Yoga is not just the strange pastime of your super hippie neighbor down the street. The benefits are so wide reaching and prevalent that many people are starting to drop their previous yoga stigmas and join the health club. Fitness professionals are doing it, NBA players are doing it, health-conscious individuals are doing it, and you should, too.
Below are different yoga poses and how they benefit your health. Always consult a professional or experienced yoga participant before attempting the more difficult positions. Form is extremely important in yoga and is the difference between getting health benefits and getting injured.
Downward Facing Dog
source: Kristin McGee
Downward facing dog is possibly the most common yoga position and is a part of the sunrise salutation (the series of poses that begin yoga sessions). This pose is meant to make you alert and prepped for your workout.
It boosts your blood circulation which aids in ridding your body of toxins. Some individuals with a large amount of toxins in their bodies have felt uneasy and sometimes slightly ill with this and other blood circulating positions as the toxins rush to escape the body. Take a break if the unease is too strong, and try to continue the pose until the feeling decreases. You will feel revitalized after the workout with many of the toxins cleared.
Yoga is a great supplemental exercise with other workouts because there are many poses like downward facing dog that decrease back and neck pain and stiffness that come from weight lifting.
Upward Facing Dog
source: Massage Mag
Upward facing dog is another part of the sunrise salutation and comes directly before downward facing dog. This pose is both a stretch and a lift. Your chest, shoulders, and back are opened to a stretch while your arms and legs get strengthened and toned.
source: Flex HK
Mountain pose is the very beginning of the sunrise salutation. Just about every yoga class and session will begin with this pose. You are not just simply standing but reaching up and opening your body up to prepare it for the workout. This pose improves balance and posture.
source: Gaia MTV
Chaturanga is the last pose in the sunrise salutation that I am going to discuss here. The form is almost like a pushup, but your hands will be placed underneath your chest rather than your shoulders, and your elbows will bend at your sides. This is a triceps pushup and works your triceps instead of your chest.
Correct execution of this pose requires significant arm, core, and leg strength, so consider doing this on your knees until you can build up the strength. This pose increases core strength and prepares your body for balancing and other tricky poses.
Along with providing you with a quadriceps stretch, hero pose has been known to decrease the pain of shin splints and help heal them over time.
source: Breaking Muscle
Warrior 2 is a common pose because it is a starting point to so many others. This pose may seem simple, but when done correctly, provides a deep and difficult-to-maintain stretch. This can help improve your daily concentration and reduces stress.
source: Sweet Additions
Tree pose can be a difficult balance pose until your body settles into it, and even then, there are several variations to increase the difficulty. This pose will put you at ease and helps negate depression.
source: Bikram Yoga Vancouver
Triangle pose is another that is much more difficult than it looks. This pose serves to strengthen and stretch your entire body and helps improve your balance.
Cat and Cow Poses
source: Fit Sugar
Though it is a yoga pose, it is an excellent idea to utilize cat and cow pose after every workout and maybe even at the end of every day. You work your core and back by almost everything you do, which is why these areas are prone to injury and are often sore. Individuals tend to forget about stretching their back and core because they are too busy reaching for their toes.
This pose releases tension in the back, neck, and core muscles and reduces anxiety.
The headstand pose is extremely difficult. You should always use a wall or buddy for support unless you are completely comfortable with it. Also, consider placing a pillow or cushion under your head to reduce the pressure. This pose has been known to calm migraines.
source: Yin Yan Yogis
Child’s pose is a common one for the end of yoga sessions as it stretches out your body and calms your heart rate and muscles. Consider doing this pose at the end of every workout. This pose will relieve you of stress and reduce back and neck tension.
source: Baby Med
Pigeon pose is a common post workout pose because it provides you with a deep stretch in the hamstrings and glutes. This pose stimulates your body’s inner organs. Runners will find good use for this pose as it makes the hips looser and more limber.
source: Wandering Lotus
Wheel pose is another extremely difficult one, and should only be done with a support buddy if you are a beginner as stumbling could lead to injury. Begin with a bridge pose if you cannot yet make it to the wheel. (Bridge pose only lifts your booty and back off the ground rather than the shoulders and head as well.) This pose strengthens just about everything: chest, lungs, arms, legs, glutes, core, and spine. It increases your energy, negates depression, and provides therapy for those with asthma, osteoporosis, infertility, and back pain.
source: Vixy Video
Crow is another tricky balancing pose. Though it does require arm strength, your core is the main contributor to the lift. A rock solid core is a benefit of this pose. Crow pose will improve your daily concentration, calm you, and provide relief from discomfort, such as after long car rides.
source: Inner Peach
Camel pose is a deep and difficult stretch of the entire front of your body. This can be made easier by lifting your heels onto your toes so you do not have to bend back as far. This pose strengthens your back muscles, improves your posture, and stimulates the organs in your core and neck.
Savasana is the final pose of every yoga workout. It may not look like much, but it is a practice of your mind and meditation skills. If you think that meditation is not real or not something you can do, try it in this pose after a long, strenuous, and sweaty yoga workout. You will find your body not wanting to get out of it.
This pose calms the brain to relieve stress and depression. It reduces headaches, lowers blood pressure, calms the body, and negates insomnia. Not too bad for a corpse’s pose. So, for all you insomniacs, try out some yoga poses followed by Savasana, and you might just find yourself sleeping for once.
Yoga poses are for everyone that wants to feel better and live healthier. No need to trek off to a class or to the gym to get the benefits. Drop into the pose whenever you need it and feel the yoga stimulation and benefits.
Check out The Yoga Journal for more information about yoga and the poses.