Many of you are probably familiar with yoga or have seen it available at different gyms and studios. This blog will explain a little about the history, types and benefits of yoga. We will also introduce a few of our favorite stretching poses for the back. Stay tuned for additional blogs addressing poses for strength and balance.
First, a little history. Yoga is a 4,000 year old practice developed to enhance physical and emotional balance by tying breath with movement. The breathing techniques are called pranayamas and the movements or poses are called asanas. Typical types of yoga you might see around town are Vinyasa yoga, Power yoga, Hot yoga and Iyengar yoga. The fundamentals of these different types are developed from Hatha yoga. The core components of Hatha yoga include postures, breathing and meditation. The subtypes mentioned above, typically have specific focuses. For instance, Vinyasa follows a particular sequence of poses coordinated with an inhalation and exhalation. Iyengar yoga is a practice of precision where proper alignment is the main focus. Hot yoga is practiced in a heated and humidified environment usually involving a specific sequence of poses. These are only a few of the numerous subtypes, but you can be certain no matter the type, you will reap the benefits.
What are the benefits of yoga? Yoga improves postural control and balance. Yoga has also been shown to increase strength and endurance. Let’s not forget those psychological benefits like decreasing pain and depression. With all these benefits, let’s try some yoga!
- Begin sitting on heels with thumbs on outside of feet. Feet can be extended or flexed.
- Roll the spine forward bringing the crown of the head as close as possible to the knees. If you are unable to hold the heels you can utilize a strap.
- Pull on the heels to lift the hips, rounding into the spine, gently pressing into the crown of the head.
- Hold for 5 slow inhalations and exhalations. With each inhalation lift the hips. With each exhalation pull on the heels to round the spine even more.
Benefits: Improves mobility of spine and back, decreases pressure of the neck and back, decreases depression and insomnia
- Kneel on the floor, big toes together
- Sit back on your heels and separate knees to hip-width apart
- Exhale bringing your forehead to the floor in front of you.
- Place the hands outstretched in front of you or down by your sides.
- Hold for 5 slow inhalations and exhalations. With each inhalation reach forward with your fingertips. With each exhalation push back with your hips, bringing your seat closer to your heels.
Benefits: stretches low back, hips and thighs, increased blood circulation to head, calms mind and body, helps reduce fatigue
Supported Bridge Pose
- Lie on your back, feet flat with a yoga block nearby.
- Extend your arms down to your sides.
- With feet parallel, press down into the soles of the feet and lift the hips off the floor.
- Place the block underneath the sacrum in a comfortable position.
- Stay in this position for several minutes. Come out of the pose if you experience any discomfort.
- When finished, press into the feet and lift the hips to remove the block and slowly lower to the floor.
Benefits: Reduces anxiety, fatigue, low back pain, headache, insomnia, decreases menstrual discomfort