You may feel that everyone you know is now doing yoga. As a yoga teacher, I’m thrilled by the amount of practitioners who’ve jumped on the mat. I still know many people though who haven’t quite found their inner OM.
Yoga is really just a joining of the mind and body through the breath. For all of the men and women out there who feel like they can't or don’t want to touch their toes; but would like to gain more flexibility and mindfulness, here’s some very simple yoga poses you can do.
1. Mountain Pose
Mountain pose is really just learning how to stand tall and with good posture. You can do this anywhere and anytime to feel more grounded and anchor yourself in the present moment.
How to Do It: Stand tall with your feet together. Press firmly in to your feet and lengthen up through the crown of the head. Keep your shoulders down and back and engage your abdominals. Lift above the kneecap by actively engaging your quadriceps.
Make sure you’re not locking your knees. Breathe in and out through the nose for eight to ten breaths.
Lunges are good for everyone because they stretch and strengthen the legs. You can work on lunges to gain more energy and tone and tighten the thighs, hips, buttocks, abs and arms.
How to Do It: From Mountain pose, step your left leg back one of your own leg’s length. Bend the right knee until it’s over your ankle, make sure it doesn’t go past your toes. Stretch the back leg super straight and lift your arms up alongside your ears.
Draw your abdominals in and up and keep your shoulders down and back. After five to eight breaths, step forward and switch sides.
3. Bird Dog
Bird Dog is great for concentration and core control and stability. It strengthens the entire body and you can do it before bed, first thing in the morning, during a workout or anytime you need more support for the back and spine. I love Bird Dog, it’s one of my all time favorite exercises and all levels can do it.
How to Do It: Come on to all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Press firmly in to your hands and contract your abdominals. Lengthen your right arm forward as you stretch your left leg back.
Keep the arm and leg in line with the torso and imagine balancing a cup of tea on your lower back. Hold for five breaths then switch sides. Repeat 8-10 times.
4. Table Top
Table top is a great exercise for strengthening the back body and stretching out the front body. Table isn’t anywhere as intense as a full backbend; but you reap the same benefits. Table top is the perfect heart opening pose for non yogis. You can perform it again any time of the day and add it in to your other workouts.
How to Do It: Sit tall and bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor hip width apart. Take your hands about ten to twelve inches behind you with the fingers facing forward. Press in to the hands and feet and lift the body up until it is parallel to the floor. Try and lift your hips as high as your shoulders.
Contract your hamstrings and buttocks, squeeze your shoulder blades together and engage your core. Hold for eight to ten breaths, lower down and rest. You can repeat two to three more times.
5. Staff Pose
Staff pose is like the Mountain pose for seated postures. I like how it teaches us how to engage our pelvic floor and abdominals to lengthen the spine.
Staff stretches the hamstrings, lengthens the spine, teaches us how to sit up tall with good posture, and prepares us for any seated pose afterwards.
How to Do It: Sit tall with your sits bones pressing firmly in to the floor. Place your hands alongside your hips and press them firmly in to the floor as well. Draw your belly button to your spine and lengthen up through the sides of your body.
Try to sit as tall as you can and lengthen through the back of your legs. Flex your feet and press the backs of the thighs in to the mat or floor. Stay and breathe for eight to ten deep, full breaths.
You don’t have to be bendy to practice yoga. You also don’t have to chant, eat a special diet or devote hours on end to doing yoga.
Yoga is something you can do anytime and anywhere. Start out with these easy-to-do yoga poses and you will feel a difference in the state of your mind and body immediately.