Yoga has gained a fair amount of fame recently, but the philosophy itself is somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 years old. Much of the timeline is left up to ambiguity because yoga poses and teachings have been passed on through oral tradition. Suffice to say, yoga has a rich history.
Yoga is a practice that can take a lifetime to truly master. Much like martial arts, it has been preserved in sacred texts and adopted as a lifestyle by practitioners hoping to deepen their understanding and pass on this timeless wisdom. Yoga practice was introduced to the western world in 1950 and since has grown to become a leader in the fields of wellness, fitness and mind body health.
In this series, we will explore beginner yoga poses to help you practice alignment, breath, meditation principles and body mechanics. Designed for busy professionals, I hope to offer you two poses each week that you can do on your lunch break or before you head to the office. A few minutes each day to tune in breathe, stretch and be mindful can help reduce stress, increase focus and benefit your overall well being.
I encourage you to further explore the tradition of yoga if it appeals to you.
Tree pose / Vrksasana
Start in mountain pose with your feet hip width apart. Slightly bend your knees and shift your weight to the left side. Place your right foot above or below your knee – never on it! The idea is that your pelvis will be forward facing while your bent knee allows for a nice hip opener, but don’t force it.
For now breathe into a soft stretch. Take three deep breaths and switch sides. You may keep your hands at your heart or raise them above your head.
Modification: Begin by placing your foot on your ankle and as flexibility improves, move it up toward your pelvis.
I like to use mountain pose for this transition. Standing tall with feet hip width apart, raise arms up overhead with a deep breath and exhale into forward bend.
Wide-legged Forward Bend pose/ Prasarita Padottanasana I
From your forward bend, simply increase your step by making the space between your feet wider. Keep your knees slightly bent and relax in this position with your arms hanging toward the floor. On an exhale, slowly bring your right arm to touch the outer edge of your left foot. Lengthen through the spine and breathe. Switch sides.
These yoga poses are useful in assisting you to feel into alignment, to work consciously with breath and be mindful of the body. It does’t take much time to create a daily practice with these basic yoga poses and you can add a few other simple stretches that you like to create a routine. As you become more strong and flexible, your stretching will deepen and the focus may shift to the technical aspects of a pose. For now, inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.
Until next time, Namaste.