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Though yoga is an ancient practice, it has become drastically more popular in recent years. 9.5% percent of American adults now practice yoga, up from 6.1% in 2007. It seems as though everyone has embraced this soothing and spiritual form of exercise.
Not all yoga is headstands and twisted pretzel poses, however. Many yoga poses are accessible for beginners. Practicing yoga on a regular basis is a great way to improve balance, core strength, and flexibility while reducing pain, anxiety, and fatigue.
Whether you're looking for a new fitness regimen or a practice to soothe your weary mind, yoga is a reliable path to better health and wellness. These senior-friendly yoga poses are a great place to start.
Mountain pose is a simple, standing yoga pose. Potential health benefits to practicing this pose include improved posture, reduced sciatic pain, and strengthened muscles throughout the core, legs, and buttocks.
To begin, stand with your feet together. If you find it challenging to keep your balance when your feet are directly next to each other, you can instead stand with your feet a few inches apart while holding the pose. Tighten your thighs and tilt your pubic bone up towards your stomach. This should lengthen and straighten your lower back.
Press your shoulder blades back and hold your arms, palms forward, at your sides. Strive to maintain a sense of straightness and energy flowing upwards through your chest, neck, and head. Maintain this pose for up to one minute.
Mountain pose is an excellent way to stretch out your body before diving into more intensive yoga poses.
Warrior II Pose
Warrior II pose benefits the body in many ways. Holding this great pose opens up the hips, stretches the legs, strengthens the shoulders, and more.
When exhaling from mountain pose, step or jump so that your feet are roughly 3 to 4 feet apart. Next, raise your arms to shoulder height so that they are parallel with the floor. Keep your palms down and shoulders engaged.
Next, turn your right foot slightly inward. Turn your left thigh and left foot outward 90 degrees while keeping your heels aligned with each other. While exhaling, bend your left knee so that it in alignment with your left ankle. Engage your left thigh and continue to lower yourself until your thigh is nearly parallel with the floor.
Maintain strength in your right thigh and heel. Turn your head so that you are looking out over your left arm. Hold your torso upright and maintain a straight back. Tilt your pubic bone slightly upward to maintain an open lower back. Maintain the pose for up to a minute before switching feet and posing in the opposite direction.
Cat and Cow Poses
Alternating between cat pose and cow pose is a good way to relieve tightness in the torso, neck, and spine. To begin, get down on your hands and knees. Make sure that your knees are located squarely under your hips. The palms of your hands should be flat on the ground and aligned with your shoulders. From this flat-backed position, you can begin to move into cat pose.
While exhaling, begin curving your spine upwards. Keep your knees and shoulders in alignment as you relax your head, gazing downward towards your navel.
When inhaling, transition into cow pose. Release your back from its arched position and curve your spine inwards, pushing your abdomen down towards the floor. At the same time, raise your head and neck and gaze upwards.
Continue to alternate between cat and cow pose while breathing slowly and deeply. Repeating this exercise a few times a day can significantly reduce pain and stiffness in the lower back.
To enter into cobra pose, begin by lying stomach-down with your legs extended and the tops of your feet touching the floor. Place your hands on the floor under your shoulders. Press your hips and tailbone towards the ground, engaging your glutes. On an inhale, press upwards, extending your arms while keeping your elbows slightly bent and close to your torso. Keep your shoulders down and away from the ears while lifting your sternum and opening your chest. Breathe gently and hold the pose for 15 to 30 seconds.
To open your heart and lungs, strengthen your spine, and tone your buttocks, try adding cobra pose to your daily routine.
Though these basic poses are a great way to get a taste of yoga, don't let this short list limit you! There are dozens of simple yoga poses that you can practice in a class or from the comfort of your own home. Considering checking out the YouTube channel "Yoga with Adriene" to learn more. This helpful channel has numerous yoga routines and pose explanation videos to help you learn more about the wonderful world of yoga.
Photo: (c) Robert Kneschke / fotolia.com