By Rachel Holmes
Are there really any strange poses in Yoga? It really depends on your point of view, but there are some real unique asanas and depending on each practitioner they may leave us feeling recharged, healthy, awkward, or a little strange. When practicing any form of Yoga we eventually learn to be comfortable in our own skin.
Performed in a studio heated to approximately 105 degrees Fahrenheit, Bikram Yoga aims to promote deeper stretching, restoring health to every part of the body. A Bikram Yoga series consists of 26 asanas, or postures, and two breathing exercises. In each Bikram Yoga poses, a particular part of the body is compressed, temporarily restricting blood flow to that part of the body.
This blood shortage causes the heart to pump harder, which delivers fresh, oxygenated blood to the arteries that were compressed. This is said to rejuvenate those arteries, releasing bacteria and toxins. Many of the asanas can help relieve the symptoms of autoimmune disorders such as rheumatism and arthritis. The poses in Bikram Yoga are quite demanding and vigorous. Three of the strangest are the aptly-named awkward pose, the toe stand pose, and the spine twisting pose.
Utkatasana (Awkward Pose)
In the awkward pose, the practitioner is balanced on the toes with the knees bent, back perpendicular to the floor, abs engaged, and arms parallel to the floor. When viewed from the side, this position appears almost impossible to achieve. When practiced, it reinforces and strengthens the muscles in the upper arms, thighs, hips, and calves. It increases circulation in the leg and hip joints and is beneficial to the lower spine.
Padangustasana (Toe Stand Pose)
The toe stand pose requires the practitioner to balance on the toes of one foot. The body is arranged in a compact position, with the other knee bent to the side, toes resting on top of the supporting thigh. That leg appears to be floating in the air. The hands are together in prayer pose. This asana helps strengthen the mind and encourages the practitioner to develop patience. It is said that this pose can also help relieve hemorrhoids.
Ardha Matsyendrasana (Spine Twisting Pose)
In the spine twisting pose, the practitioner appears to be facing forward and backward at the same time. One leg is resting on the floor with a bent knee, while the other leg is bent over that one with the foot on the floor. The practitioner is turned, facing toward the back. The entire length of the spine is twisted, which increases circulation and improves flexibility in the spine and hip joints.
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