Once you've made a little bit of time to practice, you'll often want to keep going if you have the time.
And don't worry, you're in luck! Headstand isn't one of the five!
Ha ha! Headstand is not an easy pose for me, mostly because I don't practice it enough. So I decided during our trip to have fun with it and practice it in inspiring places. For example, while waiting for the clouds to clear to get our first glimpse of Machu Picchu across the valley.
Disclaimer: Please talk to your doctor before trying yoga if you have any health issues. Also, listen to your body. Don't do any of these poses if they are painful. You should only experience pleasant stretching, not pain!
I do recommend that you go to classes when you can. A good teacher will help you with alignment in your poses and teach you new poses. And, of course there is the social factor that helps with accountability.
I feel like most yoga is good yoga, but I prefer Hatha or Iyengar yoga classes. Iyengar especially tends to rely more on static poses. I think we all rush around so much in our lives that the stillness of a yoga pose helps us to slow down. To find an Iyengar yoga studio near you, search for Iyengar yoga studios near m . Most Iyengar yoga studios offer a six week introductory class which is great for learning the basics.
These poses can be done practically anywhere that you have a little space. You can time the poses if you want or you can simply count using deep in and out breaths. Ten deep in and out breaths are about 45 seconds to a minute. You can experiment with it.
Downward Facing Dog
Dog pose is one of my favorites, mostly because it really helps stretch my lower back which tends to get sore if I'm sitting too much.
To get into the pose, bend at the waist and knees to put both hands on the floor. Step back one leg at a time, three to four feet. Try to push your bottom up towards the sky, while pushing the heels towards the floor. Bend your knees if you need to, to make the posture more comfortable.
Try to stay in the pose for about a minute or for ten breaths.
There are so many benefits to this posture. It slows down the heartbeat, calming the mind. It reduces stiffness in the shoulder blades, it strengthens the ankles, tones the legs and relieves pain in the the heels.
Start with one minute, then repeat on the other side.
This pose alleviates backache and improves the flexibility of the spine. It also opens up your chest, which is great for slouchers, like me!
I often use this pose between the other standing poses. It feels restful, but still actively stretches the legs.
To get into it, place the feet three to four feet apart. Your feet should be parallel or even pointing in slightly. Keeping your legs straight, bend forward, extending your spine, and bringing your torso towards the floor.
Look up as you bend forwards to make sure that your back is concave and place both hands on the ground. Bend as far as is comfortable, while keeping your back concave.
Stay in the pose for about a minute, then come back up gradually so that you don't feel light headed.
This pose has a long list of benefits. It relieves stress-related headache and migraines. It energizes the heart and lungs. It reduces low back pain and strengthens the knee joint and stretches the hips.
Extended side angle stretch
This pose stretches the entire side of the body from the foot to the hand. And feels so good!
To get into it place the feet about four feet apart. Bring your arms up, level to your shoulders. Bend your right knee, being careful not to let your knee go over your toes. Then bring your left arm up over your head and your right elbow to your right knee. Try to make as straight a line as possible from your left foot to your left hand.
Hold this pose for about a minute, then repeat on the other side.
This pose relieves sciatic and arthritic pain, helps improve digestion, and stretches the hips. Ahhh!
Spinal Twist, or Marichyasana.
This pose always feel nice for stretching my back.
To get into this pose, sit on a folded blanket if you have one available to elevate your hips a bit. Pull your right leg up towards your chest. While keeping your spine uplifted, twist to the right, with your right arm supporting you from behind. You can simply hold your right knee with your left arm or try to wedge your elbow on the outside of your knee to give you some leverage. Keep bringing attention to keeping your spine long while you twist.
This pose can also be done for about a minute on each side. If you don't have a good place to sit on the floor, you can also sit in a chair with both feet firmly on the floor and while sitting tall, twist to the right for a minute, then do the other side.
Twists are great for your abdominal organs. This one increases energy levels, improves the function of the liver, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, and intestines. It also alleviates backache, yeah!
These are the five yoga poses, plus a couple of others that I did fairly consistently during my trip. I could do them in a cramped hotel room, or outside in a campground. Traveling can beat up your body, as can sitting at a desk, or behind the wheel of a car. While I prefer to do a longer practice, this short practice makes a huge difference in how your body feels.
I've put together a ten pose sequence, along with some more yoga resources in this weeks free handout. If you have more time or simply want to explore a few other poses, download this free resource below.
Now it's your turn! Do you practice yoga? If you do, what are your favorite poses, if you could pick just five?
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