Photo Credit: http://marisahendrickson.com
When it comes to YOGA, many of us would think that it involves some acrobatic and contortionist acts. However, that is just a misconception. YOGA is a ascetic discipline, which includes breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, and is widely practiced for health and relaxation.
You will be surprised that the way we breathe, walk and even sleep and eat can affect our health and well-being. While our eyes are glued to the computer screens typing furiously on the keyboard, we forget to maintain a proper posture and will end up slouching and crouching. Just a simple test: Are you able to raise both your hands with your biceps touching your ears? Do not be alarmed that some may not even carry out such a simple stance.
Here are five simple and easy poses that you can do to help alleviate all these strains and stress:
1. Savasana: Which is simply lying down on the back with your limbs facing the ceiling. Your feet should be gently apart and the hands forty five degrees away from your body. Your fingers and toes should be relaxed and slightly curl. Basically in this position, you should be fully relaxed and eyes gently closed. Breathe normally and forget all the work, personal problem and all other things that is bothering you for the day. At this moment, just relax and listen to your own breathing. If you want, you may also put on some meditation music to clam your nerves down. It is important to breathe and relax with this pose.
2. Simple twists: This is good for relieving those strains at the back, simply cross your left leg over to the right, keep both legs straight. Try to keep your left shoulder on the ground as far as possible to get a deeper stretch. Your left hand should be kept on the ground and if you can, do try to touch the left leg with your right hand. Stay in this position for about ten to twenty seconds and keep stretching yourself. Try to keep your left leg at least forty five degrees angle from your right. If you are flexible enough you can also keep both legs at perpendicular 90 degrees angle, do not try to do the 90 degrees if you are unable to execute it. The gist of this stance is to give your body a good twist and release the tension around the lower back. After that you can release the stance and go back into Savasana. Shake it off and relax for a while. Remember to always keep breathing when you are in a stance.
3. Half Moon: Simply raise both hands to touch your ears, hold the hands together with the index finger pointing up towards the sky. Ensure that your body is not hyper extended (that is, your buttocks are not jutting out like a duck towards the back, if so, draw in your belly button). Relax your shoulders and straighten your arms. Your feet should be together straight with the toes pointing in front. Breathe normally, and in the next exhale bend your body to the left, keep your body square forward, the hips should be facing front. Inhale and exhale, and push further to the left and reach out. You must remember to always keep your arms and legs straight. If you cannot reach any further, just stop at this position and take in breath for ten to twenty seconds. After that, slowly withdraw back to the centre and release the arms to the sides. Do some shakes and turns to release the tension on the body. Repeat again for the right side.
4. Forward bending: After a day sitting at the desk, it will be good to do some forward bending to circulate the blood flow to the upper part of the body. Simply stand with your feet together, keep in a natural position. Raise your arms to your ears, hands holding each other with the index finger pointing out. Inhale and exhale, in the next exhale, gently bent forward keeping your body straight. Ensure that your hips and toes are facing front. Reach out and bend down. Always keep breathing. If you can reach the floor, place both the palms on the ground and breathe. Keep the palms on the floor for about 10-20 seconds. Then slowly hold back the hands with the index fingers pointing out, recover back into standing position. Always ensure that your body is straight and not bent or curved when you are going down forward and coming back. For those who are unable to reach the ground, stay where you are for 10-20 seconds and hold it there. Keep breathing, at every exhale, try to go lower down, you will be able to reach the ground if you keep practicing!
5. Back bending: This is a counter exercise for the forward bending. Make sure that you do not have any back injury which has yet to recover for both the forward and back bend yoga positions. Again, raise your arms to your ears, hands interlocked with the index finger pointing out. Keeping your body square to the front, bend towards the back of the room. You must always keep your shoulders relaxed and composed, remember to always keep breathing as you bend back. Most people are not that flexible to be able to bend all the way back to reach for your ankles. Once you reach the limit, just stay where you are and hold it there for about 10-20 seconds. Hold it there and keep breathing. Make sure your knees are not bent. After which, you can recover back to the centre and hands down by your sides.
In general these 5 poses are considered simple and easy to execute. But the difficult part is to keep your back and legs straight. The shoulders must always be relaxed and ensure your head is not protruding to the front when you carry out these stances. Also make sure that your hips are square to the front and not hyper extended. Always breathe and reach out more to go deeper into the stance at every breath. If you have any medical condition especially with the bones and joints, do recover from it first before executing the positions.
Source of pictures: Absolute Yoga