Yoga is a great way to keep your body and your muscles strong. Even more important than the physical benefits of yoga in my opinion, are the mental benefits from it. Yoga is a type of workout that focuses on strengthening the core of your body as well as focusing on the breath. Implementing yoga in your life combines physical fitness and mental fitness in one and can incorporate a positive life change for both your physical and mental health. Below are my top 4 yoga poses that I practice when I need a pick-me-up or am feeling overwhelmed.
Balasana (Child’s pose)
This is a great starter pose. Typically alot of yoga classes or videos will include child’s pose in their warm up. This pose is a great way to focus on your breathing and relaxation. You can really focus on your body, feeling and stretching every muscle, getting in tune with what your body is telling you and responding in your breath. This pose is also a great ending pose, a good cool down after your yoga session to again listen to your body and respond with your breathing.
Start off in a kneeling position, with your legs spread slightly apart from each other. Gently slide your butt back until your butt is resting on your heels, while at the same time coming down and placing your arms parallell to your legs. You can rest your head either forehead down or gently to the side. For a deeper stretch you can do extended cat’s cradle by extending your arms above your head instead of at your sides. I like to stay in this pose for a few minutes, usually until I can feel my back fully stretched out and my breathing slowing down. Really pull into the stretch, feeling it from your fingertips to your toes, while taking slow deep breaths. Close your eyes and relax, its okay to stay in this pose as long as you feel like it, listen to your body and what it needs.
Uttanasana (Forward hanging pose)
This pose is one of my favorites. Suffering with back pain for most of my life, this one is a great back stretcher and also great for just letting go of all your stress. I imagine my stress and worries melting away, falling forward as my body bends and all the negativity leaving my body through my fingertips.
Start off in a mountain pose (Tadasana), hands resting gently at your sides, palms facing upwards. Slowly extend your arms above your head, leaning into the stretch as you slowly bring your upper body down. Your head should be almost between your legs. For a deeper stretch, walk your hands backwards between your legs, inhaling and exhaling slowly. Again, really focus on the breath as you lean into your stretch. Because of the angle of this position, I don’t recommend staying in this one for longer than a minute. When you come back to standing, go slowly to avoid a head rush or dizziness.
Virabhadrasana (Warrior pose)
Warrior pose is great for your legs, your back, and your confidence. One of the reasons that I love this pose so much is because when you lift up your arms into that stretch, you’re lifting up your spirit with it. This pose can take some concentration, but it is a great way to lift your mood and stretch the muscles from your lower legs to your butt.
Start off in a mountain pose (Tadasana), hands at your sides, palms facing upwards. Step forward with one leg, while the other leg takes a step back. Your front leg should be at a 90 degree angle while your back leg should be straight back. When you’ve achieved this position, bring your arms forward and up. For a deeper stretch, push forward slightly into your front leg, while still keeping your back leg straight. Once you’ve done this on one leg, you can switch into warrior II or simply switch legs and repeat.
Savasana (Corpse pose)
Savasana is probably my favorite pose of all time. There’s a reason it is called the corpse pose. It is quite literally just laying as still as possible while focusing on your breathing. Some may not even consider this a real yoga pose, but it most certainly is. Don’t let this pose fool you, as it may look like the easiest pose ever, some people have a hard time achieving a meditative state in this position.
Start in a sitting position on your mat. Gently lean back until you are laying back flat on your mat with your arms at your side, palms facing upward and open. Inhale deeply, exhale slowly, close your eyes as you are exhaling and keep them closed for the remainder of this exercise. This pose is all about focusing on the breath and the muscles in the body. Do a “body check” as you’re laying in this pose. Feel every muscle in your body, from your fingers to your toes. Repeat this breathing pattern for several minutes as you let your body float away, inhale deeply, exhale slowly. You may feel a sense of lightness in your body as it becomes more relaxed, do not let this frighten you. Stay in this position as long as it feels good for you. When you are ready to come out of this meditative state, it’s important to slowly move your body and wake it up. Moving too quickly can cause shock to your body. Slowly wiggle your fingers and toes as you bring your awareness back to your body. Shorten your breaths and slowly open your eyes and slowly move to a sitting position when you are done.
No matter your reasons for doing yoga, whether it’s to help stretch out your body or to help calm your mind, you’ll always find something to enjoy in these four poses. Namaste 🙏🏼
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