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Top Yoga Positions

Yoga is a great way to exercise and unwind after a long day of work or school. There are so many different yoga options to choose from that will cater to whatever you are looking for, be it weight loss, cardio, insomnia, or anything else you could want from yoga.

To get you started on yoga, here are some of the best yoga positions.

Boat pose

Sit on the floor with legs straight out in front of you, palms on the ground a little before your hips, fingers facing your feet. Strengthen your arms and reach them up until about chest height, leaning back slightly as you do while keeping your back straight. Exhale and bend your knees, then lifting your legs off the floor until they are at a 45 degree angle. Try and straighten your knees if possible or else keep them bent, making shins parallel to the floor. Stretch your arms alongside your legs, parallel to the floor, reaching out with your fingers if you can, or hold on to the floor of the back of your thighs for support. Your stomach should be flat, not soft but not hard. Try and stay in the pose for 10-20 seconds if you’re just starting, building up to a minute.

Downward Facing Dog

Your hands and knees are on the ground, your knees directly below your hips and your hands slightly in front of your shoulders, index fingers slightly pointing outward. Exhale and lift your knees off the ground. At first keep your knees bent and heels off the ground. Lengthen your tailbone away from your pelvis, and using this resistance, lift the sitting bone up to the sky. Exhale again and push the top of your thighs back and put your heels on the ground. Straighten knees, but don’t lock them. Firm outer arms and push the base of your index fingers onto the floor. Lift your inner arms and widen your shoulder blades, bringing them toward the tail bone. Keep your head in between your arms, don’t let it hang. Stay in this pose between 1 and 3 minutes, and rest in Child’s Pose.

Child’s Pose

Kneel on the floor with your big toes touching each other, and sit on  your heels. Separate your knees to about hip width. Exhale and lay your torso between your legs. Lift the base of your skull away from your neck. Lay your hands on the floor alongside your torso, palms up, and release the fronts of your shoulders toward the floor. It’s a resting pose, so stay in from 30 seconds up to a few minutes.

Tree Pose

Stand with both feet on the ground. Shift your weight to your left foot, keeping inner foot firmly on the floor, and bend your right knee. Grab your right ankle with your right hand. Place the sole of your right foot against the inner thigh of your left leg, trying to press the heel of your right foot into the groin of the left foot. Resist with the left leg. Put your hands in a praying position, or Anjali Mudra, and raise them above your head, staring at a fixed spot a few feet in front of you. Stay like this for 30 seconds to a minute, and then return to both feet, and repeat with the legs reversed.

Warrior 1

Stand with your feet together. Exhale, and step or lightly jump so your feet are 3 1/2 to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms perpendicular to the floor , reaching toward the ceiling while bringing in your back toward the coccyx. Turn your left in 45-60 degree to the right, and your right foot out toward the right 90 degrees, aligning your right heel with your left heel. Exhale and rotate your torso to the right, pushing your left femur back to ground the heel and arching your back slightly. With the left left firmly anchored, exhale and bend your right knee so the shin is perpendicular to the ground. If you can, have it so your right thigh is parallel to the ground. Reach through with the arms, lifting rib cage away from your pelvis. If possible, bring the palms together, and keep your head in a neutral position. Stay for 30 seconds to a minute, and then to come up, inhale, pressing your left heel back firmly and straighten out the right knee. Turn feet forward and bring your hands down as you exhale. Turn to the left side to repeat the process, and then return to standing with your feet together when you’re done.

Supported Shoulderstand

For this one you should have two or more firm blankets folded 1 foot by 2 feet underneath your shoulders. Lay on your back with your arms alongside your torso, and bend your knees and set your feet on the floor, as close to your sitting bones as they can go. Exhale, press your arms against the floor, and push your feet off the ground. Continue to lift by pulling the pelvis and then the back torso off the floor, so your knees come toward your face. Stretch your arms parallel to the blanket and turn them so your fingers are touching the ground and thumbs point behind you. Bend your elbows and lay on the backs of your upper arms, and spread your palms against the back of your torso. Raise the pelvis so your torso is about perpendicular to the ground. Inhale and lift your bent knees toward the ceiling. Inhale again and straighten out your legs, pressing the heels up toward the ceiling. Soften your throat, and move sternum toward your chin. Forehead should be relatively parallel to the floor. Try to lift the upper spine from the floor. Look at your chest. To begin, stay in this position for 30 seconds, adding 5 or 10 seconds each time until you can stay in the pose for 3 minutes. After a few weeks, begin adding 5 or 10 seconds again, until you can stay in the pose for 5 minutes. To release, exhale and bend your knees in, slowly unrolling your torso.

Locust Pose

Lie on your belly with your arms alongside your torso, palms up, and forehead on the ground. Turn your big toes in toward each other to inwardly rotate your thighs and firm your buttocks so the coccyx presses toward the pubis. Exhale and lift your head, upper torso, arms, and legs from the floor. Firm your buttocks and reach through with your legs, first through the heels and then through the pad of your big toes, keeping the big toes pointing inward. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and stretch back actively through your fingers, trying to imagine there is a weight on your arms and you are lifting through this resistance. Gaze forward, and do not jut your chin forward and crunch your neck. Your neck should remain long and the base of your skull lifted. Stay in this position for 30 seconds to a minute and then exhale and release. You may repeat this one or two more times.

See Also

Plank Pose

Start in downward facing dog. Inhale and draw your torso forward until your arms are perpendicular to the floor and your shoulders are directly above. Press your outer arms inward and firm your shoulder blades against your back, spreading them away from the spine. Spread your collarbone away from your sternum. Press the front of your thighs toward the ceiling, but resist your tailbone toward the floor. Lift the base of your skull so you are looking at the floor, keeping your throat soft. Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to a minute.

Bridge Pose

Lie on the floor. Bend your knees and put the bottoms of your feet on the floor with your heels as close to your sitting bones they can be. Exhale and push your tailbone off the ground, pushing actively with your feet and arms. Clasp your hands beneath your pelvis and extend through the arms so you stay on the tops of your shoulder. Lift until your thighs are parallel to the floor, and lift your chin slightly and press your sternum to your chin. Keep your knees directly over your heels but push forward with them to lengthen your tailbone. Try to lift the space between your shoulder blades into your torso. Stay in this position for 30 seconds to a minute and exhale to release, rolling your spine down toward the floor.

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