feet on floor, lift hips as high as possible. Aims’ and Results

(a) To make spine supple and to strengthen back muscles. Stretches neck.







Half Candle-Sarvangasana (Illus. no. 9)


(a) Lie on floor, face up.

(b) First Stage Raise legs up to ceiling, and hold with hands behind knees.

(c) Second Stage-Take legs over towards head raising hips. Put hands around waist, supporting hips. Straighten legs towards ceiling. (d) Relax as much as possible in post, especially neck and shoulders. Starting at one minute, work up slowly to five minutes.

(e) Do not attempt this if you have high blood pressure (or during menstruation).

Aims and Results

(a) Being one of the major yoga asanas, the results of this posture, and its aims, are enormous. It directs the flow of blood to the head, neck, chest area this cleans and heals. It drains blood from the abdomen, hips and legs, and the glands therein. (b) It heals or helps migraine, headaches, nervous tension, sexual restlessness, emotional turbulence, mental unquiet, sleeplessness and fear, varicose veins, piles, etc.






Hip Raise- Katikasana (Illus. no. 10)


(a) Lie on floor face down.

(b) Put hands each side of chest and press the body up to arms length.

(e) Try to keep body straight, and hold as long as possible without strain.

Aims and Results

(a) To strengthen arms, shoulders and muscles in front of body.





Flying Swan (Illus. no. 11)


(a) Lie on floor face down, arms by sides.

(b) Lift arms like wings pointing backwards.

(c) Lift head and shoulders. Then lift legs, keeping them straight. Hold only for a few seconds.

Aims and Results

(a) To strengthen lower back.




Body Lift (Illus. no. 12)


(a) Sit on floor, legs straight out in front.

(b) Put hands behind you, fingers pointing backwards, and lean on hands.

(c) Taking weighs on hands and feet, lift hips up making the body straight. Hold up to one minute.

Aims and Results

(a) To strengthen wrists, arms and muscles in back.








Vajroli Mudra (Illus. no. 13)


(a) Sit on floor legs straight out in front.

(b) Put hands on the floor each side of thighs.

(c) Lift legs up forming body into V. if two legs are difficult, do one at a time. Hold for up to a minute.

Aims and Results

(a) This is another major Yogic asana. Basically it strengthens the abdominal muscles. (c) It is also said to quieten passions. This is because of its influence upon the nervous system and blood flow connected with digestion and sexual organs.






Triangle Pose Trikonasana (Illus. no. 14)


(a) Stand with feet wide apart.

(b) Look down left side of body. and without bending head forward, or hips backwards, slowly stretch over to the left.

(c) Rest, and do the same to the right.

Aims and Results

(a) To stretch the body and spine sideways and to massage by squeezing, the internal organs.


Corkscrew (Illus. no. 15)


(a) Stand with feet apart.

(b) Put left arm behind you, reaching round to right hip. Put right arm across the front of the body.

(c) Twist from the waist-not the hips-and turn as far to the left as possible.

(d) Hold it for up to a minute, then reverse the process.

Aims and Results

(a) To make the body supple in twisting.


Tree Pose Vrksasana Stretching version (Illus. no. 16)


(a) Stand and balance on one leg.

(b) Put the other foot either on ankle knee, or top of thigh, on the inside of opposite leg.

(c) Do not take it higher than the height at which you can manage to balance.

(d) If steady, raise arms above the head like a dome.

(e) Hold it for up to a minute and repeat on other leg.

Aims and Results

(a) To develop sense of balance, strengthen legs and hips, and bring legs, hips and waist into better proportion.



Posterior Stretching Pose – Paschimotanasana (Illus. no. 17)


(a) Sit on floor legs out in front.

(b) Put hands on legs and slowly stretch hand towards feet as far as is comfortable.

(e) Watch that knees do not bend, or that you do not strain lower back.

(d) Discomfort will be felt at back of knees but gently pulling on the legs, bring head as near to knees as possible (not by strain however). Hold for up to a minute.

Aims and Results

(a) All these saunas in the stretched section are major poses. This one stretches the whole back of the body.

(b) It squeezes internal organs and tones up nervous system in spine.



Tortoise (Illus. no. 18)


(a) Sit on floor with knees drawn up slightly, feet and knees wide apart.

(b) Put the arms in between the legs taking hold of the ankles.

(c) Droop forward as far as you can between knees. Then begin to pull slightly, bringing head towards the ground.

(d) Eventually head will touch the ground. Arms can then be extended backwards, making the body look likes tortoise.

Aims and Results

(a) Carries on stretching the body forward, slimming waist and strengthening stomach. (b) Aids its constipation, coldness, poor circulation, bad digestion, breath odour.



Noose Mudra-Pasini Mudra (Illus. no. 19)


(a) Sit on floor with legs in front.

(b) Take hold of one foot and bring it as near to head as possible.

(e) Slowly take it higher and higher until it can be put behind the head.

(d) This one usually takes a long time to master. Repeat the process with other foot, and eventually aim at taking both feet behind head together. Hold for up to a minute.

Aims and Results

(a) Not only is this the greatest degree of forward stretch, but also the greatest of internal massages.

(b) The yoga aim is to stimulate latent nervous force in the body, and release it by this pose. This is because of internal pressures on the nervous system.


Full Candle-Viparita Karani (Illus. No. 20)


(a) Lay on back and raise legs and hips.

(b) Reach the hands down as far to the shoulder blades as possible, supporting the body.

(c) This makes the chin press firmly onto the chest.

(d) Raise legs straight tip.

Aims and Results

(a) To quieten the whole system.

(b) To bring balance and harmony in the glandular activities, release sexual tensions, and aid in meditation.

(c) To strain blond from legs aiding hernia, varicose veins, constipation and nervous tension.

(d) This can help in female sexual organs health.


Plough-Halasana (Illus. no. 21)


(a) Start exactly as in full candle.

(b) Then, instead of pointing legs straight up, slowly lower them backwards to floor behind head.

(c) Be careful of straining neck and lower back. Please be gentle with yourself in this and the other stretched poses.

(d) Keep legs straight, then lower arms to floor, stretching in opposite direction to legs. Hold for up to two minutes.

Aims and Results

(a) To stretch body forwards.

(b) Directs blood to head, neck, chest, and particularly to lumbar region and stomach.

Headstand – Sirshasana (Illus. no. 22)


(a) This is the most difficult of the inverted poses.

(b) Extreme care oust be taken lest the neck be badly strained in twisting or- falling. So start by interlacing the fingers. Put hands and arms on the floor, elbows shoulder width apart, no wider.

(c) Put the back of the head cradled in the palms of the hands. The head touches the ground just behind the hairline.

(d) Do not attempt this next phase unless already strengthened through some period of regular Yoga practice, or unless tinder supervision.

(e) Finding a clear corner of the room, put hands and head near to the wall corner, into the angle of the two walls. This prevents one `ailing backwards or sideways (but make sure head is close to wall, or else you can still fall backwards.

(f) Gently kick up and try to balance.

Aims and Results

(a) Extends the aims and results of the other inverted postures.

(b) Physical and psychological changes are wrought by practising the posture for extended periods.




Cobra-Bhujangasana (Illus. No. 23)


(a) Lie on floor face down.

(b) )Put hands each side of the chest. Stretch feet backwards and head forwards.

(e) Slowly lift bead and shoulders, helping with the hands, but keeping thighs on the floor.

(d) The whole spine curves back but the head lifts to the ceiling, not allowing the neck to sink between the shoulders. Hold for up to one minute.

Aims and Results

(a) Stretches the spine backwards, pressing internal organs and massaging them.

(b) As with all of these stretches, it reverses the ageing process by counteracting the shrinking, drawing together process of ageing.


Bow-Dhanurasana (Illus. no. 24)


(a) Lie on floor face down.

(b) Lift heels towards hips and reach hands back to take hold of ankles.

(c) Pulling on ankles, and keeping knees together, pull head and shoulders up from ground.

(d) If hips are flexible enough, lift legs off floor also, resting on abdomen and pelvis.

(e) Breathe deeply in and out. Hold this pose for up to 30 seconds.

Aims and Results

(a) Stretching body backwards, loosening contraction of spine and hips.

(b) Massages whole abdominal area thoroughly, bringing fresh blood to area.


Spine Twist-Matsyendrasana (Illus. no. 25)


(a) Sit on floor with legs extended.

(b) Bring the left foot under the right leg, stretching the heel of left foot to right hip.

(e) Bring right foot over left knee, the heel being near that knee.

(d) Asking sure both hips are touching the ground, turn to the right, bringing both shoulders to the right of raised knee.

(e) Do not stretch farther than your balance allows, and add pressure by putting left arm to right of right leg, as shown in the illustration. Hold this pose for up to a minute.

Aims and Results

(a) To stretch spine in twisting motion, stimulating nerves along spine.

(b) Stretch hips and knees.



Lotus Pose-Perfect Pose (Illus. no. 26)


See illustration.

Aims and Results

To fix the body in a position conducive to the practice of meditation or breath control. To free the mind from awareness of body or posture, so it can concentrate on other impressions.



Thunderbolt Pose-Vajrasana (Illus. no. 27)


(a) Sit on heels. Then put feet and knees apart. (b) Slowly lower hips to the floor between feet.

(e) Supra Vajra is accomplished by then lowering shoulders and head backwards to the floor. (d) Care must be taken not to strain else knees or lower back. Make haste slowly in this pose. (a) Hands are put in attitude of prayer on chest. Hold up to one minute.

Aims and Results

(a) To fully stretch body backwards.

(b) To shut off blood to legs to some degree, and circulate it in lower part of body.




(a) Sit in lotus posture.

(b) Bend head forward to ground.

Aims and Results

(a) To flex all of legs, hips and spine.

(b) To compress and massage internal organs.


Fish Pose-Matsyasana (Illus. no. 28)


(a) Sit in lotus posture.

(b) Take hold of feet.

(c) Lower head and shoulders backwards to ground. Be very careful.

Aims and Results

(a) To fully stretch the body backwards.

(b) Tones the spine and nervous system, aiding posture.



Tree Pose-Vrksasana


(a) Stand and balance on one foot.

(b) Bring the other foot up to the front of the thigh, as in lotus posture. Or if that is not possible put the foot on the top inside of the thigh. Balance for a while then change feet.

(c) Balance and bring hands above head as a dome, fixing eyes on one spot.

Aims and Results

(a) To develop poise and balance.

(b) To bring strength and proportion to legs, hips and waist.



(a) Stand with feet apart, knees slightly bent, hands on lower thighs.

(b) Breathe right out. Hold the breath out and expand the chest as if breathing in. But do not allow any air to pass into the lungs.

(c This draws abdomen inwards.

(d) If, and only when this can be done easily, draw the abdomen in and out a number of times on each breath.

(e) Please avoid strain, and built up to two or three hundred repetitions.

Aims and Results

(a) To thoroughly massage the internal organs.

(b) To control and direct the nervous energy in the body, controlling or balancing nervous impulses.


Nauli – Sometimes known as stomach churning


(a) As in uddiyana. Then press hands down hard on


(b) This makes abdominal muscles ‘ridge out’.

(e) By now pressing on alternate hands these muscles can be trained to move across the stomach.

Aims and Results

(a) As in uddiyana, only extended.

The Practice of Hatha (Physical) Yoga has  several stages, the first and second are Yama and Niyama and the Asanas/Postures.


The third stage is Purification, but as these may be uninviting to many Western people the chapters that follow are simplified. The classical methods for purification include swallowing a four inch wide and four feet long cloth and then pulling it out to cleanse the stomach.

The swallowing of air until it passes through the whole of the digestive tract – for cleansing.

The placing of a tube up the rectum while standing in water, then pulling the abdomen in to draw water into the large colon and then passing it out again.

Taking water with a small amount of salt in and holding it in the mouth, then dropping the head forward push the water out through the nose, cleansing the nasal passages.

Uddiyana, described above is another cleansing method. Nauli also.

The other further levels of hatha yoga are

Mudra for body steadying

Pratyahara for mind calming

Pranayama for inner lightness

Dhyana for inner perception

Samādhi for self liberation and bliss

Link to Chapter Two Link to List of Chapters







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