International Yoga Day is tomorrow and we can’t be more excited for a day dedicated to our favorite workout! Yoga originated in India with a desire for health, long life and self – understanding. It’s all about exercise, breathing and meditation and leaves you with a refreshed, accomplished feeling afterwards. The practice itself dates back to 5000 years in India – and continues to grow in popularity around the world. In 2014 it was officially declared that June 21st would be International Day of Yoga. To help you celebrate, we’ve put together a list of 6 yoga poses for experienced to beginner yogis alike.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
The Child’s Pose, or Balasana, is arguably the most recognized yoga pose. It is a resting pose usually used in between other poses. The body rests on the floor in the fetal position, with the arms resting at the sides of the body or outstretched to the front of the body. The forehead rests on the floor while the head and chest bend between the legs. It may not seem like much, but this pose benefits the body by stretching the leg, hip and back muscles. It also provides recovery in between other more strenuous poses and releases stress in the muscles. You will come to this position during resting periods in yoga class, and you can come to this pose whenever you feel your body needs a little break.
Another yoga pose that is widely recognized is the downward-facing dog. If you’ve ever attended a beginner’s yoga class, you have probably learned of this pose. It involves starting on all fours with your hands placed firmly on the mat underneath your shoulders with your knees under your hips. Pressing your palms into the mat and fingers spread apart, you walk your hands forward and curl your toes under and press your hips towards the ceiling. Your body will be shaped into an inverted “V”. Benefits of the downward-facing dog include building strength while stretching the entire body. The pose can also deepen breathing and decrease anxiety while increasing circulation throughout the body.
It may look like nothing, but the Mountain Pose benefits your entire body by improving posture and stability. It is commonly used as a warm up pose and involves bringing your feet together or hip width apart while in the standing position. Spread your toes wide and place them firmly on the mat. Feel your weight evenly balanced on the bottom of each foot while making sure that you are not leaning backward or forward. From this point, simply stand tall and take a deep breath as you raise your hands up with palms turned in towards each other. Stretch your arms straight and reach toward the sky and press the crown of the head up towards the ceiling. When you exhaled, relax the shoulders away from the ears while still reaching the arms, fingers and crown of your head towards the sky. The mountain pose is the foundation for all standing poses will help warm your body up.
There are three variations of the Warrior pose, with the first one being Warrior I. Warrior I involves standing with your legs 3 to 4 feet apart and turning your right foot out 90 degrees and turning the left foot in slightly. Relaxing your shoulders, bring your hands to your hips and then extend the arms out to the side with palms down towards the ground. Bend your right knee to a 90 degree angle while keeping your knee over your ankle. Be sure to keep your gave forward over your right hand. Stay in this pose for a few breaths before switching sides and repeating.
The Tree Pose teaches the body balance while toning the leg muscles. It may look easy, but takes tremendous balance to completely master. Over time, it builds strength throughout the body as well as the feeling of accomplishment. You begin with your arms at your sides and then shifting your weight onto the left leg. Place the sole of the right fit on the inside of the left thigh while keeping your hips pushed forward. Bring your hands to a prayer position in front of you. Inhale while extending your arms up over the shoulders and separate your palms as they remain faced towards one another. Stay here for a few breaths until you slowly lower and then repeat on the opposite side.
Another stretching pose that will get your body warmed up for International Yoga Day is the Seated Twist. This pose stretches your shoulders, hips and back while increasing circulation throughout the body and toning and stretching your abdomen and oblique. You will begin in a seated position on the mat with your legs extended forward. Simply cross your right foot over the left thigh and bend the left knee while keeping the right knee pointed up towards the sky. Place your left elbow just outside the right knee and the right hand behind you for stability. Twist to the right as deep as you can with your abdomen and keep both sides of your bottom on the mat. Stay in this position for a couple breaths before switching sides.
After you’re done practicing your poses and ready to take on the rest of your day, be sure to take a Shavasana, or a “yoga nap” afterwards to help your body unwind. This is also known as the Corpse Pose because it involves challenging your body to lay completely still and relaxed. The arms and legs are spread outward of the body at 45 degrees with the eyes closed and breath is deep. Relaxation is a key component to yoga, so Shavasana is important to practice. It is a deep mental relaxation that will help rejuvenate the body after your yoga workout.
You don’t have to be an experienced yogi to get out and celebrate International Yoga Day! The best part about yoga is that you don’t need a gym to practice - Grab your best friend, attend at a class at your gym or just go outside and set up your mat under the sun to soak up all the benefits that yoga has to offer. However you choose to celebrate International Yoga Day, be sure to keep your mind and body in sync and do whatever poses are most comfortable for you. Let us know how you’re commemorating International Yoga Day below! Namaste.