The exercises below are a small collection of strengthening, stretching, calming and energising poses which are part of nearly any yoga classes I have yet visited, whether that is vinyasa flow, rocket yoga, Hatha yoga or jivamukti yoga. The poses are based on the most traditional form of yoga, Ashtanga, and can be practiced one after the other, without a flowing movement.
Have a look at the individual postures, and choose the ones you think you need today.
Yoga exercises for every day
Adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog)
Place your hands and feet on the ground, shoulder-width apart. Spread the fingers. Lengthen the tailbone away from the back of your pelvis, lift the sitting bones up high. Straighten the knees and paddle the feet until you reach a position that is comfortable for you. Rotate your shoulders away from your ears, keep your head between your upper arms. Hold for 5 breaths.
Virabhadrasana II (warrior II)
Step out wide to one side. Turn the back foot to face the front of the mat in a 60° angle, the front foot faces the front of the mat. Extend the arms to the sides, straighten the upper body. Looking over your front hand, bend the front knee over the front ankle in a 90° angle. Press the back foot firmly into the ground. Hold for 5 breaths.
Utthita trikonasana (extended triangle pose)
From warrior II, straighten the front leg, turn the back foot out so that it faces the long side of the mat. Bend from the hip joint towards the front of the mat. Place the front hand on your shin, your ankle of grab hold of the big toe. Stretch the upper arm towards the sky, glaze goes over the shoulder towards the ceiling. Feel a deep stretch in your upper side body. Hold for 5 breaths, then change sides.
Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend)
Sit on your buttocks, extend your legs in front of you. Flex the feet, lean forward from the hip joints, lengthening the tailbone away from the back of the pelvis. Grab the big toes with your first two fingers (or grab the outsides of your feet or your wrists behind your feet). Lengthen the spine on an inhale, then fold forwards. Hold for 5 breaths.
Setu Bandhasana (bridge pose)
Lie down, bend your knees and place the feet hip-width apart on the floor. Now lift the buttocks off the floor, raise the hips as high as possible, opening through the chest. Make sure your knees don’t open to the sides, press them together firmly. Interlock your fingers underneath your buttocks, hold for 5 breaths.
Salamba sarvangasana (shoulderstand)
Lay on the back, place the arms on the floor alongside your torso. Bring your feet overhead, rolling up through the spine. Place feet onto the floor behind you, point the toes. Interlock the fingers. Hold for 5 breaths.
Then grab hold of your back with your hands (draw the elbows together as close as possible) and slowly bring your feet up into a shoulder stand. Point the toes, press legs together, draw in the navel. Hold for 15 breaths, then slowly release.
Matsyasana (fish pose)
Allow your body a little counter pose after your shoulder stand. Extend your legs in front of you, place the hands underneath your buttocks. Lift the chest, allow the head to drop backwards until the crown of the head reaches the floor. Hold for 5 breaths.
Savasana (corpse pose)
I read a funny (as well as very true and inspiring) comment on Savasana on Shona Vertue’s amazing Instagram feed the other day, where she told people off for skipping Savasana in their practice. Yoga without the relaxing, meditating part isn’t so much a yoga practice – it’s more an exercise.
So, lie down on your back, place arms by your side, palms facing upwards. Close your eyes, and relax, for as long as you need. You deserve it.
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