8 Yoga Poses With Big Health Benefits
For yoga beginners who have never tried the practice before
For yoga beginners or those who have never tried the practice before, it may look intimidating watching someone bend backward or lift their legs over their head. You don’t have to do handstands to benefit from yoga. Even simple, easy poses can do wonders for your health to help you look and feel good.
1. Yoga Squat Pose (Malasana): Strengthens the Lower Back
If you’ve ever been to East Asia, you may recognize what’s known as the “Asian squat”. Yoga also incorporates this pose which has loads of health benefits. You can enter malasana by standing with feet parallel, slightly wider than the hips. Then bend knees and slowly lower down the pelvis until the hips go lower than the knees. Keep the back straight and take arms in front in a prayer position. The malasana pose helps stretch the groin and lower back, tones the belly, and also releases tension in the hips and knees.
2. Cat Cow Pose (Marjaiasana/Bitilasana): Improves Posture
Start by positioning the body on all fours on the mat with knees aligned underneath the hips and hands below the shoulders. Next, arch the back with the head and tailbone lifted upwards and chest open. On the next breath, flow into the cow pose by arching the back upwards and lowering the head. This pose will not only improve posture and balance, but also strengthen and stretch the neck, arms, abdomen, and back.
3. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana): A Full-Body Rejuvenation
Quite possibly the most well-known of all the yoga poses, downward facing dog gives a full-body stretch and awakening. Enter the pose from the plank position with palms spread. Next, lift the hips and lengthen the tailbone. Keep arms and legs firm with the head between the upper arms. This widely-recognized pose benefits the entire body by building stronger hands and wrists and relieving lower back pain. It also helps reduce symptoms of menstruation and menopause as well as helping prevent osteoporosis.
4. Child’s Pose (Balasana): Stretches the Lower Back
During a tough yoga class, laying back into child’s pose can feel like a huge relief. Even as an easy pose, balasana comes packed with tons of health benefits. Enter the pose by extending the arms forward, spreading the knees apart while keeping the toes touching, and lowering the torso between the thighs. Aside from bringing total relaxation, child’s pose stretches the lower back and shoulders, opens the hips, and even helps fight insomnia.
5. Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani): Reduces Insomnia
Having a difficult time sleeping at night? Try laying on your back with your legs against the wall. This easy pose allows blood and other fluids to flow in the opposite direction against gravity which can refresh the legs and reproductive organs. It can also help to alleviate headaches, lower blood pressure, and even reduce insomnia.
6. Mountain Pose (Tadasana): Improves Posture
Mountain pose might seem too simple to have any real benefits. After all, all you have to do is stand there, right? Actually, tadasana can have a very empowering effect. You can achieve the pose by standing tall with legs slightly apart. Hands can hang alongside the body or lift up straight above the head. To get the full effect of the pose, engage the belly and keep thigh muscles firm. This pose will not only make you feel stronger, but also improve posture, increase blood circulation, reduce tension, and help you feel refreshed.
7. Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana): Stimulates Blood Circulation
Sometimes also called the cobbler’s pose, this simple stretch involves sitting with legs spread like the wings of the butterfly. Wrap the hands around the feet and straighten the back to feel a stretch in the arms, back, and shoulders. Baddha Konasana has all kinds of benefits, from stimulating blood circulation to relieving symptoms of menstruation and menopause.
8. Corpse Pose (Shavasana): Relaxes and Relieves Stress
After a difficult yoga class, corpse pose can feel like a huge relief. It might look more like naptime, but actually, shavasana provides the ideal time to clear the mind and meditate. To enter the pose, lie flat on the back with hands by the side and palms facing up. The pose relaxes the entire body and relieves stress and fatigue. Make the most of the pose by clearing the thoughts. You can breathe out all that no longer serves you and breathe in positive vibrations.