Yoga brings people together. Regardless of age, gender, religion, and culture, yoga has the power to unite.
That’s why this week we celebrate International Yoga Day.
We celebrate the way yoga increases our well being – physical, mental, and emotional. From helping you lose weight, gain muscle, and increasing your flexibility, to reducing your stress, boosting your body confidence, and improving your overall fitness, adding yoga into your day is one of the best lifestyle changes you can make to improve your health and happiness.
If you want to get started right away, then have a go at the five poses below.
This is a form of breathing you can do before you work out and use throughout your training or yoga session to help you focus. Traditionally called ‘Ujjayi’, the noise you make is similar to the sound you hear when you hold a seashell up to your ear. It expands the lungs by dynamically pulling fresh air into them and expelling stale air.
- Sit or stand comfortably with your spine upright and take a couple of long deep breaths.
- Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. With each exhalation make a ‘hhhaaa’ sound as if you are trying to steam up a mirror.
- Now continue to make the same sound as you exhale, but close your mouth so you are constricting the back of your throat to make a soft ocean sound (you may also sound like Darth Vadar!).
Down Dog is one of the most popular poses because it strengthens and stretches the body as well as acting as a physical barometer for how your body feels in between other poses and flows. It shows how each part of your body works in harmony with the other parts – the looser your hamstrings are, the less pressure you will feel on your shoulders.
- Begin on all fours, hook your toes under and slowly straighten your legs to push your bottom to the sky so you are in an upturned v-shape.
- Check your hands are shoulder width and feet are hip distance apart and relax your neck.
- Exit the pose by bending your knees to the mat.
Turning the upper body in one direction and the lower body in the opposite direction is the main action occurring in this pose. This releases tension in the spine and strengthens the muscles of the core for a more defined waist.
- Begin in a cross-legged seated position with your hands resting on your knees. Pull back on your knees to lift your chest and lengthen your spine. Reach your left hand behind your back and place your right hand on your left knee to take the basic form of the pose.
- To refine the pose, squeeze your bottom and deepen the twist by keeping hold of your left knee and bending your right arm to pull the left knee towards you.
- Exit the pose by coming back to centre. Switch the cross of your legs before twisting to the other side.
Arm balances require a combination of strength, balance and focus. Grounding yourself through your hands to provide a stable foundation is essential for giving you the confidence to lift your feet off the floor. The stronger your core is the less weight your knees will place on your upper arms and the longer you will be able to float in Crow.
- Begin in a squat position, coming up on to your toes if you can’t keep your heels down. Spread your feet so they are slightly wider than hip-width apart and place your hands on the floor in front of you shoulder-width apart. Lift your bottom by straightening your legs just enough so that when you lean forwards and bring your shoulders in front of your wrists you can snuggle your knees into your armpits. Slowly transfer the weight into your hands, lift your toes off the ground and bring your heels together.
- Once you have found your balance, refine the pose by bringing your toes towards your tailbone so you are rounding your spine. Activate your abdominal muscles to lift your torso upwards and reduce the amount of pressure on your arms.
- Rock slowly backwards on to your toes to exit the pose.
Legs Up The Wall
Inversions are very restorative. They bring the blood back to the heart and lungs and relax the nervous system. Legs Up The Wall pose allows you to completely relax at the same time as lengthening your hamstrings and releasing any tension from your lower back. If you have had a long day and don’t fancy a full Yoga Gym workout then use the time to rest and restore in this pose.
- Sit sideways against a wall and swing your legs around so you are lying on your back with your legs up the wall. Bring your bottom as close to the wall as you can and straighten your legs, resting your heels on the wall. Spread your arms out wide.
- Rest here for as long as you need to.
- To exit the pose, move your bottom away from the wall slightly and swivel your legs around to one side before pushing up to seated.
Want to hear more from Nicola? Yoga Gym: The Revolutionary 28-Day Plan for Strength, Flexibility, and Fat Loss is available to buy at discount from www.bloomsbury.com.
You can contact Nicola directly on Nicola@YogaGymRevolution.com
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