Yoga is a centuries-old discipline that promotes mind, body, and spirit health. Its benefits are known far and wide, and regardless of whether you’re a seasoned yogi or an inflexible beginner, you’ll soon realize that you stand to gain better health than ever before as you slow down and engage in the practice.
A Brief History of Yoga
Until recently, scholars theorized that yogic practice originated around 500 B.C. Depictions of yoga postures and practice were found in recent excavations of Harappa and Mohenjodara that blows this theory out of the water, as these pictures are dated back nearly 5000 years.
Those who study yoga are bound to run across the Indian sage, Patanjali, who is credited with being the “father of modern yogic practice”. His manuscript, the Yoga Sutras, offers practical advice for attaining enlightenment while simultaneously grounding the body and optimizing its health. As the practice of yoga has evolved and branched out over the years, many students come back to these core philosophies for inspiration and the proper instruction.
Jump Right In!
Incorporating yoga into a new or existing exercise routine is essential for the whole body and mind fitness. A few of the many benefits of the practice include:
Improved strength, balance, and flexibility
Decreased pain and inflammation
Decreased arthritic symptoms
Improved heart health
Better relaxation and sleep
An increase in feelings of peace and well-being
Greater awareness of the self
Improved mental clarity and fortitude
Regulated emotional responses
And the list could go on and on. Even if you don’t have a gym membership, you can begin the practice of incorporating a few poses at home to improve all aspects of mental, physical, and emotional health. Don’t worry, novice yogis; we’ll go easy on you. Begin with these five basic poses and see how you can transform all aspects of life as you know it. Don your cool yoga leggings, grab your mat, and let’s get going!
Diamond thunderbolt (Vajrasana)
The diamond thunderbolt helps regulate blood circulation through your pelvis, aiding in digestion and lower body flexibility. Simply sit down on your legs with your heels touching your bottom to perform this pose. Have bad knees? Use a cushion both under the knees and in between the backs of the knees and the calves to help offset pressure points. Hold this position for two minutes if you are starting out and longer if you want to achieve a bit of enlightenment.
Gracious pose (Bhadrasana)
Gracious pose focuses on total body enlightenment–if you do it consciously and correctly. To perform a gracious pose, sit with your knees splayed apart and the bottoms of the feet touching together. Focus on keeping a straight back and breathing slowly, eyes closed. Hold for three to five breaths as you focus on what you have to be grateful for in your life.
Cobra pose (Bhujangasana)
Beginning cobra is most therapeutic for those who have asthma or those that struggle with inflexibility and menstrual issues. Don’t worry, guys; you can do it too. To perform the cobra pose, lie on your stomach with your forehead resting on the ground. Place your hands underneath your shoulders, then push upward, lifting your chest off the floor as you lift your gaze and attempt to look behind you. Be mindful of tension in the small of your back, as you don’t want to go too far. Be mindful of breathing as you exhale and lower yourself back to the floor for a few repetitions, holding for thirty seconds each.
Spinal twist pose (Ardha-Matsyendrasana)
The benefits of the spinal twist pose are many. This pose will not only ease back tension and correct imbalances, but it also does its part to help cleanse and detoxify inner organs. To perform the spinal twist, sit cross-legged, bringing the heel of your right foot down against your outer left hip. Then, slowly twist your upper body to the left, hooking your left elbow over your right knee as you twist and look behind you. Hold this pose and breathe for several seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Child’s pose (Balasana)
There is a reason that children don’t know stress levels that we adults do; they know how to relax! The child’s pose will teach you to release tension, stress, and fatigue as you learn what it means to surrender to the “now” moment. To perform the child’s pose, lower yourself to your hands and knees, resting your forehead on the floor with your arms extended outward and behind you. Breathe slowly, in and out, as you relax into the position for 2-3 minutes.
There you have it! No crazy twists, balancing, or potential for injury here right out of the gate. Your introduction to home yoga poses was made to be gentle and inspiring as to give you a taste of the peace and well-being that could be yours from consistent practice. Prioritize yourself and your health, and know that you’ll see significant changes over time. Namaste!