Instead of just occasionally practicing yoga, it has been shown that the true benefits lie in committing to yoga daily. Any study that speaks of the positive changes of mental and physical health state that yoga has to be done daily. When you focus on the poses that are said to help your health problems, you can slowly gain strength and flexibility. As you make it a part of your routine, of your life, you will notice the value it gives to your life as a while. You become more relaxed, you aren’t in pain, you have increased energy and your mind is more clearly. I recently heard a yogi say that if you do yoga every once in a while, you’re pretty much just doing a stretching exercise. Here are some poses you should try daily to get rid of the most common health problems.
Yoga for Back Pain
Back pain is something that many of us suffer from. Whether it’s from an accident or just slow deterioration from sitting at a desk, back pain can rule your life. Studies have shown that gaining better flexibility in your supporting muscles can greatly reduce muscle pain. When you do yoga daily, you slowly regain strength in your core which supports the back greatly. One of the main reasons for back problems derive from a weak core and tight hamstrings.
If you have severe back pain, you won’t want to begin a yoga routine for yourself. Consulting your doctor will be necessary. If you want to relieve occasional soreness however, these poses should help promote good spine health. As you strengthen muscles and ease tension, the spine retains its natural shape and strength. Â This promotes the back to align correctly once again
Poses for Back Pain
Childs Pose gently stretches the lower back in a subtle, yet acute way. It also relaxes you greatly and if you’re a beginner, it’s a really easy pose to start with.
How to do Childs Pose
- Sit on your heels and bend forward as you stretch your arms out.
- Bring your torso to the mat.
- Focus on breathing into your lower back. You’ll feel a nice stretch.
Pigeon pose is a deep hip release and helps release lower back pain. Pigeon pose counteracts the tightness in muscles you get from sitting at a desk.
How to do Pigeon Pose:
- Begin in tabletop position.
- Bring your right knee as though you would go into cross-legged. Place it behind your right wrist.
- Slide the left leg back and straighten knee and point toes.
- Bring legs towards one another to keep hips square.
- Slowly lower your body down to the floor.
- Lift your upper body and come onto fingertips. Bring your belly button in and open your chest.
- Bring your torso back to the mat and stay here for 5 minutes.
The Whole Back
Downward Facing Dog
Downward facing dog will immediately help counteract the slumping back you’ve been sporting while you sit for much of the day. Downward facing dog strengthens and stretches many parts of your body at one time. You stretch the back and strengthen the thighs while getting the heart over your head which gives your heart a nice break. The side body gets stretches as well as your shoulders, legs, ankles, and feet. Doing this pose daily will promote better posture which will prevent overall back pain.
Steps to do Downward Facing Dog
- Start in table top position (on your hands and knees)
- Spread your palms shoulder width apart and stacked over your wrists.
- Keep your knees hip distance apart.
- Curl your toes under as you put equal weight on your hands and feet.
- You want your hands to be positioned in front of your shoulders, creating an “A” shape.
- Ground the palms into the mat and bring knees off the mat as you raise your tail bone to the sky.
- Focus on straightening your knees with just a slight micro bend. If possible your heels should touch the floor.
- Hold this pose for 5-10 breaths.
Stress and anxiety hits a lot of us on a daily basis. Whether its acute stress or anxious feelings due to life’s uncertainties, stress is widespread. Consider the fact that over half of American adults use some form of mood altering medication. Its clear, we are a culture riddled with emotional uneasiness. An in-depth Harvard study has shown that yoga can combat the negative emotions we feel which can prevent disease. It can lower blood pressure and keep the heart healthy while alleviating stress that can cause cardiovascular problems.
Poses to Alleviate Stress and Anxiety
A fast way to relax yourself during moments of uncertainty and stress is to breathe deeply. You may have noticed our brain tells our body to do this naturally. Breathing deeply stimulates the Parasympathetic Nervous System which is your natural way of relaxing the body. When you choose poses that open your heart, you allow a lot of space for the breath. Bridge pose is an excellent heart opener that opens up the passage ways for better breathing. Backbends in general allow you to release negative emotions so you can get rid of tension that is aiding in anxiety. If you’re new to yoga, you can try a mild inversion bridge pose. This changes the flow of blood which causes the body to react at a cellular level, helping you to find deep relaxation.
How to do Bridge Pose
- Lie down on your back with your knees bent. Set your feet on the floor so they touch your sitting bones if possible.
- Press your feet and arms onto the floor while pushing the tailbone towards the pubis.
- Lift your butt off the floor and keep the upper legs and feet parallel to the sky.
- Tuck in your shoulders and bring hands together behind your back.
- Lengthen the tailbone and imagine lifting your pubis towards your belly.
- Try to stay in this pose for as long as possible.
- To get out of the pose, roll your spine back onto the floor slowly.
Many people don’t have time to eat slowly in order to nurture their digestive system. Certain foods and combinations of foods may cause your stomach to react. To ease discomfort of digestive problems, there are a few yoga poses that nurture and cleanses toxins from the digestive system. Yoga can even prevent symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Through deep breathing and stretching abdominal organs, you massage the muscles and organs. This helps wring out any toxins that become stuck. The benefits you’ll gain from include less gas and bloating and more energy.
Cat/cow is an easy pose that massages the front and back of your upper body. You receive a full body stretch that helps mental and physical ailments. While you go through the pose, which is essentially two positions, you’ll experience a wringing out of the body. You massage your organs and intestines. When you do this, you allow fresh blood to pour into the cells. This promotes good digestion and will quickly relieve any digestive pain you’re experiencing. While you do cat/cow, you also stretch your spine, whole back, and shoulders.
How to do Cat/Cow
- Start in table top.
- Bring hands beneath your shoulders with knees behind your hips.
- Inhale as you drop your belly down and lift your head, heart, and hips to the ceiling. (Cow Pose)
- On your exhale, round your upper back towards the sky as you drop your eyes to your naval. (Cat Pose)
When you practice these poses daily, you should notice an improvement in your mind and body health. You’ll feel more centered and able to handle daily stress more easily. You’ll have more flexibility which will alleviate aches and pains from sitting or standing in one spot. There will be an overall sense of peace and calm in your everyday life.
About the Author:
Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga International, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh, Goa and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali)