Yoga is an excellent, age-old form of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to boost physical and mental wellbeing. Whether you are a beginner to yoga or a seasoned yoga practitioner, there are a few basic yoga positions that are not only essential to learn, but they’re also excellent for your wellbeing! Here are the best yoga positions to do daily!
1) Mountain Pose
This Asan, or position, is the basis of all standing poses. It is extremely simple, as it basically entails standing up straight – with some technique of course!
How to: Start by standing with your feet together. Press down through your toes and spread them apart. Engage your quadriceps to lift your kneecaps and lift up through the inner thighs. Draw your abdominals in and up as you lift your chest and press the tops of the shoulders down. Feel your shoulder blades coming towards each other and open your chest, keeping your palms facing inwards towards your body. Stand up as straight as possible, breathing deeply. Hold for 5-8 breaths.
2) Downward Dog
Downward dog pose, also known as Adho Mukha Svanasana, is a common asana, in yoga, which is used in most yoga sequences, particularly Surya Namaskar (sun salutations). This simple position stretches and strengthens the entire body.
How to: Go down on all fours with your wrists parallel to your shoulders and your knees parallel to your hips. Tuck your toes under and lift your hips up off the floor as you draw them up at back towards your heels.
Keep your knees slightly bent if your hamstrings are tight, otherwise try and straighten out your legs while keeping your hips back. Walk your hands forward to give yourself more length if you need to.
Press firmly through your palms and rotate the inner elbows towards each other. Hollow out the abdominals and keep engaging your legs to keep the torso moving back towards the thighs. Hold for 5-8 breaths before dropping back to hands and knees to rest.
The Plank can be a tough position to begin with, and requires some practise to master and retain. It helps you to get to grips with balancing on your hands and requires using muscles throughout the body to support the position. It is a particularly good way to develop core strength, so it’s a fabulous exercise to help tighten your stomach area.
How to: Start on all fours. Then, tuck your toes under and lift your legs up off the mat, keeping your feet on the ground. Slide your heels back enough until your body is positioned in one straight line from your head to your feet. Engage the lower abdominals, draw the shoulders down and away from the ears, pull your ribs together and breathe deeply for 8-10 breaths.
4) Warrior II
Of all yoga positions, the Warrior is an ultimate feel-good position! It gives you a feeling of strength and empowerment; if you do it first thing in the morning, it sets a positive tone for the day. Warrior is an external hip opener and opens up the inner thighs and groin.
How to: Stand with your feet apart, roughly the length of one leg. Next, turn your right toes out ninety degrees and turn your left toes in forty-five degrees. Bend your right knee until it is directly parallel to your right ankle while keeping your torso even between the hips. Stretch your arms out either side of your body and gaze over your right hand. Hold for 8-10 breaths before straightening the right leg and turning your feet to the other side to repeat on the left side.
5) Child’s Position
This is probably the easiest and most relaxing yoga positions of them all! It is the ideal pose to finish of your yoga practise or simply to wind down if you’re having a stressful day. The child’s pose helps to stretch the hips, thighs, and ankles while reducing stress and fatigue. It gently relaxes the muscles on the front of the body while softly and passively stretching the muscles of the back torso.
How to: Kneel on the floor. Touch your big toes together and sit on your heels, then separate your knees about as wide as your hips. Exhale and lay your torso down between your thighs. Broaden your sacrum across the back of your pelvis and narrow your hip points toward the navel, so that they nestle down onto the inner thighs. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of the pelvis while you lift the base of your skull away from the back of your neck. Lay your hands on the floor alongside your torso, palms up, and release the fronts of your shoulders toward the floor. Feel how the weight of the front shoulders pulls the shoulder blades wide across your back. Hold for as long as you desire.