15 Yoga Poses That Can Change Your Body
Yoga has been known for centuries and research has proven that a regular yoga practice can significantly improve your physical, mental, and spiritual health, include flexibility, fitness, balance, muscular strength, and spinal mobility.
We at Bright Side care about your health and we’ve chosen a few basic but highly effective poses that will work incredibly well for everyone, from a beginner to an expert.
1. Downward facing dog
Get on all fours. Keep your wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Tuck your toes under, press your hands into the floor and straighten the legs to come up into downward dog. If you need, keep the knees slightly bent. Hold in this position for about 5 breaths.
While this is one of the best exercises to strengthen your core, it actually works your whole body. The trick is control your breath and this really helps.
There are a few types of plank exercises, you can choose which one suits your level. Your shoulders should be directly over your elbows, your back is straight, if you can—lift your legs up, otherwise stay on your knees. Either way, it’s crucial that you keep the straight line from the top of your head to your feet or hips.
3. Upward plank pose
Start by placing your hands behind you as you face toward your feet. Lift your hips, extend one leg, followed by the other leg with the toes pressing to the floor.
4. Extended side angle pose
This pose is designed to work on the sides of waist and strengthen the legs, stretch the hips, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, chest, and spine. It also opens up the lungs, improves digestion, and helps relieve stress.
Start by stepping your feet one leg-length apart and reach your arms wide. Turn your right foot out 90°. Rotate your hips toward the back and reach your right hand forward. Start bending down and put your right hand down on your ankle, shin, knee, or the floor while stretching your left hand to the sky, keeping a straight line from the right hand to the left. Repeat on the opposite side.
If you are a new to the world of yoga, practicing this pose is a good place to start. It will improve your balance and teach you how to breathe. It also strengthens and tones the leg muscles, ankles, and inner thighs.
Start with your feet together, then slowly lift your left knee up, grab it, place the left foot on your inner upper thigh or inner lower calf (being careful to avoid your knee area) and lift your arms up to the sky, palms together. Hold for 8-10 breaths, then switch sides.
6. Warrior 1
Take a big step back with your right foot, place the foot flat on the mat. Roll your shoulders back and lift your chest. Lift your arms up with your palms together. Hold for 8-10 breaths, then switch sides.
7. Warrior 2
Stand with your feet one leg-length apart. Turn your left foot out 90° and your right foot in 45°. Bend your front knee and stretch your arms out to your sides, gaze over your right hand. Hold for 8-10 breaths and then repeat on the other side.
8. Seated forward bend
This pose is very good for stretching the lower and upper back and hamstrings, it opens the entire body, teaches you to breathe while in an uncomfortable position, helps with headaches and anxiety, and reduces fatigue.
Begin seated with your legs together and start to hinge forward from your waist, reaching forward. Once you achieved your maximum stretch, breathe for 8-10 breaths. Make sure that you keep your back straight.
9. Bridge pose
Another important pose for beginners, this works on stretching the front of the body and strengthens the back of the body. It also improves blood circulation and digestion, helps relieve stress, and opens the lungs and thyroid gland.
Lie on your back with your feet close to your hips. Lift your hips up and hold for 8-10 breaths.
10. Child’s pose
Start from sitting on your knees on the mat, then lower your head to the floor with your hands reaching forward or you can put them by your sides. Relax.
11. Cobra pose
Start from downward facing dog pose, come forward into plank, bend your elbows and slowly lower down on the floor, roll your shoulders back and gently lift your back up. Hold for 8-10 breaths.
12. Bow Pose
Bend your knees, lift your thighs from the floor, reach back, and grab your ankles. Hold for 8-10 breaths.
13. Boat pose
Start seated, bend your knees, lean back, and lift your feet until your shins are parallel to the floor. If you feel comfortable with this position, extend your arms forward. Straighten your legs so your body is in a V-shape. Hold for 8-10 breaths.
14. Fish pose
Start by lying on your back, keeping your feet on the floor, and your knees bent. Lift your upper body, sliding your hands under your buttocks. Keep your forearms and elbows close to the sides of your body and lift your upper back off the floor.
15. Wind relieving pose
Lie on your back and bring both knees close to your chest. Press on the lower abdomen by holding your knees with your hands. Raise your head, neck, and chest and bring them close to your knees. Hold for 8-10 breaths then come back to the initial position.
Do you think we missed some important yoga poses? Tell us about them in the comments.
Illustrated by Natalia Tylosova for BrightSide.me