Yoga has been proven to have a multitude of physical and mental health benefits. A gentle, low-impact exercise, not only does it stretch and strengthen your muscles, making you more flexible and supple, but it has been shown to effectively lower blood pressure, plus reduce stress and anxiety.
Yoga focuses largely on breathing, encouraging you to be mindful and aware of your body. In focusing on your breath and physical movement, your mind is able to relax and allow your body to release any tension it is holding. Put simply, while focusing singularly on your body and breath, your mind is distracted from external thoughts, allowing you to fully let go.
A key element of yoga is stretching and elongating muscles that might have become tight and inflexible due to our largely sedentary lifestyles. This stretching is vital in increasing flexibility and helping to reduce injury, pain and discomfort.
Dedicating just 10 minutes every day or two to doing a few yoga poses can work wonders in helping to reduce anxiety and help you relax while providing your body with a well needed stretch, and ultimately improving your overall flexibility.
Here are 8 of our favourite easy-to-do poses:
This simple cross-legged pose not only opens your hips, groin and abductors but it lengthens the spine; strengthens the back and stretches the knees and ankles; calms the mind and reduces stress and anxiety.
Cat & Cow Pose
There are numerous benefits to the Cat/Cow Pose. The movement is a great stretch and strengthening move for the spine, neck, hips, back and abdomen. It reduces tension in the upper back and neck, increases coordination, and improves posture.
The movement also massages and stimulates internal organs such as the kidneys, and can help to relieve pain from menstruation, as well as any discomfort in the lower back.
Extended Mountain Pose
Extended Mountain pose stretches the sides of the body, spine, shoulders, and belly. It helps to properly align the spinal column, warming up the body and creating space between vertebrae, helping to improve posture.
As well as strengthening the thigh muscles, it helps to open the chest and lungs, allowing for deep breathing and the relief of anxiety and fatigue.
Forward Fold Pose
Forward folds work to build strength and flexibility in the spine as well as release tension in the neck, upper back and lower back. The pose creates space between each and every one of your vertebrae, increasing circulation to the millions of nerves present, soothing your nervous system and helping you to relax.
The movement increases circulation to the abdominal organs such as the pancreas, liver, intestines and kidneys, helping to improve digestion and stimulate the metabolism. It also improves flexibility alongside the entire backside of the body, from the heels to calves, to hamstrings to hips, and all the way along the spine.
Downward Facing Dog Pose
This energising pose is perfect for energising the body and mind, stretching the hamstrings, calves and arches of the feet. Not only does it help to relieve stress and depression, but it can help those with high blood pressure, sciatica and sinus problems.
Cobra pose is a back extension that stretches and promotes flexibility in the mid and upper back. It is great for building strength in the back as well as the glutes and thighs.
This resting pose has incredible benefits. Stretching the hips, thighs and ankles, it allows the front of the body to relax while gently extending the back of the body. Great for reducing stiffness in the lower back, it increases flexibility while stimulating the abdominal muscles and opening the chest.