If you know me you know it. I am not a yogi and I don’t try to pretend to be one either. That said, I do practice yoga (not enough of it) and I believe in its benefits.
My favourite day to practice is typically Sunday, as it’s the day I prepare for the week ahead and collect the positive energy. Doing yoga in my garden, in the park, in a class gives me a sense of balance, alignment and restoration. Studies show that when the body and mind are brought into balance, the individual gains stability and clarity, ultimately leading to self-realisation.
I have selected 9 of my favourites yoga positions, broke down their technique and their benefits. Hope you enjoy reading about it.
You can try and practice them in your garden or in the park, taking advantage of the summery weather.
From your mountain pose shift your weight to your right leg and bend your left knee to the side lifting your foot off the floor. Hold the gaze to a stable point in front of you.
Grab hold of your left ankle and place your foot as close as possible to your groin, placing the sole of your foot against your right inner thigh.
Keep your hips square to the front and a neutral spine.
Press your palms together in prayer in front of your sternum, draw your shoulders away from the ears.
To make the position more challenging close your eyes and hold for 3 to 5 deep breaths.
- Strengthens thighs, calves and back.
- Open the pelvis increasing flexibility
- Stretches the groins, inner thighs and chest
- Improves sense of balance.
Parivritta Namaste Parsvakonasana
From Downward facing dog step your right foot forward, coming into a Lunge position. Make sure that the front knee is above your ankle and tracks over your toes whilst it bends.
Press back through the left heel and straighten the back knee. Lift your chest up and press your palm in prayer in front of your sternum. Lengthen through the spine and rotate the torso, placing the left elbow outside the right knee.
Keep the gaze towards the sky and hold the pose for 3 – 5 deep breaths.
- Strengthens the quadriceps, gluteus and abdominal muscles
- Expands intercostal muscles
- Improves digestion and elimination
- Stretches the psoas and hips
- Improves your balance, concentration and core awareness
From the Low Squat pose place your palms on the floor in front of you.
Place your knees on your upper arms as much as you can close to your armpits, bending your elbows slightly.
Rise to the ball of your feet shifting your body weight forward and gently pressing the knees into your arms.
When you find the balance, lift one foot at a time off the floor and bring the big toes together. Keep moving your heels towards your sit bones and open your chest.
Hold the pose for 3 – 5 deep breaths.
- Strengthens the abdominal wall and the back muscles
- Strengthens arms and inner thighs
- Stretches and strengthens
- Strengthens the wrists
- Builds endurance and mental focus
From Mountain pose, extend your arms forward at shoulder level, parallel to the floor. Cross the right arm over the left, then bend both elbows so your forearms are perpendicular to the floor. Rotate the wrists, press your palm together and lift your elbows keeping your fingers pointing up. Keep your elbow in line with the shoulders and shoulders away from the ears.
Cross your left thigh over the right. Hook the top of the left foot behind the right calf. Find the balance on the right leg , keep your spine nice and vertical and lower your tailbone slightly to the floor to sit in the position.
Keep the gaze at your thumbs and hold the pose for 3 – 5 breath.
Repeat on the other side.
- Stronger arms, legs, knees and ankles
- Open shoulder joints, creating space between the shoulder blades
- Open hips and IT band
- Increased circulation to all joints
- Improved digestion and elimination
- Improved balance
- Improved focus
Lie on your tummy with your arms along the side, palms facing up and forehead resting on the floor.
Lift your head, shoulders, arms and leg off the floor engaging glutes and lumbar spine. Try to focus on lengthening the spine rather then focusing on the height. Keep your inner thighs together.
Lift arms at your shoulder level parallel to the floor and get your thumbs towards the floor.
Open your collarbones and try to keep shoulders and feet at the same level so that the back arches evenly.
Keep the gaze towards a point in front of you and hold for 3-5 breaths.
- Strengthens the muscles of the spine, glutes, the triceps and legs.
- Stretches the shoulders, chest, belly, and thighs.
- Improves posture
- Stimulates abdominal organs
- Helps relieve stress
Upward Bow pose
Lie on your back with your arms along the side of your body.
Bend your knees and bring your feet flat on the floor hips wide apart, heels close to your sit bones.
Lift your arms up, bend your elbows and press your palms flat on the floor beside your ears, fingertips pointing towards your shoulders.
Press your feet into the floor and lift the pelvis and rest on the crown of the head, keeping your feet and thighs parallel.
Press into your palm to lift your upper body. Elbows should be shoulders wide apart. Lift your heads off the floor and straighten your arms.
Keep pressing hands and feet into the floor and keep lifting the pelvis.
Relax your neck and let your head hang.
Remember to breathe deeply.
Hold for 3 – 5 breaths.
- Stretches the spine, shoulders, chest, upper back, and thighs.
- Strengthens the arms, wrists, spine, legs, and abdomen.
- Opens the lungs, improving respiration
- It’s a heart-opener which helps us maintain emotional stability
From Downward Dog step your right foot in between your palms, pick up your abdominals and lift your chest in a Lunge Position keeping the front knee bent in a 90°angle and straightening the back leg nice and long.
Turn the toes of the back foot towards the side pivoting on your left heel and ground the foot to the floor. Make sure that the front foot is aligned with the arch of the back foot.
Rotate your hips and shoulders towards the left side. Open your arms to shoulder level, parallel to the floor. The palms are facing down and your fingertips are reaching out in different directions.
Make sure you distribute the weights equally in both legs. Draw the abdominals towards the spine and drop you tailbone towards the floor.
Draw your shoulders away from your ears and open your collarbones keeping a long spine. Make sure the front knee track over your second toes at all time.
Hold the position for 3 to 5 breaths.
• Stretches your hips, groins and shoulders
• Opens your chest and lungs
• Builds stamina and concentration
• Energizes tired limbs
• Stimulates your abdominal organs
• Develops balance and stability
• Improves circulation and respiration
One Leg King Pigeon
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
From seated position bring your right leg forward and take the left leg towards the back. Lean forward and place your hands on the floor.
Lift your pelvis enough to extend you’re your right leg back straight from the hip.
The right heel should rest on the floor in front of the left hip. The right knee comes straight forward from the right hip.
Press your palms on the floor and lift your torso to lengthen your spine.
Open your collarbones and send the gaze to the diagonal.
If your hip doesn’t reach the floor use a rolled blanket under your right sit bone.
Hold pose for 3 – 5 breaths.
• Stimulate the internal organs.
• Stretch deep glutes.
• Stretch groins and psoas (a long muscle on the side of your vertebral column and pelvis)
• Relieve impinged piriformis and alleviate sciatic pain.
• Help with urinary disorders.
Lie on your mat facing down with your arms along the side, forehead resting on the floor.
Bend your knees bringing your heels towards your glutes. Reach back with your arms and and take hold of the outside of your ankles.
Keep your knees hip wide apart.
Lift your thighs as well as your upper torso off the floor in one movement.
Open your collarbones, relax your shoulders and draw them down your back. Hold the balance on the abdomen.
Shoulders and feet should be aligned so the upper and lower body arches evenly.
Hold the position for 3 – 5 breaths.
• Improves blood circulation
• Gives flexibility to the back
• Strengthens back muscles
• Improve the function of liver, pancreas, small and big intestine
• Strengthens ankles, thighs, groins, chest, and abdominal organs
• It improves posture
Share your favourite yoga positions withe the community by commenting below!