Practice Makes Perfect
You can’t run before you walk and you can’t walk before you crawl. The same reasoning applies to yoga – your experience and skills develop over time.
Before you can progress to more challenging yoga poses, you have to master the basics. Here are some fundamental poses and tips that’ll help you build a strong foundation for your practice
There’s nothing more basic than downward dog, but don’t let appearances fool you. The pose can add a lot to your practice when done effectively. Not only does it lengthen muscles like your hamstrings and calves, it also strengthens your arms, shoulders and back. If you need an energy boost in the middle of the day, downward dog can help by bringing blood flow to your brain.Get the full benefits of downward dog by drawing your shoulders down your back to create space between your head and shoulders. Keep a slight bend in your elbows and press your hands firmly into the mat. You can even work out your abs in this pose if you remember to draw your lower abs up and in.
Chaturanga can get a bad rap sometimes from those who think the pose is just like a push-up. Luckily, the secret to a great chaturanga isn’t upper body strength – it’s all about alignment. This pose isn’t called the four-limbed staff pose for anything. Create a long line with your head, neck, shoulders and legs. Hug your elbows in at your sides and form 90 degree angles as you lower to the ground. With the healthy shoulders and back muscles you develop in this pose, you’ll be ready for arm balances, inversions and backbends in no time.
Upward facing dog
Spending hours at your desk or in your car can really do a number on your back and abdomen. Luckily, an upward facing dog is a wonderful yoga pose that helps address both areas. It can also improve your posture, strengthen your spine and stimulate the organs in your abdomen.Avoid looking like a hound dog in this pose by keeping some space between your head and shoulders and press your hands into the ground. Feel a great stretch in the chest and abdomen by pushing the chest upwards to the sky. Remember to engage the upper part of your legs and abdomen to avoid caving in in your lower back.
If deeper backbends like an upward facing dog are a challenge for you, work your way up to such poses by starting with a cobra. Cobra firms and tones your shoulders, abdomen and buttocks, while improving your spine’s flexibility and strength. Keep your hands underneath your shoulders and slightly in front of your body. With your elbows close to your body, lift your chest and keep your legs, feet and pubis pressed into the floor. This will help open up your lungs and reduce stress and fatigue.
Who knew that sitting could make you break a sweat, but that’s definitely the case when you settle into chair pose. This pose tones your entire body, particularly your ankles, thighs, shoulders, hips, glutes and back. If you’re just starting out in your practice, you can perform cobra near a wall for support. Bring your thighs as parallel to the floor as possible and shift as much of your weight into the heels to avoid fatigue. As you raise your arms, remember to keep your shoulders down and have your elbows near your ears.
Don’t miss out on the awesome benefits of these yoga poses. Drop by NU Yoga Mississauga which is one of the top yoga studios in mississauga where our teachers can offer modifications that suit your individual needs and help you master the basics. Sign up for one of our classes to start improving your practice today.