Yoga isn’t about being able to get into a split or twisting yourself up like a pretzel. It’s actually in the discipline and stillness that change occurs and can transform your life for the better. Check out these yoga poses anyone can do, no matter your age, flexibility, or level of experience.
One of the most relaxing and destressing yoga poses you can implement in your training routine is child’s pose, also known as balasana. It creates the perfect stretch for your spine which doesn’t require any forcing or pulling, allowing your body to align naturally.
Elongating your arms in front of you opens up your side body and the muscles right under your shoulder blades (lats) that are known to be very stiff and tight, especially if you spend your days typing away on your computer or driving your car.
You can maximize the stretch by sending your shoulders away from your ears and walking your hands as far away from you as your body allows it, firmly pushing your fingers into your mat.
You can keep your knees together and relax your upper body on your thighs or you can spread them wide and drop your torso in between, causing your hips to open and stretch out. The more you spread your knees, the more intense the stretch, so modify to your liking.
Relax your forehead on the mat and gently massage it by slowly rolling left to right. This is especially helpful if you’re having headaches or feeling tired, as it’ll help you relieve tension.
Leave your sit bones as close to your heels as possible, stretching your lower back and sacrum. You can stay here and just breathe for as long as you want. Feel your whole body relax and loosen up, or you can walk your hands to one side, and then the other. This will stretch your side body and outer hips.
Stretching out the front part of your body is just as important as the back, and that’s where fish pose, or matsyasana, comes in. This pose doesn’t require any special level of yoga practice and can be modified to your preference.
Most of us keep our shoulders hunched most of every day—even when we’re asleep. Fish pose opens up your shoulders and stretches out your chest in the most natural way, without doing anything crazy or strenuous.
Start by simply lying on your back and lifting your hips slightly to place your hands under your sit bones, palms facing downward. Push into your hands and lift your chest at the same time, feeling the stretch from your pelvis all the way up to your head and neck.
You don’t have to go high to feel the stretch, but if your body only allows a few inches, honor that and stay where you feel most comfortable. If you decide to go deeper, place the top of your head on the floor and press into it, opening up your throat in the process. To advance it even further, bring your hands over your head and stretch them out.
If all of this seems like too much, place a block or a pillow under your shoulder blades and feel the lift come naturally as you lean on top of it and throw your head backward.
It doesn’t matter how deep you go or which variation you choose, as long as you get a nice stretch in your whole front body. Breathe in and out and hold the pose as long as you want.
To gently come out of the pose, interlace your fingers behind your neck and gently pull your chin toward your chest for a moment. Come into counterpose after an intense stretch, before you come back to neutral.
This combination of two poses is the best way to warm up your spine, loosen your hips, and send fresh blood to your muscles. This makes a perfect morning wake-up call, as well as an incredible pre-bed stretching routine.
Start on your hands and knees, stack your joints so they’re right on top of one another, your shoulders over your wrists and hips over your knees. Root your fingers into the mat and spread them apart, so you get a nice, firm grip, pushing into the floor and feeling the resistance.
Lift your belly button toward your spine and send your tailbone long, getting your spine extended and back muscles stretched out. This is your neutral pose.
From here, come into cow pose by inhaling and gazing up toward the ceiling, creating a huge curve in your spine, stretching your front body and compressing your back. Exhale into cat pose by going the opposite direction and gazing toward your belly button, compressing your front body and extending your back.
Keep this inhale/exhale rhythm going and really exaggerate your extensions and contractions, feeling the energy flow through your body as you loosen up every part of your spine.
You can take it even further by going bigger and twisting to the side, creating circles, coming all the way down to your heels and back—whatever works best for you is fine. This is a perfect way to get the fresh blood pumping through every cell, making it refreshed, rejuvenated, and thriving.
Stretching out the legs isn’t an easy task, especially if you spend most of the day in a seated position. Runner’s lunge is one of those poses that causes flashbacks to physical education class.
Start by placing your hands on your mat, shoulder’s-width apart. Then, step with one leg between them, stretching out the other behind you. Ground the front heel into the mat and stay high on the ball of your other foot, activating your quadriceps by keeping your kneecap lifted.
Use your inhale to stretch your spine and open your chest. Then, push your hands firmly into the ground. Exhale and go deeper into the stretch, feeling your hip and hamstring do all the work.
Stay here for as long as you want, going deeper with each new breath cycle—just don’t forget to repeat it all on the other side!
Yoga is all about the stillness of each pose, your breathing, and elongating your body as you gently stretch, compress, twist, and bend. It’s the micro-actions that count, whether you’re a yoga newbie or have been practicing for years.