It should be no secret at this point that yoga is one of the best forms of exercise that people can try out for themselves in the world.
Now, is that a bold claim to make? Perhaps.
But when you consider that yoga can be practiced pretty much anywhere with a little flat ground, and hundreds of different poses for working and stimulating every muscle in the body, that can be tailored to an individual’s needs and abilities, is that so much of a surprise that it’s become so popular in the last 40 to 50 years?
Yoga is a practice, even an art form, for everyone! It’s particularly become a great exercise for people that may not be looking to get shredded but want to maintain a decent level of fitness and health for themselves.
If that sounds like your kind of yoga practice, then our little guide here might be just for you!
Whether you’re a yoga fanatic who’s been practicing for years, or someone who is just getting into it, these exercises will be perfect for keeping you in tip-top shape!
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
If we’re starting this list with yoga exercises that can be helpful for anyone, we should probably start with practices that are easy for as many people as possible to try. And what could be easier than pretending to be a corpse, with the corpse pose?
Joking aside, there is more to this pose than just laying on the ground and closing your eyes for a snooze.
This is a breathing exercise that makes you take the time away from your duties and busy life to simply focus on a single part of you, and is an ideal way of practicing calming breathing techniques, and even meditation.
It’s a great way to lower your heart rate too, and even help lower blood sugar consumption for diabetics too.
Plus, it is still effectively laying on the ground, so it’s a practice that anyone can try out for themselves. Just make sure that your back is as connected with the floor as possible, to allow you to feel every breath as you take them.
Standing Side Bend (Parsva Urdhva Hastasana)
Moving on to something a little more active, the standing side bend is another exercise that we picked because of its simplicity. So long as you have some mobility, you can try out this pose for yourself. It works for both standing-up and sitting-down yoga.
Also sometimes known as the side tree bend, the pose is as simple as standing/sitting as straight as possible, raising your hands together, and bending sideways.
If you can, try and hold the position for a decent amount of time (30 seconds), before then moving to the opposite side, while also timing these movements with your inhaling and exhaling.
If that feels too easy, try adding a 5-second increase during each session, until you find your limit. Now, you’ve got a goal to head towards!
Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana)
There are several ‘warrior’ poses in the yoga tradition. But for this entry, we’re sticking with the first warrior pose, a stance that is perfect for building core strength and flexibility.
Start by standing up straight, with your feet around a hip’s width apart, so that they aren’t getting in the way of each other. Then place one foot around 2 to 3 steps in front of the other.
From here you then raise your chest, put your palms together, raise them above your head, and hold the position. Hold this pose for 30 seconds, then switch to stretch the other sides of the body.
It’s the perfect step up in difficulty from the last few entries and a great way to start a yoga sequence.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Another simple yoga stance, the mountain pose is deceptively simple, some might say. While it can appear like you’re simply standing straight, there is a little more to it than just picking a spot and straightening your back, and raising your hands!
Although that being said, that aspect of this pose, holding a straightened position for an extended period, is still a surprisingly effective exercise. You’ll be surprised just how much you slouch or slump slightly with this exercise, even those of us with the best posture!
Not only that, but the emphasis on the upright posture helps clear your airways, allowing for unobstructed breathing, and as a result, is a great way to help calm your mind and de-stress.
Add to that, this pose is a great launching point for plenty of other exercises and yoga poses that you’ll learn on your journey. It’s no surprise why so many people consider this one essential.
If you can, try and raise and lower your arms and hands on each exhalation and inhalation, for a great breathing and moving exercise.
Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)
Now, if you’re looking for a yoga pose that is a lot more dynamic, then the Half Moon crescent is one that you’re going to want to practice for yourself.
Working on both your core strength as well as your flexibility and balance, this is a stance that works pretty much every part of your body that you could ask for in a simple stance like this.
To start with, stand straight up, with your right foot slightly ahead of your left, then
Overall, this is a step up from the other poses in terms of difficulty, but only moderately. And there are a few other exercises out there that can help you work on your flexibility and core in the same way that yoga poses like this can!
Heck, we’d encourage anyone with even a decent level of fitness to give this a try, whether they’re an amateur or a trained athlete!
Legs Up The Wall (Viparita Karani)
If you’ve been hanging around yoga spaces for a while at this point, or have seen video tutorials for certain poses and stances, you’ll already know that sometimes a good prop can help you make the most out of a pose, especially if you have issues with balance or stretching.
This next pose is one of these poses, as you will be pressing your lower body up against a wall for the best result.
As we’ve implied, you’ll be sat against a wall that you can press your legs up against. Getting into this position can be a little awkward, and you’ll probably have to scooch over to get there.
However, once your back is flat against the floor, and your legs against a safe structure, this is a great way to stretch out your hamstrings.
Plus, the support allows you to think less about keeping your legs up in the air and focused on your stretching and breathing instead.
If this pose is awkward to do without any other props, we recommend using a folded blanket underneath your back. This will give your neck and lower body a little extra comfort as you are stretching.
We probably wouldn’t recommend this if you have some pre-existing mobility issues. But if you don’t, it’s a great exercise to try, and is plenty relaxing after a long day!
Ah yes, the downward dog. Is there a yoga aficionado that hasn’t heard of this simple, yet surprisingly effective stance?
Alongside being a great focusing tool, the downward dog pose can also help work plenty of the muscles around the body, such as your shoulders, your back, your hamstrings, and your glutes too.
There’s a reason that this pose is one of the most popular out there, of course!
To do this pose, start from a plank position, then place your hands directly below you, planted firmly on the ground. After that, make sure that the balls of your feet are also planted firmly on the floor or the mat, and push your hips upwards, with your head and shoulders following after them.
You’ll know you’re in the right position if you’re roughly looking like an upside-down V to an observer, or feel that your hips and buttocks are the highest point in the form.
Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana)
We’ve already covered the first warrior pose in this list. So, let’s take a look at the second stance too!
To start us off, you’ll already be in the Warrior 1 pose, with one leg ahead of the other, and your arms raised above your head. Then, move your back foot another step or two back, and allow your arms to fall to each side, holding them out straight and opposite to each other.
As you’ll probably have guessed, warrior stances 1 and 2 would lead into each other as part of a larger sequence, so you’ll need to do both to get the full effect.
So, there you have it! As you’ll know doubt understand by now, yoga isn’t just for people to try out the exercise without working up a sweat. It’s a great way of getting in that exercise for people who might not otherwise have the time, resources, and energy to go to the gym.
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