4 Simple Yoga Poses to Start Your Day
Increase your balance and reduce anxiety with these simple yoga moves.
By Kim Miller and Shannon Dougherty
Photos by Stephanie Heymann
Yoga is well known for increasing flexibility, improving posture and building strength, but it’s also practiced by many for the physical and mental wellness attributes it provides. Yoga encourages deep breathing as part of the practice, which aids in reducing stress and tension in the body. Mindfulness requires us to bring our full attention to the task at hand at that very moment and not be distracted by other things happening in life. Regularly practicing this through yoga can promote balance and reduce anxiety.
While yoga may offer physical benefits, it’s important to remember that it shouldn’t be looked at simply as exercise. If you are a self-proclaimed fitness enthusiast, this might be one of your more difficult workouts because it requires a switch in mindset from hard and fast to slow and methodical. Paying attention to breathing and staying in the moment with a serene sense of calmness provides countless benefits for your health, especially when life gets overwhelming.
Set Up: Start with your feet hip-width apart, feet forward and front shin perpendicular to the floor. Kneeling at 90 degrees, slowly lean into the front leg.
Action: Raise your torso and sweep your arms overhead with palms facing eachother. Place arms straight above your head and slowly lean into stretch. Allow your hips to settle forward and down until you feel a stretch in the front leg. Engage your core muscles as you reach up shifting your gaze up for a mild backbend.
Upward Facing Dog
Set Up: Start lying face down with legs extended behind you a few inches apart. Place hands on the floor alongside your body pointing fingers to the top of the mat, elbows in tight.
Action: Inhale as you press through your hands firmly into the floor. Straighten your arms, lifting your torso and legs a few inches off the floor. Draw your shoulders back and your heart forward.
Set Up: Stand on both feet and slowly shift weight to the left foot. Reach down with your right hand grabbing your right ankle. Bring right foot and place above or below knee.
Action: Make sure your pelvis is in neutral position. Press your arms together then slowly grow your tree, extending your arms overhead. Bring your right foot back to starting position before repeating on the left side.
Set Up: With your feet wide apart, turn your right foot out 90 degrees pointing toes to the top of your mat. The center of your right kneecap should be aligned with the center of your right ankle. Pivot your left foot slightly inward keeping your back toes at a 45-degree angle.
Action: Raise arms to the side, shoulder-height and parallel to the floor. With palms facing down, reach through your right hand, folding at your right hip. Turn your left palm forward, with your fingertips reaching toward the sky. Rest right hand on your outer shin or ankle. If you are more flexible, place your right fingertips or palm on the floor to the outside of your right shin. Turn your head to gaze at your right thumb.
*Hold each pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute at a time. Increase duration as you improve.
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