As we find ourselves during this time of quarantine and shelter-in-place people are searching for new hobbies to help relieve stress, improve one’s health, and, just help pass the time. With gym’s and studios across the nation being temporarily closed, people are searching for that mental release that they no longer have access to being confined to their homes. Which is why more and more people are taking that first step into the world of Yoga. Yoga has a number of benefits. It keeps our bodies fit and can improve the immune system. For those of us with stressful jobs and lives, a daily regime of yoga helps calm the nervous system. When practicing yoga, we build up the respiratory system and stimulate blood circulation.
Here are five “asanas”, another term for a Yoga posture, that build a healthier mind and body.
This simple asana helps both beginner and advanced yogis set our minds for a yoga session. We can also use it as a meditation pose to calm down at the end of a long day. In a cross-legged position, place the right shin directly in front of the left. To relax our hips, we can use folded blanket. It’s important to keep the back straight and relax the shoulders. Once we obtain the correct position, it’s time to concentrate on breathing deeply.
Stand up to perform this simple pose. We often see this pose at the beginning or cool-down portions of surya namaskar, which is a series of 12 asanas connected through stretching or jumping movements.
With our feet hip distance apart and planted firmly on the ground, we keep the spine straight and look directly forward. While our arms hang at our sides, pointing toward the ground, we can raise energy from the ground through the body, keeping muscles tight and engaged. Also called “mountain pose,” this asana cultivates strength and relaxed power.
This asana takes place from a comfortable meditation pose. It’s important to keep the spine and head straight and rest our hands on our knees. During the bhujangasana, we exhale forcefully through the nostrils using the abdominal muscles to force the air out of the lungs. This is followed by a passive inhalation so that the stomach muscles can relax.
To get the full benefit of the asana, we continue this rhythm for 20 rounds. We can perform this asana right after awakening to a new day or during the day at least two hours after eating food.
4. Downward Dog
Many new and experienced yogis love the downward dog pose. It strengthens the entire body and releases the tension that builds up in our backs. Additional benefits include improved circulation and toned arms, legs, and abs.
We follow these steps to practice the asana:
1. Place feel and palms on the ground, pushing the hips up.
2. Our bodies resemble an upside-down V with clean, straight lines.
3. Legs and arms are straight and engaged and both sides of the body feel balanced when we reach a comfortable pose.
4. Breathe deeply while performing the downward dog.
5. Beginners can practice holding the pose for one minute and practice at any time of the day.
Many yoga and physical fitness routines incorporate the downward dog. We see this at the gym and in online workout videos. Practicing the asana as part of our daily routines is a great way to develop muscle tone and clear away negative or stressful thoughts.
5. Child’s Pose
When we need to rejuvenate, this asana provides deep relaxation and can recharge our busy minds. Use the child’s pose to relax the back, neck, and legs.
We follow these steps to achieve the child’s pose:
1. First, we sit in vajra asana, a kneeling pose where our lower legs directly touch the mat. The upper legs sit directly on top of the lower ones, with the soles of our feet touching the buttocks.
2. From vajra asana, we place our heads on the mat in front of us.
3. Our arms rest on our sides as we relax our necks, shoulders, and heads.
We can add a layer of difficulty by moving the left arm to the front and moving the right arm under the head, facing left. We can turn our heads to the left too. With our foreheads on the ground, we can remain in this position, concentrating on relaxing and breathing.
Whenever the stress of the day begins to build, this asana helps us reset our minds. Consider it a “time out” asana that works well during the day and helps us unwind for bed at night.
These five yoga asanas assist each practitioner seeking a healthy body and mind to achieve peace, balance, and strength. Living with mindfulness helps us understand the importance of each moment in these and other yoga asanas. Instead of rushing through the movements, we can use them to move beyond stress, anger, and anxiety.
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