Yoga is an ancient practice that was developed in India over 5,000 years ago, and is currently practiced by an estimated 300 million people around the world!
A daily yoga practice can do wonders for increasing mindfulness, improving mobility and balance, decreasing pain, improving mental health, and reducing cardiac stress.
We share some of the core yoga poses and stretches you should include in your day to help you feel your best:
Cat-Cow Pose (Chakravakasana)
The cat-cow pose is excellent for increasing back mobility, strengthening and stretching the spine, stimulating the organs in the belly, and stretching the hips, abdomen, and neck.
To do the pose: Start on your mat in a table position – your arms should be extended down so that there is a straight line from your shoulders down to your wrists while your knees are on the mat in alignment with your hips.
On an inhale, drop your belly and lift your chin and chest while looking upwards. On your exhale, round your back, drop your head to look towards your belly button, and tuck your tailbone in. Repeat 5-20 times.
Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
The bridge pose is a pose that strengthens the core and lower body while stretching your hip flexors, quads, chest, and spine. This pose may also be beneficial for digestion.
To do the pose: Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Your feet should be parallel and about hip-distance apart, and you should be able to touch your heels with your fingertips.
Next, press down through the bottom of your feet to lift your hips off of the floor. Maintain the pose for about 30-60 seconds, then slowly control your descent back to the mat.
Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
Pigeon pose is a hip-opening stretch that improves the range of motion in your hips and hamstrings, stretches the lower back, and may help digestion.
To do the pose: An easy way to do pigeon pose is from a table pose. From that position, slide one knee forward and angle it to the side so that the knee is pointing outward. Then slide the opposite leg back until it is flat against the floor, making sure to keep your hips squared to the front. Hold for up to a minute.
Balancing Table (Dandayamana Bharmanasana)
The balancing table pose helps strengthen the core and lower back muscles, stretch the torso, and increase flexibility from the shoulders to the hips.
To do the pose: Start in table pose, then choose one leg to draw out straight behind you while keeping your hips square. Once you are balanced there, extend the arm on the opposite side in front of you with your palm to the side. Hold for 5-6 breaths.
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Downward facing dog helps stretch the entire body, increases blood circulation, increases strength and bone density in the upper body, and helps posture.
To do the pose: Start in chair position with your hands slightly in front of your shoulders and spread your fingers. Curl your toes under so they are on the floor, then lift your hips so that your knees leave the ground in a way similar to plank pose. Next, lift your pelvis towards the ceiling so that your legs are straight and your arms are extended. Hold for up to a minute.
Seated Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
The seated twist is good for posture, digestion, stretching the hips and thighs, opening the shoulders and chest, and lengthening the spine.
To do the pose: Start by sitting with your legs straight in front of you. Take one leg and cross it over the knee of the other leg so that the sole of your foot is on the ground. Then, turn your torso to rest the elbow of the opposite arm along the outside of the raised knee. Hold for up to a minute.
If you can’t do all of the poses listed above, it’s okay – move to the best of your ability, practice variations of these moves, and use yoga blocks if needed.