Can a few minutes of yoga before you leave for work make a big difference in your day? Probably. Yoga, a physical and spiritual practice that has gained a great deal of popularity in the U.S. this century, has a history as a practice that stretches back at least 5,000 years. This system of stretches and light meditation has been shown in some cases to positively affect certain chronic pain conditions and has also become an important part of a fitness regimen for millions of people.
How much do you need to study yoga to reap the benefits of this low-intensity form of exercise? Very little.
Part of the reason that yoga has gained popularity over the past two decades can be attributed to its eminent approachability; it’s very easy to start, requires little coordination or athleticism and is very low-impact. It’s unlikely that you’ll be dripping sweat and out of breath after your first time doing yoga (there are yoga classes for that, but they are not often recommended to beginners). Yoga can be practiced alone at home or in group classes at most gyms or at a local yoga studio.
There are yoga flows (a series of poses) that assist people with many things. Some yoga flows help with sleep, others with waking up, others with chronic back pain there are even flows for headaches and cramps. The physical practice of yoga increases flexibility, balance and encourages lean muscle growth. Most people who practice yoga for even a short period of time report finding it relaxing and beneficial to their overall mental and physical health.
A quick and easy routine to get the most out of your day
Child’s Pose – Start by kneeling down and then placing your hands and knees on the floor. Once you’re in the tabletop pose, keeping your hands where they are, move your thighs back until you are sitting on top of your heels. Child’s pose stretches the glutes, hamstrings, lower back, shoulders, and arms. It’s one of the easiest yoga poses to perform and can be very relaxing. If this pose doesn’t provide enough of a deep stretch, try placing your elbows on the floor while performing it.
The physical practice of yoga increases flexibility, balance and encourages lean muscle growth.
Downward Dog – From a standing position, start by hinging at your hips to place your hands on the ground. Keep your hips high and try to place your hands 2-3 feet in front of your toes. Don’t worry too much about trying to keep your heels down, but make sure your hands are flat on the ground. Downward dog stretches the calves, hamstrings, back, shoulders, hips, and arms but the main draw of this stretch is the lengthening and alignment of the spine. The benefit of this stretch cannot be overstated, especially if you sit for the majority of your workday. This is also one of the primary starting points from which many yoga routines start. To deepen the stretch, try and place your heels flat on the ground.
Forward Fold – From a starting position, hinge at your hips and cradle your elbows in your hands. Keeping your knees soft and slightly bent try to gently press your head against your thighs or knees. Don’t overextend or try to force anything in this stretch. This stretch works the entire posterior chain, much like the previous two stretches but has the additional benefit of concentrating the stretch on the lower back and opening the pectoral muscles, biceps, and shoulders from a different angle.
Warrior 2 – From a standing position, step into a lunge with your front foot facing forward and your back foot facing at a perpendicular angle. Extend your arms at shoulder length and lean into the lunge. Repeat facing the other direction. Warrior 2 strengthens the legs and arms while stretching the back and quadriceps. The pose also encourages both balance and better concentration.
Starting off on the right foot
These four poses are not only a fantastic way to limber up and start your metabolism pumping for the day ahead, they are also extremely common in most yoga flows. Once you’re ready to get started doing your morning yoga, keep in mind that you should transition between these poses, and repeat them three or four times. Try to hold each pose for 10-20 seconds before releasing and moving into the next pose.
Part of the reason that yoga has gained popularity over the past two decades can be attributed to its eminent approachability; it’s very easy to start, requires little coordination or athleticism and is very low-impact. In just two or three minutes, you can get a great stretch that will have you fully awake and prepared to start your day.
When you’re ready, you can take a look at a few more yoga poses to try.
Stay tuned to Positivities.com for more ideas on the best ways to start your day!