A typical yoga routine includes six to eight rounds of Sun Salutations, as well as core and upper body strength-training exercises. Beginners can also try some poses that soothe the nervous system and relax the body.
Stand with your feet 3 to 4 feet apart, the outer edges of each foot parallel with your mat’s short-edge sides. Place your palms next to hips and gently stretch shoulders away from ears.
Adding yoga to your workouts can increase balance, flexibility and muscle tone — all important components of a healthy lifestyle. Many yogis, however, don’t realise that to perform certain poses they need to have a high level of raw strength. Using a combination of yoga and weight training can help strengthen the body to better support poses like handstands.
According to Jenni Rawlings, a yoga instructor in Los Angeles, even yogis who practise vigorous vinyasa can lack strength in certain areas of the body, especially the arms and shoulders. As a form of exercise, yoga relies on the use of body weight for its effects, which means it may not challenge muscles such as the pectorals and triceps to an extent necessary for building arm-related strength.
Performing the following strength routine before a yin or restorative yoga session could help you improve your ability to hold balancing poses such as Tree and Tripod Headstand, as well as increase the amount of time you can spend in more challenging postures such as Downward-Facing Dog.
Yoga often incorporates flexibility training in the form of stretching poses. This helps improve balance, reduces stress on joints and muscles, and helps alleviate back pain. It also may help you move more easily on the job, when working with equipment or lifting weights.
The common myth that you must be a natural bender to try yoga is false. While yoga does have many flexibility-enhancing moves, it’s important to remember that the ancient practice of yoga is more than just a bunch of stretches.
If you’re looking to boost your workout routine with more flexibility training, try this 12-minute yoga flow from Outside+:
Breathwork is an important part of yoga because it can reduce stress, pain and blood pressure. Yogic breathing exercises, called pranayama, help you slow and deepen your breath. Yogic breathing also increases the parasympathetic nervous system response, or the “rest and digest” state.
Kapalbhati, known as the hissing breath, helps reduce pitta energy in your body while cleansing the senses. This breathing exercise involves inhaling deeply through the nose, holding it for a count of 8, and exhaling through your mouth with your teeth closed, producing a hissing sound. This pranayama is not recommended if you have asthma or chronic constipation.
Nadi Shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing, is another yoga breathing technique that yogis believe unblocks and purifies the nadis, which are energy passages that carry prana, or life force energy, through the body. Studies have shown that alternating nostril breathing can lower blood pressure and balance the yin and yang energies in the body.
Yoga is a low-impact workout that can strengthen muscles and improve balance. It also provides relaxation techniques and promotes mind-body awareness. Yoga is a great exercise for people with arthritis, diabetes or high blood pressure because it doesn’t put any strain on joints.
This pose strengthens the legs, hip flexors, quads and calves and stretches the shoulders and chest. To do it, start on all fours and spread your knees so that your big toes are touching. Allow your stomach to fall between your thighs and let your arms rest at your sides.
This feels-good posture elongates the back of the body, and if you’re a beginner, it’s an excellent stretch for your back and hamstrings. Beginners can modify it by splaying the feet out to the sides like a starfish and lying down. Rest your head on a bolster or on the floor and close your eyes. Hold it for 8 to 10 breaths.