While yoga can sometimes seem trendy and hip, the practice is deeply rooted in ancient physical, mental, and spiritual wisdom from India and it has serious staying power. Yoga is a practice meant to reconnect the mind and body through a multitude of poses and sequences. Each pose represents more than a pretzel-like shape, challenging both the mind and the body to move in ways that may feel unfamiliar or even challenging, depending on one’s flexibility and mobility, while providing a long list of health benefits to strict and casual adherents alike. Research shows yoga can reduce stress, illness, depression and anxiety, while strengthening muscles and increasing flexibility. Impressive, right?
Today, yoga is an incredibly popular form of exercise, with adaptations and varying approaches inspired by traditional teachers as well as more loosely-interpreted forms of the practice, like power yoga and yogalates. However you choose to practice, celebrate yoga’s powerful appeal, wisdom, and healing benefits with these seven poses to increase your mobility and flexibility this #InternationalYogaDay!
- Standing forward bend (Uttanasana): Stretch your lower back and hamstrings with this pose, adding a shoulder opening variation for more flexibility in tight shoulders. Prevent the unpleasant head rush and rise slowly, relying on your abdominal strength to stand upright.
- Downward dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana): This pose stretches your legs and increases circulation, which is why it’s such an integral part of yoga flows. A great way to warm up and check in with your body and mind as you begin your practice and get your blood moving.
- Cow face pose (Gomukhasana): A great hip opener, cow face pose is a challenging and rewarding bind. Respect your body’s signals and allow them to dictate how far into the pose you go, a good reminder to balance your mind’s expectations with your body’s current mobility and flexibility.
- Child’s pose (Balasana): Not simply for when a sequence has tuckered you out, child’s pose is calming and grounding while it stretches from your fingertips, across your neck and spine, and down to your seat, increasing circulation.
- Extended triangle (Utthita Trikonasana): Offering nearly a full body stretch, extended triangle is also great for improving balance.
- Fire log (Agnistambhasana): By stacking your shins one over the other, you should feel a deep stretch in your glutes, hamstrings, and quads. This pose can be particularly helpful for those with sciatic pain and lower back pain caused by tight hamstrings.
- Cat-cow pose (Bitilasana Marjaryasana): combining cat pose (Marjaryasana) and cow pose (Bitilasana), improves posture while stretching the back, opening the chest, and providing a gentle energy boost to the body. Do cat-cow on all fours on a mat or practice in a chair if you are in a wheelchair, office chair, or even in an airplane to reap its benefits and feel relief.