The beauty of yoga is the simplicity of its approach; the best way to start a daily yoga routine is to begin with basic yoga poses; expanding the program to include more intensive moves as you become more comfortable with them. Yoga postures can be static and held for several minutes, or done in a flowing manner of moves, called a “vinyasa”. Done with music, a yoga routine can be an enjoyable start to a potentially hectic day.
Since breathing is an important component of yoga, any moves that you do should incorporate rhythmic breathing: in through the nose and out either through the nose or mouth, for a cleansing effect. Deep breathing helps to relax the body; circulate the blood, especially to the brain; and helps in keeping the mind focused on whatever future tasks you may want to do.
Meditation can be simple or involved. It can be short or longer, depending on your time frame. For purposes of a beginner’s routine, use either Mountain Pose standing up, or sitting cross-legged on the floor for doing simple meditation. Sitting cross-legged with hands resting on your bent knees, palms held upward, close your eyes and try to empty all thought from your mind. Some types of yoga involve chanting or the use of candles if desired. You can do this for a quick five minutes or extend it to to half an hour. This static meditative pose will serve to relax and calm the mind.
Mountain pose is done standing up with feet close together, and hands held in prayer form. By practicing slow and deep breaths while standing, you can create a gentle start to your day.
As mentioned previously, a vinyasa is moving from one yoga pose to another in a very flowing manner. It is accompanied by rhythmic breathing, inhaling with the first move, and exhaling as the body transitions into the second pose. Start with one basic vinyasa per day and gradually add on, until you have a program that involves 20 minutes of workout.
Mountain Pose to Standing Forward Bend
This vinyasa channels energy throughout the body and helps to relax the upper torso and bring oxygen to the brain. Standing tall and straight, with tailbone slightly forward and chest out as in Mountain pose, take both arms upward and do a swan dive downward, bending at the waist. With your face close to your knees and hands placed on your ankles, shake the head gently up and down, then side to side. This helps to address a stiff neck and relax the shoulders. Do this vinyasa as many times as you wish for a quick routine.
This is also a good vinyasa to start your day. Cat stretches are the easiest of yoga poses, great for removing tension from the body. Mimicking the actions of a cat, get into a crawl position with both hands and knees on the floor. Lift the entire middle of the body upwards, sucking in the abdominal area, curving into a “C” format, allowing your head to drop gently from your shoulders. Do this on an inhale, and as you exhale, lift both your buttocks and head upwards from a cat roll into a flex. Do this vinyasa several times a day to relieve tension.
Downward Dog to Upward Dog
Down-Dog is the most popular and classic of yoga poses. Practically everyone knows what doing a Down-Dog involves and can be used as an effective warm-up or cool-down stretch to any exercise regimen. Start with a standing position and reach down to the floor with both your hands, hip-width and stretching forward to the other end of the yoga mat. At this point, your body is in a “V” formation, and you are standing on the balls of your feet. Head is in between your arms. Weight is balanced between the hands and the feet. To get into the move of stretching the spine, lower your heels slightly.
To flow into Up-Dog, bring your legs closer to the floor and roll to the tops of your feet. Inhaling, lift the front of the chest/spine to face upwards, and tailbone down on the floor, with buttocks firm. Arms are held straight on the floor. Moving from Down-Dog to Up-Dog greatly strengthens the back and torso.
Mountain Pose to Triangle
As you stand straight in Mountain Pose, jump your feet apart until they are 4-5 feet from one another. Taking the right straight leg, point the right foot forward; angle the left foot slightly inward and bend towards the pointed right foot with right hand on the outside of the foot. The left hand is extended up and over the side of the body. Lift your head up to face the extended left hand. This is a wonderful stretch that takes tension from the waist and lower back. Do the same move on the left side. Hold for as long as needed to stretch the side of the body.
Triangle to Exalted Warrior
Exalted Warrior is a strengthening pose where both feet are in a wide stance. Right foot is turned straight forward, with knee bent in a 90-degree angle. The left leg is straight, with foot turned inward slightly. Both arms are reaching out straight, parallel to the floor. Bring both arms up, hands clasped, chest forward for a total body stretch and strengthening pose. There are three positions of Exalted Warrior but this article will deal with the basic one.
The most favorite of relaxing poses is the “Child’s Pose” where you rest on your knees and shins, head is bowed forward, touching the floor. Arms can be relaxed and stretching backward alongside the body or extended forward in a restful stretch. The final cool-down involves the “Corpse” pose, lying flat on your back; arms gently beside your body; becoming one with the floor; inhaling and exhaling gently.
Pick and choose from these simple vinyasas to form your own routine, and you will reap the benefits of yoga when practiced daily.