The Benefits of Yoga Poses

Many yoga poses are named after creatures, trees and other natural things. Others are named after body parts or actions. For example, a simple yoga posture called plank pose (also known as chaturanga dandasana) strengthens the wrists and arms and opens the chest.

A beginner yoga pose, bridge pose strengthens the hips, quads and calves and stretches the shoulders. It also helps reduce back pain and fatigue.

Improved Range of Motion

The practice of yoga poses helps improve your range of motion by strengthening the muscles and ligaments that hold the joints in their proper position. While flexibility is not something that can be gained overnight, regular yoga practice combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle will help you develop better flexibility over time.

Stand with feet hip-width apart, weight evenly distributed through the soles of both feet. Keeping the shoulders relaxed, lower your torso over your left leg and reach out through your arms. This pose improves strength in the ankles, knees, hips, calves and abdominal core. It also stretches the chest and shoulders, says Monal.

Yin yoga often holds the poses for longer periods of time to allow deeper muscles and connective tissue to feel the positive effects of the stretches. However, if a pose is painful or uncomfortable, it is important to listen to the body and release the stretch immediately. This helps prevent injury and reduce the risk of muscle damage.

Improved Muscle Flexibility

When muscles become tight or tense, they can restrict movement and increase your risk for injury. Yoga poses help improve flexibility by stretching and lengthening the muscles. This flexibility can also improve posture, balance and digestion.

Standing forward bends, like Mountain Pose (Standing Bound Forward Fold), stretch the entire front of the body and can benefit your back, hips and legs. For beginners, this pose may be best done with the support of a block. Ensure your hands are 6 inches away from the wall and that you are in alignment with the length of your spine, then gradually move into the pose.

This advanced pose stretches the back and the chest muscles, and strengthens the upper arms, shoulders and core. For an added challenge, try pointing and flexing your feet to increase the intensity of this pose. This pose is great for improving circulation and stimulating the abdominal organs. It also helps to relieve stress and insomnia by helping you relax your mind.

Reduced Stress

Some yoga postures can help you calm your mind so that you’re more at ease and clear-headed. This is especially true if you do them first thing in the morning or at the end of a stressful day.

For instance, a few minutes of Child’s Pose can help you decompress and relax your body. It also helps to loosen up the hip flexors and lower back. The pose also strengthens the shoulders, arms and wrists.

Similarly, a few minutes of Chaturanga Dandasana (Catustini Pose) can help to calm the mind and reduce stress and fatigue by stretching the back, hips, ankles and feet while strengthening the abdominals and triceps. This pose also helps to open the lungs and chest, stimulating your respiratory system. It is a key part of Sun Salutations, which are often performed in Hatha, Sivananda, Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga classes.

Better Sleep

Sleeping well is important for overall health, and studies show that yoga improves a good night’s sleep. Yoga’s gentle movements and deep breathing help to calm the mind, relax the body and promote a healthy sleep cycle.

Try this yoga stretch before bed: Child’s Pose (Balasana) is a grounding, relaxing pose that stretches the back and hips, common areas where stress accumulates, according to Eastern practitioners and Western science. This simple pose helps release tension and eases sleep problems.

Another restful yoga posture is Savasana, or Corpse Pose, which is often done at the beginning and end of a yoga practice. To perform this pose, lie flat on the floor with arms rested at sides, palms up, and focus on your breath. This is a time to release all your worries and allow yourself to completely relax. This is one of the most important reasons to incorporate a regular yoga practice into your routine. Especially if you suffer from sleep issues.