The popularity of yoga has only grown in the 21st century with more and more people jumping on the bandwagon. The incredibly varied health benefits for the mind and body appeal to everyone including kids and pets. In fact, its benefits have been known to many long before it began trending in the 1900s.
The 1960s saw a rise in the meditative side of yoga, while the ‘no pain, no gain’ aerobics craze of the 1980s led to a rise in fitness-related injuries, which in turn prompted even more interest in yoga as a low-impact way of staying fit and healthy. In 1998, yoga was further catapulted into fame when Madonna claimed, on The Oprah Show, her fitness secret was yoga.
Yoga’s meditative ability to calm your mind is becoming ever more relevant in this digital age where stress seems to follow you wherever you go. The physical aspects of yoga improves the flexibility of the spine, joints and muscles, while the function of the ‘asanas’ (postures) benefits the mind.
Whether WFH or working at a desk, one can always make time for a few asanas at the start or end of the day to reset your mind, body and soul. Let’s dive into some basic asanas for you to try today.
This calming pose is a default position in yoga. Best done to help you reset and refocus, it relieves any neck, back and hip strain, while also relaxing your spine and shoulders. Slow, regulated, deep breaths, extended arms, with your forehead touching your mat, helps calm your body. You can always return to this pose before moving into your next.
🚫Skip this asana if you have knee, ankle or blood pressure problems, or are pregnant.
For a full stretch, try this pose. Distribute your weight evenly through your palms and lift your hips up and back, away from your shoulders. As a modification, you can do this pose with your elbows on the ground, which takes the weight off your wrists. This pose relieves any back pain, strengthens the arms and shoulders while stretching your hamstrings, calves and the arches of your feet. It flushes your brain with fresh oxygen and helps calm the mind.
🚫Skip this asana if you have carpal tunnel syndrome or other wrist problems, high blood pressure or are in the later stages of pregnancy.
This pose is great for strengthening the back. Lie on your belly, come onto your forearms, with your elbows directly under your shoulders and parallel to each other. Stretch your legs straight back, press your tailbone toward your feet, lengthening your lower back and press down into your forearms to lift your chest up. To protect your lower back, lift your navel and engage your abdominal muscles. This back-bending pose increases spinal flexibility and stretches the chest, shoulders and abdomen.
🚫Skip this asana if you have arthritis in your spine or neck, a low-back injury or carpal tunnel syndrome.
This pose may not be as easy as it seems but is great for working on your balance and posture. For stability, find a spot to look at, ensure your back is extended, your hips aligned at the same level, and your weight well distributed as you stand on one leg. You can place one of your hands on a wall for support. Focus on your breath as you hold this pose. In addition to improving your balance, this pose helps strengthen your core, ankles, calves, thighs and spine.
🚫Skip this asana if you have low blood pressure or any medical conditions that affect your balance.
If this was your first-time attempting yoga, well done!
Yoga’s history is vast and complex, with hundreds of texts, teachers, and traditions, but it offers something for everyone — including inner peace and self-knowledge. While most of the above asanas were from Hatha yoga, as you continue practising and discovering yoga, you may find a certain style works best for you. Your aim should be to maintain consistency and stretch further every day.
*We recommend checking with your doctor before beginning any exercise or yoga routine.