Yoga has a multitude of health benefits. Not only does it help you clear your mind of negative thoughts and learn how to control your body and mind through breathing, it also helps aid your flexibility, strength and overall fitness. Many believe yoga is just for the super bendy, but that’s just not the case. Everyone can practice yoga and reap its rewards, so today I’m going to share with you 5 easy yoga poses that anyone can try ?
Cat / Cow Poses
or Marjaryasana / Bitilasana
Great for: Tight back, shoulders, giving the spine a gentle massage
Starting on all fours, wrists under shoulders and knees under hips, inhale and pull your lower back down, whilst lifting the chest as much as is comfortable to move into Cow
On your exhale, tuck your tailbone under and push down on the palms of the hands to round the upper back for Cat.
Move through the two poses as you breathe and aim to do 5-10 rounds. As well as keeping your back happy, it’s also incredibly calming; great to do if you’ve had a stressful day!
Downward Facing Dog
or Adho Mukha Svanasana
Great for: Lower Back, Tight Hamstrings, Opening the shoulders.
There are lots of variations to this pose, so pick one that works best with your body. Start in a high plank position, then lift your hips up and back as you press the palms of your hands into the floor, drawing your chest towards your thighs.
Don’t worry if your heels don’t touch the ground, you can walk one heel at a time down to the mat as you work on any tightness you have.
Want more of a stretch? Plant the left foot down and slowly raise the right leg up, keeping it engaged and pointing the toe. Repeat on the left.
Still want more? Stay in your Downward Dog but reach your left hand towards the right ankle, take hold of it and pull your torso round to the right, as you look up under the right armpit.
Low Lunge / High Lunge
Great for: Tight hip flexors, strengthening glutes, opening the chest
Starting in plank, inhale your right foot forward between your hands, keeping the left leg long. For Low Lunge, drop the left knee to the floor and either keep the hands planted either side of the right foot, or if your balance is ok, sweep the hands overhead and push forward slightly on the right knee.
Want more of a stretch? Lift the left knee. Keep the leg straight for High Lunge. Again, keep the hands on the floor, or sweep up overhead.
Still want more? In high lunge, take a gentle back bend, wherein you tilt your extended arms, head and chest backwards whilst pushing the hips forward.
Half Spinal Twist / Half Lord of the Fishes
or Ardha Matsyendrāsana
Great for: Stretching the shoulders, hips and chest and is said to be beneficial for sciatic pain
Start seated with legs out in front. Start by placing your right foot on the outside if the left knee.
Take your right hand down to the floor behind your back as a support.
Then place the left elbow on the outside of the right knee and use it to twist round to the right.
Make sure you sit nice and tall, grounding your buttocks into the floor, and actively pushing down into the right foot. Hold for at least 5 breaths. Repeat on the other side
Want more of a stretch? On each inhalation, lengthen the spine and on the following exhalation, try and reach round into the twist a bit more, creating a deep twist in the spine.
Standing Forward Bend
Great for: Tight hamstrings, calves and hips, strengthens thighs, said to ease anxiety
Don’t worry, you don’t have to be super flexible for this, it’ll come with time!
Start with feet hip distance apart if this is most comfortable. Inhale your arms overhead and as you exhale, sweep your arms down to reach the floor. Be mindful that whilst doing this, you need to think about actively pushing your pelvis up and back as you bend, rather than just bending forward.
Keep a slight bend in the knee if the hammies are really tight.
Want more of a stretch? Wrap your hands around the backs of your ankles and use this gently pull your torso closer to your thighs as you exhale.
You’ll thank yourself for it.
Keep an eye out for future blogs where I’ll go through some slightly more advanced poses for deeper stretches.