Yoga is an important part of any fitness routine: no matter what your main type of exercise is or the level of your fitness, the need to stretch remains the one thing we all have in common. Thankfully, yoga is something you can do at any time, in just about any place, so whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned yogi, here are four yoga poses to do every day - yes, even just at home:
1. Cobra Pose
The aim of this pose is to give you a deep lower back stretch, while stretching your hip flexors, and opening your chest and the front of your shoulders for better posture. Done properly, it will help prepare your body for more advanced poses.
Begin lying face down on your mat with head slightly lifted, hips glued to the ground, and hand sitting directly under shoulders. Push yourself up as far as you can as you exhale, raising your body and legs your until arms are straight.
2. Downward Facing Dog
This yoga classic stretches out the hamstrings, arms, and back. It's a great way to wake up your spine after sitting all day.
Start on all fours with a flat, neutral spine, then, tuck your toes, lift your hips, bring your ears between your arms and look down at your legs. From there, bring your heels toward the ground and pedal your feet. This wakes up your calves and hamstrings. Hold the pose for three breaths and then come back down your hands and knees. Repeat, or move on to the next pose.
3. Chair Pose
While most commonly referred to as Chair Pose, Utkatasana also translates to Thunderbolt, Fierce Pose or Awkward Pose, all of which are more apt, considering the pose itself has nothing to do with the comfort and relaxation of a chair. Regardless of what it’s called, this yoga pose is an amazing way to generate heat in the body and quickly build energy. You can practice it anytime, but it makes for an excellent morning routine as it activates the core and the legs and challenges your mind to stay present and positive.
Stand with your feet together, hands on your hips, finding the centre of balance in each foot until you feel a sense of equal pressure between the bases of the big and little toes and your heel. Bend your knees gently while exhaling, sending your buttocks behind you as you sit on an imaginary chair, and raise your arms overhead. Hold the pose for 5 to 10 breaths.
4. Child’s Pose
This pose is great for reducing tension and stress throughout your entire body by stretching your lower back, hips, thighs, knees, and ankles. As a resting pose, it also helps you relax between other poses and increases blood circulation to your head, which could help reduce headaches. It is perfect for getting you ready for a night of restful sleep.
Start in the downward dog position, then gently bring your knees to the ground until your belly is on your thighs, forehead on the mat. Push your knees a bit wide apart to stretch your back, arms forward in line with the shoulders, and hold the pose for 10 to 20 seconds. Remember to keep breathing through the pose.
So what are you waiting for? Get stretching!