Yoga has so many benefits, which makes it one of the best body and mind exercises. Yoga can be free and for everyone – no matter whether you are beginner or already practicing it for years, you can feel its benefits. This spiritual experience can make you more flexible, calm and give you a good posture. But, it can also make you feel better about your body. How? With the yoga poses. You can have toned body without doing cardio exercises or pilates. Check out these ten poses that can help you achieve that. Summer is coming and you still have the time! But, don’t forget to feel the whole experience – free your mind and enjoy the benefits of yoga.
1. Boat Pose (Paripurna Navasana)
As most of the yoga poses, the boat pose can help you release the stress. It also improves digestion and is useful for people with hernia. However, this pose can strengthen the back and abdominal muscles, while it tones the legs and the arm muscles. Women who are pregnant or in the first days of their period shouldn’t do this exercise, and also be cautious if you suffer from low blood pressure, asthma, headache, diarrhea, spinal problems or you’re experiencing heart problems.
2. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandh)
Similar to the bridge exercise from cardio and similar exercises, the bridge pose tones and strengthens the back, the buttocks and hamstrings. It also stretches the neck, the spine and the hips. But, the benefits don’t stop here – the bridge pose rejuvenates tired legs, improves blood circulation, calms the brain and the central nervous system, to name few. If you have experienced neck injury in the past, don’t practice this pose, at least not without a teacher with you. Also, if you’re having trouble with supporting the weight while doing the pose, use a yoga block to help you.
3. Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
The bow pose has few awesome benefits besides toning your body. It stretches your whole front of the body and the upper back (while it strengthens your back muscles), it stimulates the abdominal organs and it improves your posture. However, avoid this pose if you experience high or low blood pressure, migraine, insomnia, lower back or neck injury. To make it successful, if you find it difficult to hold your ankles, wrap a strap around the fronts of the ankles and in the same time hold the free ends of the strap.
4. Locust Pose (Shalabhasana)
The locust pose may seem easy at first, but it will certainly wake up your muscles. It strengthens the buttocks, the muscles of the spine, and the muscles from the back of the arms and the legs. This pose is also good if you want to stretch out your your shoulders, belly, chest and thighs, if you want a better posture and if you feel like you need to release the stress from you. Avoid it if you experience headache or back injury. Also, if you feel like more experimenting, you can try out the challenging variation of the locust, known as Makarasana, or literally translated as Sea Monster.
5. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
The chair pose is great if you want to stretch the shoulder and the chest. When it comes to toning body, it strengthens the ankles, thighs, calves, and spine. In the same time, the chair pose stimulates the abdominal organs, diaphragm and the heart. If you want to increase the level of strengthening, you can place a block or thin book between the thighs and squeeze it and if you are a yoga beginner, doing the pose against a wall can help you a lot.
6. Right Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
The triangle pose, also known as Trikonasana, is a perfect pose for core strengthening, stretching legs and to open the hips and the shoulders. If you’re having any difficulties with lowering your hand, use a block on the floor to support it. Avoid this pose if you have recently suffered any back, hip or shoulder injury. The triangle pose can also help in better digestion, it reduces back pain and anxiety, and can also increase your mental and physical equilibrium.
7. Plank Pose (Phalakasana)
The plank pose is more or less almost the same as the exercise you may have already did during your cardio or similar exercises. This pose is great at strengthening the arms, the wrists and the spine, while it tones your whole abdomen. If you want this pose as quite easy to do, you can upgrade the level a bit by opening the space between the shoulder blades. Press the outer arm inward and push the inner borders of the shoulder blades into this resistance. However, no matter how easy this may be to you, avoid this pose if you’re suffering from Carpal tunnel syndrome.
8. Side Plank Pose (Vasisthasana)
The side plank pose, or also known by the Sanskrit name Vasisthasana, is the upgraded version of the regular plank pose. It’s a great way to stretch and strength the wrists, while at the same time to strengthen the arms, the belly and the legs. This pose is also good because it can help you have a better balance. Anyone who had wrists, elbow or shoulder injury avoid this pose and keep it up to the ones that suit your health the most.
9. Half Moon Pose (Ardha Candrāsana)
What beginners usually find hard at this pose is the balance. You may find it easier if you perform this pose against wall. When performing the pose, you’ll need to look up with your head as pictures, but if you have experienced neck problems, just skip this step and look straight. Also, avoid the Half Moon if you have low blood pressure, diarrhea, insomnia, headache or migraine. What you’ll get good from this pose is stress releasing, improved digestion and sense of balance, while your abdomen, buttocks, spine and thighs will be strengthen.
10. Shoulder Stand Pose (Sarvangasana)
The last pose is probably one of the most challenging poses in yoga! Some practice yoga for years and still can not make it. By practicing it every day, you can be closer to the goal, but don’t rush into doing this, especially if you are a yoga beginner. It may seem impossible to you, but let’s have a look at the benefits that the Shoulder Stand can bring you: it strengthens the upper body, it improves the digestion, makes less strain on the heart and it can even help you with confidence! This was just to name few, but if you have your period, had neck injury or high blood pressure, skip this pose.