Constitution of the World Health Organization, July 22, 1946

Following is what might be called a preamble to the World Health Organizations constitution. Read through this and consider what it would mean to implement these points.


The States parties to this Constitution declare, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations, that the following principles are basic to the happiness, harmonious relations and security of all peoples:

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.

The health of all peoples is fundamental to the attainment of peace and security and is dependent upon the fullest co-operation of individuals and States.

The achievement of any State in the promotion and protection of health is of value to all.

Unequal development in different countries in the promotion of health and control of disease, especially communicable disease, is a common danger.

Healthy development of the child is of basic importance; the ability to live harmoniously in a changing total environment is essential to such development.

The extension to all peoples of the benefits of medical, psychological and related knowledge is essential to the fullest attainment of health.

Informed opinion and active co-operation on the part of the public are of the utmost importance in the improvement of the health of the people.

Governments have a responsibility for the health of their peoples which can be fulfilled only by the provision of adequate health and social measures.

Accepting these principles, and for the purpose of co-operation among themselves and with others to promote and protect the health of all peoples, the Contracting Parties agree to the present Constitution and hereby establish the World Health Organization as a specialized agency of the United Nations.

Constitution of the World Health Organization PDF


upper lower and core body conditioning exercises

Examples of bodyweight exercises from Combat Fitness
be sure to visit their forum as well!!!

Upper Body Exercises:

Press Ups
Shoulder Press Up
Handstand Press Ups
One-arm handstand Hold
Hindu Press Up
Mantis Press Ups
Circular Press Ups
One-arm Hang
Diamond Press Ups
Reverse Press Ups
Open and Close
Forearm Roller
Shoulder Circles
Chinese Handstand
Bear Walk
Crab Walk
Bar Dips
Weighted Punching
Farmers Walk
Isometric Squeeze

Core Body Exercises:

Static Abs
The Ab Crunch
Knee to chest
Knee to Elbow
Kick Ups / Outs
Hyper Extension
Good Morning / Toe Touch
Squat Thrust / Mountain Climber
Bridge / Hip Bridge
Reverse Crunch
Donkey Kick

Lower Body Exercises :

Boot Strapper
The Basic Bodyweight Squat
Horse Stance
Hindu Squat
One-legged Squats
Calve Raise
Step Up
Platform Jump
Sumo Squat

Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Cover of Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005

Dietary Guidelines for Americans is published jointly every 5 years by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Guidelines provide authoritative advice for people two years and older about how good dietary habits can promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases.

The 2005 edition of the Guidelines was released at 11 AM, January 12, 2005.

Please note that documents in PDF format require Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.

Additional Resources

Related Topics



  • Healthy Lifestyles (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
  • 5 A Day (National Cancer Institute, NIH, HHS)
  • Verb (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HHS)
  • Milk Matters (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH, HHS)

General Health and Nutrition Information

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Healthy Eating Pyramid

What Should You Really Eat?

More than a decade ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture created a powerful and enduring icon – the Food Guide Pyramid. This simple illustration conveyed in a flash what the USDA said were the elements of a healthy diet. The Pyramid was taught in schools, appeared in countless media articles and brochures, and was plastered on cereal boxes and food labels.

Tragically, the information embodied in this pyramid didn’t point the way to healthy eating. Why not? Its blueprint was based on shaky scientific evidence, and it barely changed over the years to reflect major advances in our understanding of the connection between diet and health.

With much fanfare, the USDA recently retired the old Food Guide Pyramid and replaced it with MyPyramid, a new symbol and “interactive food guidance system.” The new symbol is basically the old Pyramid turned on its side.

The good news is that this dismantles and buries the flawed Pyramid. The bad news is that the new symbol doesn’t convey enough information to help you make informed choices about your diet and long-term health. And it continues to recommend foods that aren’t essential to good health, and may even be detrimental in the quantities included in MyPyramid.

As an alternative to the USDA’s flawed pyramid, faculty members in the Harvard School of Public Health built the Healthy Eating Pyramid. It resembles the USDA’s in shape only. The Healthy Eating Pyramid takes into consideration, and puts into perspective, the wealth of research conducted during the last ten years that has reshaped the definition of healthy eating.

Pyramid Building

In the children’s book Who Built the Pyramid?,(1) different people take credit for building the once-grand pyramid of Senwosret. King Senwosret, of course, claims the honor. But so does his architect, the quarry master, the stonecutters, slaves, and the boys who carried water to the workers.

The USDA’s MyPyramid also had many builders. Some are obvious – USDA scientists, nutrition experts, staff members, and consultants. Others aren’t. Intense lobbying efforts from a variety of food industries also helped shape the pyramid.

In theory, the USDA pyramid should reflect the nutrition advice assembled in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. According to the USDA, the guidelines “provide authoritative advice for people two years and older about how good dietary habits can promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases.”

This document, which by law must be revised every five years, aims to offer sound nutrition advice that corresponds to the latest scientific research. The panel assembled to create the guidelines usually generates 100 or so pages of dense nutrition-speak. This document is translated into a reader friendly brochure aimed at helping the average person choose a balanced and healthy diet. Of far greater importance, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans set the standards for all federal nutrition programs, including the school lunch program, and helps determine what food products Americans buy. In other words, the guidelines influence how billions of dollars are spent each year. So even minor changes can hurt or help a food industry.

According to federal regulations, the panel that writes the dietary guidelines must include nutrition experts who are leaders in pediatrics, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and public health. Selecting the panelists is no easy task, and is subject to intense lobbying from organizations such as the National Dairy Council, United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association, Soft Drink Association, American Meat Institute, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and Wheat Foods Council.(2)

Dietary Guidelines, 2005
Released in early January, 2005, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 continues to reflect the tense interplay of science and the powerful food industry. Several of the new recommendations represent important steps in the right direction:

  • The new guidelines emphasize the importance of controlling weight, which was not adequately addressed in previous versions. And they continue to stress the importance of physical activity.
  • The recommendation on dietary fats makes a clear break from the past, when all fats were considered bad. The guidelines now emphasize that intake of trans fats should be as low as possible and that saturated fat should be limited. There is no longer an artificially low cap on fat intake. The latest advice recommends getting between 20% and 35% of daily calories from fats and recognizes the potential health benefits of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
  • Instead of emphasizing “complex carbohydrates,” a term used in the past that has little biological meaning, the new guidelines urge Americans to limit sugar intake and they stress the benefits of whole grains.

Others remain mired in the past:

  • The guidelines suggest that it is fine to consume half of our grains as refined starch. That’s a shame, since refined starches behave like sugar. They add empty calories, have adverse metabolic effects, and increase the risks of diabetes and heart disease.
  • In terms of protein, the guidelines continue to lump together red meat, poultry, fish, and beans (including soy products). They ask us to judge these protein sources by their total fat content, “make choices that are lean, low-fat, or fat-free.” This ignores the evidence that these foods have different types of fats. It also overlooks mounting evidence that replacing red meat with a combination of fish, poultry, beans, and nuts offers numerous health benefits.
  • The recommendation to drink three glasses of low-fat milk or eat three servings of other dairy products per day to prevent osteoporosis is another step in the wrong direction. Of all the recommendations, this one represents the most radical change from current dietary patterns. Three glasses of low-fat milk add more than 300 calories a day. This is a real issue for the millions of Americans who are trying to control their weight. What’s more, millions of Americans are lactose intolerant, and even small amounts of milk or dairy products give them stomachaches, gas, or other problems. This recommendation ignores the lack of evidence for a link between consumption of dairy products and prevention of osteoporosis. It also ignores the possible increases in risk of ovarian cancer and prostate cancer associated with dairy products.

The USDA Pyramid Brick by Brick

Distilling nutrition advice into a pyramid was a stroke of genius. The shape immediately suggests that some foods are good and should be eaten often, and that others aren’t so good and should be eaten only occasionally. The layers represent major food groups that contribute to the total diet. MyPyramid tries to do this in an abstract way, and fails.

Six swaths of color sweep from the apex of MyPyramid to the base: orange for grains, green for vegetables, red for fruits, a teeny band of yellow for oils, blue for milk, and purple for meat and beans. Each stripe starts out as the same size, but they don’t end that way at the base. The widths suggest how much food a person should choose from each group. A band of stairs running up the side of the Pyramid, with a little stick figure chugging up it, serves as a reminder of the importance of physical activity.

MyPyramid contains no text. According to the USDA, it was “designed to be simple,” and details are at Unless you’ve taken the time to become familiar with the Pyramid, though, you have no idea what it means. Relying on the Web site to provide key information – like what the color stripes stand for and how many servings of each food group are recommended each day – guarantees that the millions of Americans without access to a computer or the Internet will have trouble getting these essential facts.

The USDA also chose not to put recommended numbers of servings on the new Pyramid because these differ from individual to individual according to weight, gender, activity level and age. Instead, it offers personalized Pyramids at

Building a Better Pyramid

If the only goal of the Food Guide Pyramid is to give us the best possible advice for healthy eating, then it should be grounded in the evidence and be independent of business.

Instead of waiting for this to happen, nutrition experts from the Harvard School of Public Health created the Healthy Eating Pyramid. It is based on the best available scientific evidence about the links between diet and health. This new pyramid fixes fundamental flaws in the USDA pyramid and offers sound information to help people make better choices about what to eat.

From EAT, DRINK, AND BE HEALTHY by Walter C. Willett, M.D. Copyright © 2001, 2005 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Reprinted by permission of Free Press/Simon & Schuster, Inc.

The Healthy Eating Pyramid sits on a foundation of daily exercise and weight control. Why? These two related elements strongly influence your chances of staying healthy. They also affect what and how you eat and how your food affects you. The other bricks of the Healthy Eating Pyramid include:

  • Whole Grain Foods (at most meals). The body needs carbohydrates mainly for energy. The best sources of carbohydrates are whole grains such as oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and brown rice. They deliver the outer (bran) and inner (germ) layers along with energy-rich starch. The body can’t digest whole grains as quickly as it can highly processed carbohydrates such as white flour. This keeps blood sugar and insulin levels from rising, then falling, too quickly. Better control of blood sugar and insulin can keep hunger at bay and may prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.
  • Plant Oils. Surprised that the Healthy Eating Pyramid puts some fats near the base, indicating they are okay to eat? Although this recommendation seems to go against conventional wisdom, it’s exactly in line with the evidence and with common eating habits. The average American gets one third or more of his or her daily calories from fats, so placing them near the foundation of the pyramid makes sense. Note, though, that it specifically mentions plant oils, not all types of fat. Good sources of healthy unsaturated fats include olive, canola, soy, corn, sunflower, peanut, and other vegetable oils, as well as fatty fish such as salmon. These healthy fats not only improve cholesterol levels (when eaten in place of highly processed carbohydrates) but can also protect the heart from sudden and potentially deadly rhythm problems.(3)
  • Vegetables (in abundance) and Fruits (2 to 3 times). A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can decrease the chances of having a heart attack or stroke; protect against a variety of cancers; lower blood pressure; help you avoid the painful intestinal ailment called diverticulitis; guard against cataract and macular degeneration, the major cause of vision loss among people over age 65; and add variety to your diet and wake up your palate.
  • Fish, Poultry, and Eggs (0 to 2 times). These are important sources of protein. A wealth of research suggests that eating fish can reduce the risk of heart disease. Chicken and turkey are also good sources of protein and can be low in saturated fat. Eggs, which have long been demonized because they contain fairly high levels of cholesterol, aren’t as bad as they’re cracked up to be. In fact, an egg is a much better breakfast than a doughnut cooked in an oil rich in trans fats or a bagel made from refined flour.
  • Nuts and Legumes (1 to 3 times). Nuts and legumes are excellent sources of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Legumes include black beans, navy beans, garbanzos, and other beans that are usually sold dried. Many kinds of nuts contain healthy fats, and packages of some varieties (almonds, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, hazelnuts, and pistachios) can now even carry a label saying they’re good for your heart.
  • Dairy or Calcium Supplement (1 to 2 times). Building bone and keeping it strong takes calcium, vitamin D, exercise, and a whole lot more. Dairy products have traditionally been Americans’ main source of calcium. But there are other healthy ways to get calcium than from milk and cheese, which can contain a lot of saturated fat. Three glasses of whole milk, for example, contains as much saturated fat as 13 strips of cooked bacon. If you enjoy dairy foods, try to stick with no-fat or low-fat products. If you don’t like dairy products, calcium supplements offer an easy and inexpensive way to get your daily calcium.
  • Red Meat and Butter (Use Sparingly): These sit at the top of the Healthy Eating Pyramid because they contain lots of saturated fat. If you eat red meat every day, switching to fish or chicken several times a week can improve cholesterol levels. So can switching from butter to olive oil.
  • White Rice, White Bread, Potatoes, White Pasta, Soda, and Sweets (Use Sparingly): Why are these all-American staples at the top, rather than the bottom, of the Healthy Eating Pyramid? They can cause fast and furious increases in blood sugar that can lead to weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic disorders. Whole-grain carbohydrates cause slower, steadier increases in blood sugar that don’t overwhelm the body’s ability to handle this much needed but potentially dangerous nutrient.
  • Multiple Vitamin: A daily multivitamin, multimineral supplement offers a kind of nutritional backup. While it can’t in any way replace healthy eating, or make up for unhealthy eating, it can fill in the nutrient holes that may sometimes affect even the most careful eaters. You don’t need an expensive name-brand or designer vitamin. A standard, store-brand, RDA-level one is fine. Look for one that meets the requirements of the USP (U.S. Pharmacopeia), an organization that sets standards for drugs and supplements.
  • Alcohol (in moderation): Scores of studies suggest that having an alcoholic drink a day lowers the risk of heart disease. Moderation is clearly important, since alcohol has risks as well as benefits. For men, a good balance point is 1 to 2 drinks a day. For women, it’s at most one drink a day.

Other Alternatives

The Healthy Eating Pyramid summarizes the best dietary information available today. It isn’t set in stone, though, because nutrition researchers will undoubtedly turn up new information in the years ahead. The Healthy Eating Pyramid will change to reflect important new evidence.

This isn’t the only alternative to the USDA’s MyPyramid. The Asian, Latin, Mediterranean, and vegetarian pyramids promoted by Oldways Preservation and Exchange Trust are also good, evidence-based guides for healthy eating. The Healthy Eating Pyramid takes advantage of even more extensive research and offers a broader guide that is not based on a specific culture.The Healthy Eating Pyramid is described in greater detail in Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating, published by Simon and Schuster (2001).

Failing The Test

A few years ago, the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion created the Healthy Eating Index “to measure how well American diets conform to recommended healthy eating patterns.”(4) This score sheet uses five elements from the longstanding USDA Food Guide Pyramid (number of daily servings of grains, vegetables, fruits, meat, and dairy products) and five from the 1995 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (total fat in the diet, percentage of calories from saturated fat, cholesterol intake, sodium intake, and variety of the diet). A score of 100 means following the federal recommendations to the letter while a score of 0 means totally ignoring them.

To see how well the principles embodied in the Healthy Eating Pyramid stacked up against the government’s advice, Harvard School of Public Health researchers created an Alternate Healthy Eating Index with a scoring system similar to the USDA’s index. They then used information about daily diets collected from more than 100,000 female nurses and male health professionals taking part in two long-term studies to complete both indexes.

Men who scored highest on the USDA’s Healthy Eating Index (meaning their diets most closely followed federal recommendations) reduced their overall risk of developing heart disease, cancer, or other chronic disease by 11% over 8-12 years of follow-up compared to those who scored lowest. Women who most closely followed the government’s recommendations were only 3% less likely to have developed a chronic disease.(5)
In comparison, scores on the Alternate Healthy Eating Index did appear to correlate with disease. Men with high scores (those whose diets most closely followed the guidelines in the Healthy Eating Pyramid) were 20% less likely to have developed a major chronic disease than those with low scores. Women with high scores lowered their overall risk by 11%. Men whose diets most closely followed the Healthy Eating Pyramid lowered their risk of cardiovascular disease by almost 40%; women with high scores lowered their risk by almost 30%.
“The new USDA dietary pyramid is a lost opportunity to help Americans make informed choices about diet and long-term health,” says Walter Willett, the Fredrick John Stare Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition in the Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology. “It’s clear that we need to rebuild the pyramid from the ground up, not just tip it on its side and dress it up with new colors. Every American deserves it.”


1. Hooper M, Heighway-Bury R. Who Built the Pyramid? Cambridge, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2001.
2. Abboud L. Expect a food fight as U.S. sets to revise diet guidelines. Wall Street Journal: August 8, 2003, B1
3. Leaf A, Kang JX, Xiao YF, Billman GE. Clinical prevention of sudden cardiac death by n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and mechanism of prevention of arrhythmias by n-3 fish oils. Circulation 2003; 107:2646-52.
4. The Healthy Eating Index. USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. accessed on 13 December 1999.
5. McCullough ML, Feskanich D, Stampfer MJ, et al. Diet quality and major chronic disease risk in men and women: moving toward improved dietary guidance. Am J Clin Nutr 2002; 76:1261-71.

The aim of the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source is to provide timely information on diet and nutrition for clinicians, allied health professionals, and the public. The contents of this Web site are not intended to offer personal medical advice, which should be obtained from a health-care provider. The information does not mention brand names, nor does it endorse any particular products. ©2006 President and Fellows of Harvard College.



sun salutation A

sun salutation B


Secrets of the Five Pranas

Secrets of the Five Pranas PDF  | Print |  Email
Written by Dr. David Frawley

All that exists in the three heavens rests in the control of Prana. As a mother her children, oh Prana, protect us and give us splendor and wisdom.

Prashna Upanishad II.13

To change something we must alter the energy which creates it. This fact is true in the practice of Yoga. To bring about positive changes in body and mind we must understand the energy through which they work. This is called Prana in Sanskrit, meaning primary energy. It is sometimes translated as breath or vital force, though it is more than these.

While the subject of Prana is common in Yogic thought and while different forms of Prana may be introduced, the subject of Prana and its different subtypes is seldom examined in depth. For this reason the entire science of Prana, which is vast and profound, is rarely understood. In this article we will look into this vast subject, that we might be awakened to the great expanse of Prana in all of its manifestations.

There is an old Vedic story about Prana that we find in various Upanishads. The five main faculties of our nature – the mind, breath (prana), speech, ear and eye – were arguing with each other as to which one of them was the best and most important. This reflects the ordinary human state in which our faculties are not integrated but fight with each other, competing for their rule over our attention. To resolve this dispute they decided that each would leave the body and see whose absence was most missed.

First speech left the body but the body continued though mute. Next the eye left but the body continued though blind. Next the ear left but the body continued though deaf. Mind left but the body continued though unconscious. Finally the Prana began to leave and the body began to die and all the other faculties began to lose their energy. So all they all rushed to Prana and told it to stay, lauding its supremacy. Clearly Prana won the argument. Prana gives energy to all our faculties, without which they cannot function. Without honoring Prana first there is nothing else we can do and no energy with which to do anything. The moral of this story is that to control our faculties the key is the control of Prana.

Prana has many levels of meaning from the breath to the energy of consciousness itself. Prana is not only the basic life-force, it is the master form of all energy working on the level of mind, life and body. Indeed the entire universe is a manifestation of Prana, which is the original creative power. Even Kundalini Shakti, the serpent power or inner power that transforms consciousness, develops from the awakened Prana.

On a cosmic level there are two basic aspects of Prana. The first is the unmanifest aspect of Prana, which is the energy of Pure Consciousness that transcends all creation. The second or manifest Prana is the force of creation itself. Prana arises from the quality (guna) of rajas, the active force of Nature (Prakriti). Nature herself consists of three gunas: sattva or harmony, which gives rise to the mind, rajas or movement, which gives rise to the prana, and tamas or inertia that gives rise to the body.

Indeed it could be argued that Prakriti or Nature is primarily Prana or rajas. Nature is an active energy or Shakti. According to the pull or attraction of the higher Self or pure consciousness (Purusha) this energy becomes sattvic. By the inertia of ignorance this energy becomes tamasic.

However even the Purusha or higher Self can be said to be unmanifest Prana because it is a form of energy of consciousness (Devatma Shakti or Citi Shakti). From the unmanifest Prana of Pure Awareness comes the manifest Prana of creation, through which the entire universe comes into being.

Relative to our physical existence, Prana or vital energy is a modification of the air element, primarily the oxygen we breathe that allows us to live. Yet as air originates in ether or space, Prana arises in space and remains closely connected to it. Wherever we create space there energy or Prana must arise automatically.

The element of air relates to the sense of touch in the Yogic system. Air on a subtle level is touch. Through touch we feel alive and can transmit our life-force to others. Yet as air arises in space, so does touch arises from sound, which is the sense quality that corresponds to the element of ether. Through sound we awaken and feel our broader connections with life as a whole. On a subtle level Prana arises from the touch and sound qualities that are inherent in consciousness. In fact Prana has its own sheath or body.

The human being consists of five koshas or sheaths:

  1. Annamaya kosha – food – physical – the five elements
  2. Pranamaya kosha – breath – vital – the five pranas
  3. Manomaya kosha – impressions – outer mind – the five kinds of sensory impressions
  4. Vijnanamaya kosha – ideas – intelligence – directed mental activity
  5. Anandamaya kosha – experiences – deeper mind – memory, subliminal and superconscious mind


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Four Great Leg Strengtheners

Step away from the squat machine and strengthen your quadriceps, calves, and feet on your yoga mat.

By Alisa Bauman


It’s no surprise that fitness videos and gym classes with titles like “Yoga Buns and Legs” place a heavy emphasis on the classic standing postures. Unlike weightlifting, which isolates particular muscle groups, yoga’s standing postures efficiently and effectively strengthen the leg as an entire unit. In addition, yoga often strengthens and stretches the muscles in your legs simultaneously. When you’re doing Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II) to the right, for example, the quadriceps muscles of the right leg contract powerfully, the left quads firm, both inner thighs lengthen, and, in tighter students, the left calf receives a moderate stretch. When done correctly, standing poses also strengthen the muscles that protect the knee and ankle joints and help you build a better foundation for your whole body. “They teach the muscles in your legs to hold your joints in proper alignment,” explains Dario Fredrick, an exercise physiologist and Iyengar Yoga instructor in San Anselmo, California. By teaching you to properly plant your feet and align your knees and hips, standing poses improve your posture and coordination in everyday activities, not just during your time on the mat. As you learn proper alignment, you’ll activate and strengthen the smaller, less-used, and often weak muscles in your arches, lower legs, and inner and outer thighs rather than relying solely on the larger leg muscles.

Four Great Leg Strengtheners

The exercises featured in this article—the Utkatasana Vinyasa (Chair Pose Sequence), the Utkatasana Padangusthasana Vinyasa (Chair Pose Tiptoe Balance Sequence), Virabhadrasana II, and Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)—collectively condition the fronts of the thighs, the backs of the thighs, the hips and buttocks, the inner and outer thighs, the lower legs, and the feet. Each one of them, however, conditions the legs in its own unique way.

Utkatasana vinyasa. Much like that old weightlifting standby, the squat, Utkatasana firms your quads and buttocks muscles. If you’re aligned properly, you’ll also balance the effort between each of the four quads and work the muscles of the outer thighs and hips—not to mention the abdomen and upper body. Proper alignment is crucial to getting the full benefits. Your inner and outer thighs must work in a balanced way to stabilize your knees directly in line with your feet; if your knees tend to collapse in or splay out, it’s a sign that one muscle group is predominating and the other is weak. By keeping your knees in proper alignment, you’re automatically working to improve your weaknesses.

The more you bend your knees, the more you’ll work your legs and stretch your calves and Achilles tendons. When you move into Ardha (Half) Utkatasana, bending your legs even deeper and bringing the torso more parallel to the floor, and then add the torso twist of Parivrtta (Revolved) Ardha Utkatasana, you make both legs work even harder.

Utkatasana Padangusthasana vinyasa. This sequence combines upper leg work like that of Utkatasana with a strong activation of the calves—and tosses in the element of balance for an added challenge. Rising onto the balls of your feet, you engage the muscles in your feet and calves and use muscles all through your legs and upper body to make the constant minute adjustments needed for balance. As you squat, you continue to strengthen your feet and calves while amping up the work of the upper legs and buttocks. Although the exercise looks a bit like the calf raises you might do at the gym, it works and stretches your feet and legs more thoroughly.

Virabhadrasana II. In this pose, your forward leg works much like it does in the lunges you might perform in a floor exercise class at a gym. As you bend the forward knee, you’ll probably feel the work most strongly in your quadriceps. But to lengthen the inner thigh of this leg and keep your knee aligned over your ankle and pointed toward your second toe, your front outer thigh and hip muscles must also contract. The gluteal muscles and the hamstrings will also firm, both as you hold the posture and as you rise out of it. And all of that activity is just what’s going on in the forward leg!

Not surprisingly, beginning students tend to focus on the forward leg in Virabhadrasana II, but Fredrick points out that the rear leg gets as much of a workout when the pose is done correctly. If you properly activate that leg, grounding through the outer edge and big-toe ball of the foot and firming all the muscles toward the bones, you’ll feel your arch and the inner edge of your leg lift and stabilize. Then, says Fredrick, “you’ll be able to hold the posture longer. In other words, you’ll receive even more of the pose’s conditioning benefits.

Trikonasana. This pose strongly works the quadriceps, the muscles at the sides of the lower legs, and the muscles of the inner and outer thighs and hips. In Trikonasana (see page 74), the actions of the muscles in both legs are quite a bit like those of the back leg in Virabhadrasana II. The quads need to engage strongly. The lower leg muscles must work to ground the feet evenly. And, as in the Utkatasana variations and Virabhadrasana II, you should keep the kneecaps of each leg pointing in the same direction as that leg’s toes; for most people, that means lots of hard work for the muscles that externally rotate the thighs.

As with all standing poses, the more attention you pay to alignment, the more the pose will help you condition not just the major leg muscles but also the smaller muscles that contribute so much to subtle movements, balance, and coordination.

A Practice with Legs

Try incorporating the Utkatasana series, the Tiptoe Balance, Virabhadrasana II, and Trikonasana into Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation). This flow sequence, developed by Karley York, a yoga instructor at Bally Total Fitness in Studio City, California, will slowly build your strength and endurance in each of the included standing postures.

Stand erect with your feet together in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Exhaling, bend forward into Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend). Inhale, then exhale to step back into Plank Pose and lower to Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose). Inhale to come into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose); exhale to come into Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose). Inhale to step your right foot forward between your hands, and come into Virabhadrasana II. Hold for 5 breaths.

As you exhale, move into Trikonasana. Hold for 5 breaths, inhale to return to Warrior II, and hold for 5 breaths. Then exhale to return to Downward-Facing Dog. Hold for 5 breaths and inhale to step your left foot forward, coming into Warrior II on the second side. Hold for 5 breaths and then, as you exhale, move into Triangle and hold for 5 breaths. Inhale to return to Warrior II, hold for 5 breaths, and then exhale into Downward Dog. On your next exhalation, step first one foot and then the other forward into Uttanasana.

As you inhale, move into Utkatasana: Bend your knees, lift your torso, and extend your arms overhead. Hold for 5 breaths, then exhale to come into Ardha Utkatasana for 5 breaths. Twist into the revolved version for 5 breaths, return to Ardha Utkatasana for 5 breaths, then twist to the other side for 5 breaths. Come back into Utkatasana, then lift your heels to come into Utkatasana Padangusthasana for 5 breaths. Inhale to straighten your legs, staying on tiptoe and bringing your arms overhead. Exhale to bring your heels back to the ground and your arms down to your sides. Repeat the whole sequence if you wish.


Alisa Bauman is a freelance writer and yoga instructor in Emmaus, Pennsylvania.

September/October 2004

This article can be found online at


Utkatasana : Awkward, Powerful Pose, 

click on link or image for original source

  • Improves overall body strength
  • Opens pelvis
  • Relieves mentrual cramping
  • Shapes lower muscles
  • Cuts fat pocket under butt
  • Aligns skeletal system
  • Good for digestion
  • Good for relieving joint pain
  • Good for preventing immune disorders
  • Rids arthritis in the knees
  • Improves flexibility in toes and ankles
  • Relieves sciatica
  • Works liver, intestines and pancreas

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[PDF] Postures in Practice



An Ancient Restorative Art for the Modern Martial Artist


By Edward Thomas, Ed.D.


Combine today’s understanding of human motion with the wisdom of ancient martial artists,

and you get a powerful force that stimulates both mind and body.
Martial artists past and present have stressed the importance of complementing external power with internal harmony. This balance between restorative and martial arts remains an essential thread running through the fabric of both Eastern and Western martial arts philosophy.

Martial arts are often defined as techniques that allow for appropriate responses to external aggression. Restorative arts bring the body toward its optimal state of harmony and compensate for the stresses of daily life. These two concepts are integrally related, and both have roots in Western as well as Eastern physical culture. The search for and celebration of these common roots and relationships allows the martial artist to better understand the universal principles that unite all fighting systems.

The rediscovery and growing popularity of Indian clubs may well be the decade’s most interesting development concerning modern restorative and martial arts in American culture. The clubs originated in the East, but they came to America from Europe. The story of their evolution, disappearance, and rediscovery in American society is intriguing, and the amazing effect of their practical application is relevant to any martial arts system.

Indian clubs are usually made of wood and resemble either club-like weapons or bowling pins. At one time, they lined the walls of our gymnasia, and countless Americans swung them in marvelous and complicated circular patterns that stimulated the brain and invigorated the body.


The clubs originated centuries ago in India. They were developed by soldiers, police, and others whose caste required strength, agility, balance, physical prowess, and martial arts skill. British officers involved in the annexation of India were surprised to find the natives marvelously expert in swinging clubs in various graceful and fantastic motions, and they noted that besides the great recommendation of simplicity the Indian club practice possesses the essential property of expanding the chest and exercising every muscle of the body concurrently. (Spalding, p.77)

The British brought the Indian clubs to Europe where the Germans and Czechs eventually adopted club swinging into their physical training systems. German immigrants brought Indian clubs to the United States in the mid-i 1800, and the clubs were soon introduced into both American school physical education programs and military physical readiness training.

The United States Army Manual of Physical Training (1914) notes:

The effect of these exercises, when performed with light clubs, is chiefly a neural one, hence they are primary factors in the development of grace and coordination and rhythm. As they tend supple the muscles and articulation of the shoulders and to the upper and fore arms and wrist, they are indicated in cases where there is a tendency toward what is ordinarily known as “muscle bound.” (p.113)

In 1982, Dio Lewis, a pioneer in American physical culture, included Indian clubs in his system of physical education. He wrote of the clubs: “They cultivate patience and endurance, and operate most happily upon the longitudinal muscles of the back and shoulders, thus tending to correct the habit of stooping (p.171).

In 1885, Baron Nils Posse, a Swedish soldier and physical educator, came to America and introduced the Swedish system of medical and military gymnastics. In 1984, his book was published explaining his system, and in it Posse details the difference between lifting dumbbells and swinging clubs. Lifting dumbbells, he explained, adds weight to the lever (this is the commonly practiced linear lifting). Indian clubs, he continued, increase the momentum of the pendulum (this is the circular nature of club swinging). In otherwords, Indian clubs can be described as circular weight training. Posse also called the Indian club the oldest known implement for military gymnastics and related it to the broadsword (p.24).

Indian clubs gradually disappeared from the American physical education landscape in the first two decades of the 20th century as sports and games replaced the European-based systems of restorative and military exercise. In 1916, Joseph Cermak joined the futile chorus of Indian club defenders in noting: “I have heard, and still hear among the professional men and women unfavorable comments about club exercises, but knowing that there is no other kind of hand apparatus that would admit such a great, almost inexhaustible variety of pleasing exercises as the clubs, believing that the clubs should have a prominent place in educational gymnastics, that by collaboration of mind and muscle in these exercises we can develop the highest degree of co-ordination.” (Preface)

In the hands of an expert, the powerful flowing motions of the clubs somewhat resemble the patterns of Filipino Kali. This resemblance is probably because the 5th century Indian Sri Vishaya warriors invaded the Philippines and eventually merged culturally with them. The Visayan people of the central Philippines can be traced to the Sri Vishaya culture. In terms of basic movement patterns, the relationship between Kali and Indian club training is best illustrated by comparing Danny Inosanto’s (1980) explanation of Kali attack angles (Inosanto) with Warman’s illustration of club swinging. Both systems stress flowing circular patterns and the figure-eight motion.


The shoulder girdle is probably the most movable area of the body, but it is also one of the most fragile. Strength of the shoulders should be complemented by flexibility, and the clubs can contribute to both. When the ball and socket joint of the shoulder works in harmony with the elbow and wrist joints, an almost infinite number of circular patterns is possible. The basic club patterns are the foundation of all shoulder girdle movements, including those applicable to martial arts. The key to effective use of the clubs is concentration, precision, and practice.

Many if not most Americans do not fully develop their natural shoulder girdle mobility and muscular balance. Ill fitting furniture, poor posture, and our tragically inadequate system of physical education in our nation’s schools are among the many cultural factors that keep us from realizing our highest potential. Basic club skills offer a safe and very effective means to regain essential shoulder girdle mobility. More advanced club movements include complicated arm and footwork that contribute to overall agility, timing, and dexterity.

The 14th Century French physician Tissot wrote, “movement as such may take the place of many remedies, but all the remedies together can never take the Place of the effect of movement.” Tissot was of course referring to rational and natural human motion. In this regard, a humble respect for the past will create a stronger and more productive present and carry us into a strong and secure future.

Club swinging was rediscovered several years ago at Northern Illinois University near Chicago. Last year it was introduced into the Cho Kwang Do martial arts system based in Atlanta and the U.S. Army off-duty education fitness leadership program at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Club swinging can undoubtedly improve shoulder girdle efficiency, and almost certainly help you become a better martial artist. But maybe more importantly, it is one of those links to the timeless history that binds us to long forgotten martial artists who mastered themselves in order to better fulfill our common challenge to wisely rule this earth. Perhaps the 17th Century philosopher Pascal said it best–“Those we call the ancients were new in everything.”




  Benefits of Club Swinging…

The shoulder girdle is by far one of the most moveable areas of the body, but it is also one of the most fragile. Ill-fitting furniture, poor posture, and numerous other factors often impair shoulder girdle mobility. This impacts negatively on other joints, including the elbow and wrist. When the ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder is made strong, aligned, and mobile, other joints also benefit. The circular patterns of club swinging represent the foundations upon which all other more complex shoulder girdle movements are derived. There are hundreds of club movements that can be combined in an almost inexhaustible variety of flowing patterns.
The United States Army Manual of Physical Training (1914) notes: The effect of these exercises, when performed with light clubs, is chiefly a neural one, hence they are primary factors in the development of grace, coordination and rhythm. As they tend to supple the muscles and articulations of the shoulders and to the upper and fore arms and wrist, they are indicated in cases where there is a tendency toward what is ordinarily known as ìmuscle bound. Clubs are usually made of wood and sometimes resemble bowling pins. We occasionally see them in old movies or photos, hanging in neat rows on the walls of gymnasia, or in the hands of men, women, and children from the distant past. Club swinging was introduced into American physical culture in the early 1860s. It enjoyed immense popularity until America began losing interest in physical training in the 1920s. By the end of the 1930s, the art of club swinging was almost lost. Fifty years later, in the early 1990s, students in the Northern Illinois University Department of Physical Education rediscovered this amazing and beautiful art. It has since spread into the American martial arts community and the United States Army at Fort Benning, Georgia.



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