What Are The Health Benefits of Yoga Poses?

By Juliet Kaska


The physical discipline of Yoga has been around for thousands of years. It has gained popularity in the last decade far outside of Ashrams and yoga centers. Many average Americans are taking to Yoga for its benefits. Improvement of flexibility and reduction, or release of stress, being the two big incentives to roll out a mat and get on the floor.


Yoga is usually equated with the uber flexible. Images of men and women contorting into seemingly impossible positions. Although impressive to see these images can also be intimidating to the less bendy folks out there. The truth of the matter is even those human pretzels first had to practice simple poses like the ones in this article.


Yoga is considered a practice; you practice the poses for your body on a regular and consistent basis that fits your lifestyle. The 5 poses below will help to improve your flexibility in your hips, legs, groin, back/spine, chest and shoulders. Take your time with each practice to be present in your body. Feel what happens when you breath or more differently from the previous time. Give your body and your mind time to unwind into each pose. Enjoy the effects.


Each of the 5 poses offers supported options with props to help ease you in to and/or to be able to hold the poses longer.  


Roll out your mat and let’s get start with Cobbler’s Pose…


Cobbler’s Pose or Butterfly


Original Sanskrit Name: Baddha Konasana

Stretches: Hips & Groin

Optional Support Props: A rolled towel/blanket or bolster.


Set Up and Description: Cobbler’s Pose

  • Started seated on your mat. (Sit on the rolled towel/blanket if needed)
  • Place the soles of your feet together and draw as close into you as you can. You will begin to feel an inner thigh stretch.
  • Sit up tall with an elongated spine. Interlace your hands and place over the tops of your toes, like a “hat” for your toes.
  • Keep your arms straight and pull your heart forward.
  • Hold the pose for 10-60 seconds. Gently breath through the nose during the hold. Option to close the eyes.
  • To come out of the pose, extend the legs straight out in front of you. It may feel nice to shake the legs out.



Hero’s Pose


Original Sanskrit Name: Vrasana

Stretches: Quads (front of the thighs), knees and ankles

Optional Support Props: 1-2 yoga blocks, or a bolster, or a rolled-up blanket


Set Up and Description: Hero’s Pose

  • Kneel on the floor, (If needed place a rolled blanket, block(s) or bolster between your shins), with your knees together and your skins & feet apart.
  • Sit your buttocks back to (to the rolled blanket, block(s) or bolster) the floor sitting between your shins. The tops of your feet are on the floor.
  • Keep your spine elongated and your shoulders rolled back and down. Place your hands on your thighs.
  • If your buttocks don’t rest on the floor or your prop while keeping an elongated spine raise your hips up with a higher prop, such as 2 blocks.
  • Hold the pose for 10-60 seconds. Gently breath through the nose during the hold. Option to close the eyes.
  • To come out of the pose, shift forward onto your hands (all fours). Tap the tops of the feet on the ground if desired.



Forward Fold


Original Sanskrit Name: Uttasana

Stretches: Hamstrings (back of the thighs), calves and back

Optional Support Props: 2 yoga blocks


Set Up and Description: Forward Fold

  • Stand with your legs together and parallel. Draw in with your inner thighs and feet as if you were holding a long piece of paper between them. Keep your feet active by pressing down into all four corners of the feet throughout the pose.
  • Place your hands on your hips.
  • Bend, or fold at the hips to come down, keeping a flat back. Use the hands on your hips to help remind your body to hinge at the hips.
  • When you feel the stretch in the hamstrings (the back of the thighs) or when you cannot maintain a flat back any longer round forward the rest of the way.
  • Relax the neck and let the head hang. Optional to close the eyes.
  • Hold the pose for 10-60 seconds. Gently breath through the nose during the hold.


Options for the hold portion:

#1. Place hands flat on ground in front of your feet, keeping legs straight.

#2. Wrap arms around the thighs pulling your head and thighs closer to one another.

#3. Place hands flat on yoga blocks or another firm surface, directly in front of your feet, while keeping legs straight

  • To come out of the pose, roll your spine back up focusing on rolling through each vertebra as you come up.



Bridge Pose


Original Sanskrit Name: Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

Stretches: Chest, front of shoulders and abdomen

Optional Support Props: A yoga strap or hand towel


Set Up and Description: Bridge Pose

  • Lie on your back with your arms down by your side, palms flat on the ground.
  • Bend your knees planting your feet flat, hip-distance apart and parallel.
  • Press down the back of your head, shoulders, arms and feet.
  • Inhale to raise your hips high.
  • Once your hips are up roll your shoulders and arms closer to one another, clasping your hands together under your back. If possible, bring your palms together. If your hands don’t come together tightly hold a strap or towel between the hands to make that connection, which will improve the stretch across the front of the shoulders and chest.
  • Once your hands are together press down firmly into your arms, feet and back of your head (keep your next long) to broaden your chest.
  • Firm the shins and think of rolling your upper thighs inward. Press down firmly through into your feet to lift higher. (The knees may want to open, keep the legs parallel).
  • Hold the pose for 10-60 seconds. Gently breath through the nose during the hold.
  • To come out of the pose, release your hands, and lower to the floor on an exhale.



Rotated Easy Pose


Original Sanskrit Name: Parivrtta Sukhasana

Stretches: Back muscles and spine; including the neck, shoulders, chest and hips.

Strengthens: abdominals and releases stress

Optional Support Props: 1 yoga block, or a bolster, or a rolled-up blanket


Set Up and Description: Rotated Easy Pose

  • Sit on the floor, bend your knees and cross the right shin in front of the left (Suknasana pose).
  • Slide your hands under you buttocks and move the flesh outward so you can sit directly on your sitting bones.
  • Sit up tall with an elongates spine. If you are unable to do this with relative ease sit on top of your prop (1 yoga block, or a bolster, or a rolled-up blanket). Taking your hips higher then your knees until you can sit up straight.
  • On an inhale lift your arms up by your ears.
  • On the exhalation twist to the right bringing your left hand to your right knee and your right arm behind you.
  • Place the back hand (on 1st side it will be your right hand) flat on the ground as close to your sacrum as possible.
  • Equally push down into the back hand to get length and press the front hand into the outer knee to get rotation.
  • Be sure to keep both hips/sit bones firmly on the ground as you twist.
  • Hold the twist for 3-5 slow breaths.
  • On an inhale lift your arms up by your ears as you come back to facing forward.

Repeat on the other side.

  • On the exhalation twist to the left bringing your right hand to your left knee and your left arm behind you.
  • On an inhale lift your arms up by your ears as you come back to facing forward.
  • Repeat both sides again with your left shin in front. Your hips will thank you for taking the time to do this



Make Yoga a Part of Your Life


As I mentioned, these are 5 simple poses to give you a taste of yoga. Hopefully you find that they help to stretch and balance you, but keep in mind that it is a practice and takes some time. Let your body ease into each pose and maybe make it a part of your daily routine!  



About the Author:


Juliet Kaska is one of the country’s leading celebrity trainers and health + wellness experts. In 2005, she opened Emerson Hall Fitness (EHF) in West Hollywood, CA, which quickly became the most sought-after boutique gym in the Los Angeles area. She then launched her brand JK Zen Fitness, with partnership locations throughout LA, and in 2010 opened the JK Fitness Pilates Studio. Juliet recently partnered with Vionic to create the Move for You program, a three-part series of 7 minute videos that get you moving with power and comfort. In addition to her celebrity clientele, Juliet is known for creating Hollywood’s favorite workout programs: The Bombshell Bride, Picture Perfect, The Red Carpet Workout, The Executive’s Workout and her most popular, Pilates Burn, a high-intensity workout combining Pilates reformer equipment, traditional strength training techniques and the flow of yoga. Juliet has consulted for and appeared on numerous programs such as Good Morning America, Dr. Phil and Entertainment Tonight. Numerous publications including Vogue, Shape, Los Angeles Magazine, People, Oxygen, Fitness Magazine, Glamour and Health Magazine have also featured her as a fitness expert. Juliet is trained and certified in multiple disciplines, making her workout programs both diverse and innovative. She is certified as a Second Generation Master Pilates Teacher and has received dual certification as a personal trainer from the American Council on Exercise and the National Academy of Sports Medicine. In addition, yoga guru Dharma Mittra trained her as a yoga teacher. Juliet brings a vibrant voice and unique perspective to the Vionic Innovation Lab.


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