Studios may be shut, but that’s no excuse to avoid the bend and flow. Whether you have back pain from working at your dining table, or you’re experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety than usual, yoga can help. Here’s how.
Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of practising yoga, from improved brain function and energy levels, to helping to ease symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Suitable for both the novice and the more advanced yogi, these key moves by Yogi Expert and Founder of Sydney Yoga Collective Casey Castro are simple, effective and designed to calm the mind and have you feeling grounded. Plus, they can be performed from the safety of your own lounge room – all you need is a mat and some floor space.
Move #1: Supta Baddha Konasana
How to: Lay on your back. Place your left hand onto your chest, palm down. Place your right hand onto your pelvis, with your palm down and your arm relaxed. Put the soles of your feet together and slowly pull them upwards so your knees are bent, with your thighs facing outwards. Breathe gently in and out, and hold the pose for up to five minutes (or longer if you end up falling asleep!).
Benefits: Relieves tension and anxiety, and relaxes the body.
Move #2: Upavistha Konasana
How to: Open your legs wide ensuring you feel a slight stretch – but it shouldn’t be painful. Flex your toes so they are pointing upwards. Raise your arms above your head and slowly lean to your left. Bend your left arm and lean against your left leg, with your elbow almost touching the floor. Hold your left foot with your left hand. Look upwards, opening your chest and breathe slowly. Hold this position for up to five minutes, then repeat on the other side.
Benefits: Provides a deep stretch to the inner thighs, hamstrings, hip flexors and groin.
Move #3: Malasana (also known as a yogic squat)
How to: Slowly stand and put your feet just over shoulder-width apart and slightly facing outwards. Breathing slowly, bend your knees and lower yourself to the ground. Bend your arms and press your palms together firmly, mimicking the position pictured. Close your eyes and hold for ten breaths – or longer if you are able to do so comfortably.
Benefits: Creates flexibility in the shins, groin and Achilles tendon. Relieves lower back pain, aids digestion and stimulates metabolism.
Move #4: Uttanasana (also known as the ragdoll pose)
How to: Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Gradually lean forward so that your chest and torso are connecting to your thighs, bending your knees as much as you need to. Loosely cross your arms and allow yourself to hang in position for ten slow breaths.
Benefits: Improves circulation, relieves lower back pain, neck and shoulder tension, and enhances your mood. Great for stretching the hamstrings and stimulating the liver and kidneys.
Move #5: Urdhva Prasarita (or standing splits)
*Note: This is a more advanced move. Only attempt this move if you have at the very least some basic and recent yoga experience. Attempt the move slowly and don’t push yourself. Make sure there’s plenty of space around you in case you lose your balance.
How to: Ensure there is plenty of space around you. Start in a forward fold, with both hands planted on the ground. Slowly raise one leg behind you. Keep your hips square and allow your standing leg to bend slightly for stability. For an even more advanced move, slowly remove one or both hands to wrap around your standing leg. Hold for ten breaths and repeat on the other side.
Benefits: Stimulates the lungs, stretches the hamstrings, improves balance, stimulates metabolism, improves digestion and relieves constipation.
You can find more yoga routines here.