8 Yoga Poses You Can Do At Home
Yoga is tremendously popular now, and rightly so. It’s a safe, powerful exercise with many benefits that has been refined for thousands of years— the perfect antidote to the stress and hustle of modern life.
Although it is helpful to many people to go to a yoga studio, you can by all means practice yoga by yourself at home—in fact, I highly recommend it. You are the one best qualified to establish a yoga practice that speaks to you, because you know what you need out of your practice on any given day.
Here are eight poses you can do at home to get you started.
RECLINED TWIST POSE
Start by lying down on your back. Slowly inhale and extend both arms over your head. As you exhale, curl into both knees, hugging them into you.
Let your head and shoulder rest on the ground, arms wide out to the side, palms facing up. Take a nice deep breath in and as you exhale slowly lower your bent knees over to the right toward the ground. Hold for two to three breaths, and repeat on the other side. Do this three to five times. Spinal twists strengthen your nervous system and begin to activate the core muscles.
(Setu Bandha Sarvangasana):
Lying on your back, bend your knees and place your feet about hip distance apart, fingertips just grazing your heels. As you exhale, push down and away through your feet to lift your hips off the ground. Clasp your hands underneath you or press the arms into the floor, creating a stable foundation with the tops of your shoulders.
Breathe here for three to five breaths as you lengthen the core muscles and increase blood flow to promote circulation. Slowly lower your hips back to the ground.
From Bridge, cross your ankles and clasp your hands under your knees as you rock up and back a few times, stimulating your nervous system to reduce anxiety. Roll over to hands and knees.
Place your hands underneath your shoulders, knees underneath your hips. Inhale as you arch your back, drawing your chest slightly forward and lifting your tailbone toward the sky (Cow). Exhale and push deeply into the earth as you round your spine and release your head toward the earth (Cat). Repeat three to five times, stimulating your nervous system and lymphatic system.
DOWNWARD-FACING DOG POSE
(Adho Mukha Svanasana):
Place your hands shoulder width apart, and spread your fingers wide. Inhale as you tuck your toes. As you exhale, push deeply down and away through your hands as you lift your pelvis up and back. Keep your knees softly bent as you draw your hips toward the sky, descending through the heels only if it feels comfortable.
Hold here for three to five breaths, strengthening the circulatory system and blood flow. For a more heat-building practice, follow with three to five sun salutations.
REVOLVED SIDE ANGLE POSE
From Downward-Facing Dog, step your right foot forward between your hands. Spin your left heel down, grounding the outer edge of your foot into the earth. To come into a high lunge, inhale and push into the earth as you reach for the sky. Keep that lift of the ribs as you twist your torso to the right and reach your left hand toward the floor. Let your right arm swing toward the front of the mat over your head. This deep twist will ground you into the present and build strength. Hold for three breaths and repeat on the other side.
Slowly lower yourself down onto your belly, turning your head to the side to rest on the floor. As you exhale, bend both knees and reach back to clasp your heels or outer edges of your feet. Inhale, and push your feet strongly into your hands to begin to lift your head and chest off the floor. You can gently rock here up to five times to massage your internal organs and increase assimilation. Slowly lower down and then turn your head to the other side to rest the neck. Wiggle your hips from side to side to dissipate any tension that may have built.
From your belly, push deep into the earth to come up onto your knees. Slowly widen your knees to about the width of your mat, and then bring your hips toward your heels. Keep your arms outstretched and let your forehead rest on the mat. Breathe here for 10 breaths. Forward folds allow you to go inside for a moment and process the hard work you have done in your practice.
Slowly walk your hands toward your center to push yourself into a seated position. End with a few light twists, and then settle yourself into this resting posture. Although it may be tempting to skip this last posture, it is the most important. Lie down on your back, making yourself as comfortable as possible. Feel free to place a bolster under your knees, or a blanket under your head. Let your feet roll out to the sides as you stretch long on your mat. Let your palms face the sky, and close your eyes. Starting at the crown of the head, slowly allow yourself to relax all the way down to your toes. Stay here as long as you can, transitioning slowly when you feel ready to move on with the rest of your day.
Enjoy the benefits of your practice today, and let it inspire you to practice tomorrow.
Kristin Henningsen, MS, RYT, is an adjunct professor with Kaplan University’s School of Health Sciences and the owner of Banyan Moon Botanicals, a company that makes herbal body care products. You can visit her online at banyanmoonbo tanicals.com.