Yoga is an amazing way to stretch and elongate your muscles while also stimulating your core. While yoga is often associated with mindfulness, it also helps increase your balance and flexibility.
Here is a list of Solo-Step’s favorite simple poses for first-timers to ensure a safe yet beneficial yoga practice:
Child’s Pose: Aside from Corpse Pose (aka only laying down on your back) this might be the easiest pose in the practice of yoga. While it’s incredibly simple, it’s very effective for creating flexibility in shoulders and spines. To achieve this pose, sit comfortably on your heels. Roll your torso forward and place your forehead to rest on the floor. Slowly extend your arms past your head as you lower your chest as close as you can to your knees. Hold the pose and breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Downward Dog: Begin on your hands and knees and align your wrists directly under your shoulders while your knees sit directly under your hips. Spread your fingers wide and evenly distribute your weight. Take a breath in and as you exhale, tuck your toes and lift your knees off the floor. Gradually lift your glutes and thighs to the sky and begin to straighten your legs trying to make your heels touch the ground. Press away from the floor and lift through your pelvis. Make sure you’re not locking your knees and keep your shoulders pulled away from your ears. Exhale as you ease back to your knees to come out of the pose. Downward dog is a great way to increase flexibility in hamstrings and lower backs.
Cobra Pose: Lay flat on your stomach with your legs stretched out behind you and your hands directly under your shoulders with fingers spread wide, and elbows pulled into your body. Inhale and lift your head and chest off the ground. Straighten your arms and relax into the pose while drawing your shoulders back and chest forward. As you advance your practice, your can deepen the stretch. Hold for up to 30 seconds and repeat up to five times. Cobra pose is great for increasing flexibility in the chest, shoulders and abdominals.
Chair Pose: Begin standing with your arms to your side otherwise known as mountain pose. Raise your arms above your head perpendicular to each other palms facing. Exhale and bend your knees keeping as parallel to the floor as possible. Remember to your heels flat on the ground and pelvis tucked. Firm your shoulders and press your chest forward. Stay in the pose for thirty seconds, and on an exhale slowly straighten your legs and release your arms. Chair pose greatly increases balance by strengthening your hip flexors, ankles, back, and calves.
Tree Pose: Begin standing in Mountain pose with your arms at your side. Distribute your weight evenly through your feet. Shift your weight to your right foot and reach down to grab your left foot. Place your foot either above or below your knee, or beside the opposite ankle if you are a beginner. Keep your hips squared to the front of the room while drawing your hands together to prayer position. Inhale and pull your hands overhead. Hold for up to 60 seconds, then try the pose on the opposite side. Tree pose is known for helping with balance issues.
Overall, practicing these five simple poses over time will help enhance your flexibility and balance.