What is actually yoga?
Yoga as an exercise originated in ancient India. However, its benefits transcend time. Some of the benefits of yoga include; increased flexibility, increased muscle strength and tone, improved respiration, energy and vitality, maintaining a balanced metabolism, weight reduction, cardio and circulatory health. There are over 300 positions in the physical yoga practice, however, here are four poses that beginners can try:
MOUNTAIN POSE: The mountain pose improves posture and can help reduce back pain when practised regularly. The posture is entered by standing with the feet together, grounding evenly through the feet and lifting up through the crown of the head. The thighs are lifted, the waist is lifted, and the spine is elongated. Breathing is relaxed.
- Stand tall with feet together, shoulders relaxed, weight evenly distributed through your soles, arms at sides.
- Take a deep breath and raise your hands overhead, palms facing each other with arms straight.
- Reach up toward the sky with your fingertips.
DOWNWARD DOG POSE: The downward dog is the most practised yoga exercise. The pose has the head down, ultimately touching the floor, the weight of the body on the palms and the feet. The arms are stretched straight forward, shoulder-width apart; the feet are a foot apart, the legs are straight and the hips are raised as high as possible.
- Start on all fours with hands directly under shoulders, knees under hips.
- Walk hands a few inches forward and spread fingers wide, pressing palms into mat.
- Curl toes under and slowly press hips toward ceiling, bringing your body into an inverted V, pressing shoulders away from ears.
- Feet should be hip-width apart, knees slightly bent.
- Hold for 3 full breaths.
TREE POSE: The tree pose is also very popular. The weight of the body is shifted to one leg. The entire sole of the foot remains in contact with the floor.
- Stand with arms at sides.
- Shift weight onto left leg and place sole of right foot inside left thigh, keeping hips facing forward.
- Once balanced, bring hands in front of you in prayer position, palms together.
- On an inhalation, extend arms over shoulders, palms separated and facing each another. Stay for 30 seconds.
- Lower and repeat on the opposite side.
CHILD POSE: The child pose is a kneeling pose. Child pose gently stretches the low back, massages and tones the abdominal organs and stimulates digestion and elimination.
- Sit up comfortably on your heels.
- Roll your torso forward, bringing your forehead to rest on the bed in front of you.
- Lower your chest as close to your knees as you comfortably can, extending your arms in front of you.
- Hold the pose and breathe.