Yoga is known for its ability to increase flexibility and balance, but it can also improve strength. In particular, poses that require you to hold your body weight will challenge your muscles and make them stronger, says Courtney Laskowski, M.S., a certified yoga instructor in San Francisco.
Some yoga poses also have a calming effect on the mind, which can help with stress. In addition, it can improve your skin tone and slow down the aging process.
Bridge pose is a backbend that also opens up the chest. It’s good for relieving lower back pain, sciatica, and stiffness in the back, thighs, and hips.
It is also a great pose for those with osteoporosis or PCOS because it strengthens the spine and helps to improve posture. It also stimulates the abdominal organs and thyroid glands, which are good for improving digestion and metabolism.
This pose can be challenging for beginners, so it is best to start with a modified version and work your way up to the full movement. You can begin by lifting your hips halfway before clasping your hands underneath you to support the rest of your weight.
Cobra pose is one of the most powerful poses in yoga. It’s also a great way to strengthen the back muscles and engage your core and glutes.
However, you should only perform this pose if your back is healthy. If you have a condition like facet joint problems or spondylolisthesis, this movement could be irritating to your spine and cause additional pain.
Keep your elbows close against your rib cage as you lift, keeping a micro-bend in them. This will prevent splaying out and angling your elbows, which can cause injury to your lower back.
Cobra pose can help reduce chronic inflammation and improve the immune system. It may be especially helpful if you have rheumatoid arthritis or another autoimmune disease. It can also help boost your confidence and self-esteem.
Tree pose, also known as Vrksasana, is a hip-opening balance pose that improves proprioception and coordination. It strengthens feet, ankles, legs and hips and helps open your groin, hips, chest and Muladhara Chakra.
It can also boost your mental well-being, improve posture and correct spinal alignment. It’s a great way to start a practice and get more comfortable with balancing yoga poses.
To build your balance, try practicing this pose with your foot a few inches away from a wall on the side of your straight leg, for extra stability. The proximity of the wall allows you to feel confident you won’t fall out of Tree Pose if you start to wobble.
Ideally, hold this pose for 10-20 seconds, equivalent to 3-8 breaths. As you become more familiar with this balancing yoga pose, hold it for longer periods of time.
Lunges are great for building muscle, strengthening the lower body, and increasing bone density. They also burn a lot of calories, which helps you stay slim and trim.
The lunge works the calf, thigh, quads, and hip flexors. It’s also a great exercise for injury prevention, because it strengthens the muscles around the knee.
A traditional lunge is where one leg is positioned forward with the knee bent and the foot flat on the ground. It is used by athletes in cross-training, weight-trainers as a fitness exercise, and yoga practitioners as part of their asana practice.
The low lunge can be a challenging pose because of the way the back leg is positioned on the floor. However, you can make it more comfortable by tucking the toes or placing a folded blanket under the back foot.
Passive twists can be a good stretch for your back and hips, but you need to use your arms to drive the movement. Otherwise, your trunk muscles become too tight and limit the range of motion.
Incorrect twisting can also destabilize your sacroiliac joint (between your pelvis and lower spine), which can cause pain. Always check with your doctor or physiotherapist before trying any twisting pose.
Supine Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana) is a detoxifying yoga exercise that helps stimulate the lymphatic system to drain the waste and toxins from your body. This improves digestion, metabolism, and organ function.