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AsouT THE AuTHOR
Brian Cooper has been practicing Hatha Yoga since
1970 and teaching full time since 1990. His first formal
studies were at Yoga Niketan in Rishikesh in 1972. He holds
a doctorate in Bio-Engineering and an advanced diploma
in Thai Massage. These strands have come together to
produce this manual. He was co-founder of the Edinburgh
Yoga Centre and director of Union Yoga in Edinburgh.
He is director of Teacher Training for Union Yoga, and
executive consultant for Yoga Alliance UK. He is the
founder of the eco-aware Shanti Griha Retreat Centre in
the secluded north west of Scotland.
Brian runs teacher training and yoga classes all over the
world. You can find more information at:
www.briancooper.eu
www.unionyoga.co.uk
RESOURCES
Other Harmony Classics
Yoga: The Art of Adjusting 2nd Edition
Hatha Yoga- The Report of a Personal Experience
Penthouse Of The Gods
Pranayama- The Yoga of Breathing
Yoga and Health
Yoga Week By Week
Autobiography of a Yogi
Union Yoga Publishings
Yoga Asanas- A Natural Method of Physical & Mental Training
Hatha Yoga -The Yogi Philosophy of Physical Well-Being
Advanced Course In Yogi Philosophy and Oriental Occultism
COOPER, Brian
BERNARD, Theos
BERNARD, Theos
LYSEBETH, Andre Van
YESUDIAN, Selvarajan and HAICH, Elisabeth
YESUDIAN, Selvarajan
YOGANANDA, Paramahansa
FREDERIC, louis
RAMACHARAKA, Yogi
RAMACHARAKA, Yogi
www.harmonypublishing.org
CoNCLUSION
This manual has shown the many ways to use adjusting to enhance asana practice.
Whatever the adjustment you choose, you should always use the correct approaches
and techniques as discussed in these pages. The adjustments shown are only a
cross-section of what is possible. Provided you carry them out properly, there is
really no limit to ways of adjusting, and the forms these can take is limited only by
the imagination. I hope this manual will give you the confidence, not only to
practise, but to experiment and develop your own approach to this skill. Adjusting
can be greatly enhanced by studying Traditional Thai Massage. Thai Massage teaches
sensitivity, awareness and understanding of the body like few other therapies can.
And of course the ultimate way of learning is through your own body. Do your asana
practice with the same mindfulness as you would carry out adjusting.
I 3 5
BACK B END I N G I Adjustments
To ensure correct shoulder opening,
keep your student's arms approximately
shoulder-width apart while the student lifts
off the floor and also when they come back
to the floor. Do this by pressing against their
forearms using your hands or forearms. If a
student has poor shoulder flexibility they
will find this very challenging. In this case
you can allow their arms to come a little
wider in order for them to lift into position.
To help students lift from the floor, have
them grab the adjuster's ankles.They can use
this to push and get more lift. You can then
assist them further by holding around their
shoulders and pulling them up and towards
you. The same adjustment can be done using
a wall. The student places her wrists against
the wall and uses this contact to push into
theasana.
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The actions using the wall can also be
done using adjustments. Using a belt
provides better and safer control compared
to holding the student directly. The belt
Is placed around the lower back just on
the rim of the sacrum. The student starts
dropping back as you hold the pelvis
forward
and check that the student's legs are
working strongly. Make sure they are
breathing in the position and then instruct
them to come back up under their own
effort, only using the belt to prevent them
falling back.
B A C K B E N D I N G I Adjustments
Gradually take the student deeper,
allowing some movement in the pelvis. The
adjuster can also stand on the student's toes to
prevent the heels lifting as they come up.
B A C K B E N D I N G I Self Adjustments
This set of photographs shows how to
work towards Urdhva Dhanurasana using
a wall. The principle is to push evenly into
the wall to open the shoulders and lift
the pelvis away from the ground. The legs
must work strongly and the breath must
be smooth.
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Stay In the first position until there is
no effort to hold it for at least twenty
even breaths, then move onto the next
position, gradually moving further down
the wall.
In each position you should be able to
come back up by moving the pelvis away
from the wall without pushing through
the hands.
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Before attempting any adjusting in the backbends, it is important that the student is adequately
prepared. There is no point in, for example, helping someone drop back if they are not using their legs
to give proper support for their back, or not working correctly to open the shoulders. The classic signs
are legs bending almost immediately and pelvis tipped way off vertical. And most importantly, the
breath must remain strong and smooth throughout. The following photos show a few simple ways of
preparing for Urdhva Ohanurasana.
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CHAPTER
Back Bending
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URDHVA MUKHA PASCHIMOTTANASANA
T
his is the balance version of Paschimottanasana. It emphasizes the lifting and
lengthening of the back and the forward movement of the sternum which
was explored in Paschimottanasana. Without this action the asana is impossible
because a rounded back will drag the body backwards.
124 PRIMA" SrRI!S As"'
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URDHVA MUKHA PASCHIMOTTANASANA I Adjustments
OBSERVE
The student is hanging with soft legs
and not pulling sufficiently on the feet
PASSIVE ADJUSTMENT
Push and lift with your right hand between
the shoulder blades
This is achieved by pushing your knee
against the back of your hand rather than
directly with the knee
The left hand pulls the feet towards the head
Use a closing action between both your
hands to bring the chest forward and lifted
URDHVA MUKHA PASCHIMOTTANASANA
Foundation
Legs are straight and heels extended
Hands wrap around the outside edges of the feet
Balance on the sit bones, not the tall bone
What to do
Lift the sternum towards the legs
Lengthen out of the lower back
Either hold the outside edges of the feet or take a wrist
Pull strongly through the arms to bring chest to legs
Gaze to the toes
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SUPTA PADANGUSTHASANA C I Adjustments
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PASSIVE ADJUSTMENT
o This adjustment encourages the proper
action of the raised leg by fixing the
hamstrings near their insertion
o This also prevents the pelvis on the side of
the raised leg from lifting from the floor.
Pa:Hor SERt1 A ~ A N A S 121
SUPTA PADANGUSTHASANA C
120 PR!MARV StRifS AIAOAI
Foundation
Front leg stays on the floor and toes extend
Raised leg stays close to the ear
Top of the foot of raised leg goes to floor and toes extend
What to do
Extend through the front leg
Move back of the knee to the floor
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OBSERVE
The side leg has not reached the floor
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SUPTA PADANGUSTHASANA B I Adjustments
PASSIVE ADJUSTMENT
Use your foot to gently press down on
the fixed leg
Now rotate the thigh of the opening leg
using both hands
PASSIVE ADJUSTMENT
This is an inward rotation as shown which
drops the sit bone down and Ulider and brings
the outside edge of the foot to the floor.
SUPTA PADANGUSTHASANA B
Foundation
Both legs straight and heels extended
Hold the big toe with the thumb and forefinger
Hips remain level to each other and on the floor
Sitting bones remain grounded
Shoulders and shoulder blades remain in contact with the floor
What to do
Rotate the side leg medially until the entire edge of the foot is grounded
Extend strongly through the other leg
Gaze to the side
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OBSERVE
The student does not have sufficient
strength to lift towards the leg
SUPTA PADANGUSTHASANA I Adjustments
AcTIvE ADJUSTMENT
Place one foot gently on the thigh of the
leg on the floor to keep it down
Take hold ofthe foot ofthe upraised leg
Pull the leg towards you and ask the
student to raise her head as close to the
leg as possible
AcTivE ADJUSTMENT
You can now slowly let go of the foot
while asking your student to keep lifting
the head to the leg
P < r M < ~ StAllS AsANAI 117
SUPTA PADANGUSTHASANA A
Foundation
Hand is on the thigh of the leg on floor
Heel of this leg extends
Hold big toe of other leg with thumb and forefinger
Both legs are straight
What to do
Extend the leg on the floor forward to bring back of the knee
towards the floor
Engage abdominal muscles to lift head to leg rather than leg to head
Keep both legs very active with heels extending and quadriceps engaged
a Gaze to the toes
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UPAVISHTA KONASANA
T
his is similar to Badha Konasana except the legs are now straight and wide
apart. Good adductor flexibility is required, and if it is present, the pelvis
can tilt forward through its full range of movement without the thighs getting
in the way. At this stage the hamstrings actually relax and the full expression
of the a sana is achieved.
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OBSERVE
The student's feet are falling in
The student is allowing her legs to rotate
inwards because she is letting her tailbone lift
This will prevent correct lengthening
through the spine
UPAVISHTA KONASANA I Adjustments
PASSIVE ADJUSTMENT
Stand with your heels very close to the inside
thighs
Move your feet back to fix the thighs in a
more open position
The tailbone will now be prevented from lifting
Use both hands on the mid-back to push
down and forward from the grounded pelvis
PASSIVE ADJUSTMENT
Alternatively, use your hands to roll the
thighs back
Your knee can be carefully used to push
down and forward on the lower back
UPAVISHTA KONASANA
Foundation
legs are straight and kneecaps are pulled up
Kneecaps face directly up
Hands hold outside edges of the feet with the thumbs pressing
inside big toes
Back retains its natural curvature
Neck is relaxed
What to do
Lift and open the sternum
Move forward from the hips
lengthen the lower back
Move the ribcage to the floor
Pull up on kneecaps
Roll the thighs back
Curl the tailbone back and under
Move the shoulderblades towards the tailbone
Use the grip on the feet to pull and lengthen the torso forward
Gaze between the eyebrows
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P<!HR! S f R I ! ~ AlANA\ 111
BADDHA KONASANA
A
forward bend which stretches the adductors but does not involve the hamstrings.
To bring the knees to the floor in the upright position requires contraction of the
external rotators- the Piriformis and the Quadratus Femoris and relaxation of their
antagonists, the adductors. Some of the adductors have a very similar action to the
hamstrings and can limit anterior tilting of the pelvis. This will show in the same way
as tight hamstrings in Paschimottanasana. The back will be rounded due to forcing
spinal flexion at the expense of hip flexion. Students showing a rounded back should
not be pushed deeper into the forward bend as this will place undue strain on the
lumbar region.
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OBSERVE
The student's knees are on the floor
showing good abductor flexibility
She can be helped to lift and lengthen out
of her pelvis and move closer to the floor
PASSIVE ADJUSTMENT
Hold the knees down gently using your legs
The left hand pushes down and forward
while the right hand pushes back and
down on the tailbone
BADDHA KONASANA I Adjustments
PASSIVE ADJUSTMENT
If the knees do not come easily to the
floor do not press on them
BADDHA KONASANA
108 P ~ I A R > SPI5 Asnn
Foundation
Soles of the feet together
Shoulders away from the ears
Neck Is relaxed
What to do
Bring the knees towards the floor
Lift and lengthen through the spine
Hold the tailbone back and down
Move the shoulders away from the ears
Press the feet together to activate the external rotators
Gaze to the nose
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I 0 6
W
hen you enter a womb, you enter into a fresh body, and
start the journey of desires. But if you die alert, in that
alertness not only the body dies, all desires evaporate:'
OSHO
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PASSIVE ADJUSTMENT
Squeeze knees closer to give more space
for the arms
GARBHA pI NDASANA I Adjustments
PAss 1 v E AoJus THE NT
Pull the shoulder while pulling on the wrist
This is safer than only pulling on the wrist
Use your legs to support the student
from falling out of the asana
You can also stand behind and push the
shoulders to bring the arms further
through
t'aamasana
What to do
Take the right leg first into Padmasana
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PASSIVE ADJUSTMENT
Work shoulders under legs by pushing
down on the shoulders
PASSIVE ADJUSTMENT
Squeeze upper arms towards each other
Keep lengthening through the spine
S U PTA Ku RMASANA I Adjustments
PASSIVE ADJUSTMENT
Place left leg behind head first and fix
it with your foot before taking the right
leg across
SuPTA KuRMASANA
Foundation
Start as Kurmasana
What to do
o Take the left leg over the neck first
Keep extending the sternum forward
Reach back and hold a wrist
Gaze between the eyebrows
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PASSIVE ADJUSTMENT
Fix your knees against her shoulders
Put your hands just above the rim of the
pelvis
lift the hips high and encourage the
student to pull her knees towards her
armpits
PASSIVE ADJUSTMENT
You can assist to lift into Handstand
Continue the pull at the waist until her
hips are above her shoulders
BAKASANA I Adjustments
PASSIvE ADJUSTMENT
Ask her to straighten her legs and push
strongly through the hands to straighten
the arms
You can also assist in bringing her from
handstand into Bakasana, placing the
knees high on the arms
Arms shoulder width apart
Knees high on the arms
Big toes touching
Sti\lf-', 99
............. "' ... ..,, "!::1" .. a .. vvm a:::ou :::ouuvv tne stuaent wm e1tner nave oent legs or
straight legs and a rounded back. Until the hamstrings have stretched, the student should be
encouraged to lift and lengthen the back with the legs slightly bent, so the abdominals are still being
worked. More flexible students should work on moving to the front edges of the sit bones.

OBSERVE
The student is not working to lift her sternum
and maintain the lordosis in her back
NAVASANA I Adjustments
AcTivE ADJUSTMENT
Place your hands on her feet and push
Ask her to actively lift her sternum
towards you
The reaction from pushing the feet
provides the force to lift the back
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The back retains its natural curve
What to do
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Leg is comfortably in Padmasana
Torso is upright
What to do
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Torso upright
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What to do
Drop the sit bone of bent leg
Torso faces the front
Sit bone moves towards the floor
outstretched leg.
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What to do
Draw the shoulders away from the ears
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Straight leg Is In line with the hip
Torso is level over the outstretched leg
What to do
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ana torso remain level over tne outstretcnea leg
Heel of straight leg is extended
What to do
Shoulders directly above wrists
Head hangs back
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What to do
Widen the shoulders away from the ears
Move the shoulder blades towards the tailbone
The role of the breath In forward bending:
The interaction between breath and movement is especially clear in forward bending: On the inhale, the spine lifts and lengthens, and
the pelvis tips slightly back, which puts increased tension on the back muscles. On the exhale, the pelvis tips forward, flattens the spine
and relaxes the back muscles. The diaphragm lifts, which compresses the heart and reduces the heart rate. These responses can be
ex loited during adjusting. The adjustments are more effective when carried out on the student's exhale_
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Feet are flat as if pushed against a wall, inside and outside edges in line
Sit bones are spread with the weight slightly towards the front
What to do
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Arms are actively stretched but the shoulders are relaxed
What to do
the internal and external rotators of the hip.
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Mrrn:o cue :oua1gnt over neaa
Torso and collar bones face front
What to do
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are worked strongly, and can be worked even harder by squatting down still further.
It is sometimes advised to tuck the tailbone under, but this is not necessary.
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What to do
Drop the sitbones
Extend up throu h the s ine
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leg straight and the chest open. The lifted leg can be bent to achieve this and
straightened out over time. If the standing leg weakens or bends, all energy is lost
and the asana collapses.
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Grab the big toe with thumb and first two fingers
What to do
should feel evenly grounded. The hands press evenly together and are moved
towards the neck which helps to lift and broaden the shoulders. The back should
not round, but lengthen over the front leg.
Neck relaxed __j
What to do
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Pull hip of front leg back to stay in line with opposite hip
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The neck is soft
The back is flat
I lUlU. r\11'1;'1; I ~ 111111111:' YYUII lilt: 111p
What to do
rolling open, before attempting to place the hand on the floor. Placing the arm inside the
bent leg gives more leverage to rotate the torso. Placing the arm outside the bent leg works
the legs harder and encourages the hips to open.
to fingertips
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Head and shoulders are above the front knee
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Head, shoulders, and torso are in line with front leg
Head is above front leg, lower shoulder is directly above hand on the floor
What to do
legs are straight and kneecaps are pulled up
Weight is evenly distributed on both feet
diaphragm will be restricted and the breathing compromised. If the toes are being held, the legs
can be bent just enough to take strain off the back and allow the pelvis to tilt forward. The student
then has to work towards straightening the legs without losing length in the spine or straining
the back. Taking the elbows out as shown flattens the upper back and allows the shoulders to lift
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WHEN NOT TO ADJUST
If the student is holding her toes but has
to bend her legs, encourage her to
straighten her legs without rounding her
spine (see inset)
There is nothing to be gained from
adjusting in this position
PASSIVE ADJUSTMENT
For more flexible students:
Stabilize using your hand on the sacrum
Push forward and down on the mid-back
Use your leg or knee to push into your hand
Lean in to use your weight to full
advantage
RES I STANCE ADJUSTMENT
Place your hands on the student's
elbows and slowly start to push.
The student pushes her elbows against
your resistance
Carefully match your push with the your
student's
Keep elbows in line with the shoulders
Hold big toes with thumb and forefinger
What to do
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OBSERVE
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The student is rounding her back
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A 0 H 0 M U K H A S V A N A SAN A I Adjustments
PASS! VE ADJUSTMENT
Pull just below the lower rim of the pelvis
Ask the student to work her hands
forward on the mat
Lean back using your bodyweight
PASSIVE ADJUSTMENT
Clasp your hands on the lower back
Squeeze the arms to the buttocks
Shift your weight back
Distance the feet from the hands so that by maximally stretching the legs
the heels are almost on the floor
What to do
legs are straight and parallel
legs begin hip-width apart
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'!;IIUUIIU 'C'YCIII7 Ull UU:!' IIUUitiiiiUUit:' IUIYYGIU
The neck Is comfortable and not forced past its natural extension
What to do
CHATURANGA 0ANDASANA
T
his asana means 'four-limbed stick posture' and the aim is to make the body as rigid as a stick, without
collapsing In any area. This makes It a highly active asana where opposing forces must be used intelligently
to counteract gravity. If you turn the page through ninety degrees you can see it is like Tadasana. The line
shown in the photograph runs through the centre of mass of the body, keeping the weight of the torso,
hips and legs evenly distributed. In Tadasana, the reaction from the floor keeps the body upright and allows
the student to find correct alignment. In Chaturanga Dandasana, the student has to achieve this against the
pull of gravity. To do this the body must be held rigidly, the pelvis must find Its neutral position, and the body
has to be stretched out from a central point at the navel, with the upper body held steady while the heels
are stretched in the opposite direction. This is what provides the necessary tension - like pulling on a
rope- to maintain the body firm and steady.
10 Su Ns.



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OBSERVE
Losing energy through the core
Encourage her to engage abdomlnals
and activate her legs
C HAT U RAN G A 0 AND AS AN A I Adjustments
RESISTANCE ADJUSTMENT ACTIVE ADJUSTMENT
Verbally obtain good alignment
Pull back on ankles
Press gently on mid back
Ask student to pull away from you
Ask student to resist while keeping alignment
CHATURANGA DANDASANA
5 L' ft 5 At U l .\ i J J N S l Ill' A fj Al'f A) t.
Foundation
Tips of the fingers are in line with tops of the shoulders
Elbows and hands are In line with the shoulders
Forearms and upper arms approach a right angle to each other
The feet are hip-width apart and parallel to each other
The pelvis remains in a neutral position
What to do
Draw the shoulders back towards the tailbone
Keep the neck relaxed
Squeeze the elbows to the sides of the torso
Hold Uddiyana Bandha without tilting the pelvis or lifting the sit bones
Strongly extend back through the heels
Stretch out from the navel in opposite directions
Gaze between the eyebrows
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Surya Namaskar
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CHAPTER 1
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BY MATTHEW SWEENEY
I am honoured to write the foreword for Yoga The Art of Adjusting. The detailed art of
adjusting Yoga postures has been accomplished in this book in a loving and practical format. It
also comes at a fortuitous moment. With the rapid increase of Yoga teachers all over the globe
during the last few years, greater understanding of the art of adjusting has been missing in
the printed form. I think Brian Cooper has done an excellent job of covering the key points of
adjusting most of the postures of the Primary Series of Ashtanga Yoga. He clearly explains the
main focus of each posture, the direction to take with each posture and eventually how to learn
to do each posture unaided without an adjustment. The visual aspects of each posture are
conveyed precisely in a step-by-step format giving the reader practical insight Into the
wonderful art of touch. Enjoy!
FOREWORD
YOGA THE ART OF ADJUSTING FOREWORD
1-=:J
THE ART OF ADJUSTING CONTENTS
Foreword by Matthew Sweeney .......................... 05 Chapter 3 Primary Series Asanas -----------
Chapter 1 Surya Namaskar-----------------
Dandasana ............................................................. 66
Paschimottanasana .............................................. 70
Chaturanga Dandasana ......................................... 08
Purvottanasana .................................................... 74
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana ..................................... 12
Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana .......... 76
Bhujangasana ........................................................ 14
Tr i ang Mukha i kapada Pasch imot tanasana ......... 80
Adho Mukha Svanasana ......................................... 16
Janu Si rsasana .................................................... 84
Marichyasana ........................................................ 88
Chapter 2 Standing Asanas --------------
Marichyasana C .................................................... 90
Marichyasana D .................................................... 94
Navasana ................................................................ 96
Padangusthasana .................................................. 22
Trikonasana .......................................................... 26
Bakasana ................................................................ 100
Supta Kurmasana .................................................. 102
Parivritta Trikonasana ...................................... 30
Pa rsva konasa na ..................................................... 35
Parivritta Parsvakonasana ................................ 38
Garbha Pindasana ................................................ 104
Padot tan a sana ....................................................... 40
Baddha Konasana .................................................. 108
Parsvottanasana ................................................... 44
Upavi shta Konasana ............................................. 112
Supta Padangusthasana A - C ........................... 116
Urdhva Mukha Paschimot tanasana ..................... 122
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana ........................ 48
Utkatasana ............................................................ 52
Vi rabhadrasana 1 ................................................. 56
Chapter 4 Back Bending ----------
Vi rabhadrasana 2 ................................................. 60
Back Bending ........................................................ 130
Conclusion ............................................................ 135
Acknowledgements
The production of this manual has been a joint effort from a
dedicated team of yoga teachers and students.
I would like to thank Victoria Bosso, Vicki Maggs, Shelley Osman,
Kat Shaw, Dee Gates, and Caroline Walsh for their enthusiasm and
patience in modelling for the photographs.
I am especially Indebted to Aileen Bertram for the design and
layout, and to Bruce Mackay for his skilful photography.
Disclaimer
This book Is Intended as an Instruction guide
only. The author and publisher of this book are
not responsible for any injury or consequences
from using this book. You are advised to train
with a qualified and competent teacher before
using the techniques described.
First published In Great Britain In 2006 by Harmony Publishing
25 Rodney Street
Edinburgh
EH74EL
Scotland
Copyright 0 2006 Brian Cooper
3rd Revised Edition 2010
Produced by Harmony Publishing
Design by Aileen Bertram
Photographer: Bruce Mackay
Brian Cooper has asserted his moral right to be Identified as the author of this work.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part
or any form.
Printed and bound in Korea
ISBN 978-o-9552412-9-1
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