CHENNAI: Most yoga poses are culled from nature. We can learn to be rooted in one spot while learning an important virtue — Patience from an ever-giving tree (with Vrksasana). Or experience what it feels like to soar like an eagle in the sky with a hawk’s eye (with Garudasana).
Vrksasana: In Sanskrit Vrks means tree. (Beginners may try this with their back to a wall.) Stand with your feet 4 inches apart and shift your body weight on your right leg. Now inhale and place your left foot on the inside of your right thigh with toes pointing down. Balance on your right foot. You can adjust the position of the left foot by pulling up the ankle with your left hand. Your left knee joint should point to the left and the left thigh will be perpendicular to the right thigh. Engage the left thigh muscles and keep the thigh actively pulled to the left. Now inhale and raise both arms to the shoulder level palms facing down. Exhale as you hold the arms parallel to the floor.
Inhale again, turn palms to ceiling and take the arms all the way up. Join the palms over your head as shown. Keep the elbows stretched and the upper arms close to the ears. Breathe normal for 10-20 counts. Stare at a spot on the floor or wall 6-8 feet away from you. Be focused to hold the pose. Outwardly the pose may appear to be static but the left knee is being constantly pushed to the left this endeavor makes this an active pose. Finish an exhalation and lower the arms with an inhalation. Release the foot. Relax for a few breathing cycles with feet firmly grounded.
Benefits: Improves focus, balance and coordination. Strengthens legs as it’s a weight-bearing pose. Helps tone legs, arms and muscles in the torso.
Garudasana: In Sanskrit, garud means eagle. Stand with your feet about 6-8 inches apart. Now shift your body weight to the right leg. Inhale and raise the left knee toward the waist exhale and wrap the left leg around your right leg. Cross the left knee over the right thigh to do so and tuck your left toes behind your right calf muscle. Find your balance and hold this position. The leg on which you are standing may be slightly bent at the knee. Next raise your arms to the shoulder level in front of you. Lower the left arm by 6 inches and overlap the right elbow joint over the left. Join the palms by overlapping the forearms too.
This may seem difficult in the beginning but try and touch the left hand to the inside of the right wrist. The crossed arms are directly in front of your face. Keep both sets of fingers pointing up. Inhale and as you exhale raise the arms higher. So the elbows, the arms and the shoulders move as a single unit. The lower body is locked below the waist and the upper torso is being raised at each exhalation. This is an active stretch. Finish an exhalation, release and lower the arms with an inhalation. Release the wrapped left leg. Relax for a few breathing cycles with feet firmly grounded.
Benefits: This one is for body balance. It strengthens the ankle joint. People suffering from cramps in the calf muscle will benefit. It is a dynamic stretch for the upper back and a contraction for the upper chest. The spine and the torso gets a nice upward mobility.
(Anshu Vyas Seetharaman is a fitness and yoga trainer at Sri Aurobindo Society, Bengaluru)