Yoga is revered for slowing the ageing process. We only need to look to the wise Rishis and Yoga Masters of India as evidence. The movement based system of postures combined with high quality breathing creates an ideal environment within the body to essentially heal itself through stress reduction. Yoga helps us to drop out of the fight or flight response that has almost become the new norm, and moves us into the relaxation response – and that’s the parasympathetic nervous system.
Here are five essential Yoga postures to integrate into your daily routine, to help the body stay strong, supple, and soothed.
1. Gomukhasana – Cow Face Pose (Upper body only)
Maintaining a sense of freedom and mobility in the shoulders is fundamental so that we can avoid common ailments, such as frozen shoulder. This posture can be performed seated or standing.
Extend the arms, with one upward and one down by your side.
Maintain equal length in the sides of your torso as you bend your elbows, and reach the hands behind the back.
Clasping the fingertips (or you can use a belt between your hands), focus on turning your upper armpit inward, and your opposite shoulder blade back and in.
Imagine the elbows were pointing straight up and down, rather than out on a diagonal.
Keep your head centred the whole time. Hold for a few slow breaths. Then carefully release and change sides.
2. Vrksasana – Tree Pose
Ensuring a sense of stability is essential at any stage of life, and this posture is accessible for everyone.
Take your weight onto your left foot, and then set your right foot onto the inner left ankle, calf, or inner the thigh (avoiding the knee).
Encourage your hips to remain centred, sitting bones turn downward, and the sides of the waist are long.
Hands can be on your hips, in a prayer position in front of the heart, or alternatively you could extend your arms up towards the sky to challenge yourself a little more!
Keep your eyes focused and steady the entire time, regardless of the fluctuations within the body. Don’t forget to smile!
When you’re ready, release and change sides.
3. Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog Pose
This is one of the most well known postures in the Yoga system, and it has a huge variety of benefits. If there was one pose to do first thing out of bed in the morning, it’d be this one. Downward Dog helps to maintain great strength and also mobility for the legs, shoulders, and spine. It aids in circulation (as it is a gentle inversion), and helps with co-ordination. A true gem!
Start on your hands and knees. Set your hands shoulder width apart, spreading the fingers wide. Set your knees hip width apart.
Tuck your toes, and lift your knees up.
Send your outer hips upward to the sky, and gently move your chest towards your thighs to keep the inverted V shape.
If the hamstrings or shoulders are tight, you will benefit by bending your knees just a little! Relax the heels and relax the neck.
Hold for a few gentle breaths, and then release back to all fours.
4. Viparita Karani – Legs Up The Wall
Often referred to as the “fountain of youth” pose, spending some time with your legs up a wall has tremendous benefit. It is suggested you spend around 5-10 minutes in this posture. You could do this pose in bed, or against a wall with a yoga bolster underneath your pelvis. If you have shoulder or neck tension, place a folded blanket underneath your head to support. This is a very gentle inversion that stimulates circulation and the internal organs, whilst also helping to balance the thyroid gland.
The pose takes heaviness and stress out of the legs and feet, which is so important considering the amount of time in our lives we spend on our feet. Regularly popping your legs up the wall will help reduce symptoms such as varicose veins and fatigue.
5. Ardha Matsyendrasana – Half Lord Of The Fishes Pose
Preserving spinal mobility is vitally important for overall health and wellness. It could be said to be a real necessity to living a long and pain-free life. Almost everyone will experience some kind of back pain at some time, and keeping the spine moving in a safe way can be the catalyst to reducing and preventing symptoms.
Take a seated position, and bend both knees, bringing your feet flat.
Take your left foot to your right buttock. Bring your right foot across to the outer left knee (place it inside if you have tighter hips or knee concerns!).
Put your right hand behind you for support – but try not to lean back.
Extend the left arm high on an inhale. As you exhale bring your left elbow down to hook around the right leg as you take your twist.
Turn your head and gaze over the right shoulder.
Utilise your breath – sit tall on the inhale, and twist gently around deeper on the exhalation. When you’re ready, release, and repeat on the other side.
If you think this information would be of benefit to someone you love, please share it! And if you enjoyed learning about yoga postures for youthfulness leave me a comment below – also let me know what other poses you feel would be great to add to this list too.
Enjoy your practice,