Life goes by in a flash if you let it. Our minds are in constant flux, drifting from past, to present, to future and back again. The fast pace of today’s society comes at a price, often affecting our mental health. So, whatever you can do to slow things down and allow yourself to be present in the current moment is a good way to reduce stress and foster a positive outlook. If you enjoy exercise, and the calming effect of meditation, yoga is your best option since it combines both.
Not doing enough of what is good for your mind and body will leave you feeling disconnected from your true self. With all the information available, we now know that this scenario makes you tired, lethargic, stressed, and frustrated. Life will never be perfect and uncomfortable situations will arise unexpectedly. Bringing your attention inward is a great way to develop coping skills to handle whatever is thrown your way. You can choose how you want to overcome obstacles, and that’s all dependent on your mindset.
Yoga, a practice that originated five thousand years ago in Northern India, has been increasing in popularity since it reached the Western world. The rise of technology has made it accessible to everyone. Yoga studios are popping up in even the most rural areas, and the internet conveniently hosts an unlimited number of videos. Here are some of my personal favourite YouTube yoga channels:
Boho Beautiful offers beginner and advanced flows for yoga and Pilates practitioners. She has found a way to combine both her passions: yoga and travel. Her videos always feature the most breathtaking backdrops of sandy beaches and mountains views, and her soft voice is soothing and instills confidence.
Yoga with Adriene always demonstrates different variations of poses making her flows very user-friendly. Her routines range from full body flows to a series of poses with a specific purpose, for example, digestion and detox, or to relieve pain from sciatica. She generates a calming energy while keeping things light and playful.
Whether you belong to a yoga studio or follow videos you found online, you will reap the benefits. There are different types of yoga available, from seated yoga, to the most intense postures that require hours of practice. It’s up to you to decide what level you are at today, and where you’d like your journey to go.
Attending a yoga class at a studio is always the best option, since you get immediate feedback and help from your teacher, but when life gets in the way and time is not on your side—maybe you travel for work, or have three kids to chauffeur around to soccer, hockey, and basketball practice—consider the next best thing. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced practitioner, here are some poses you can do in a pinch, based on your needs:
Yoga for fitness
If you had to choose only one yoga pose to increase strength and tone every single part of your body, it would have to be the plank. The plank offers different variations, giving you a total body workout in a few easy steps:
Step 1: Start in a high plank and hold for five breaths.
Step 2: Move into a side plank and hold on each side during 5 breaths, pause in the middle for a few breaths between each side plank, work both sides three times each.
Step 3: Take it down to your forearms and move up and down—plank to dolphin pose.
Step 4: Staying in a forearm plank, raise one leg at a time, hip height, making sure to keep your foot flexed. Alternating sides, 10 times each.
Step 5: Do 5 to 10 push-ups.
Step 6: Repeat three times.
The beauty of this routine is that it doesn’t require a lot of space so you can do it absolutely anywhere.
Yoga for digestion
The yogic squat (malasana) is another pose with many benefits. In addition to stimulating digestion and engaging your metabolism, it opens your hips and groin, stretches your ankles and lower hamstrings, helps release your neck and back, tones your abdominals, and strengthens your pelvic muscles. If you would like to view a full digestion flow that includes this posture click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfYRSxAVBx4
Yoga for stress relief
Try a gentle flow with beginner poses, mantras, meditation and breathing. Give yourself a little extra love with a longer shavasana (corpse pose) at the end of your practice. If you simply want to rest, opt for this guided meditation to help still your mind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQB3SXzSbHk
Yoga for neck & back pain
Most of us carry our stress in our shoulders and necks, and when neglected can result in unpleasant headaches or migraines. We also tend to overlook the effects of being sedentary for too long in an uncomfortable office chair, a serious issue that does a number on your spine, causing not only back pain but potential long-term health issues. Here are a few poses you should practice regularly to release tension and prevent chronic conditions:
• Standing forward fold.
• Spinal twist, seated or lying down.
• Shoulder stand or candle pose, plow pose if they are accessible.
• Use a yoga wheel to massage your spine.
This is your practice, your time to do whatever feels good, don’t overthink, accept where you are today, and have fun with it. It’s time to gift yourself a much-needed moment of solitude.