Yoga is like chicken noodle soup for the mind, body and soul. According to Harvard Health, daily yoga practice is proven to sharpen your inner awareness, increase mindfulness, and act as a healing agent for physical ailments such as back pain, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, and more. Yoga is also an awesome tool for stress management, sleep conditions, anxiety relief, and symptoms of depression. Incorporating yoga into your daily routine will provide long-term benefits for both your mental and physical health.
Don’t worry—you don’t need to join a studio or stock your wardrobe with Lululemon leggings to receive the benefits of yoga. Even squeezing in one or two poses in your pajamas before school or work can be extremely impactful.
Here are five yummy yoga poses that you can do from your own home to start your day with ease, energy, and mindfulness.
- Child’s Pose
Child’s Pose is a favorite amongst beginners and experts alike. This resting pose increases calmness, eases the central nervous system, stretches and opens the hips, and can relieve back and neck pain.
1. Begin on your hands and knees, or table-top position.
2. Release the tops of your feet to your mat, and spread your knees wider than your hips.
3. Lower your hips until they touch your heels.
4. Stretch your arms out in front of you and place your palms on the mat.
5. Take deep breaths into your lower back and feel the stretch!
“Child’s Pose is my favorite pose,” certified yoga instructor and health advocate Kiley Nicole says. “It stretches the spine, relieves tension, flexes your organs, and alleviates stress. It’s great to do first thing in the morning in bed before you get up.”
The Cat and Cow Pose is a quick, easy pose you can do on or off your yoga mat. Yoga Health states that this pose works with every single organ, every single muscle, and even your spinal cord. If you don’t practice yoga at all, just doing this movement alone will dramatically improve your flexibility.
1. Start on your hands and knees, or table-top position. Make sure your knees are aligned directly below your hips, and your wrists directly below your shoulders.
2. As you inhale, let your belly drop and your tailbone stretch toward the ceiling. Lift your head to gaze forward.
3. As you exhale, round your back toward the ceiling, keeping your knees and wrists in place.
4. Repeat as many times as desired, and keep synchronizing your breaths with your movement.
Cat/Cow is known to improve posture and balance, relieve stress, increase emotional stability, foster mental focus, massage the abdominal organs, and stretch the spine and neck.
Bridge pose is a restorative pose with tons of holistic benefits. This pose is physically and emotionally therapeutic for yogis of all levels.
1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the mat. Try to bring your feet as close to your hips as possible.
2. As you inhale, lift your tailbone and bottom up toward the ceiling. Your shoulders, hands, and feet should still be pressed into the mat.
3. Exhale and hold the pose. Make sure your thighs stay parallel and don’t splay out.
4. To deepen the pose, try interlacing your fingers under your back. Keep breathing!
5. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute, or however long feels good, and release.
This simple pose opens your chest, rejuvenates your organs, stretches your neck and spine, and increases calmness in the brain. In addition, Bridge Pose is a helpful tool for digestion issues, thyroid issues, menstrual pain, and high blood pressure.
- Downward-Facing Dog
If you are feeling groggy before school or work, Downward-Facing Dog is a great way to boost your energy and get your juices flowing. This pose is one of the most widely recognized yoga stretches, and it’s definitely for a good reason.
1. Begin on your hands and knees. Keep your knees directly below your hips, and your hands slightly in front of your shoulders.
2. On an exhale, lift your tailbone toward the ceiling.
3. Start with bent knees, then slowly straighten your legs and release your feet to the mat.
4. If you can’t flatten your feet, try pedaling them one at a time to stretch your upper thighs.
Downward-Facing Dog strengthens the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, and hands. It can also relieve headaches, insomnia, digestive issues, back pain, fatigue, and symptoms of depression. This pose might have you breaking a bit of a sweat, but the long-term benefits are worth it.
If you feel like you need to reconnect with every part of your body, Triangle is the pose for you. Triangle Pose combines many elements of yoga into one movement, such as balance, strength, and self-awareness. Doing this position on a daily basis will increase steadiness both physically and emotionally.
1. Stand on your mat with your feet hip-width apart.
2. Turn your right foot outward so it is facing the top of your mat (at a 90 degree angle) and pivot your left foot inward (a 45 degree angle).
3. Reach your right hand palm-down to your mat so it is on the right side of your right foot.
4. Lift your left arm to the ceiling, keeping it aligned with your right. Open your chest toward the ceiling and focus on your breathing.
5. Return to a standing position, and repeat with the opposite side.
Triangle Pose strengthens your core, arms, and legs, stimulates abdominal organs, opens the heart and chest, and eases anxiety and fatigue.
Making yoga a habit, like your morning cup of coffee, isn’t as hard as it seems! If you don’t have time to attend a yoga class or even purchase your own mat, you can still incorporate elements of yoga into your day-to-day life. Taking time to practice just a few stretches a day will have long-term nurturing effects on your physical and mental health.