Yoga Poses to Turn Around a Sedentary Lifestyle
Do you need to become more active, but aren't sure where to start? Yoga offers the perfect way to ease into exercising. Adding these poses to your daily routine offers important benefits for your physical and mental health.
How Yoga Can Help You
Staying active wasn't a problem for our ancestors. With no modern conveniences to simplify life, many people were on the move from dawn to dusk. Unfortunately, as life got easier, activity levels declined drastically. Today, just over 46% of adults meet the recommended requirements for aerobic exercise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Although concerns about your waistline may have prompted you to start moving more, inactivity may increase your risk of developing a variety of health conditions including:
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
Yoga, a mind/body practice, not only improves flexibility, but also:
- Strengthens Muscles
- Improves Stamina
- Increases Energy
- Balances Your Metabolism
- Reduces Stress
- Combats Insomnia
- Improves Cardiovascular Health (depending on the type of yoga)
4 Yoga Poses to Add to Your Daily Routine
If you're ready to get moving again, try a few of these yoga poses:
- Easy Pose. This pose stretches your back, knees, hips, groin and thighs, strengthens core muscles, and helps you relax. Begin the pose by sitting on the floor with your legs in front of you. Cross your legs, placing your right foot under your left knee and your left foot under your right knee. Put your hands on your knees and slowly breathe in and out for several counts.
- Downward Facing Dog. Downward Facing Dog improves energy, while stretching your shoulders hands and back, lengthening your spine, and strengthening your legs, arms and shoulders. Start the pose on your hands and knees. Exhale and push up on your feet and hands, forming an upside-down "V" shape with your body. Yoga Journal notes that lining up your ears with your upper arms will keep your head and neck in proper alignment with the spine. Hold the pose for five counts before dropping to your hands and knees. As you strengthen your body, you'll be able to hold the pose longer.
- Cat/Cow. This fun pose is a great pick-me-up after a long day at work. Cat/Cow stretches and strengthens your neck and spine, while also stretching the muscles in your hips, back and neck. It's an excellent stress reliever and can help you cope with neck or back pain and sciatica and improve your posture. Cat/Cow also starts on your hands and knees. Inhale, lift your head toward the ceiling and arch your back to perform the Cow part of the sequence. Exhale, round your spine, and drop your head to move into Cat.
- Child's Pose. Try Child's Pose the next time you need a little extra energy or feel stressed. In addition to its calming effects, the pose stretches tight muscles in the lower back, opens hips, lengthens the spine, improves digestion, boosts circulation, and stretches muscles in the ankles, shoulders, hips and thighs. Begin the pose on your hands and knees, then sit back on your legs. Move your knees slightly apart. Slowly lower your upper body to the floor between your knees. Place your forehead against the mat. Extend your arms in front of you with the palms facing down. Inhale and exhale for 5 to 10 counts.
Things to Keep In Mind
Worried about your fitness level or flexibility? With a few adjustments, yoga can be the ideal exercise for anyone. Chair yoga is a good option if you aren't quite ready to get down on the yoga mat yet. In fact, many yoga poses can be performed while you're sitting in a chair, including the Cat/Cow pose. Start the pose with your hands on thighs, then inhale, arch your back and lift your head toward the ceiling. Exhale, round your spine and drop your head forward.
Using props and modifications may make it easier to perform some poses. If you can't quite rest your forehead on the mat in Child's Pose, put a block or pillow under your head. Is Downward-Facing Dog hard on your hands or wrist? Try the pose on your forearms instead.
Although yoga can be performed anywhere, it's a good idea to attend classes, especially if you're a beginner. Your instructor will offer helpful tips, recommend modifications if needed, and help you ensure you're performing poses correctly. Ready to join a yoga class? Give the studio a call to schedule your first class.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Exercise or Physical Activity, 12/15/22
American Osteopathic Association: The Benefits of Yoga
Yoga Journal: Easy Pose
Yoga Journal: Downward-Facing Dog Pose