Practising these asanas, early in the morning, is a great way to warm up your body and feel energised. By By Satyaki Sarkar
From David Bekham to Kareena Kapoor and John Abraham, some of the most prominent personalities with the most enviable physiques swear by yoga. And it’s no surprise. The health benefits of yoga are numerous and the fact that you don’t require any equipment to do it is a huge bonus. It’s a great way to stay fit and improve your health. Here are six asanas to help you get into great physical and mental health.
1. Camel Pose or Ustrasana
Perfect for intermediate as well as advanced practitioners, the Camel Pose helps reduce thigh fat, strengthens the shoulders and back, improves digestion, and relieves back pain, among other benefits. Start by kneeling on the floor with your knees hip width apart and your thighs perpendicular to the floor. Slow lean your head, upper torso, and arms slowly backward until they are fully extended, and you can touch the soles of your feet. Holding this pose for 30 seconds to one minute helps improve blood circulation and posture, and expands the abdominal region as well.
2. Tree Pose or Vrksasana
The Tree Pose is an excellent exercise to build strength in the ankles and calves, and tone the abdominal muscles. Additionally, the pose also helps remedy flat feet and is known to help cure sciatica. This standing exercise is both easy to do, and beneficial for developing your body’s core balance. To get into the pose, stand straight with your weight on the right foot. Bring up the sole of your left foot to rest on your right inner thigh. The hands can be held together in a prayer position either over your chest, or outstretched, above your head. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute. Then switch to the other leg and repeat.
3. Seated Half Spinal Twist Pose or Ardha Matsyendrasana
If you feel up to having an intense and effective yoga session early in the morning, this pose is a must in your routine. It’s a great way to stretch the back and is considered one of the most cleansing asanas of all, this pose helps wring out venous blood from your internal organs, allowing fresh, oxygenated blood to flow in. Likened to the action of wringing out water from a wet towel, in order to get into this pose you need to start by sitting with your legs out straight. Then bend the left leg so that the heel is near your right hip. Next take the right leg over the left leg and place is near the knee. With the right knee pointing directly up at the ceiling, twist your upper body as far around as you can. Place your left hand to the right of your right knee and the right hand behind you. Remember to keep the spine erect. Hold the pose for about 30 seconds and then change legs so that you stretch the other side.
4. Warrior I Pose or Virabhadrasana I
Known to be an excellent exercise for strengthening your shoulders, arms, legs, ankles, and back, the Warrior I is a pose that builds core strength and power, improving focus, balance, and stability, while strengthening the feet, hamstrings, quadriceps, and gluteus. In order to adopt this pose, you need to stand up straight, and position your left leg three to four feet behind the right one. Then bend your right knee so it’s directly above the ankle, and slightly turn your left heel a little inward. Next, raise your arms directly above your head, outstretched, and look up. Once you’ve held the position for 30 seconds to one minute, you need to reverse your leg positions and repeat.
5. Cat-Cow Pose or Marjaryasana and Bitilasana
The Cat-Cow pose is an excellent asana to practice daily as it helps tone the gastrointestinal tract, relieve stress, lower back pain, and helps combat sciatica. In order to get into this pose, you need to get down on all fours, gaze up, and drop your back down towards the floor while inhaling. This is the Cow Pose. Then, while bending your head forwards and looking at your stomach, you do the opposite, arching your back up and exhaling. This is the Cat Pose. Repetitive sets of this asana, practised for one or two minutes, helps increase flexibility of the neck, shoulders, and spine, while also stretching the muscles of the hips, back, abdomen, chest, and lungs.
6. Extended Side Angle Pose or Utthita Parsvakonasana
This standing yoga pose helps relieve stiffness in the shoulders and back, improves stamina, and strengthens the legs, knees, and ankles, while also toning the abdominal muscles. The legs are spread apart, while the torso is turned sideways, with one arm and your head pointing straight up. When you bend your right knee, your right palm needs to be planted on the ground outside the knee, and your left arm reaching straight up to form a straight line from your left foot to your left palm. Holding this pose for a minute and then repeating on the other side helps fight constipation, infertility, sciatica, and lower backache, among others.