5 Simple Yoga Exercises You Can Implement in your Daily Routine
There’s a reason the ancient practice of yoga has stood the test of time – it promotes both physical and mental wellbeing, and with no fancy equipment required, it’s a versatile form of exercise that you can practice almost anywhere.
Celebrate National Yoga Month this September by implementing these 5 simple yoga exercises into your daily routine. You can either do them all in a row consecutively, or simply just practice an individual pose when you are in need of the specific benefits it provides.
Disclaimer: always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program, and do not attempt to practice these exercises if you don’t have the strength to get up from the floor.
1. Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
The Easy Pose, otherwise known as Sukhasana, is a basic seated yoga posture. There’s a good chance you’ve already practiced this pose unconsciously as a child, before you had the adult privilege and convenience of sitting in chairs.
To implement this pose into your daily routine, you could come down to the floor and sit in sukhasana instead of slouching on the sofa in the evenings. Make this a regular habit and notice how it opens up your hips and brings your spine into correct alignment.
- Come into a seated position on the floor, sit up straight, cross your legs and place your feet directly below your knees.
- Place your hands on your knees with your palms facing up or down.
- Press the hip bones down into the floor and reach the crown of the head up to lengthen the spine. Drop the shoulders down and back, and press the chest towards the front of the room.
- Align your head, neck and spine. Gaze straight ahead and breathe deeply. Hold for as long as you feel comfortable.
2. Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana)
Otherwise known as ‘Nadi Shodhana’, Alternate Nostril Breathing is a simple yet powerful technique that is often used to calm the mind and body. Hillary Clinton highly recommends this in her new book, and claimed it helped treat her anxiety.
You could implement this technique into your daily routine after sitting in The Easy Pose, or you could even just practice it at your work desk. Taking a break to practice Alternate Nostril Breathing will help reduce anxiety, settle stress and revitalize a tired mind.
- Either come into The Easy Pose (Sukhasana) or find a comfortable seat. Rest your left palm on your left knee, moving your right hand towards the nose.
- Place your right thumb on the right nostril to softly close it, and inhale slowly through your left nostril, then close it with your ring finger. Pause. Open and exhale slowly through the right nostril.
- With the right nostril open, inhale slowly, then close it with the thumb. Pause. Exhale through the left nostril. Once your exhalation is complete, inhale through the left. Pause before moving to the right.
- Repeat this pattern for as long as you feel necessary, before easing back into regular breathing.
3. Warrior 1 Pose (Virabhadrasana I)
Warrior 1, also known as ‘Virabhadrasana I’, is a standing yoga pose that stretches the entire front side of the body and strengthens the thighs, ankles and spine. When practiced often, It helps develop stamina, balance and coordination.
The name of this pose may seem strange as yogi’s are known for their non-violent ways, but what it’s is really trying to commemorate is to be a ‘spiritual warrior’. You could practice this pose after rolling out of bed to remind yourself that you possess the strength needed to tackle the day!
- From a standing position, step the right foot forward with the knee directly above the ankle. Place your left foot to the back of the mat. Tuck the back toes under and keep both feet facing forward.
- Bring the arms over the head in a H position with the palms facing each other.
- Keep the shoulders relaxed and breathe in and out gently. Hold for 3-6 breaths.
- To release, exhale and lower the hands down to the floor.
4. Upward Facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
Upward Facing Dog, otherwise known as ‘Urdhva Mukha Svanasana’, is often practiced in a sequence before its sibling pose, Downward Facing Dog (see below). This back-bending yoga technique will open your chest and heart, and help you strengthen your wrists, arms, and spine.
To help reverse all the hours spent slouching at your desk or sitting, you could practice this pose when you get home from work, as you will likely need a mat or a comfortable surface.
- Lie flat on your stomach and place the tops of your feet relaxed down on the ground.
- Inhale before moving, and on an exhale, straighten the arms. Think of your arms as two pillars holding up your chest.
- Lift your thighs, knees, hips and stomach off the ground.
- Begin to roll back your shoulders and expand the chest. Keep your chin in line with the floor and avoid the urge to crank back the head to stare at the ceiling.
- Remain in position for 5-10 breaths before transitioning to Downward Facing Dog or lowering back down onto the stomach.
5. Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Even if you’ve never practiced yoga before, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of the Downward Facing Dog pose, otherwise known as ‘Adho Mukha Svanasana’. This pose resembles the letter V (upside down) and provides a wide array of benefits. Because your heart is higher than your head in this pose, the flow of blood to the brain helps calm the nervous system. It also helps rejuvenate the entire body by stretching your hamstrings, shoulders, calves, arches, hands, and spine.
Kill two birds with one stone and implement this pose into your daily life by transitioning into this pose after the Upward Facing Dog.
- From the Upward Facing Dog or the plank position, tuck the toes under and begin to lift the hips up towards the ceiling.
- Keep the palms shoulder width apart, and using straight arms, press the hips up and back reaching the chest towards the thighs.
- Keep the toes facing forward, keep the spine straight and long, and press the heels into the floor to create a stretching feeling in the back of the legs.
- Let the head and neck hang freely from the shoulders, or look up to the stomach area. Breathe and hold for 5-10 breaths.
- To release, bend the knees and lower the hips back to the plank position.
Implement these 5 simple yoga exercises into your daily routine and see how your stress levels plummet. We’d love to hear about your experience – let us know in the comments section below.