It’s well known that regular yoga practice has a number of benefits for both your body and your mind. A little yoga in the morning helps you ease into the day, or a session in the evening will help you let go of your busy day. If you’ve never tried yoga, the holidays is a great time to start. Here are a couple of easy poses to get you into the yoga groove.
Remember to wear something comfortable that won’t restrict your movement, like leggings or loose fitting shorts with a snug fitting tee or crop top.
Breathing forms a big part of yoga, often in the form of long, deep breaths through the nose. Ujjayi breath, also known as the ocean breath, is a way of breathing which, if done right, should produce a sound similar to that of the ocean in the back of your throat. Concentrating on your breathing will ensure your mind doesn’t wander and help you stay focussed.
Mountain pose (Tadasana)
This standing pose is great for your posture and balance, and for practicing your breathing. Simply stand with your legs hip distance apart, your back straight, tummy and tailbone tucked, chin slightly dropped, and arms by your side. Slowly raise your arms to the sky while taking a deep inhale, let your palms touch, the slowly lower your arms while exhaling slowly.
Tree pose (Vriksasana)
From mountain pose, shift your weight to your left foot, find your balance then place the sole of your right foot on your right inner thigh, then bring your hands into prayer position. If you’re a bit wobbly, put the sole of your food against your calf, never on your knee. Swop legs. Remember to keep your hips facing forward and your back straight. Tree pose is great for balance, as well as strengthening your ankles, thighs, calves and spine.
Downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanansana)
Yoga’s very own poster boy pose is also one of the key elements of a sun salutation, or surya namaskara. It helps increase your body’s circulation, as well as stretching your calves, heels and shoulders. Stand on your hands and knees with your limbs shoulder/hip distance apart. Make sure your hands are planted firmly on the ground with your fingers spread as wide as you can. Tuck your tummy and slowly raise your bum by straightening your legs, making an inverted V with your body. Tuck your tummy and fix your gaze on your knees. Remember to breathe!
Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana 1)
Another poster boy pose, warrior 1 is a great all-round body strengthening pose. Aside from strengthening your arms, shoulders, feet and knees, it also stretches your hip flexors and calf muscles, while improving your balance and concentration. To do Warrior 1, start in mountain pose then step your left leg back into a comfortable lunge, your feet firmly planted with your right knee over your right ankle and left foot turned out 90 degrees. The heels of your front and back foot should remain hip distance apart, your back straight, tummy and tailbone tucked. Open your chest with your shoulders back and keep your hips square. Find your balance then slowly raise your arms to the sky so your arms are next to your ears. Take a couple of deep ujjayi breaths the slowly lower your arms to your sides. Repeat by switching legs.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Savasana is one of the most important poses in any yoga practice, yet many people rush through it. The power of this pose lies in the fact that it seals off your practice with a moment of deep meditation. Lie on your back with your arms and legs stretched out, palms facing upward, your feet flopped open and your eyes closed. Relax and release all the tension in the joints and muscles of your entire body, even your face. It should feel like you’re sinking into the floor. Focus on breathing slow, deep breaths (not ujjayi) in order to relax and keep your mind from wandering. Stay here for at least a minute then slowly start moving your limbs, roll onto your side and make your way to a seated position.
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