Yoga is a great workout for the whole body. Its poses build arm strength by making the arms support the body weight, while many strengthen the core muscles and leg muscles, too.
Studies show that after eight weeks of regular yoga, people experience increased muscle strength and endurance, flexibility, and cardiorespiratory fitness. Many athletes incorporate yoga into their exercise routines.
Mountain Pose, or Tadasana, is the basic posture that acts as a foundation for most other standing yoga poses. It helps to improve posture and balance, while enhancing body awareness. It also helps in preventing backaches and other injuries.
The asana helps to tone the feet, ankles and knees and improve their flexibility. It is an effective remedy for sciatica and reduces flat feet. It also helps to treat herniated discs, scoliosis and kyphosis. It can also help in treating headaches, neck pain and slouching shoulders.
To practice this pose, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Activate the inner thighs and lift your knee caps. The front of the pelvis should be tucked, and the shoulders should be rolled down. The crown of the head should rise toward the ceiling. Breathe evenly as you hold the pose for a few breaths or longer. This simple yet powerful posture is the ideal way to start a yoga workout.
This pose is one of the most important poses in yoga because it acts as a foundation for other standing postures such as Adho Mukha Svanasana and Vrksasana. It also stretches and strengthens the shoulders, arms, wrists, knuckles, and fingers. It can be challenging for beginners because it requires attention and focus on alignment.
It is beneficial for those with back pain, as it opens up the chest and shoulders. It can also help reduce kyphosis, which is an excessive curve in the spine. It also helps energize the whole body, which makes it a good workout for any age or fitness level.
Start in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) with the feet about 10cm apart and the hands by the sides. Stretch the arms out to the sides and then up overhead. Hold for 20-30 seconds and breath naturally. Alternatively, interlock the thumbs while in the pose to create a deeper shoulder and neck stretch. To avoid injury, it is best to practice this pose with the guidance of an instructor.
Lunges are a great unilateral exercise to target the hips and quads, and they help to improve balance. Beginners can start with one to two sets of lunges, adding more repetitions as they get stronger and more confident in the form. For a more challenging lunge, try using weights or doing the split stance variation.
The position of the front leg in different lunges can change which muscles are targeted, too. The standard forward lunge, for example, works the glutes and quads, while the side lunge focuses more on the inner thighs and adductors.
A lateral lunge adds another level of challenge to the movement, targeting the core muscles in addition to the lower body. Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, hands on your hips and the core engaged, then take a big step forward with the right foot, placing it about 2 to 3 feet in front of your left foot. Then bend your knees to lower into a forward lunge, with the back knee at about a 90-degree angle and the front knee a few inches off the floor.
The yoga pose Parsvottanasana, or Pyramid Pose, is a deep forward bending pose that provides an intense stretch to the hamstring muscles. The pose also strengthens the legs and increases balance. It is one of the most beneficial poses for people who have tight hamstrings and low backs as it helps make their hip joints and spine more elastic and prevents pain in these areas.
It also improves digestion and gives a sense of stability to the body. This posture provides a great opportunity for beginners to practice balancing on one leg and is a good preparation for other poses that require strong, stable legs.
Beginners should work on this pose gradually. It is advisable to use blocks or the floor underneath the hands to help prevent tipping over, especially in the beginning stages. As you become more comfortable with the posture, you can gradually narrow your stance and eventually move into the full version of the pose.