July 17, 2009
What is Ugrasan or Noble yoga pose?
Ugrasan or Noble yoga pose gets its name from ‘ugra’ which means powerful, formidable, and sometimes even frightening. It is thus named because it is a very powerful pose and quite difficult to perform. It is also called a Noble Yoga Pose because it is an intense stretch and enhances the power of the body and mind.
Ugrasana is a sitting posture which requires bending forward over stretched legs. It is sometimes also called the Paschimottanasana, although it is a more intense stretch. ‘Paschim’ means west, which is depicted by the back of the body from the head to heels. The east is depicted by the front portion of the body from face to toes. The northern part is depicted by the crown of the head, while the south is formed by the heels and soles of the feet.
Step by step procedure:
- Sit in Dandasana (Staff Yoga Pose), with your legs together and stretched out in front.
- Now spread both your legs outwards towards your sides.
- Inhale and raise your hands over your head.
- Exhale, bend forward and hold both the big toes of your feet, with the fingers of each corresponding hand. Get a firm grip by hooking your index finger on it.
- Bend forward even more from the pelvis. Try to touch the ground with your forehead.
- Maintain this pose for 10 to 20 seconds. Raise your head, inhale and release the pose.
- Go back to normal position and repeat the pose. You may do 8 to 10 repetitions.
- Tips for beginners: This is a very intense stretch and you may not be able to do it completely, if you are beginner.
- If you are overweight, you may not be able to touch the ground with your forehead. Do not force yourself. For the first few days, be content to touch your calves with your forehead. Increase the bend gradually.
- Do not use jerky movements to bend forward. You might pull a muscle in your back and injure yourself. Bend slowly and gradually.
- Do not bend your legs at the knees, in order to make it easy to bend forward.
- If you face too much difficulty in performing this pose, go to Makarasana (Crocodile Yoga Pose) or Savasana (Corpse Yoga Pose) for some time and then return to Ugrasana.
- It stretches the muscles of the back, thighs, hamstrings, shoulders and arms, and strengthens them. It thus prevents sciatica.
- It strengthens and tones the muscles of the abdomen and improves the function of the organs in that region – for example the spleen, liver, kidneys and the digestive system. It cures dyspepsia and constipation.
- It improves appetite and reduces abdominal fat.
- It improves the functioning of the reproductive system, cures sexual disorders and regulates the menstrual cycle.
Contraindication: Do not perform it if you are suffering from ulcers in the abdomen.
April 30, 2009
Ask any professional bodybuilder which is the most powerful pose in the weight training arena. Nine out of ten times, the answer will be the squat. The squat is such a powerful exercise because it exercises some of the largest muscles of the body—the thigh and back muscles.
Yoga, too, has its own variation of the squat. This powerful yoga pose is known as the Utkatasana, or the fierce pose. Unlike weigh training, this pose is performed without any external weights. It uses your own body weight to help strengthen your body. Those who have performed the Utkatasana will testify that this yoga pose is no less challenging than the squat.
How to perform the Utkatasana
There are many variations of the Utkatasana that increase its difficulty in a progressive manner. Let us start with the basic Utkatasana. To perform this pose, you have to first stand in the mountain pose, or Tadasana. Center your mind and allow your entire body to relax. Now inhale deeply and simultaneously raise your arms above your head. This allows you to stretch and mobilize your chest and back.
Slowly exhale and lower your body from the hips and knees until your upper body forms a 45 degree angle to the floor. Ensure that your back is straight and that your knees don’t extend over your feet. Try to maintain this posture for as long as you can while breathing deeply and gently. If you find it very difficult to hold this posture for any length of time, you can try to place a plank under your heels while performing the pose.
Then, inhale and slowly come back to the upright position with your hands still pointed to the ceiling. Exhale and return to the Tadasana. This is one repetition. Unlike other forms of exercise, the emphasis should not be on a number of reps, or performing the exercise at a certain speed. Instead, when performing the Utkatasana, you should focus on your breathing, and on how your body feels when your are performing the pose. Feel the tension leave your chest, back, and spine. Visualize the muscles of your leg becoming stronger.
Benefits of Utkatasana
The Utkatasana is one of the best yoga poses to improve overall body strength, especially leg strength. It also helps to improve your posture and gives a good stretch to your spine, chest, arms, and shoulders. The fierce pose also helps to release any tension from the pelvic region. This powerful yoga pose is also beneficial for the diaphragm, heart, and abdominal organs.