11 asanas, from Couch to Scorpion poses, to herald that flexibility and good health

Going from couch to anything is difficult. But here is an excellent guide to help you take up running (Couch to 10K training plan), cycling (Couch to 50K training plan) and a Couch to Scorpion pose guide. If you have used the Couch to Scorpion pose guide, you would have come across some asanas for which you might need some step-wise breakdown and tips to do them correctly and effectively. Here is a step-wise guide, ahead of the International Yoga Day on June 21, for you to perform 11 asanas that would help you progress towards the Scorpion pose:

1. Half Camel Pose (Ardha Ustrasana)

•    Begin by kneeling on your mat with your knees hip-distance apart and your shins and feet resting on the mat behind you.

•    Place your hands on your lower back, fingers pointing down, with your elbows close together.

•    Inhale and lift your chest and sternum up towards the ceiling.

•    Exhale and slowly start to lean back, pushing your hips forward and maintaining the lift in your chest. Keep your hands on your lower back for support.

•    As you continue to lean back, you can release one hand at a time from your lower back and reach it towards your heel, palm facing inwards.

•    If you can reach your heel comfortably, you can also bring your other hand back to your heel as well, with both palms facing inwards.

•    Keep your head lifted and your neck long, gazing up towards the ceiling or back wall.

•    Hold the pose for a few deep breaths, then slowly release your hands from your heels and come back to an upright kneeling position.

•    Repeat on the other side, starting with your hands on your lower back and leaning back to reach your opposite heel.

Dr Karthik Kashyap’s tip: Once the asana is stabilised, your Drishti (awareness) should be on eyebrow centre (Bhruvormadhya)

2. Ardha Chakrasana (Half Wheel Pose)

•    Begin by standing at the top of your mat with your feet hip-distance apart and your arms by your sides.

•    Inhale and reach your arms up overhead, interlacing your fingers and pointing your index fingers up towards the ceiling.

•    Exhale and bend to your right side, keeping your arms straight and reaching up and over towards the right.

•    Inhale and come back to centre, then exhale and bend to your left side, reaching up and over towards the left.

•    Inhale and come back to centre, then exhale and release your hands down to your sides.

•    Inhale and lift your right arm up towards the ceiling, reaching up and over towards the left side of your body.

•    Exhale and bend to your left side, bringing your left hand down towards your left thigh and reaching your right hand over your head towards the left.

•    Hold the pose for a few deep breaths, feeling the stretch in the right side of your body.

•    Inhale and come back to centre, then exhale and repeat on the other side, lifting your left arm up towards the ceiling and bending to your right side.

Dr Karthik Kashyap’s tip: Once asana is stabilised, your Drishti (Awareness) should be on eyebrow centre (Bhruvormadhya)

3. Ardha Pincha Mayurasana (Dolphin Pose)

•    Begin by coming onto your hands and knees on your mat, with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.

•    Place your forearms on the mat, parallel to each other, with your palms facing down.

•    Tuck your toes under and lift your hips up towards the ceiling, coming into Downward Facing Dog.

•    Walk your feet in towards your hands, keeping your knees bent.

•    Lower your forearms to the mat, keeping them parallel to each other, with your elbows directly under your shoulders.

•    Interlace your fingers, tucking your pinky fingers under, and press your palms firmly into the mat.

•    Lift your hips up towards the ceiling, straightening your legs as much as you can without rounding your spine.

•    Keep your head and neck relaxed, gazing towards your feet or between your forearms.

•    Hold the pose for a few deep breaths, feeling the stretch in your shoulders, hamstrings, and calves.

•    To come out of the pose, lower your knees to the mat and release your arms.

4. Parivrita Trikonasana (Twisted Triangle Pose)

•    Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) at the front of your mat.

•    Take a step back with your left foot, keeping both feet facing forward and about hip-distance apart.

•    Square your hips to the front of the mat and extend your arms out to the sides at shoulder height.

•    Exhale and hinge forward at the hips, bringing your right hand down to the mat or a block on the outside of your right foot. Keep your left arm extended upward.

•    Inhale and lengthen your spine, extending your left arm even higher.

•    Exhale and begin to twist your torso to the right, bringing your left arm across your body to rest on your right thigh.

•    Keep your gaze focused on your right fingertips or the ground.

•    Hold the pose for a few breaths, feeling the stretch in your spine, hamstrings, and hip flexors.

•    To come out of the pose, inhale and untwist your torso, extending your left arm back up towards the ceiling.

•    Exhale and release your right hand from the mat or block, returning to Tadasana at the front of your mat.

•    Repeat on the other side, stepping your right foot back and twisting to the left.

Dr Karthik Kashyap’s tip: Using yoga bricks/blocks can help if you do not have the requisite range of motion and flexibility. Once the asana is stabilised, Drishti (Awareness) should be on your finger tips.

5. Shalabhasana (Locust Pose)

•    Lie on your belly with your arms alongside your body and palms facing down.

•    Bring your chin to the mat and rest your forehead on the floor.

•    Inhale and engage your lower back muscles, lifting your legs and chest off the ground simultaneously.

•    Keep your legs straight and engage your buttocks and core muscles to lift them higher.

•    Keep your arms straight and lift them off the ground as well, keeping them parallel to the floor.

•    Hold the pose for a few breaths, feeling the stretch in your back and strengthening your glutes and hamstrings.

•    To come out of the pose, exhale and release your legs and arms back down to the ground.

•    Rest in Makarasana (Crocodile Pose) for a few breaths, with your forehead resting on your stacked hands.

Dr Karthik Kashyap’s tip: Once the asana is stabilised, Drishti (Awareness) should be on the centre of your eyebrows (Bhruvormadhya).

6. Pristhasana (Lizard Pose)

•    Begin in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), with your hands and feet on the ground and your hips lifted up towards the ceiling.

•    Step your right foot forward, placing it between your hands.

•    Lower your left knee to the ground, keeping your toes tucked under.

•    Walk your right foot towards the outer edge of your mat, so that your knee is above your ankle.

•    Lower your forearms to the ground, bringing your elbows shoulder-width apart and your hands in line with your right foot.

•    Relax your shoulders and neck, allowing your head to hang down towards the ground.

•    Keep your right knee bent and your left leg extended behind you.

•    If you feel comfortable, you can lift your left knee off the ground and extend your left leg as well, coming into a deeper variation of the pose.

•    Hold the pose for a few breaths, feeling the stretch in your hips, groin, and hamstrings.

•    To come out of the pose, release your left knee back down to the ground and step your right foot back to Adho Mukha Svanasana.

•    Repeat on the other side, stepping your left foot forward and lowering your right knee to the ground.

Dr Karthik Kashyap’s tip: Once asana is stabilised, Drishti (Awareness) should be on the centre of your eyebrows (Bhruvormadhya).

7. Wheel pose (Chakrasana)

•    Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet hip-distance apart on the mat. Bring your heels close to your sitting bones.

•    Place your hands on the mat next to your ears, fingers pointing towards your shoulders, with your elbows pointing up towards the ceiling.

•    Press down through your hands and feet and lift your hips off the mat. You may need to wiggle your shoulders under your back to create more space.

•    Keep pressing down through your hands and feet as you straighten your arms and lift your head off the mat. You should feel a stretch in your chest and shoulders.

•    If you are comfortable, you can walk your hands and feet closer together, bringing the crown of your head towards the mat.

•    Hold the pose for a few deep breaths, then lower your body back down to the mat, starting with your head and ending with your hips.

•    You can repeat the pose a few times, taking breaks as needed.

Dr Karthik Kashyap’s tip: Once the asana is stabilised, Drishti (Awareness) should be on the centre of your eyebrows.

8. Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)

•    Lie on your belly with your legs extended behind you and your arms resting at your sides.

•    Bend your knees and reach your hands back towards your ankles or feet.

•    Take a deep breath in and lift your chest off the ground, pulling your legs up and back at the same time.

•    Keep your gaze forward and your shoulders away from your ears.

.•    Hold the pose for a few breaths, feeling the stretch in your chest, thighs, and hip flexors.

•    When you’re ready to release the pose, exhale and gently lower your chest and legs back down to the ground.

•    Repeat the pose a few times, holding for longer periods each time as you build strength and flexibility.

Dr Karthik Kashyap’s tip: Once the asana is stabilised, Drishti (Awareness) should be on the centre of your eyebrows.

9. Raja Kapotasana (King Pigeon Pose)

•    Begin in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), with your hands and feet on the ground and your hips lifted up towards the ceiling.

•    Step your right foot forward, placing it between your hands.

•    Lower your left knee to the ground, keeping your toes tucked under.

•    Slide your right foot towards the left side of your mat, so that your right hip is as close to the ground as possible.

•    Straighten your left leg behind you, with the top of your left foot on the ground.

•    Place your hands on your hips and lift your chest up towards the ceiling.

•    Inhale and lift your arms up towards the ceiling, keeping your palms facing each other.

•    Exhale and hinge forward from your hips, bringing your hands to the ground on either side of your right foot.

•    Walk your hands forward, allowing your chest to come down towards the ground.

•    If you feel comfortable, you can release your head to the ground or rest it on a block or blanket.

•    Hold the pose for a few breaths, feeling the stretch in your hips, groin, and chest.

•    To come out of the pose, press your hands into the ground and lift your chest up.

•    Walk your hands back towards your hips and lift your right leg back to Adho Mukha Svanasana.

•    Repeat on the other side, stepping your left foot forward and sliding your left hip towards the ground.

Dr Karthik Kashyap’s tip: Focusing your Drishti (Awareness) on the centre of your eyebrows will help find better balance.

10. Pincha Mayurasana (Feathered Peacock Pose)

•    Begin in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), with your hands and feet on the ground and your hips lifted up towards the ceiling.

•    Walk your feet towards your hands, coming into Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend).

•    Place your forearms on the ground, keeping your elbows shoulder-width apart and your hands clasped.

•    Step one foot forward and lift the other leg up, bringing your body into a “L” shape.

•    Slowly begin to walk your feet towards your head, bending your knees and lifting your hips up towards the ceiling.

•    Keep your gaze focused between your forearms and engage your core to help maintain balance.

•    When you feel stable, begin to straighten your legs and press your feet up towards the ceiling.

•    Hold the pose for a few breaths, feeling the strength in your core, shoulders, and arms.

•    To come out of the pose, slowly lower your legs back down to the ground and release your hands.

11. Vrschikasana (Scorpion Pose)

•    Begin in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), with your hands and feet on the ground and your hips lifted up towards the ceiling.

•    Bring your feet together and lift your right leg up towards the ceiling, bending your knee and bringing your heel towards your buttocks.

•    Slowly begin to shift your weight forward, bringing your shoulders over your hands and coming onto the ball of your left foot.

•    Once you feel stable, begin to lift your left leg up towards the ceiling and bring your right foot towards your head, bending your elbows and lowering your head towards the ground.

•    Keeping your core engaged and your gaze forward, slowly begin to straighten your arms and lift your head up towards the ceiling, coming into Scorpion Pose.

•    Hold the pose for a few breaths, feeling the strength in your core, shoulders, and arms.

•    To come out of the pose, slowly lower your legs back down to the ground and release your hands.

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