Yoga 101

Yoga has become very popular in the U.S. in recent years. It is an ancient activity involving exercise, meditation, breathing and philosophy. Some sources claim its origins date back 5000 years. Many styles of yoga have developed through the years and we can find a variety of classes within most suburban communities.

While you can benefit from any type of yoga, there is also potential for injury. It is wise to be cautious when initiating any new form of exercise and to seek clearance from your MD. If you are new to yoga, it is important to start at the proper level. Speak to the instructor if in a class and inform them that you are a beginner and of any injuries you may have. If using a video, be sure it is appropriate for your level and be extra careful not to perform any activities that cause you pain.

There are some basic yoga poses that may be helpful to introduce the beginner who is considering taking a class or to alleviate some aches which are common among those of us who have sedentary jobs or basic posture-related issues.

Child’s pose: Begin on all fours with hands directly under shoulders and knees under hips. Keeping your hands on the floor, gently shift your weight back until your butt rests on your feet or as far as you can go comfortably. Let your head rest on the floor and breathe. Try to stay in this restorative pose for a minute or more, repeating 2 or 3 times.

Bridge: Start by lying on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip width apart. Breathe in. As you exhale, start to curl your tailbone under and lift your buttocks off the floor. Only go as high as is comfortable. Do not let your knees fall out to the side. Hold for a breath, then slowly lower yourself and repeat 10 -20 times.

Bird Dog: In the hands and knees position, keep your back level. Do not arch or round your back. Find your neutral posture then slowly and with control raise your arm and your opposite leg. Only raise as high as you can without losing your neutral spine posture. Hold for a breath then gently lower back to starting position. Repeat with the other side for a total of 10 times.

Cat/Cow: Begin on all fours with shoulders right over hands and hips right over knees. Inhale and as you exhale draw your navel in and round your spine from head to tail, trying to curl into the shape of the letter “C”. (Think of an angry cat) As you start to inhale, slowly uncurl your spine and gently round towards opposite direction. (Think of a cow’s swayback) Sync your movements with your breath. Repeat 10-20 times.

Remember to always be comfortable while practicing theses poses. There should not be pain. Always keep breathing and do not judge yourself!

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