A typical week can mean balancing work, kids, school, sports, appointments, family and a lot more! Everyday life is hectic and, amidst this, you are likely to feel frazzled.
Challenging tasks throughout the day stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, evoking the body’s fight-or-flight response. So, while preparing for survival, your body puts a hold on all the other regular routine functions like proper digestion and rejuvenation.
Yoga creates an opposite reaction in the body. It stimulates and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, thus provoking the rest-and-digest response in the body. As a result, all of the body’s organs are restored to normal functioning, and your mind and body are perfectly in sync!
So, to beat the frazzled existence of a busy lifestyle and the resulting health impacts, it’s time you hit the yoga mat!
Don’t worry if you’re a newbie in this field. Everyone’s got to start somewhere. Even if it is your first day, all you have to do is put on some loose-fitting clothes, grab a yoga mat and follow the beginner program with the basic yoga postures.
These yoga postures work on your inner muscles and joints to relieve any sort of pain, stress and anxiety, thus calming and soothing your mind and body.
They help in stretching and opening your chest, lungs and abdomen, thus improving digestion, circulation and overall health. Not only this, these yoga postures offer additional benefits including:
- Stretching the ankles, knees, legs, arms, spine and chest
- Increasing blood supply to the brain
- Toning the abdominal organs
- Opening up the hips, hamstrings and calves
- Reducing anxiety, stress, back pain and sciatica trouble
- Treating frozen shoulders
- Helping with sinusitis, asthma, high blood pressure and osteoporosis.
Here are the basic yoga poses for you to begin with.
1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
For a beginner, the Mountain pose is the best yoga pose to begin with. It is the base for all other yoga poses and involves all of the body’s major muscle groups.
It helps improve your posture, focus, concentration, stability and confidence. It also helps reduce back pain and induces relaxation.
- Stand straight, with your feet together or hip-width apart.
- Slowly lift your toes, spread them wide and then place them back on the floor (distribute your weight equally between your feet).
- Pull up your kneecaps and squeeze the thighs. Tuck your tailbone slightly under and feel the hips aligned over the ankles.
- Inhale and lift up from your waist toward the ceiling, feeling the spine long and straight.
- Breathe and hold for 4 to 8 breaths.
- Exhale and drop the shoulders down and back.
You can practice this yoga pose several times throughout the day like while standing in line, riding the elevator, doing the dishes or simply brushing your teeth.
Caution: People with recent or chronic injury in the shoulders are advised not to practice this yoga pose.
2. Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
Forward Bend, also known as the Standing Forward Bend, is another effective yoga posture for beginners.
It helps lengthen the spine and hamstrings, and offers an overall stretch for your body, thus relieving stress in the vertebrae and muscles.
- Begin with the Mountain pose, hands on hips and feet shoulder-width apart.
- Exhale and gently bend forward from the hip joints, not from the waist.
- Keeping your knees straight, bring your hands down toward the ground. (If this isn’t possible, cross or interlock your arms.)
- Let your head hang and hold the posture for 5 to 10 breaths.
- Repeat 5 to 7 times daily.
Caution: Those with recent back or knee surgery must avoid this exercise.
3. Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
The Seated Forward Bend yoga pose stretches the spine, shoulders and hamstrings.
This pose helps relieve stress, thus soothing anxiety, mild depression and headache troubles. Also, this is one effective pose for those wanting to shed some pounds, as it helps reduce belly fat as well.
- Sit on the floor.
- Extend your legs straight outward, without bending your knees.
- Inhale and extend your hands straight upward.
- Slowly, bend downward toward the knees.
- Touch your forehead to the knees and make sure you do not bend your knees.
- While still bending, extend your hands out straight and place them flat on the ground. (You can also interlock your palms or hold your toes.)
- Stay in the position for 1 to 3 minutes.
- Gently come back to the starting position and repeat the process 10 to 12 times.
- Do this daily at the end of your day to relax into bedtime.
Caution: Those with asthma or diarrhea issues must avoid this pose or perform it under the strict supervision of an expert.
4. Tree Pose (Vriksasana)
The Tree pose is one of the most effective exercises, for it stretches almost all the muscles and joints in your body. This balancing pose helps stretch and lengthen the spine, correct the posture, improve balance and strengthen the legs, ankles, thighs, spine and calves.
It also helps you gain focus, concentration and coordination.
- Stand erect with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Keep spine and neck straight, chin drawn in.
- Slowly place your right foot high up on your left thigh.
- Keep your left leg straight and balance yourself on one leg.
- Inhale and slowly raise your arms over your head.
- Maintain the pose by retaining your breath for 10 seconds.
- Slowly exhale, bring down your hands and release your right leg.
- Repeat with the other leg.
- Practice 12 to 15 sets every day. Eventually as you acquire perfection, you may increase the number of sets and the duration of balance.
Caution: Those suffering from headaches, insomnia and low blood pressure are advised not to practice this yoga pose. People with high blood pressure should not raise their arms over their head.
5. Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
The Triangle pose is one beginner pose that engages every part of the body, stretches the legs, strengthens the core and opens the hips and shoulders.
It also stimulates abdominal organs, improves digestion and helps relieve symptoms of menopause.
- Stand with your feet wide apart.
- Stretch your right foot out at 90 degrees, while keeping the left leg closer to the torso.
- Keep your feet pressed against the ground and balance your weight equally on both feet.
- Slowly inhale and exhale, while bending your right arm toward the ground.
- With your waist straight, raise your left arm up toward the sky.
- Make sure your body is bent sideways and not forward or backward.
- Take long and deep breaths, and stretch as much as you can.
- Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Caution: Those with recent or chronic injury to the hips, back or shoulders or with issues like diarrhea, low blood pressure and headaches are advised not to practice this pose. People with heart problems may practice this posture against a wall. Those with troubles in the neck should avoid gazing upward, instead look straight ahead.
6. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
The Cobra is yet another pose that works on lengthening and strengthening most of the muscles in your body.
This helps strengthen the spine, firm the buttocks, stretch the lungs and chest, stimulate abdominal organs and open up the heart and lungs. It is beneficial for treating asthma and soothing sciatica troubles.
- Lie on your stomach, feet together and toes flat.
- Put your hands down below your shoulders.
- Slowly inhale and lift your waist while raising your head gently.
- With the support of your hands, pull your torso back.
- Keep your elbows straight and make sure the pressure is equally distributed on both the palms.
- Tilt your head back and make sure your shoulders are away from your ears.
- Slowly, exhale and come back to the starting position.
- Repeat this pose upto 5 times daily.
Caution: Pregnant women and those suffering from headaches, a back injury or carpal tunnel syndrome are advised not to practice this yoga pose.