Yoga is a way of life, not just an exercise routine. While many of us gather our experience in a classroom, there are some stretches that you should consider doing daily. The benefits from regular use of the following asanas are immense, so read on for some stretches that really shine when incorporated into your daily routine.
1. Mountain Pose
Mountain Pose is an immense help with posture, especially for those who spend a lot of their time in front of a computer. Our modern habits often leave us with a hunch. Performing Mountain Pose for one to five minutes daily is a good remedy.
The Mountain Pose involves pushing into the ground while standing upright. Straighten the spine and tilt the pelvis to a neutral angle. The best way to describe how it feels is like someone pulling you straight up.
Control your breathing, bringing your breath deep into your diaphragm. Try to consciously fix your posture each day as well, and you’ll soon find it much more natural to stand tall.
2. Standing Forward Fold
Our lower backs and hamstrings are another pair of muscles that suffer from modern life. The Standing Forward Fold stretches both, and it should be performed daily if you often find either of those muscle groups tight.
Just making a half-hearted attempt to reach for the ground doesn’t cut it. Instead, reach for your toes and bring yourself to the edge of where tension seems to stop you. The hold should be a bit stiff, but not actually painful. Make sure to bend from the hips, not the lumbar spine.
Hold the pose for thirty seconds to a minute, and remember to keep breathing deeply or you may get light headed when you straighten out. It’s an easy way to help open the body back up, and engaging in this stretch daily is recommended.
3. Downward Facing Dog
The most famous of Yoga poses, the Downward Facing Dog, is also one of the most useful poses. It promotes a gentle, but powerful, stretch through the entire back of the body. Daily performance can help with muscle tone as well.
The easiest way to get into Downward Facing Dog is from a prone position on the ground. Push up until your body is in an inverted V and then move your hands and feet until you feel a stretch.
Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 2 minutes, then slowly lower yourself to the ground and stand back up.
It’s a great stretch that has a nourishing effect on the body. It also requires a bit of muscle tension to hold it in place, making it one of the best stretches for both strength and flexibility.
4. Bow Pose
The Bow Pose will stretch the front of your body, and test the strength of your shoulders and lower back as well. It may not be suitable for those with previous injuries, however, and it’s important to make sure there’s no pain in your back or shoulder blades.
The Bow Pose can easily be assumed from being prone on the floor. Reach behind you and bend your knees, then grasp your ankles. Stretch your legs until your trunk is off the floor and your body is held with tension.
Remain in the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then release and allow yourself to come back to the floor. The isometric resistance of the exercise tones muscle, and the same tension produces much needed stretching in the shoulders, back, and legs.
5. Boat Pose
The Boat Pose is one of the best challenges for your core, and engaging in it daily will help your stomach get more toned. It also works some stabilizing muscles throughout the body, just for some added benefit.
Assume Bow Pose by sitting on the floor and placing your arms in front of you. Point them directly and bring your legs up until your body is in a V-shape. Bring yourself up as much as you can comfortably hold, over time you’ll be able to bring your legs much higher.
Hold this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then fall back into a sitting position.
The Bow Pose is perfect for daily use, especially since it’s hard to push into an injury point due to gravity. Use this core-tightening exercise liberally and you’ll see some real results!
6. Chair Pose
Chair Pose is another one of those that will help the chair-bound. It’s very simple but more challenging than it looks to hold for a long period of time.
All you need to do is sit back until your thighs are at a 90° angle to the ground. Hold it for as long as you can, or five minutes.
You’ll begin to notice that this pose seriously challenges your legs after the first thirty seconds. Being able to hold it for a long period of time will mean you have good muscle development in your legs.
Engaging in the pose once or twice a day is a huge help for most people. Just be aware it’s going to be sore going for the first couple of days.
7. Four-Limbed Staff Pose
The Four-Limbed Staff Pose is an exercise in upper body balance and muscle strength. If you’ve never heard it called by this name it’s a simple exercise but one which is challenging.
Bring yourself into a prone position on the floor, then push up until you’re in the bottom of a push-up position. Your elbows should form a 90° angle. Hold this position for 30 seconds to 3 minutes depending on what you can manage.
This pose, done regularly, will help keep your upper body in shape. It’s not the full package but it’s one of the best maintenance poses you can use.
You should expect to be sore the first few times you use this pose extensively. It’s natural and it will go away as you advance in your abilities.