Before, when I hear people marvel at how great yoga is, I would cringe because all I can think of are the pretzel-like twists and turns. I told myself I’d rather run than contort myself, and besides, I would probably end up not being able to do any of the poses. I am such a klutz I’d probably hurt myself.
One of my best friends introduced me to yoga, and I must say, first impressions are usually incorrect. I ended up loving it. There’s still a lot for me to explore about this discipline and its benefits, and I couldn’t be more delighted. This time tested practice of stretching, breathing exercises and meditation will enable its practitioners to gain control of their body and mental health. There are different style of yoga of yoga for everyone, depending on what one needs. There’s the pre natal fitness to help in the delivery and post partum fitness). It can range from minimal movement (laughter yoga) to the advanced performances. Most yoga exercises do not require you to be flexible to contort your body like an acrobats. You can reap yoga’s benefits by doing even the simplest such as:
Parivritta Sukhasana or the Seated Twist will strengthen your body’s core while increasing mobility in the hips and spine and will help you detoxify by stimulating your digestive and excretory systems.
To do this, sit in an easy cross legged postion, moving the flesh of your buttocks away from each other so both sit bones are pressing down into the floor. Keep your back long and reach the crown of your head up towards the ceiling, drawing your belly in slightly and as you exhale, place your right hand on top of your left knees, as you slowly open you chest and front ribs towards the left side. Bring your gaze over your left shoulder while you drop your shoulders away from you ears. Repeat o the ther side
Bidalasana or the cat/cow pose will gently open and increase the range of motion of your spine and will allow more synovial fluid to lubricate the spinal discs and thereby stimulating the abdominal organs and releases the tension in the neck and shoulder areas.
To do this , be on all fours into a table top postion, ensuring that your shoulders are directly over your wrists and your knees are about hips width apart. As you inhale, look forward, feeling your front body stretching and reaching your hips up towards the ceiling. A you exhale, push strongly away from the floor, bringing your chin towards your chest and rounding your upper back. Repeat 6-8 times.
Ardha Chaturanga Dandasana or planking will help you stretch and strengthen your wrists, shoulders and bak muscles while toning your lower abdomen.
Start from Bidalasana pose. Step your feet back coming into a plank with your shoulders in line with your hips. Keep your shoulders away from your ears, and your shoulders directly over your wrists. Draw your navel inclose to keep your spine supported and reach the flesh of your buttocks towards your feet to keep your lower back long.
Bhujangasana or the Cobra pose will help you stretch and strengthen the serector spinae which supports the spine and helps improve posture. It opens the chest , shoulder and abdomen while stimulating the abdominal organs and increasing lung capacity. It also combats stress and fatigue.
To do this, start from the Ardha Chaturanga Dandasana pose (planing). Lower yourself down onto your belly. Adjust your hands and plant them beside your lower ribs with elbows tucked in towards your midline. As you inhale, coil your upper body away from the floor. Roll your shoulders back so the tips of your shoulder blades press in towards your chest cavity. Keep both legs strong and reaching towards the back of your mat.
Aside from these simple yoga poses, here are some basics that you need to learn about yoga:
1. If you have any medical condition, consult your doctor first before trying a yoga program. Your doctor will be able to tell you what type of program is safe for you.
2. Don’t try learning yoga on your own. Have classes from an experienced and credentialed instructor to learn the proper way to perform the exercises and avoid injury. Know your limits and talk to your instructor about what program would be suitable for you.
3. Learn the basics of proper breathing exercises and maintaining balance before you move on to complex stretches. You are not in a competition with anyone so go slow. If you don’t understand an exercise, ask to see it again before you attempt it yourself.
4. Like with any workout and exercises, warm up before each session.
5. Be properly attired. Wear clothing that will allow you to move freely.
6. Stay hydrated, not too little that will make you dehydrated and not too much that will make you feel bloated. Drink just enough liquid to keep your body going.
7. Stop if it hurts. Yoga isn’t supposed to hurt. If you feel chest pains, feel paint or if you feel dizzy, stop. Get immediate medical help if the sensation continues after you stop.