For the #21DayYogaChallenge, we teamed up with the British Heart Foundation to bring you up to 21 different yoga poses to try at home. Yoga has a whole host of mental and physical benefits that keep your body moving and your mind calm, and is a great way for people of all ages and abilities to exercise. Whether you’ve always been curious but perhaps too scared to take the plunge and try a class, or have dipped your toe in and are looking for some direction, these poses are great for starting out with. All you need is a mat and a space to practice, whether it’s at home, in your local park, or in the gym.

 

Week One

Pose 1: Child’s Pose

Promotes calm, centring and restorative movements. Often used as a resting position in between more difficult poses during a yoga practice. Begin on your hands and knees, centre your breath and begin to let your thoughts slow down. Spread your knees wide apart while keeping your big toes touching, rest your buttocks on your heels. Those with tight hips can keep their knees and thighs together. On exhalation, bow forward draping your torso between your thighs. Your heart and chest should rest between or on top of your thighs. Allow your forehead to come to the floor. Keep your arms long and extended, palms facing down. For deeper relaxation, bring your arms back to rest alongside your thighs with your palms facing up. Completely relax your elbows. Hold for three minutes and repeat as many times as you feel necessary.

child's-pose

 

Pose 2: Cat and Cow Pose

Promotes spinal mobility and working with your breath. This is a gentle flow between two poses that warms the body. Start on your hands and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. As you exhale, draw your belly to your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. The pose should look like a cat stretching its back. Next, inhale as you drop your belly towards the mat. Lift your chin and chest, and gaze up toward the ceiling. Broaden across your shoulder blades and draw your shoulders away from your ears. Transition between these poses up to 10 times.

cat-pose

Cat Pose

 

cow-pose

Cow Pose

 

Pose 3: Table Top With Balance

Encourages strength and balance. Come to the floor on your hands and knees. Bring the knees hip width apart, with the feet directly behind the knees. Bring the palms directly under the shoulders with the fingers facing forward. Look down between the palms and allow the back to be flat. Extend the right arm in front and left leg out back. Hold for five seconds before repeating on the opposite arm and leg. Hold for five seconds once more then repeat 2-3 times.

table-top-with-balance

 

Pose 4: Mountain and Extended Mountain Pose

Encourages strong posture, grounding and deep breathing. From a standing position, bring the feet hip width apart. Press your feet evenly and firmly into the ground and straighten your knees. Lift and open your chest by rolling your shoulders back and bring them down away from your ears, whilst keeping your head straight. Soften and lengthen your abdomen and draw your tailbone in without pushing your thighs forward. Extend your arms down the sides of your body with your palms facing your thighs and extend your fingers. Repeat the pose 2-3 times holding it for up to a minute each time. For Extended Mountain Pose, lift your arms in front of you, keeping your arms straight and your palms open facing each other. Raise your arms above your head. Keep your arms parallel and extend the arms including your wrists, hands and fingers whilst at the same time pressing your weight into your feet and extending your legs. Repeat 2-3 times.

mountain-extended-mountain-pose

 

Pose 5: Forward Fold

Stretches and releases as you bend your knees and feel your ribcage move towards your thighs. Stand with your feet together, knees bent slightly and fold your torso over your legs. Move from the hips, not the lower back. Place your hands next to your feet or on the ground in front of you. Inhale and extend your chest to lengthen your spine. Keep your gaze directed forward. On exhalation, extend your torso without rounding your back. Stay long through the neck, draw your shoulders down your back. Hold for ten seconds.

forward-fold-pose

 

Pose 6: Halfway Lift

Stretches your hamstrings, encourages strength in the lower back and torso, focuses on postural muscles. From a standing position, lift your upper body halfway with your feet rooted into the ground. Keep your spine straight, your ribcage lifted and connect with your thighs. Keep your hands on the front of your shins, you might have to bend your knees slightly to help get this movement. Look forward but be careful not to compress the back of your neck. Hold this position for a few breaths.

halfway-lift-pose

 

Week Two

Pose 7: Plank

Keep your shoulders above the wrists and reach back through the heels. Make sure you engage your core to avoid collapsing the lower back. Look slightly forward; don’t drop your head. Keep the arms straight and engage your thighs. This is a great pose for strengthening the core muscles. For those with weaker wrists, modify the plank by dropping on to your knees. Alternatively, rest onto your forearms for a Forearm Plank.

plank-pose

 

Pose 8: Low Plank

From the plank position, drop your knees and look ahead. Bend your elbows and hug them into your ribcage, lowering your chest and chin while keeping your hips high. This is the transition pose into Cobra or Upward Facing Dog, great for strengthening the arms.

low-plank-pose

 

Pose 9: Cobra-From Low Plank (or Chaturanga)

Keep the elbows tucked in and begin to lift your shoulders to a comfortable level, rolling the shoulders backward and raising the head so that you’re looking past the front edge of the mat. Press the tops of your feet onto the floor, toes pointing directly behind you and engaging the thighs and glutes. This pose is a back extension, which strengthens the back muscles and promotes flexibility in the mid and upper back. It also works your glutes and thighs.

cobra-pose

 

Pose 10: Downward Facing Dog

From the Cobra position, tuck your toes under and push back into the classic inverted ‘V’ shape. Be sure to keep reaching your hips up and backwards, engaging your core to support the back. Your arms should be straight and your hands shoulder-width apart, your feet hip-width apart and parallel. This pose stretches the calves and hamstrings but might be difficult to execute if you have a tight back or hamstrings, so modify by bending the knees but be sure to keep the hips pointing up. Hold this pose for five breaths, or longer if you feel the need to. This is a great pose for removing fatigue, and relieving pain and stiffness in the legs.

downward-dog-pose

 

Pose 11: Extended Moose

From Downward Dog, walk the feet between your hands. Soften the knees if you need to or keep the legs straight as you reach your arms out to the side and up while slowly moving (with a straightened back) to a standing position with your arms directly above your head and your palms together.

extended-moose-pose

 

Pose 12: Halfway Lift

Stretches your hamstrings, encourages strength in the lower back and torso, focuses on postural muscles. From a standing position, lift your upper body halfway with your feet rooted into the ground. Keep your spine straight, your ribcage lifted and connect with your thighs. Keep your hands on the front of your shins, you might have to bend your knees slightly to help get this movement. Look forward but be careful not to compress the back of your neck. Hold this position for a few breaths.

halfway-lift-pose

 

Pose 13: Tree Pose on Right Leg / Left Leg

Place the foot of your lifted leg close to the groin; or onto the calf muscle. Lift the hip of the lifted leg to stabilise the pelvis and lengthen through the waist. Engage the core, glutes and thigh of the supporting leg to maintain your balance as you raise your arms above your head and join your palms. Alternatively, if you have tight or overdeveloped shoulder muscles, bend the elbows to enable you to keep your hands together. This pose strengthens the leg muscles and ankles while helping you practice your balance. It’s a great pose for promoting calm as you’ll need to focus to avoid falling over or dropping the lifted leg to the ground. Hold this pose for 10 breaths on each leg.

tree-pose-on-left-leg

Tree Pose on Left Leg

 

tree-pose-on-right-leg

Tree Pose on Right Leg

 

Week Three

Pose 14: Low Lunge Right Leg Forward and Low Lunge Left Leg Forward (two poses combined)

Step into the Downward Facing Dog pose, then exhale and step your right foot forward between your hands. Your right knee should be aligned over the heel. Lower your left knee to the floor and, keeping the right knee in place, slide the left leg back until you feel a comfortable stretch in your left front thigh and groin. Turn the top of your left foot to the floor. Inhale and lift your torso upright. Sweep your arms to the sides and up above your head with your fingers interlaced. Draw the tailbone down towards the floor and lift your pubic bone toward your navel. Lift your chest and squeeze your shoulder blades, you should feel a nice stretch. Carefully and slowly tilt your head back whilst simultaneously reaching your fingers towards the sky. Hold for a minute, keeping your breath regular throughout. Now repeat the pose with your left leg forward instead.

low-lunge-pose-right-leg-forward

 

Pose 15: Warrior 1 Right Leg Forward

Step your right leg forward, with your left foot towards the back of the mat at a 90 degree angle. This should create a long stance. Bend your right leg so that your knee is in front of your ankle, but not over your toes. Extend and lengthen your arms upward. Try to angle your hips towards the front and keep both feet facing in the same direction. Hold this posture for ten seconds (or longer if you can), concentrating on your breath whilst you do.

warrior-1-pose-right-leg-forward

 

Pose 16: Warrior 2 Right Leg Forward

Step your right leg forward, with your left foot towards the back of the mat at a 90 degree angle. This should create a long stance. Bend your right leg so that your knee is in front of your ankle, but not over your toes. Extend your arms out, raising them parallel to the floor with your palms facing down. Hold your gaze just over the middle finger of your right hand and relax your shoulders down and away from your ears. Hold this pose for ten seconds, concentrating on your breath whilst you do.

warrior-2-pose-right-leg-forward

 

Pose 17: Warrior 3 Right Leg Forward

Step your right foot forward and shift all of your weight onto this leg. Inhale and lift the arms over your head, with your hands separate and pointing upwards. As you exhale, lift the left leg up behind you, hinging at the hips to lower the arms and torso down towards the floor. Look down at the floor and concentrate at a still point for balance. Reach out your arms as far as you can whilst maintaining balance. Breathe and hold for 3-6 breaths, then inhale the arms up to lower the leg back to the floor and step both feet together back into Mountain Pose.

warrior-3-pose-right-leg-forward

Pose 18: Warrior 1 Left Leg Forward

Step your left leg forward, with your right foot towards the back of the mat at a 90 degree angle. This should create a long stance. Bend your left leg so that your knee is in front of your ankle, but not over your toes. Extend and lengthen your arms upward. Try to angle your hips towards the front and keep both feet facing in the same direction. Hold this posture for ten seconds, concentrating on your breath whilst you do.

warrior-1-left-leg-forward

 

Pose 19: Warrior 2 Left Leg Forward

Step your left leg forward, with your right foot towards the back of the mat at a 90 degree angle. This should create a long stance. Bend your left leg so that your knee is in front of your ankle, but not over your toes. Extend your arms out, raising them parallel to the floor with your palms facing down. Hold your gaze just over the middle finger of your right hand and relax your shoulders down and away from your ears. Hold this pose for ten seconds, concentrating on your breath whilst you do.

warrior-2-pose-left-leg-forward

 

Pose 20: Warrior 3 Left Leg Forward

Step your left foot forward and shift all of your weight onto this leg. Inhale and lift the arms over your head, with your hands separate and pointing upwards. As you exhale, lift the left leg up behind you, hinging at the hips to lower the arms and torso down towards the floor. Look down at the floor and concentrate at a still point for balance. Reach out your arms as far as you can whilst maintaining balance. Breathe and hold for 3-6 breaths, then inhale the arms up to lower the leg back to the floor and step both feet together back into Mountain Pose.

warrior-3-pose-left-leg-forward

 

Pose 21: Easy Pose

Sit on the floor with your legs crossed. Now place the palms of your hands on your knees or thighs facing upwards. Keep the shoulders relaxed, close your eyes and relax the entire body, taking slow and deep breaths. Stay in this pose for as long as you wish to ensure maximum relaxation.

easy-pose

Summary
The 21 Day Yoga Challenge
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The 21 Day Yoga Challenge
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Welcome to the #21DayYogaChallenge! We’ve teamed up with the British Heart Foundation to bring you 21 days of different yoga poses to try at home.
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David Lloyd
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