Now we are in the second lockdown, it’s time to roll out your yoga mat and discover the combination of physical and mental exercises that for thousands of years have hooked yoga practitioners around the globe. The beauty of yoga is that you don’t have to be a yogi or yogini to reap the benefits. Whether you are young or old, overweight or fit, yoga has the power to calm the mind and strengthen the body. Don’t be intimidated by yoga terminology, fancy yoga studios and complicated poses. Yoga is for everyone and more than a physical workout, yoga is a full mind and body exercise.
The building blocks of yoga are poses. These are good ones to learn as you build a regular yoga practice.
These five poses are a great way to start. Move slowly through each pose, remembering to breathe as you move. Pause after any pose you find challenging, especially if you are short of breath, and start again when your breathing returns to normal. The idea is to hold each pose for a few, slow breaths before moving on to the next one.
This calming pose is a good default pause position. You can use child’s pose to rest and refocus before continuing to your next pose. It gently stretches your lower back, hips, thighs, knees and ankles and relaxes your spine, shoulders and neck.
Do it: When you want to get a nice gentle stretch through your neck spine and hips.
Skip it: If you have knee injuries or ankle problems. Avoid also if you have high blood pressure or are pregnant.
Modify: You can rest your head on a cushion or block. You can place a rolled towel under your ankles if they are uncomfortable.
Be mindful: Focus on relaxing the muscles of the spine and lower back as you breathe.
Downward-facing dog strengthens the arms, shoulders and back while stretching the hamstrings, calves and arches of your feet. It can also help relieve back pain.
Do it: To help relieve back pain.
Skip it: This pose is not recommended if you have carpal tunnel syndrome or other wrist problems, have high blood pressure or are in the late stages of pregnancy.
Modify: You can do the pose with your elbows on the ground, which takes the weight off your wrists. You can also use blocks under your hands, which may feel more comfortable.
Be mindful: Focus on distributing the weight evenly through your palms and lifting your hips up and back, away from your shoulders.
A commonly seen exercise, plank helps build strength in the core, shoulders, arms and legs.
Do it: Plank pose is good if you are looking to tone your abs and build strength in your upper body.
Skip it: Avoid plank pose if you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. It can be hard on your wrists. You might also skip it or modify if you have low back pain.
Modify: You can modify it by placing your knees on the floor.
Be mindful: As you do a plank, imagine the back of your neck and spine lengthening.
Beyond helping improve your balance, it can also strengthen your core, ankles, calves, thighs and spine.
Do it: Great for working on your balance and posture.
Skip it: You many want to skip this pose if you have low blood pressure or any medical conditions that affect your balance.
Modify: Place one of your hands on a wall for support.
Be mindful: Focus on your breath in and out as you hold this pose
This is a back-bending pose that stretches the muscles of the chest, back and neck. It also builds strength in the back and hamstring muscles.
Do it: If you sit most of the day, this pose will help you open your upper chest.
Skip it: Avoid this pose if you have a neck injury.
Modify: Place a block between your thighs to help keep the legs and feet in proper alignment. Or you can place a block under your pelvis if your lower back is bothering you.
Be mindful: While holding this pose, try to keep your chest lifted and your sternum toward your chin.