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Yoga is one of the most sought out practices nowadays due to its amazing effects in the human body and mind. It has many benefits (which we have talked about in previous blogs) but today, we wanted to bring you our top 5 basic postures. Whether yoga is something you've never tried, you want to enhance your essential asanas, or if you’re already a practitioner - these postures can be beneficial for you.
Let us start from the beginning: Asana is the Sanskrit word for “seat/posture” and it is one of the main concepts within a yoga session. In the Yoga Sutras –a collection of Indian rules on the theory and practice of Yoga compiled by Sage Patanjali– he states that poses should be steady and comfortable, firm yet relaxed to help practitioners become more aware of their body, mind, and surroundings.
The basic asanas are much more than simply stretching, though. They open the energy channels, chakras and psychic centers of the body while increasing flexibility of the spine, strengthening the bones and stimulating both the circulatory and immune systems. Pretty cool, huh?
If you practice the postures along with proper breathing –pranayama–, asanas can also calm the mind and reduce stress. With constant practice we can ensure physical and mental health overall, and the possible prevention/management of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and arthritis.
Over time, performing the poses slowly and consciously becomes a mental exercise in concentration and meditation, and your lifestyle will benefit immensely. (You’re welcome).
Without further ado, we give you our top 5 yoga postures. You can create your own beginner's routine by taking 5 to 10 breaths while holding each posture.
PS: We want to stress that you don't have to be able to perform all these poses exactly as stated. Always listen to your body and modify accordingly. We don’t want you to get injured.
Called the mother of all yoga poses, Tadasana looks easy. This two-footed stance is the foundation for many other positions that require awareness and balance. Through this pose we can find proper alignment and shape for additional movements.
How to do it: Stand with feet together and arms at your side. Ground your feet, making sure to press all four corners down into the ground. Next, straighten your legs, then tuck your tailbone in as you engage your thigh muscles. As you inhale, elongate through your torso and extend your arms up, then out. Exhale and release your shoulder blades away from your head, toward the back of your waist as you release arms back to your sides.
Consider this exercise a reset moment. Simple in design, this easy pose relaxes your nervous system and it is a great pause to take a breather during class if you need one. If you have knee problems, try to lower into this position with extra care.
How to do it: Start in a kneeling position with toes tucked under. Lower your butt towards your feet as you stretch your upper body forward and down with arms extended. Your stomach should be comfortably resting on thighs, with your forehead touching the mat.
Cat/cow is a great way to warm up your back and get your body ready for downward-facing dog, which is another asana. This pose also helps address mobility and work your core without the extra stress on your wrists and shoulders that you might feel in a down dog move.
How to do it: Begin with hands and knees on the floor, spine neutral and abs engaged. Take a big inhale, then, as you exhale, round your spine up towards the ceiling and tuck your chin towards your chest, releasing your neck. On the next inhale, arch your back and relax your abs. Lift your head and tailbone upwards, being careful not to place any pressure on your neck by moving too quickly or deeply.
One of the most recognizable poses of them all, down dog is a great way to stretch your back, shoulders, arms, hamstrings and mostly your whole body.
How to do it: Come onto hands and knees with palms just past your shoulder, fingers pointing forwards. Knees should be under your hips and toes tucked. Lift your hips and press back into a V-shape position with your body. Feet should be hip-width apart. Keep in mind, it’s OK if you can’t get your feet to the floor (your hamstrings might be too tight). Spread through all 10 fingers and toes and move your chest towards your legs.
Lying around may seem senseless, but this asana gives you one of the most meditative moments in any yoga practice. Corpse pose calms the mind, relieves stress and induces a relaxed state. No wonder why yogis are super chill.
How to do it: Lie down on your back and let your feet fall to their sides. Bring your arms alongside your torso, but slightly separated with palms facing the sky. Relax the entire body –your face included. This one is usually the final pose in a class, you can stay in this pose anywhere from 30 seconds to five or 10 minutes. Your instructor will cue you when to slowly awaken your thoughts and return to a seated position.
Happy yoging from Alana Athletica!