Many people have been turning to more holistic methods to practice self-care — diet, prayer, meditations, exercise, and the like. Yoga is one of many practices that have risen to prominence in mainstream fitness platforms. But it's not just for staying fit: it can also be therapeutic and helpful to your overall health.
What You'll Need Before Doing Poses
Before doing your yoga poses, make sure that your clothes are clean, comfortable, and not too tight. For women, wear a sports bra that cups your breasts well and lets you breathe. Put on your favorite yoga pants and tie your hair up. Meanwhile, men can wear a tank top or shirt that's not too loose nor too tight, as well as some undergarments and shorts that are breathable. It's also encouraged to go barefoot for better grip on the yoga mat.
Choose a non-slip yoga mat so you can do all your poses comfortably without worrying about sliding, slipping, or hurting yourself in the process. Bring some water with you too just in case you feel thirsty. You can play soft music to make yourself feel calm and at peace while doing your poses, but you can also just choose to do it silently by the beach or atop a mountain.
To begin your health journey with yoga, familiarize yourself with these 12 yoga poses and bring a friend with you too if you can!
1) Lotus Position
Start your off yoga session with something easy — a meditation pose. Reminiscent of how kindergarten kids are seated in huddles and circles, this pose is done to make the knees and ankles more flexible. Couple it with placing your hands on your knees and putting your palms side up. Then make a circle with your pointer finger and thumb on both hands.
2) Child's Pose
This is an uncomplicated yoga pose that packs a lot of benefits for your health especially when coupled with breathing exercises. The child's pose can bring you a sense of calmness and promote good blood circulation. You can do this either in your morning yoga routine, or in random times of the day when you feel like stretching.
3) Cat Cow Pose
After doing the child's pose, you'd want to stay in all fours and alternately move like a cat and a cow. Your spine is very flexible, and can go from concave to convex when you choose to. This yoga move can give you relief and comfort especially if you're used to staying stiff in your desk job or if you have a slouched posture. The cow cat pose can be used as a preparation for other poses too.
4) Sphinx Pose
Nothing beats a good stretch! This yoga pose not only stretches the stomach but also elongates the spine. You can also improve the strength of your arm muscles as you're mainly relying your weight on them, as well as your back musculature. The sphinx pose can also help with your balance as you're also using your toes to keep your legs and torso from touching the ground.
5) Bow Pose
Since your stomach is already stretched, take advantage of that position and slowly let your limbs touch; grab the ends of both your legs with both of your arms. This tension can help stretch your back and even work your glutes and hamstrings. Some have even claimed that this pose can help smooth out cellulite, especially those below the buttocks.
6) Half Lord of The Fishes
The above pose hopefully prepared you to actually sit on your yoga mat. Twist your torso to the right after crossing your legs while they both form triangles: one triangle flat on the floor (horizontal) and one triangle against gravity (vertical). This position is said to stimulate the kidneys to detoxify and keep your spine's natural range of motion.
7) Seated Forward Fold
It's time to put to use what your P.E. classes have taught you. The seated forward fold is the alternative to the standing forward fold especially if some are struggling with balance or are easily dizzy. This pose stretches the back and legs, enhances flexibility, and makes you feel more refreshed in turn.
8) Downward Dog
One of the many basic standing yoga poses, the downward dog benefits your spine, your hamstrings, and even your digestion. Since it’s a mild inversion, it can release stress, help with headaches, and calm the nervous system. This pose can also even improve memory, eyesight, and concentration.
9) Warrior I
Great from stamina and coordination, the warrior I pose requires you to stretch the back leg while bending the knee of the front leg. This can help you maintain balance, stretch the hamstrings, and is even therapeutic to those who are suffering from sciatica.
10) Warrior II
Similar to warrior I, this pose requires you to have your arms outstretched sideways instead of putting them together and lifting them upwards. Warrior II is said to release the tension from your back and shoulders, and engages all arm and leg muscles. It's also known to align the spine and tone the body.
11) Tree Pose
You may often see this in promotional pictures of yoga studios. The tree pose is said to help with balance and weight distribution, as well as with the pelvis area, the hips and the thighs. Note that this is an intermediate level position, so don't beat yourself up if you don't get it right the first time.
This is a little more advanced than the rest, but you'll get accustomed to it when you're consistent with practice and carrying yourself with your own arms. Train yourself before doing this: get used to lifting your own weight and practice with other yoga poses like the standard forward fold or the boat pose.
Did Yoga Spark Something In You?
Yoga could be your new favorite form of light exercise! Or perhaps you've completely forgotten about doing yoga and your love for it just got recently reignited. There are so many more poses to try, so don't be limited by what's listed on here. In the meantime, enjoy your yoga journey and remember these poses to help you get healthier, and hopefully happier too.