Yoga is a useful and highly beneficial practice that can be employed in every part of our lives. Different poses promote various moods and are applicable to a different part of your day. Whether you’re working out, cooling down, or trying to unplug before bed, we’ve compiled a list of helpful and enjoyable yoga poses.
Poses for: Toning and Losing Weight
It can be difficult to find time to hit the gym during the regular hustle and bustle of life. If you’ve been staying late at work and feeling exhausted, you might not be feeling as motivated to take your morning run. Yoga is an alternative and an attractive one because it can be done right in the comfort of your living room.
Yoga conjures up images of relaxation, stretching, and peace. Mindfulness is certainly one of its most prominent benefits, but yoga poses can be combined to help you work up a sweat. Follow this workout at least three times a week to reap the maximum benefits and improve your flexibility and posture. To make the workout more challenging or see results faster, hold each pose for longer.
The crescent pose helps firm and strengthen your hips, abs, and thighs. Bring your hands to the floor as you exhale, alternating between lunging with your right and left legs.
To make the position harder, inhale and arch your torso backward while extending your fingertips behind your head, gazing upward. This will really challenge your balance and core strength.
This pose also helps to strengthen your abs and gets you on the road to rock-solid balance. Stand with the sole of your left or right foot on the inner thigh of your opposite leg and extend your arms upward, bending your torso to the right and then to the left, holding the pose until you feel a stretch.
The Hover is a more difficult plank, in which you begin in a push-up position, bend your elbows backward and keep them tucked in close to your body. Hold your stomach in to tighten and work your core.
The chair pose is like a modified squat. Keeping your legs and feet together, squat about 45 degrees, as if you were “sitting back” in a chair. Raise your arms overhead with your palms facing one another. Once again, keep your core tight and gaze forward. Be sure that your toes don’t come forward and stay behind your knees.
Poses for: Athletes
Athletes have different needs than the occasional gym-goer. An athlete may look for yoga poses that promote recovery in the muscles and improve flexibility for better performance. The following yoga poses can be used by athletes as part of their regular routine.
Reclining Big Toe
The reclining big toe pose encourages a nice stretch and improves your flexibility. After a heavy leg workout or an extended period of running, use this stretch to help your muscles recover and relax and prepare for the next day’s workout.
The bridge pose is a popular one and for good reason. It is challenging enough to provide more than just a good stretch. Start by lying down flat on the ground, then bend your knees and make sure they’re hip-width apart. Press through your heels and lift your torso off the floor, gently “rolling” your spine up. Press your hands and shoulders into the floor for support, or for a more challenging version, lift your shoulders off the floor.
The pigeon is a great stretch for hamstrings and legs. It can be used by athletes as part of a cool-down routine or post-workout stretching. Relieve any soreness with the pigeon, and you can modify it by resting on elbows or placing arms flat on the floor, palms down.
The down dog is a great stretch for the calves and encourages flexibility in the spine. Heels can touch the floor in order to produce the maximum stretch, or the pose can be modified with heels off the floor to accommodate your flexibility level.
The low lunge pose follows the format of a regular lunge, but lift your arms into the air with palms facing one another to stretch and loosen up the hips and improve your posture. This is a great way to strengthen the hips and glutes while keeping your spine aligned.
Poses for: Relaxation
How can all of these poses help you to unwind at the end of a stressful and busy day? Focus on your breathing. The most important key to relaxing the mind is to take yourself away from obsessive or persistent thoughts. It can wait until tomorrow. For now, take some “me” time and couple the below poses with some deep breathing exercises.
The prayer pose is also known as Namaste. It increases the flexibility of your wrists while providing a relaxing relief from the day when coupled with deep, intentional breathing. This particular image demonstrates the Prayer Pose in a standing position
As the name implies, the corpse pose is done lying down with arms relaxed at the side, legs flat, and eyes closed. Breathe deeply, counting your breaths if you prefer, and let your worries of the day fade away.
Child’s pose is a great way to stretch the spine and alleviate any soreness. Starting in a kneeling position, drop your glutes to your heels as you bend forward and stretch your arms in front of you. You can lay your forehead on your mat with your arms outstretched and palms down, or curl your arms under your torso, depending on your flexibility.
The seated Prayer pose - or Namaste - is traditionally used to end every yoga class. Sitting upright, close your eyes and focus on the feeling of calm in your body. According to Patheos, “Namaste,” translated roughly, means “to exist in some sort of state together in the future.” It is still used throughout international yoga and meditation practices as a respectful salutation.