Yoga for EveryBODY

Yoga is a great way to improve your flexibility, gain strength, and find calm. The  Sanskrit word yoga itself, means “union,” so whether you come to yoga for your body or your mind, know that both should be considered in making the body “whole.”

Take a few minutes to relieve your stress, and gain muscular strength and improve your flexibility by giving these five basic yoga poses a try.

Side Bend:

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Directions: Stand with feet slightly apart and parallel to each other. Inhale and lift arms in a wide arc to either side, until they are overhead. Exhale, engage the core and lengthen the body while leaning to the right. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths, then engaging the core, raise to stand. Repeat on the left.

Benefits:

  • Strengthens thighs, knees, and ankles
  • Stretches hips, side body, and arms

Tree Pose:

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Directions: From a standing position, bend the left knee and place the left foot on the inner right ankle, shin, or thigh as able, pressing the thigh (or part of leg) against the foot. Once the body is stable, place hands on the waist, in prayer at the chest, or reach arms up and look up, opening across the chest. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths, and then repeat on the right.

Benefits:

  • Strengthens thighs, calves, ankles, and spine
  • Stretches the groins and inner thighs, chest and shoulders
  • Improves sense of balance

Warrior 2:

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Directions: From tree pose, step the elevated right foot back  into a lunge, bending the left knee to 90°. Lower the back (right) heel to the floor perpendicular to the front foot. Raise the arms parallel to the floor and reach them out to the sides with palms down. Turn the head to the left and look out over the fingers. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths..

Benefits:

  • Strengthens and stretches the legs and ankles
  • Stretches the groins, chest and lungs, shoulders

Plank:

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Directions: From Warrior 2 pose, inhale lowering the hands on either side of the front foot, and step the front foot back into a high push up position. Keep the body forward so the shoulders are over the wrists with arms perpendicular to the floor. The torso should not collapse or lift. Body should remain straight from head to toes. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths.

Benefits:

  • Strengthens the arms, wrists, and spine
  • Tones the abdomen

Downward Facing Dog:

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Directions: From plank, exhale and hinge back at the waist lifting the seat towards the sky. Spread hands and feet as they are pressed onto the floor. Focus is on lengthening the upper body. Legs should be straight, but may be bent as needed. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths.

Benefits:

  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
  • Energizes the body
  • Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands
  • Strengthens the arms and legs

Warrior 2:

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Directions: From DWD, step forward with the right foot into a lunge, bending the right knee to 90°. Lower the back (left) heel to the floor. Raise the arms parallel to the floor and reach them out to the sides with palms down. Turn the head to the left and look out over the fingers. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths.

Plank:

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Directions: From Warrior 2, inhale placing both hands on either side of the front foot, then step the front foot back into a high push up position. Keep the body forward so the shoulders are over the wrists. Arms should be perpendicular to the floor. The torso should not collapse or lift. Body should remain straight from head to toes. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths.

Downward Facing Dog:

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Directions: From Plank, exhale and hinge back at the waist lifting your seat towards the sky. Spread hands and feet as they are pressed onto the floor. Focus is on lengthening the upper body. Legs should be straight, but may be bent as needed. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths.

Legs Up The Wall:

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Directions: Sit sideways to the wall with your right hip touching the wall. Exhale and, with one smooth movement, swing your legs up onto the wall and your shoulders and head lightly down onto the floor. Keep your legs relatively firm, just enough to hold them vertically in place. Stay in this pose anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. To ext the posture, carefully roll onto your side or use your legs to push yourself away from the way. Stay on your side for a few 5to 10 minutes, and come up to sitting position with an exhalation.

Benefits:

  • Relieves tired or cramped legs and feet
  • Gently stretches the back legs, front torso, and the back of the neck
  • Relieves mild backache
  • Calms the mind

Want to see this program in action? Tune in to CHCH Morning Live on February 4th at 8:50am to watch me and yoga goddess Katie McClelland from De La Sol Yoga Hamilton and Sol Yoga Burlington.

For more information on National Legs Up The Wall Day, check out the Facebook group!

Update: To watch the segment click here!

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