Adding Yoga to Your 2016 Exercise Routine
4 Yoga Poses for the New Year
Let 2016 be the year in which yoga becomes a regular part of your workout routine. Research shows that there are many physiological and psychological benefits of a consistent yoga practice—from reduced stress and anxiety, to improved balance and flexibility. Using nothing more than a mat, here are a few poses you can begin practicing at home that will help to stretch commonly tight areas of the body, including the hips, shoulders and chest.
Extended Puppy Pose
Begin in hands and knees position, with wrists aligned below shoulders and knees below hips. Keeping hips stacked over knees walk hands forward toward front of mat, drawing chest and forehead toward floor. Maintain this extended position, breathing deeply for 3-5 breaths.
From a hands and knees position, place elbows on floor just below shoulders, resting forearms and palms on mat. Inhale to tuck the toes under and exhale to lift the knees off the floor, drawing chest toward the thighs and tailbone toward ceiling. Knees can remain bent as much as needed to create comfort and accessibility in this pose. Maintain this position for 3-5 breaths.
Assume a seated position on mat with knees bent, feet flat on floor. Place hands directly behind the body with palms on mat and fingers pointed toward backside. Inhale to gently press into palms and feet, lifting glutes off floor and extending hips until they are in line with knees. Gently roll shoulder backs and draw shoulder blades together, lifting chest toward ceiling. Hold this position for 3-5 breaths.
Lie on back with knees bent, feet flat on floor. Pick up right foot, crossing right ankle just above left knee, allowing right knee to open toward right side of mat. Lift left foot off floor keeping left knee bent and both sets of toes drawing toward shins. Thread right arm through space created between legs and reach left arm around left leg to interlace hands behind left thigh. Keeping head, neck and shoulders on floor, hold this position for 3-5 breaths before repeating on the other side.
Jessica Matthews is a FitnessMat Brand Ambassador, ACE certified representative, master yogi and Exercise Science and Health Professor.