Feeling a bit stiff? Have you decided it’s time to stop talking about exercising and start actually doing it?
With the sedentary lives we lead nowadays, it’s easy to fall into bad habits and get out of shape. We’re so busy, working out isn’t high on the priority list.
However, exercising isn’t just a luxury that helps us look good in a bathing suit. It’ll make your brain healthier, and generally make you feel better about yourself.
The good news is, you don’t have to commit to a time-consuming routine to get started. Yoga stretches don’t require anything save for a yoga mat, and even that is optional at first.
The practice of yoga, a word which means union, comes from India. Yoga comprises ancient traditions and philosophies, but was modernized and exported in the West as a wonderful form of exercise.
It consists of poses called asanas that will help you open up your whole body, ease stiffness, improve blood flow, and make you feel stronger.
This article will outline 9 amazing yoga stretches you can start doing today. Read on, and get on the mat!
1. Downward-Facing Dog
Begin in a tabletop position. Your hands are underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips.
As you exhale, lift your knees and push your hips up towards the ceiling. Straighten out your knees, but make sure not to lock them.
Get your heels as close to the floor as you can, all the while press on your fingertips and palms. Your head remains between your arms.
Remain in that position for 5 breaths.
If you find it hard to open your shoulders, you can modify this posture by raising up your hands on a chair, block, or stack of books.
Additionally, if any posture causes you pain or if you want to deepen your practice of yoga, make sure to book private yoga lessons. Getting input from a qualified instructor may prove invaluable.
This asana also starts in the tabletop position, with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Your head and spine are in a neutral position to start with.
Exhale and round your back towards the ceiling, just like an angry cat. Gently let down your head as you tuck your chin towards your chest.
Inhale and arch your back, now imitating a cow. Your chest, head, and butt are lifted towards the ceiling. Make sure not to strain your neck too much.
Alternate between these two positions as you inhale and exhale. Take long, deep breaths and deepen the stretches.
Do the cat/cow pose for 5 to 10 breaths.
3. Child’s Pose
Start in the tabletop position. Get your feet closer so that your big toes touch. Now, lower your butt to sit on your heels, as you place your torso on your thighs.
Extend your arms in front of you and feel a stretch in your back. Your palms are facing the floor.
If sitting on your heels proves too painful, place a folded blanket in between your calves and thighs.
Use the child’s pose to rest in between more difficult positions.
4. Triangle Pose
Stand on your mat parallel to it so that you’re on its long side. Lift your arms parallel to the floor as your palms are facing down.
Turn your right foot towards the front of your mat while you keep the left one in its starting position, perpendicular to it. Face your right foot. Your legs and heels are still aligned with each other.
Take a deep breath. As you exhale, bend over your right leg and rotate your torso to the left. Extend your right arm and rest your right hand on your ankle, shin, or the floor depending on your level of comfort.
Stretch your left arm towards the ceiling, and gaze towards your left hand. Your shoulders should form a line.
Maintain the pose for 5 breaths, then switch to the other side.
5. High Lunge
Start in the tabletop position. Place your right foot forward in between your two hands. Your ankle should be directly below your knee. Now, straighten the back leg.
Press your palms or fingers on the floor to lift your crown towards the ceiling. Roll your shoulders back and stick out your chest. Your eyes are gazing straight ahead.
Press the heel of your back legs towards the floor as your knee rises up towards the ceiling. Let your hips sink comfortably towards the floor.
Breathe deeply and hold the posture for up to 5 breaths. Then switch to the other side.
6. Warrior I
Start in the High Lunge pose with your right knee bent. The left leg is straight. Slightly bring your torso back.
Touch your hips with your hands, and square them along with your shoulders. Sink your shoulder blades into your back to open up your chest.
Inhale and raise your arms over your head. Bring the palms together as if praying. Keep your shoulders down and relaxed. Exhale and look up towards your hands.
Maintain the posture for 5 breaths, then switch to the other side.
7. Warrior II
Stand over the long side of your mat with your feet wide. They should be around 3 or 4 feet apart.
Raise your arms so that they’re parallel to the floor with your palms facing down. Turn your right foot towards the front of the mat while your left foot still faces the same direction. Your two feet form a 90° angle.
Bend your right knee. It should be directly above your right ankle. You should aim towards getting your right thigh parallel to the floor if possible. Gaze towards your right hand.
Hold for up to 5 breaths and switch to the other side.
8. Mountain Pose
Stand with your heels slightly apart but your big toes touching. Explore your balance for a bit. Spread your toes. Gently rock from side-to-side, then back and forth.
Now stand still. Engage your thighs and lift your kneecaps. Bring your shoulder blades toward each other then lower them.
Keep your arms alongside you with your palms facing forward. Make sure your head is properly aligned with your spine.
9. Bridge Pose
Start by lying on your back. Your knees are lifted toward the ceiling while your feet are flat on the ground. Get your heels as close to your butt as your can.
As you exhale, squeeze your glutes and raise your butt off of the floor. Your knees should still be over your ankles.
Clasp your hands underneath you as you bring your shoulder blades together.
Hold for up to 5 breaths and release. You can perform this pose a few times to open up your shoulders and chest.
Yoga Stretches Can Change Your Life
Start practicing these 9 yoga stretches today. You should see quick improvements in your well-being.
Yoga isn’t just a physical practice, but also a spiritual one. You may find that it helps you feel more in touch with yourself.
Always make sure not to push your body too much. If some poses are out of reach for now, modify it to suit your body’s needs and get in touch with an instructor.