Yoga is both a physical and spiritual practice. There are many varieties of yoga including vinyasa, hatha, ashtanga, yin, and more. Adding a few foundational poses to your morning and evening routine will create a routine to start and end your day. The energizing morning poses are designed to invigorate your body, while the night poses can help quiet the mind in order to prepare for a restorative sleep.
How to: come to all fours on the ground with a neutral spine. As you inhale, drop your stomach, lifting your chest and glutes to the sky. On the exhale, draw your belly in, tucking your chin, chest, and sit bones.
Benefits: Cat-cow pose articulates the spine, opens the shoulders and the hip bones, and stimulates digestion by moving the stomach muscles.
Pose: Triangle pose
How to: From a standing position, separate your feet more than hips-distance. Align your front and back foot so that the sole of your front foot is parallel to the inner arch of your back foot. Extend your arms wide. Shift the weight into your back hip while reaching your front arm and torso forward. Allow your front hand to fall to the floor beside your front foot. Extend your top arm above your head so that your arms are in a straight line from bottom to top fingertips. Repeat on both sides.
Benefits: Triangle pose opens the chest and stretches the waist. It also strengthens the muscles in the thighs, hips, and back.
Pose: Tree pose
How to: Stand at the top of your mat with your feet hips distance apart. Ground the left foot to the floor, then bring the sole of the right foot to the inside of the left ankle, calf, or thigh, being sure to avoid the inside of the knee joint. Bring your hands in prayer at heart center or extend them to the sky. Focus your eyes on one steady spot ahead of you, or challenge your balance by closing your eyes. Repeat on both sides
Benefits: Balancing poses like tree pose strengthen stabilizing muscles in the body and activate the core muscles to support your frame.
Pose: Forward fold
How to: Stand at the top of your mat. On an inhale, reach your hands above your head. On an exhale, round your spine and draw your torso towards your thighs. Allow your head to hang heavy. Either allow your hands to touch the floor in front of your toes, or grab for opposite elbows and sway side to side.
Benefits: Any pose in which your head is below your waist is considered an inversion. Forward fold is a gentle inversion that brings blood flow to the heads, which can help calm anxiety. It also stretches the back of the ankles and hamstrings.
Pose: Seated twist
How to: Bring your knees together to the mat and come to sit on your heels. Roll your shoulders back to establish good posture. On an inhale, grab your left knee with your right hand. Twist your torso towards the right, keeping your hips centered. Use your inhales to lengthen your spine and your exhales to twist deeper.
Benefits: Twists stimulate digestion, detoxify the body, and keep the spine mobile.
Pose: Butterfly pose
How to: Sit on your mat and bring the soles of the feet together. Drop the knees towards the edges of the mat. Wrap your hands around the outside of your feet. Take an inhale and lengthen your spine. On an exhale, fold your chest towards toes.
Benefits: Butterfly pose is a hip opener. At the end of the day, after sitting or standing for long amounts of time, stretching the hips is very beneficial. From a spiritual perspective, hip openers are known to release stored emotions.