DIY yoga

DIY yoga

Yoga benefits circulation, posture, stress and anxiety levels, flexibility, sleeping patterns and fitness. We take you through a few simple poses.

Getting started

  • Warm up with a five minute walk or on-the-spot jog.
  • Stretch to a point of slight discomfort, not pain.
  • Breathe deeply during poses to increase oxygen flow.
  • Release each position gently. Let your muscles slowly go limp before moving on to the next position.
  • Practise in a quiet environment in comfortable clothes.

Exercise 1: Warrior II

(4 sets of 30-60 second holds)

Strengthens legs and opens chest

  1. Lunge forward with right foot. Raise arms parallel to the floor.
  2. Turn right foot in slightly and left foot 90 degrees to the left. If possible bring right thigh parallel to the floor.
  3. With shoulders directly over pelvis, hold gaze over fingers.
  4. Step out of pose. Repeat with left leg forward to complete one set.

TIP: Only go down as far as you're comfortable.

Exercise 2: The Triangle

(4 sets of 30-60 second holds)

Opens chest and shoulders, strengthens hamstrings and groin muscles

  1. From Warrior II, straighten right leg. Keep both feet flat on the floor.
  2. Lower right arm towards right foot with left shoulder stacked on right shoulder. Raise left arm vertically, opening chest. Look up to left hand.
  3. Hold. Lower left arm and raise right arm and return to standing. Repeat with left leg forward to complete one set.

TIP: Rest right elbow on right thigh for balance. Go only as low as comfortable.

Exercise 3:  Standing Forward Bend

(4 sets of 30-60 second holds)

Stretches and lengthens hamstrings

  1. Stand straight with feet shoulder-width apart and belly button sucked in to switch on abdominal muscles.
  2. Fold forward from hips with forearms clasped above head.
  3. Allow arms to hang. Aim to press palms into the floor.
  4. Keep hips over your ankles. Squeeze and release hamstrings to stretch them further. Let your head hang.
  5. Roll body back up, vertebra by vertebra to return to starting position.

TIP: Only hang as far as is comfortable.

Exercise 4: Downward Dog

(4 sets of 30-60 second holds)

Stretches and strengthens body

  1. Kneel on hands and knees. Slowly lift onto hands and toes, creating an inverted  V-shape.
  2. Push hips back and straighten legs, but don't lock knees. Work towards getting heels flat on the floor.
  3. Spread fingers and push them into the ground. Elbows should be pointed outwards.
  4. Keep head between upper arms – don't let it hang. Pull shoulders away from ears. Activate thighs to remove some of the weight from hands.
  5. Release by walking your feet towards your hands.

TIP: If you find hamstrings are too tight to fully straighten legs, keep knees bent. Coming up on to the balls of feet will also help to soften the strain on muscles.

Exercise 5: The Cobra

(4 sets of 30-60 second holds)

Increases spine flexibility

  1. Lay on stomach with legs outstretched. Place hands shoulder-width apart.
  2. Press tops of feet and thighs into the floor. On inhalation, straighten arms and lift chest off the floor. Stop when arms are straight and pubic bone is still in contact with the floor.
  3. Keep shoulder blades away from ears. Push sternum out, but not rib cage, as this puts strain on lower back. Keep neck straight and gaze towards the ceiling.
  4. Slowly release downwards to the floor on exhalation.

TIP: If there's back discomfort, try not to come up as high. Work gradually towards a deeper stretch. To release pressure on the back, alternate this exercise with Child's Pose.

Exercise 6: Child's Pose

(4 sets of 30-60 second holds)

Lightly stretches hips, thighs and ankles

  1. Kneel on the floor with knees hip-width apart and big toes touching. Sit on heels.
  2. Exhale and bend forward at the waist. With chest hovering above the floor, place head on the floor and bring arms above head. Hold, breathing deeply.
  3. Slowly return to sitting position by lengthening the front of the torso and then lifting from the tail bone, pressing down into the pelvis.

TIP: Try extending arms by your side instead, palms facing up. Alternatively, try widening the distance between knees.

Don't forget: As with any type of exercise, yoga can lead to injury if not performed properly. Check with your doctor before trying yoga. Some postures are not recommended for pregnant women, but special pregnancy classes are available.

Author: Caitlin Reid

Healthy Food Guide

First published: Apr 2009

2017-04-03 17:18:22

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