Workout fads come and go, but yoga is still one of the most enduring fitness programs around. It combines a range of stretching and strengthening poses with breathing, meditation, and relaxation.
Yoga helps reduce the stress on the heart and respiratory system by lowering blood pressure and decreasing oxygen demand. It also improves flexibility, muscle strength and balance.
The Downward-Facing Dog yoga exercise energizes and rejuvenates the body. It deeply stretches the hamstrings, shoulders, calves, hips, and spine while building strength in the arms and wrists.
If you’re new to yoga or find the classic Downward-Facing Dog pose challenging, here are some helpful tips to help you get the most out of it.
The Pyramid Pose (Parsvottanasana) is a powerfully effective stretch for hip muscles, hamstrings and spine. It’s a good starting point for many yoga poses, including seated forward folds, backbends, inversions and twists.
The pose also stimulates the abdominal organs and aids digestion. This standing exercise requires intense focus and a calm mind to keep you balanced and in correct alignment.
Start in Low Lunge, then step your left foot two to three feet behind your right one and move into a pyramid stance. Place your hands behind your back in reverse prayer position, keeping your torso long.
The Cat-Cow Stretch is a basic yoga exercise that combines two stretches: Cat Pose (marjaryasana) and Cow Pose (bitilasana). This pose will help improve your flexibility, relieve pain and stiffness in the spine, and enhance circulation.
Start in a neutral spine position with your hands and knees on the floor. Then, round your spine, tuck your tailbone under and shift your gaze to your belly.
Then, take a big inhale as you move into cow pose. Arch your back, lift up through the chest and chin, and set your gaze where the ceiling meets the wall.
Tree Pose, also known as Vrksasana, is a classic yoga exercise that focuses on strength and balance. It stretches the thighs, groins, and torso, and it builds strength in your ankles and calves.
It’s also therapeutic for sciatica.
This pose resembles a seated meditation posture, and it helps to improve balance and concentration.
The pose can be performed standing or reclining. Its calming and meditative nature makes it an excellent choice for beginners or anyone looking to ease into the practice of yoga.
Twisting exercises often unlock knots in the muscles of your back, arms, and waist. They also release stress that can affect your skeletal system.
To start, stand with your knees extended and your feet two feet apart. Then twist your torso to the right, keeping your abdominals and shoulders square to the floor.
To deepen the stretch, you can use your hands to help pull one side of your ribcage toward the ceiling while the other is tucked behind. This can be a challenging but rewarding stretch that can improve your active flexibility.
Bridge Pose is a backbend yoga exercise that’s great for strengthening the legs and abdominal muscles. It can also help relieve back pain, reduce stress, and promote relaxation.
Bridge pose can be difficult to master, so it’s important to pay attention to your body and listen to your intuition when performing this pose.
One common error is allowing the hips to droop while in Bridge pose, which can be countered by focusing on pressing down firmly through the feet. Additionally, keeping the thighs engaged will provide extra support as you lift the hips.