By Lindsey Porter, Smart Works Edinburgh volunteer and owner of www.yoganuu.com
For the 5th and final article on our theme of ‘5 a day’ to enhance your wellbeing – find here 5 yoga poses I suggest building into your daily routine. It may be helpful to get into this new positive habit by asking yourself the following, ‘What needs to be true for you to undertake these recommended stretches/positions so that you can nourish yourself inside and out regularly?’ And then seek to make those adjustments. And although some of the pics I’ve shown here are doing yoga outdoors please feel able to take your yoga wherever you feel comfortable.
“Yoga adds years to your life and life to your years.”
Suppleness of the spine. Back bends & forward bends.
A spine that can flex will literally stand you well in life and especially into your senior years. It’s never too soon or too late to start. Begin gently though and listen to your body. A great place to start is first thing in the morning, come on to all fours on the floor, making sure your shoulders, elbows and wrists are stacked over each other for good alignment and the same with the hips over knees. From here as you exhale flex your spine by arching it up, whilst drawing your abdomen in towards your back ribs, dropping the head and neck down. Move into a neutral flat-back position and then dip your back down so that your pelvis tilts up and your head, chin and gaze tilt upwards too. Once you feel comfortable doing this you can explore and deepen your spinal postures, such as into wheel pictured below. There are many great instructions available through google. This short sequence is known as Cat/Cow or Marjariasana pose.
A breath of fresh air. Pranayama.
Let out the old and bring in the new. A simple deep, full breath in and out can do this. For a good dose of yogic type breathing ensure you fill your lungs and allow your belly to expand and diaphragm round out. This helps expel stale air often trapped in our lower lungs as we typically breathe into the upper part of our chest. Go deeper by exploring Anulom Vilom, an alternative nostril breathing sequence. It’s a simple and effective way to aid awareness of the breath, bring about a sense of calmness as well as balance to your body, mind and spirit.
Alternate nostril breathing (Anulom Vilom)
Change your view. Inversions – head below the heart. Shake it up a bit. Challenge yourself in new ways often to keep stagnant thoughts, mind and body at bay. A simple putting your head below your heart can help achieve this. This is what any inversion posture does from the yogic headstand to a standing forward fold bringing your head towards your shin or knees. Find at least one you feel comfortable with and go from there. In most cases, when I work with my students, particularly new ones, they come with a fear of headstands. And always they leave with a sense of elation when they have managed in some way to embrace that fear and work on a small or big step in their headstand journey. Please take any inversion step by step to make sure you have the necessary shoulder, neck and core strength to support the depth of your chosen posture.
A twist in the tail. Turning or rotations of the torso.
The beauty of a twist is the compression it gives to our vital organs aiding activities of digestion, elimination and detoxification. Twisting movements can also be found to help release tension, anxiety and to be energising. Please make sure you are aware of any contraindications and modifications right for you before starting your practice. In particular if you have any spinal challenges, injuries, chronic digestive complaints or are pregnant.
A moment to pause. Relaxation – meditation, mindfulness. An equally important part of any yoga practice is the time you take to stop and relax during and at the end of a yoga session. This helps the body to absorb the range of movements. It encourages the mind to find new spaces and to explore what’s there. Relaxation can be a guided visualisation or meditation, a head massage, Yoga Nidra or simply lying quietly, listening to subtle music with an eye bag and blanket over you. Do it regularly, even if for 5 mins a day, for a more peaceful existence.
And lastly, my 5 ways to say thank you for reading and coming on this journey of wellbeing:
- Sign up to the Yoga~Nu~U newsletter at yoganuu.com and receive your FREE copy of these articles in one handy document.
- Get an amazing 20% Discount off Asquith eco and ethical Active wear clothing great for yoga. Simply enter ‘YOGANUU20’ online at: asquithlondon.com
- Join my growing Facebook following at: Yoga~Nu~U to receive wellbeing reminders, information about yoga event and offers.
- A simple written ‘Thank You’.
- and lastly please do send your feedback in how you find these articles so that I can review and improve to firstname.lastname@example.org
“My yoga. It doesn’t matter if things aren’t perfect. My practice is my time to feel alive, loved and free.”