2,100 Asanas: The Complete Yoga Poses (2015)
BENEFITS AND CAUTIONS FOR 8 CONDITIONS
1. Headache & Migraine
Many headaches are caused by tension and stress. In yoga we breathe deeply and relax. The yoga practice stretches the tight muscles in the upper body, releases endorphins (a “feel good” hormone) and relaxes the mind. It helps release tension by increasing blood flow to the muscles, making the nervous system less agitated and reducing a chance of a headache or migraine.
Poses that put weight or pressure on the head and neck should be avoided. If you suffer from migraines, avoid poses that dramatically increase blood flow to the head. If your migraines are severe, avoid practicing yoga poses and lie down in a dark room.
Seated forward bends-Ex. Both Hands to Ankle Head to Knee Pose (Dwi Hasta Kulpa Janu Shirshasana) here. Seated forward bends release tension in the hamstrings and lower back and help prevent headaches caused by tension in the legs and lower back.
Seated twists-Ex. Half Root Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Mula Matsyendrasana) here. Seated twisting poses can help prevent headaches caused by tension in the upper and lower back.
Hand position of the pose dedicated to Garuda-Ex. Hand Position of the Pose Dedicated to Garuda in Child’s Pose (Hasta Garudasana in Balasana) here. Any pose with this hand position helps stretch the upper back and back shoulder heads and can help prevent headaches caused by tension in the muscles of the upper back.
Hand position of Cow Face Pose-Ex. Hand Position of Cow Face Pose in Bound Angle Pose (Hasta Garudasana in Baddha Konasana) here. Any pose with this hand position helps stretch the triceps, front shoulder heads, and rotator cuffs and can help prevent headaches caused by tension in the arms and shoulder muscles.
POSES TO APPROACH WITH CAUTION
Inversions-Ex. Peacock Feather Pose (Picha Mayurasana) here, Leg Position of One-Legged King Pigeon 1 Version B in Headstand 5 (Pada Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana 1 B in Shirshasana 5) here, and Leg Position of the Pose Dedicated to Garuda in Hands Bound Supported Whole Body Pose (Pada Garudasana in Baddha Hasta Salamba Sarvangasana), also known as Shoulderstand here. Avoid any intense inversions that require a lot of strength, as they increase the heart rate and blood flow to the head and may trigger headaches or migraines.
Backbends with feet and head on the floor-Ex. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana) here. Avoid poses that put pressure on the head and neck, as they may trigger headaches or migraines.
2. Carpal Tunnel
To help prevent or alleviate carpal tunnel syndrome with yoga, you’ll need to practice poses that strengthen and stretch the flexor muscles of the forearm, which are the muscles on the palm side of the forearm. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may want to start with poses that bear less weight on the wrist joint.
Poses that strengthen the wrist without straining it-Ex. Staff Pose (Dandasana) here. Stretching and gently strengthening the wrist and muscles of the forearm can help prevent or reduce carpal tunnel syndrome.
Poses with hands in the reverse prayer position-Ex. Hidden Lotus Pose (Gupta Padmasana) here and Reverse Prayer Mountain Pose (Viparita Namaskar Tadasana) here. These poses help stretch out the wrists, forearms, front shoulder heads, chest, and rotator cuffs. Releasing tension from these areas is helpful because muscles in the upper body are interconnected and carpal tunnel can be caused or worsened by a chain reaction of tense muscles.
Poses that have hands in prayer (Anjali Mudra)-Ex. Revolved Prayer Standing Rising Wind Relieving Pose (Parivritta Namaskar Stiti Utthita Vayu Muktyasana) here. Stretching the wrists and forearm muscles can promote blood flow and lessen tension in the area.
Poses with bound hands, palms facing out-Ex. Mountain Pose—Raised Bound Hands (Tadasana Urdhva Baddha Hastasana) here These poses help stretch the forearm muscles that are strained and tight in most people who have carpal tunnel syndrome.
POSES TO APPROACH WITH CAUTION
Arm balances with both feet off the floor-Ex. Crane Pose (Bakasana) here. These poses have the entire body weight resting on the wrists, which puts a great amount of strain on the carpal tunnel and may drastically worsen its symptoms.
Backbends with hands and feet on the floor-Ex. Upward Bow Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana) here and Wild Thing Pose (Chamatkarasana) here. These poses are very hard on the wrists.
Backbends with straight arms-Ex. Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana) here. These poses put strain on the wrist joints because most of the upper body weight rests on the hands.
ADDITIONAL NOTES: There are some options to avoid pressure on the wrist while practicing Upward Facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana) here or Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Shvanasana) here. If you feel that these poses irritate the carpal tunnel, drop the knees to the floor and rotate the hands 45 degrees to the outside to take the pressure off the nerve. You may also experiment with placing props (rolled-up yoga mat, thin book, or slant board) under the heels of the palms to shift the weight to the knuckles and fingers to reduce the compression of the wrist.
Yoga can help bring awareness to your breathing patterns and release tension from the neck, upper back, chest, and shoulders. Focus on developing full and complete breaths through seated mediation sitting in Easy Pose (Sukhasana) here. Since a symptom of asthma is short shallow breaths, developing control of the breath will help the body obtain the oxygen needed and help calm the body, preventing future attacks.
Some yoga poses may be strenuous to the respiratory system and could cause asthma attacks. It’s recommended that you pace yourself, gradually raising your body temperature and gradually cooling down. Cold air can cause bronchi to contract and cause an asthma attack. Hot and humid air can cause dehydration and can also cause an asthma attack. Find a room with a comfortable temperature.
Poses on hands and knees-Ex. Going from Tiger Pose (Vyaghrasana) here to Unsupported Tiger Pose (Niralamba Vyaghrasana) here. Many people who suffer from asthma have tension in the upper back and chest from coughing during asthma attacks. Combining mild backbends with mild forward bends gently stretches the chest, upper back, and the neck, which can help reduce the symptoms of asthma worsened by tension in those areas.
Mild backbends-Ex. Fish Pose (Matsyasana) here. Mild backbends help open the chest and front shoulder heads and improve the quality of breathing.
Lion’s Pose variations-Ex. Lion Pose Dedicated to an Avatar of Lord Vishnu in Garland Pose (Narasimhasana in Malasana) here. Lion’s Pose variations can help release tension in the throat, neck, and jaw because you “roar” like a lion in these poses. They also can help push the stale air out of your lungs.
Seated meditation focusing on breathing-Ex. Lotus Pose (Padmasana) here. Bringing awareness to your breath and developing control can be useful during an asthma attack. It can also help prevent an attack from happening.
Inversions-Ex. Headstand 5 (Shirshasana 5), also known as Tripod Headstand here. Inversions help promote proper movement of the diaphragm during an exhalation. Since the majority of the body is upside down, gravity works with the exhalation, not against it.
POSES TO APPROACH WITH CAUTION
Inversions on the shoulders-Ex. Ear Pressure Pose (Karnapidasana) here. Inversions on the shoulders compress the neck and chest, especially when the knees are bent toward the head. This compression restricts your breathing and may cause an asthma attack.
Backbends on the chin and chest-Ex. Inverted Locust Pose (Viparita Shalabhasana) here. These poses compress the throat and restrict your breathing, and may cause an asthma attack.
Seated forward bends-Ex. Western Intense Stretch Pose (Paschimottanasana) here. These poses compress the lungs and restrict your breathing, and may cause an asthma attack.
Cardio-intense poses-Ex. Crocodile Pose (Nakrasana) here. Poses that require a lot of strength and that are demanding on the cardiovascular system can cause shortness and shallowness of breath, and may cause an asthma attack.
Intense backbends-Ex. Little Thunderbolt Pose (Laghuvajrasana) here. These poses can be stimulating and cause shortness of breath if you have asthma. It is recommended to start with mild backbends and progress into deeper ones slowly, according to how your body feels.
Arm balances with both feet off the floor-Ex. Uneven Half Repose Pose Dedicated to Ashtavakra (Vishama Ardha Shayana Ashtavakrasana) here. These types of poses require a lot of strength and endurance and may cause shortness of breath.
4. Neck Pain
Yoga practice can help prevent and relieve neck pain. The combination of gentle stretches and strengthening movements can open up tight muscles in the body, increasing neck flexibility and rebalancing postural muscles. Simple and slow movements will lubricate the neck and increase its range of movement. Hold each pose for 30 to 90 seconds.
While it’s important to strengthen and stretch the neck muscles in order to help prevent neck injury, if you already have a neck concern it’s best not to aggravate it. Poses that are most strenuous for the neck are the ones that bear the majority of the body’s weight on the head or neck.
Seated neck stretches-Ex. Easy Pose with Neck Stretch (Sukhasana) here. Neck pain can be caused by tension in the neck muscles. Stretching these muscles can help prevent or reduce neck pain.
Seated twists-Ex. Pose Dedicated to Bharadvaja 1 (Bharadvajasana 1) here. Muscles in the neck are connected to the muscles in the upper back. Seated twists increase the range of motion in the upper back and neck and can help prevent or reduce neck pain caused by tension in these areas.
Poses on hands and knees-Ex. Going from Tiger Pose (Vyaghrasana), modification knee to the forehead, here to Tiger Pose (Vyaghrasana), also known as Cat Tilt here, top. Rounding the back and then going into a mild backbend can help strengthen the neck muscles and stretch the front of the neck (in Dog Tilt) and the back of the neck (in Cat Tilt).
Hand position of the pose dedicated to Garuda-Ex. Hand Position of the Pose Dedicated to Garuda in Hero Pose (Hasta Garudasana in Virasana) here. Any pose with this hand position helps stretch the upper back and back shoulder heads and can help prevent neck pain caused by tension in the muscles of the upper back.
POSES TO APPROACH WITH CAUTION
Full inversions-Ex. Revolved Leg Position of One-Legged King Pigeon 1 Version B in Headstand 5 (Parivritta Pada Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana 1 B in Shirshasana 5) here, One-Legged Unsupported Whole Body Pose (Eka Pada Niralamba Sarvangasana), also known as Shoulderstand here Full inversions with the head on the floor put strain on the neck since the majority of the body weight tends to rest on the head or neck. If you have a neck injury, it’s best to avoid these.
Backbends with feet and head on the floor-Ex. Inverted Tip Toe Bow Pose (Viparita Prapada Dhanurasana), also known as Headstand Bow Pose (Shirsha Dhanurasana) here. Backbends with head and feet on the floor require a lot of neck strength and should be avoided if you have a neck concern.
5. High Blood Pressure
If you think you may be at risk or have already been diagnosed with high blood pressure, it is advisable to speak with your health care provider. Practicing yoga may help with blood pressure management since it combines the benefits of meditation, muscle relaxation, and strength training exercise. When practicing yoga poses, ensure that you are able to breathe comfortably and deeply. If you have any difficulty breathing, come out of the pose and rest or perform an easier version of the pose. If difficulty breathing persists, then consult your health care provider immediately.
Seated backbends-Ex. Hands Bound Lotus Pose (Baddha Hasta Padmasana) here. Seated backbends gently open the chest and improve the flow of oxygen to the lungs. They release tension in the chest and front shoulder heads often caused by stress and hunching over a computer on a daily basis. This can help lower high blood pressure that is a result of stress.
Seated twists-Ex. Revolved Easy Pose (Parivritta Sukhasana) here. Seated twists help release tension from the upper back and detoxify the body. This can help lower high blood pressure that is a result of tension in the upper back.
Supine forward bends-Ex. Reclining Both Hands to the Leg Pose (Supta Dwi Hasta Padasana) here. Supine forward bends stretch the hamstrings without increasing blood pressure, as opposed to standing forward bends where the head is below the heart. This can help lower high blood pressure that is a result of muscle tension of the lower back and legs.
POSES TO APPROACH WITH CAUTION
Inversions-Ex. Feet Spread Out Intense Stretch Pose 2 (Prasarita Padottanasana 2) here and Crane Pose in Headstand 5 Prep. (Bakasana in Shirshasana 5 Prep.) here. Inversions should be avoided if you have high blood pressure that is not controlled. They are very stimulating postures since the head is below the heart, which causes an increased demand for oxygen. These increase blood flow and heart rate, generating pressure to the blood vessels of the brain, and may cause blood pressure to rise dramatically.
Lunges with back knee off the floor-Ex. Revolved Son of Anjani (Lord Hanuman) Lunge Pose with Hands in Prayer (Parivritta Anjaneyasana Namaskar) here. These poses can require a lot of lower body strength if you are not used to practicing them. They can raise the heart rate and increase blood pressure.
Arm balances with both feet off the floor-Ex. Leg Position of Cow Face Pose in Pendant Pose (Pada Gomukhasana in Lolasana) here. These poses are demanding on the upper body and may increase heart rate, which can increase blood pressure.
Backbends with hands and feet on the floor-Ex. Elevated Both Legs Inverted Staff Pose (Utthita Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana) here. Poses such as these can be demanding on the upper body and can elevate blood pressure by increasing heart rate.
During a period, uterine contractions can cause painful cramps in the lower abdomen and lower back. Yoga can help release endorphins to relax the body. Stretch out the lower body and back to help release the pain. Forward bends, inside hip openers, and gentle twists can help relieve the symptoms of menstruation.
Some are of the opinion that inversions can cause engorgement in the blood vessels of the uterus, which may increase blood flow, and should be avoided during a period. On the other hand, B.K.S. Iyengar’s book The Path to Holistic Health recommends inversions during a period to reduce blood flow. You should listen to your own body and judge accordingly. If you are not feeling strong, engage in a slower-paced yoga pose practice.
Supine hip openers-Ex. Universal All-Encompassing Diamond Pose (Vishvavajrasana) here. Poses such as this open up the hips and groin and allow the lumbar spine to rest, which can help relieve the menstrual discomfort.
Low squats-Ex. One Leg Bound Garland Pose (Eka Pada Baddha Malasana) here. Practice poses such as this to stretch out the groin, the chest, and front shoulders. Releasing tension from those areas can help relieve menstrual discomfort.
Seated hip openers-Ex. One Legged King Pigeon Pose 1 Prep. (Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana 1 Prep.) here. Poses such as this help open up the hip and stretch the lower abdomen, which can help relieve menstrual discomfort due to tension in that area.
Backbends on the knees-Ex. Camel Pose (Ushtrasana) here. Poses such as this can help stretch out the lower abdomen and release tension from that region, which can help relieve menstrual discomfort.
Gentle seated twists-Ex. Easy Lord of The Fishes Pose Prep. (Sukha Matsyendrasana Prep.) here. Seated twists stimulate internal organs and can help relieve the symptoms of menstruation by gently encouraging the natural blood flow during menstruation.
POSES TO APPROACH WITH CAUTION
Arm balances with hands and feet on the floor-Ex. Four Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana) here. Poses such as this are very demanding on the upper body and core, and may worsen the symptoms of menstruation due to overstraining.
Arm balances with both feet off the floor-Ex. Pose Dedicated to Galava, One-Legged Variation (Eka Pada Galavasana) here. These poses demand a lot of strength and may worsen the symptoms of menstruation due to overstraining.
High squats-Ex. Tip Toe Fierce Pose (Prapada Utkatasana) here. Poses such as this are demanding on the legs and core, and may worsen the symptoms of menstruation due to overstraining.
Backbends on hands and feet-Ex. Partridge Pose (Kapinjalasana) here. Intense backbends put a lot of strain on the body, because they engage the entire body. They may worsen the symptoms of menstruation due to overstraining.
Don’t engage in a vigorous yoga practice with jump-through and jump-back Vinyasas. Jumping is dangerous during pregnancy. Avoid hot yoga classes that can dangerously elevate your core temperature or cause dehydration. After giving birth, be mindful when going into deep stretches. The levels of relaxin (the hormone that loosens the muscles and joints to accommodate birth) in the body may still be high, increasing the danger of injury due to overstretching. If you had a C-section, make sure the wound heals properly. Avoid doing any intense twists or backbends, as they may interfere with healing of the wound.
Seated inner hip openers-Ex. Knees Spread Wide Hero Pose (Prasarita Janu Virasana) here. Poses such as this stretch out the inner hips without compressing the abdomen.
Wide-legged squats-Ex. Lotus Hand Seal in Upward Hands Pose Dedicated to Goddess Kali (Padma Mudra Urdhva Hasta Kalyasana) here. Wide-legged squats strengthen quadriceps (front of the thighs), hamstrings (back of the thighs), and glutes (buttocks) without putting pressure onto the abdomen.
Standing side bends-Ex. Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parshva Konasana) here. Standing side bends stretch out the side of the torso and lower back while strengthening the legs without putting pressure onto the abdomen.
Poses on hands and knees-Ex. Tiger Pose (Vyaghrasana) here. Poses on hands and knees can be done during pregnancy because they do not compress the abdomen.
Mild backbends on the knees-Ex. Half Camel Pose (Ardha Ushtrasana) here. Mild backbends can be practiced during pregnancy since they don’t compress the abdomen.
POSES TO APPROACH WITH CAUTION
Inversions-Ex. Repose Pose (Shayanasana) here. Don’t do any inversions where your heart is above your head beyond the first trimester. Turning your body upside down creates pressure on your internal organs and may be damaging to the developing fetus.
Forward bend twists-Ex. Two Hands Revolved Western Intense Stretch Pose (Dwi Hasta Parivritta Paschimottanasana) here. Don’t do any forward bends or twists that compress the abdomen and squeeze the fetus and placenta.
Core poses-Ex. Revolved Boat Pose (Parivritta Navasana) here. Don’t do strenuous core poses that compress the abdomen.
Prone poses-Ex. One-Legged Pose Dedicated to Siddhar Konganar (Eka Pada Konganarasana) here. Avoid prone poses since they put a lot of pressure on the abdomen.
Supine poses where the back is flat on the floor-Ex. Reclined Leg Position of Cow Face Pose (Supta Pada Gomukhasana) here. Supine poses with the back flat on the floor take out the natural curve in the lumbar spine that is present during pregnancy and can compress the fetus and placenta.
Intense backbends-Ex. One-Legged Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Kapotasana) here. Intense backbends create too much stretch in the abdomen and should be avoided during pregnancy.
Common symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and mood swings can be alleviated with regular yoga pose practice. Focus on poses that open up the pelvic area as well as mediation to help control stress.
Avoid practicing hot yoga and avoid overexertion. Both can trigger menopause symptoms. It is recommended to avoid vigorous Sun Salutes, as they can increase body temperature and cause hot flashes.
Mild supine backbends-Ex. Bridge Whole Body Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) here. Mild backbends open up the chest and heart area. They can help balance blood pressure and hormonal secretions as well as help relieve mood swings and hot flashes.
Supine hip openers-Ex. Reclined Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana) here. These poses open up the chest, heart and pelvic areas. Blood flow is increased into the pelvic area and reproductive organs and that can help balance hormonal functions. These poses can help relieve high blood pressure, headaches, and breathing problems.
Supine thigh openers-Ex. Reclined Hero Pose (Supta Virasana) here. Poses such as this can help improve blood circulation in the ovarian region and stimulate the pelvic organs, which can help balance hormonal functions and relieve the symptoms of menopause.
POSES TO APPROACH WITH CAUTION
Backbends on hands and feet-Ex. Tip Toe One Hand Upward Bow Pose (Prapada Eka Hasta Urdhva Dhanurasana) here. Poses such as these can be too strenuous on the upper body (arms and shoulders). They can raise the body temperature and cause hot flashes.
Core poses-Ex. Boat Pose (Navasana) here. Avoid any vigorous core yoga poses, as it creates too much tension around the abdominal organs and may worsen the menopause symptoms.
Standing twists-Ex. Revolved Side Angle (Parivritta Parshva konasana) here. Avoid any intense twists, as it creates too much compression around the internal organs of the torso, which may worsen the menopause symptoms.
Inversions-Ex. Headstand 1 (Shirshasana 1) here. Avoid any full inversions, as they increase blood flow to the internal organs of the torso and raise heart rate which may cause hot flashes.