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Introduction to Yoga

The following poses are designed as a basic yoga sequence to do at home. Always contact your physician before starting this or any other new exercise program.

The benefits of yoga include...

Before you start this routine…

Seated Cross-Leg Breathing

  • Sit on edge of folded blanket or firm pillow.
  • Lengthen tailbones toward the earth.
  • Grow spine up towards the sky.
  • Inhale deeply, expanding your ribcage, exhale relax tension.
  • Continue to take 5- 10 deep breaths.

Seated Spinal Twist

  • From seated cross-leg pose: Place left hand behind you on the floor and right hand onto left knee.
  • Inhale lengthen spine.
  • Exhale relax neck and shoulders and gently twist torso to the left.
  • Take 5 deep breaths, creating space and length in the spine. Repeat on other side.

Mountain Pose

  • Stand with your feet hips width apart and lift your toes.
  • Lengthen tailbone down towards earth.
  • Grow spine up toward sky. Relax shoulders down.
  • Lengthen up through top of the head.
  • Take 5- 10 deep breaths, feel yourself becoming steady, grounded and stable.

Extended Mountain Pose

    From the Mountain Pose:
  • Reach arms up overhead.
  • Take 5- 10 deep breaths again feeling steady and powerful.

Standing Side Bend

  • Stand with feet about 2 ½ feet apart, toes lifted.
  • Place your right hand on right thigh. Lengthen tailbone down.
  • Inhale lift your left arm up and over to the right.
  • Exhale and relax your right ear towards right shoulder, softening neck muscles.
  • Take 3-5 deep breaths. Repeat on other side

Standing Forward Bend

  • Stand with feet about 2 ½ feet apart, toes lifted.
  • Bend your knees slightly (back sensitive people or those with sciatica can bend knees
  • deeper or omit if it does not feel good) and fold forward on exhale.
  • Take 5 deep breaths, letting the weight of your head gently traction the neck and spine.
  • With knees bent, gently roll up to standing, keeping the neck relaxed.

Warrior II

  • Stand with feet about 4 feet apart. Turn right foot out 90°. Turn left foot in about 15°.
  • Bend your right knee 90°, so it is directly over your right ankle (very important especially for knee sensitive people), lift your right toes.
  • Reach arms out to sides, shoulders’ height.
  • Inhale expanding ribcage, exhale lengthen tailbone down.
  • Take 4 deep breaths
  • Switch sides (left foot out 90°, right foot in 15°, bend left knee) and repeat.

Triangle Pose

  • Stand with feet 3 ½ feet apart
  • Turn right foot out 90°, left foot in 15°.
  • Keep both legs strait, reach your right arm out and onto your left leg (on thigh or shin).
  • Stretch left arm up over your left shoulder.
  • Take 4 deep breath. Switch sides.

Half Boat

  • Lie onto your belly. Clasp hands behind you, resting them on your buttocks.
  • Tuck your tailbone down to lengthen the lower back, squeeze inner ankles together.
  • Keeping tops of feet pressed on the floor.
  • Inhale and lift up chest, keep neck relaxed.
  • Exhale lower chest down to floor, keeping tailbone tucked the whole time to protect and strengthen lower back. Repeat 2-3 times.

Reclining Leg Stretch (you will need a strap, belt or old tie)

  • Lie on your back with knees bent.
  • Place your strap onto bottom of right foot.
  • Inhale and straiten your right leg.
  • Keep left knee bent or straiten it depending on your level of flexibility (see photo).
  • Take 5-6 deep breaths on each leg, gently stretching your hamstring muscles

Legs Up the Wall

  • Sit with your right hip up against the wall.
  • Pivot your right leg up the wall and lay your torso on the floor.
  • Scoot your buttock as close to the wall as possible.
  • Straighten both legs up the wall.
  • Rest, breathing deep 1-3 minutes or 20 deep breaths.

Savasana- Final Relaxation Pose

  • Lie on your back.
  • Stretch out arms and legs. (Back sensitive people can put a pillow under knees for support).
  • Relax your entire body, softening muscles and releasing tension.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply.
  • Rest at least 5 minutes, more if you’d like. Ahhhhhhhhhhh! Enjoy

Grateful acknowledgement: This sequence was created by Jill Gutowski, co-director, Four Winds Yoga in Pennington, New Jersey, in cooperation with the Women’s Heart Foundation. For more information, go to Four Winds Studio. Release date: June 2005

For a guide on meditation, go to Living with Mindfulness

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©1999-2000; updates: 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007 Women's Heart Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited. The information contained in this Women's Heart Foundation (WHF) Web site is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment, and WHF recommends consultation with your doctor or health care professional.