Gentle Yoga Poses
The following three poses from yoga therapist Susan Winter Ward's book Yoga for the Young at Heart: Accessible Yoga for Every Body will help you build muscle, increase flexibility, and knock out stress. While you can practice yoga anywhere, it's smart to first take a few classes to make sure you're doing the poses correctly. A good instructor will guide you through the poses and help you avoid injury.
For ... STRENGTH
The Pose: Arms Overhead
The Benefits: Strengthens arms, chest, shoulders, back, and abs.
- Stand tall with your neck extended, chin parallel to the floor.
- Keep arms relaxed at your side, palms facing out.
- As you inhale, raise your arms out to the sides, parallel to the floor and with palms facing up. Then, while still inhaling, raise them overhead, palms facing each other.
- Lift through your fingertips and press into the floor with your feet.
- Inhale and feel your ribs expand as you lengthen your waist. Look upward.
- Exhale and stretch your fingertips to the ceiling. Keep shoulders down and shoulder blades flat against your back.
- Take three to five slow, deep breaths, then move on to the next pose ...
For ... STRETCHING
The Pose: Hands Clasped Behind
The Benefits: Stretches shoulders, chest, and abs.
- From Arms Overhead, exhale and press through the palms of your hands to slowly lower your arms to your sides. Keep your chin pulled back toward your throat.
- Press your shoulder blades flat against your back, bend your elbows, and clasp your hands behind you, at waist level.
- Inhale deeply.
- As you exhale fully, press your knuckles toward the floor.
- Inhale deeply.
- Exhale completely while straightening arms a little bit.
- Continue for five more breaths, then move on to the next pose ...
For ... STRESS RELIEF
The Pose: Child's Pose
The Benefits: Provides deep relaxation
- Get on your hands and knees, toes pointed and tops of the feet on the floor. Exhale and lower your butt to your heels.
- Rest your forehead on the floor, turning your head to one side.
- Extend your arms out in front of you, leaving a small bend in the elbow, and rest them on the floor.
- As you inhale, feel your rib cage expand. As you exhale, feel your body relax into the pose.
- Rest in pose while taking long, belly-expanding breaths in and then exhaling deeply.
- If you need to support your feet, place a rolled towel or blanket under your ankles.
- If you need to support your knees, place a blanket or pillow between your thighs and calves.
- If you can't reach the floor, place a pillow or blanket under your chest and head.