When you hear the word yoga, you might immediately picture fit guys in fancy men’s gym wear drinking strange green juices. You might think, “I’d love to try yoga once I get in shape”. You might even look longingly at your still-wrapped-in-plastic yoga mat given to you two birthdays ago, and sigh in despair. But the truth is yoga is attainable for people of all shapes and sizes, and you can reap the numerous benefits at any fitness level.
These 5 easy poses are incredibly restorative and soothing—no matter how (in)flexible you may be.
Downward dog is a foundation pose in yoga; it’s one of the best poses for both strengthening and stretching your full body. In a yoga class, the teacher frequently guides students to the Downward Dog position because it allows them to rest while still remaining active and aware. Start on your knees and place your hands flat on your mat shoulder-width apart. Slowly transfer your weight into your hands, and straighten your legs to form an inverted “V”. Make sure you keep your shoulders away from your ears, and slowly peddle your legs to stretch out each calf. The more you practice Downward Dog, the more you’ll notice your heels inching closer and closer to your mat and your shoulders will get stronger.
Child’s pose says everything you need to know in the name itself: it’s a resting pose designed to slow your heart rate after a particularly challenging sequence of moves, as well as to give you an opportunity to quietly re-center before continuing. Not to mention it feels so freaking good. You’ll feel a delicious stretch in your lower back, shoulders, quads, and ribs. Sit back on your calves and lower your chest to the mat with arms outstretched in front of you. You can modify this pose as much as you need to by widening your knees and resting your arms and forehead on a block.
Yoga is a great way to relieve bloating, cramping, and indigestion simply by performing various twisting and compression poses. The supine spinal twist is perfect for beginners because you can feel an intense stretch without needing much flexibility. Lay flat on the floor and raise your legs so that your shins are parallel with the floor. Slowly lower both knees to the right, spread arms out in a “T” position, and look to your left. Keep breathing deeply, and your body will start to relax into the pose, giving you a satisfying and relieving spinal twist. Maintain posture for up to a minute, and repeat on the other side.
While many people think yoga is best for toning and weight loss purposes, it’s actually designed to relax, center, and create a mind-body connection. Mountain pose is a perfect example of what yoga can do for you mentally and emotionally: simply by standing with your feet hip-width apart and your hands relaxed at your sides, you can achieve a deep calming sensation. Keeping your eyes closed and breathing steadily, you’ll notice your heart rate slowing, your mind clearing, and you become more mindful of every sensation. Practicing this pose requires no flexibility, but still allows you to reap all the mental benefits of yoga.
Corpse pose (or Savasana, in Sanskrit), may sound laughably easy. Normally practiced at the beginning and/or end of a yoga class, it involves simply lying flat on your back with your arms and legs outstretched. Sound easy? The challenge lies in learning how to calm your busy mind and concentrating on achieving a meditative state that is deeply restorative. It can be helpful to repeat a mantra, like “Peace” over and over in your mind to shoo away nagging thoughts and anxieties. Daily practice of Savasana (combined with a healthy dose of dark chocolate!) can lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and help with headaches and pain.2017-02-07