Yoga is becoming increasingly popular as people look for ways to live a healthy and happy lifestyle. Not only is yoga a centering form of physical activity but it’s also a great way to relax and release stress. With the start of a new year, it can be a great time to refresh your yoga practice and consider some of the many variations and modifications of yoga poses.
The Tree Pose is a great way to get started, and to work on balance and strength. To do this pose, begin by standing with your legs slightly apart and your hands in the Prayer position and focus on something that won’t move–a wall, a corner, a door handle–so you can maintain your balance. Bring your right foot off the ground and press your right knee against the right inner thigh with your right heel tucked against the perineum. Extend your arms above your head with your palms together, then relax your shoulders to release any tension and hold this pose for five slow breaths.
The Warrior Pose is a great pose to work on overall strength and stability, as well as balance. To do this pose, stand with your left foot forward and your right foot behind you. Keep your torso above your hips and widen your stance for a stable base. Raise your arms to shoulder level and bring your palms together. Hold this pose for five slow breaths, then switch legs and repeat.
The Cobra Pose is perfect for stretching and opening the chest as well as strengthening the back muscles. To do this pose, begin by lying on your stomach with your feet together and hands just behind your chest. Press your hips into the ground and press your feet firmly into the mat. Slowly lift your chest off of the ground and press your hands into the mat. Make sure to keep your elbows close to your body and press your shoulder blades together. Hold this pose for five breaths.
The Cat/Cow Pose is a great way to relax the muscles of the spine and increase mobility. Begin on your hands and knees and lower your head toward the floor. Now inhale as you lift your head and chest up, curving your back. Then exhale as you relax your head and shoulders and round your back. To move into the Cow Pose, begin by arching your back as you lift your head and chest. Inhale, then exhale as you press your chin against your chest while still arching the back. Hold each pose for five breaths and repeat.
As you wind down your yoga practice, the Child’s Pose is an excellent pose to release tension and relax the back and body. To do this pose, start by sitting back on your heels, then slowly lower your torso to rest on the tops of your thighs. Place your forehead on the floor and extend your arms out in front of you, then relax your shoulders and hold for