For centuries, yoga techniques and poses have provided a great way to obtain well being and optimal health. Listed below are ten different poses along with a how to and the benefits they afford. These are poses you can do at home when you don’t have time to attend a yoga class. Spending just a few minutes a day using just a few of these poses can be quite powerful.
If yoga is new to you, spend some time learning certain poses that are essential to feel comfortable doing it in your own home or when attending a yoga class.
10 Poses that You Need to Practice Everyday
There are over 300 different yoga poses, so it is not easy to narrow it all down. However, the following poses can help you get started on the right path. Do each of these for 5-10 breaths and it will get you off to a great start.
Keep in mind, you don’t have to get this just right at first, it is important to listen to your body and make any modifications necessary.
Downward Facing Dog
You will find Downward Facing Dog in most yoga classes as it strengthens and stretches the body.
Get down on all fours, your wrists under your shoulders and make sure knees are under your hips. With toes tucked under, lift hips up off the floor while you draw them up at back towards your heels. If you have tight hamstrings, keep knees slightly bent, otherwise straighten your legs at the same time keep your hips back. To give yourself more length, you can walk your hands forward if you need to. Pressing firmly through your palms, rotate inner elbows towards each other. Make your abdominals hollow and keep your legs engaged to allow the torso to move back toward the thighs. Hold this pose for 5-8 breaths before coming back to hands and knees for rest.
Tree is a great standing balance for beginners to practice to obtain clarity and focus while practicing their breathe balancing on one foot.
Starting with feet together put your right foot on your inner left upper thigh. Place your hands in prayer finding a focus point in front of you can hold a steady gaze on. Hold this pose for 8-10 breaths then repeat other side. Be mindful not to lean into the standing leg while keeping your abs engaged and shoulders relaxed.
Malasana (Yoga Squat)
Yoga Squat takes a squatting position with toes out and heels in, hands in prayer position in front of your chest. This is especially beneficial for pregnant women as it stretches inner thighs and calves, relieves back aches and opens the pubic symphysis in the pelvic area. Hold this pose for 5-10 breaths before standing up.
Ardha Matsyendrasana – Sitting Half Spinal Twist
Sitting Half Spinal Twist increases elasticity of the spine, making it suppler and opens the chest increasing oxygen supply to the lungs.
Start in a sitting position with legs out in front of you, feet together and the spine straight. With the left leg bent, put the heel of the left foot beside the right hip; you can also keep the left leg straight if you prefer. Put the right leg over the left knee, placing the left hand on the right knee and the right hand behind you. While keeping the spine erect, twist the waist, shoulders and neck at the same time and look over your shoulder. Keep pose and continue taking long gentle breaths in and out. While breathing out, let go of the right hand first, release the waist, then the chest and finally the neck, sit up straight, yet relaxed. Repeat pose on the other side. While breathing out, return to front position and relax.
Bow takes a position on your stomach with your feet hip width apart, arms at your side. Fold knees and hold your ankles. While breathing in lift chest from the ground while pulling your legs up and back. Look straight ahead and curve your body to match the smile of your curved lips! Stabilize the pose and pay close attention to your breathing. Your body should now be tight as a bow. Continue long deep breaths and relax. Do not over stretch this pose. Hold for 15-20 seconds and as you exhale carefully bring your legs and chest to the floor. Let go of the ankles and relax.
Benefits of Bow:
- Strengthens abdominal and back muscles
- Opens the shoulders, neck and chest
- Stimulates reproductive organs
- Reduces fatigue and stress
- Tones arm and leg muscles
- Helps with kidney disorders
- Increases flexibility to the back
- Reduces constipation and discomfort from menstrual cramps
Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
Start standing up straight, hands at your side or in prayer (Mountain Pose. As you exhale bend forward keeping the spine as straight as possible. Relax your jaw and allow your head to hang heavy. Beginners should keep their feet hip width apart and touching for intermediate and advanced. A common mistake is not to keep your spine straight. So bend your knees as much as needed to keep a straight spine while your chest touches your thighs. Keep knees soft and do not allow them to lock.
As you become more consistent in practicing yoga, the hamstrings will open in this forward pose. This pose allows the spine to decompress forcing fresh blood to move from the heart and into the head.
Lord of the Dance Pose
Starting with Mountain pose, take a deep breath as you shift your weight onto your right foot, then lift your left heel toward your left buttock as you bend the knee. Press the right thigh back going deep into the hip joint; pull the knee cap up to keep the leg you’re standing on straight and strong. Start lifting the left foot up from the floor and back away from your torso. Extend the left thigh behind you parallel to the floor. Stretch the right arm forward, keeping it in front of your body remaining parallel to the floor.
Keep pose for 20 to 30 seconds, then release the foot placing the left foot back onto the floor. Repeat the same pose for the same amount of time on the other side.
This pose is usually done after mastering the headstand but before the handstand pose because you have a larger surface to balance on when using your forearms. At first, do pose near a wall to prevent falling, then when you feel more confident move to the middle of the room.
When first attempting this pose, go against a wall. When you feel ready to move to a more open area you can work on balancing without any help. When you kick up into the handstand, do it with control into a handstand split and slowly bring your legs together. Hold your gaze on the floor while keeping your hips stacked over the shoulders; fingers need to be wide spread. Hold this pose for as long as you can.
Half Moon Pose
The Half Moon helps coordination and the understanding of interdependence of actions in your body. It will also help develop strong legs and open hips.
- Take a triangle pose to the right side, with your left hand resting on the left hip.
- Inhale as you bend the right knee while sliding the left foot approximately 6 to 12 inches forward across the floor.
- Simultaneously, reach your right hand forward going about 12 inches beyond the little toe of the right foot.
- Exhale while pressing the right hand and right heel firmly into the floor and straighten your right leg at the same time lifting the left leg parallel or slightly above parallel to the floor.
- Keep the raised leg strong by extending actively through the left heel. Be mindful not to hyperextend (do not lock) the standing knee. Be certain the kneecap is aligned straight forward and is not turned inward.
- Rotate the upper torso to the left while keeping the left hip moving slightly forward.
- If you are a beginner, keep the left hand on the left hip and your head in a neutral position looking forward.
- The standing leg should bear most of the body’s weight.
- Press the lower hand softly to the floor to regulate your balance.
- Raise the inner ankle of the standing foot upward like energy from the floor into the standing groin.
- Press the sacrum and scapulas firmly against the torso and lengthen the coccyx toward the raised heel.
Keep this pose for 30 seconds up to 1 minute, and then lower the raised leg while you exhale and return to original position.
Repeat on the other side for same length of time.