Whether you have been regularly attending yoga classes for years or have never set foot on a yoga mat in your life, it is always a good idea to perform several poses to stretch your muscles and combat the effects of poor posture — especially after a long day of sitting due to work or travel. Here are some poses you should definitely add to your arsenal:
This pose is a simple yet effective way to open your hips and lengthen your spine — a necessity for Americans, as we spend a majority of our time with our hips at a 90 degree angle. In order to perform this pose, start with your feet wider than hip-length apart, turning your toes out just slightly. From there, keep your gaze forward and your spine straight as you lower your hips as you would if you were moving to sit in a chair. Move your hands into the prayer position and push your elbows against your knees, helping you open your hips further. The point of this pose is to bring your hips as low as possible without bending your spine or lifting your heels off the floor.
The cat-cow is the perfect way to stretch the spine and surrounding muscles, especially when performed after just waking up or returning home from work. In order to do the cat-cow pose, start on your hands and knees. From there, you should arch your back and look at your thighs. After taking a deep breath or two, release the pose and let your belly drop as you look up toward the ceiling. In order to feel loose and refreshed, repeat this process four times.
The forward bend is a great way to counteract the effects of sitting all day. Simply stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend forward at the hips, going as far as your hamstrings will allow you to stretch. Make sure to keep your knees slightly bent as you try to at least brush the floor with your hands. For beginners, hold this pose for 30 seconds then release. Remember to keep your breathing even and slow.
These twists not only release any muscle tension you may feel in your back, but help to realign your spine as well. In order to reap the maximum benefits from this exercise, start by sitting on the floor or a yoga mat with your legs extended in front of you. From there, bend your right knee and place your right foot on the mat, just a few inches from your left leg. Bring the palm of your right palm to the mat just behind your right glute, keeping your fingers facing your body. Place your left elbow on the outside of your right knee and breathe deeply. With each breath, extend your neck so it feels like the crown of your head is moving toward the ceiling. Inhale again, then switch sides.