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7 Self-Instructed Yoga Poses for Your Home Practice

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It was when I started to practice at home that my relationship to yoga changed. It went from something that I did in class to an experience that was profoundly personal, and an integral part of the way I lived. At first, I was unsure of what to do and whether I was doing it right, but I soon realized that the uncertainty is part of the process. It was in practicing just for me, without seeking the approval or validation of anyone else, that I fully understood what people mean when that say that it's "your" yoga practice. 

My advice to you is to keep it simple at first and get used to how it feels to practice on your own. Here are seven poses I recommend starting with.

1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Stand with your feet parallel, either together or hip-width apart. Spread your weight evenly across the soles of your feet and lengthen your spine, as if you’re being pulled up by the crown of your head.  There are few poses more centering and strengthening than mountain pose. For added challenge, close your eyes and feel all the micro-adjustments your body makes just to keep you upright. 

 

2. Utkatasana (Chair Pose)

From tadasana, bend your knees, taking your hips back and lengthening your tailbone toward the ground. Reach both arms up and overhead. 

In utkatasana, you are cultivating a feeling of reaching up and finding strength and space at the same time as being pushed down and grounded by your lower body. As well as being a powerful lower body strengthener, it is a great place to tune into your own resilience and mental fortitude.

3. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold)

Fold your body forward over your legs, keeping feet hip-width apart. Resist the temptation to shift your hips back, instead keeping weight in the balls of your feet. Scoop your lower belly in and up to find more space and support for the back of your body. 

This can be a powerful and intense stretch for the hamstrings and back. Take it gently, especially at first; and to soften the pose, bend your knees, allowing your torso to rest on your thighs. 

4. Anjaneyasana (Crescent Moon Pose)

Come into a lunge with the front knee bent, knee stacked over ankle, and the back leg straight with knee lifted. Reach the arms up, bringing the palms together and taking your gaze to your thumbs. To go deeper, lengthen the front of your body to arch into a gentle backbend. Hold for five breaths. 

This is a great pose for releasing the abdominal muscles and hip flexors. It helps you to feel more energized and present, and can support you to cultivate feelings of love and gratitude. 

5. Natarajasana (Dancer’s Pose)

From a standing position, reach back with your right hand and lift your right foot, taking hold of the inside of your foot. Reach your left arm up, then press the right foot into your hand to help you to open into a backbend. Allow yourself to pivot forward, reaching the torso and your left arm out in front of you. 

This beautiful pose is a graceful way to open the front of your body, strengthen your legs and improve your balance. If you are struggling, you can loop a belt around your foot. (To help, here are 6 Tips to Maintaining Balance on the Mat.)

6. Upavistha Konasana (Wide Angle Seated Forward Fold)

From a seated position, take your legs apart to a wide angle. Then lift both arms up and hinge forward from your hips, taking your chest toward the ground. At the point you feel the stretch and opening, hold here, supporting yourself on hands, forearms or a bolster.

With every inhalation here, find more length in your spine; and with every exhalation, release and soften toward the ground. This is a powerful hip and inner groin opener, and can be intense for tight hamstrings, so go gently. 

7. (Happy Baby Pose)

Lie on your back, lifting your feet like you are squatting on the ceiling. Hold the outsides of your feet, letting your knees come down toward the sides of your body. Lengthen your tailbone down and deepen your breaths

Happy baby pose is the ultimate stress reliever. It opens the hips in a gorgeously supported way, releases the lower back, and helps you to calm your body and mind. To maximize its benefits, get playful, rocking side to side to massage your lower back. 

There's No Place Like Home

Finally, remember that the advantage of home practice is that you are free to set the pace. Tune into what your body needs, adapt to and respond to it. And if you want to spend a bit longer in a pose, do! You're in the driver's seat here. Enjoy and, most importantly keep practicing!

posted Jun 10 by Nithin Kumar

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The teachings of Yoga talk about positivity. According to yogic texts and some of the revered Yoga teachers from around the world, this ancient science is a great exercise for arousing belief in one’s mind. It is a collection of practices, ranging from physical asanas to spiritual exercises. Yoga has a great impact on the mental health of a person, which makes the science of wellness an integral part of life. Talking about Yoga for boosting self-confidence, the 5000 years old discipline is full of such practices and theories that sponsor a well-composed mind. Since a wholesome mind can only exist in a healthy body, a proper measure must be taken to replenish the mind, body, and spirit from the yogic perspective.

Here’s List of the Best Yoga Poses for Boosting Self Confidence:

1. Phalakasana

Phalakasana

One of the major aspects of confidence is body language. Your outer appearance – the way you stand in front of a group and the art of interacting with others show how confident you are. Phalakasana is one of the best poses for building the body language. Plank is a popular exercise practised in almost every Gym and health centre. While you put the weight of the body on the palms and the toes, make sure the body from head to foot remains in a straight line.

2. Virabhadrasana II

Virabhadrasana II

The name Virabhadrasana denotes warrior. Although all three practices of this pose are considered good when it comes to instilling self-belief in oneself, the second genre is quite dynamic in practice and carries heavy benefits. The exercise makes you feel really strong from inside. Confidence is in the core of this exercise that can be attained with regular practice of this asana. The best part of this exercise is that it can be performed anytime during daytime giving a similar output.

3. Ardha Chandrasana

The Half-moon Pose is extremely beneficial for a doubtful mind. It clears all the mental agonies present in the brain and makes the thought-box healthy enough to store an enormous amount of facts and data. Ardha Chandrasana is a practice carrying lots of fun too, in an assortment of which lives the idea of calmness and self-belief. During the asana, the left foot and hand touch the ground while the right leg makes a right angle with the other one and the right arm in straight line with the left.

4. Kapotasana

Kapotasana

If you are seriously looking to boosting self-confidence along with physical strength, Kapotasana is probably the best exercise to delve into. For practising the asana successfully, bend the body over the abdomen and make sure the base of this pose should be the lower legs and the upper arms making 180 degrees between them on the Yoga mat.

5. Bakasana

Bakasana

Bakasana is all about courage and confidence. The asana is practised by carrying the whole load of the body on the palms. While physically, the Crow Pose builds strong arms and a fit body, its mental significance covers a large area including mental boosting. Since one needs to use the core and the arms to stabilize the pose with the eyes down on the floor, the confidence level of the practitioner certainly rises after completing this challenging posture successfully.

6. Padmasana

Padmasana

Padmasana is the position of Shiva, the eternal god of power, Gautam Buddha, the personification of peace, and Mahavira, the deity of spiritual awakening. Isn’t inner confidence the amalgamation of these three things? The practice of Padmasana, which is also called the Lotus Position, imitates the exercise of Meditation. The cross-legged sitting pose, when practised with the utterance of mantras in a pleasant atmosphere, brings tremendous spiritual energy to the mind preparing a person to be ready to face the challenges life throws at him/her.

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Travelling is a time to step out of your comfort zone and explore new sights, cultures and create an experience that you can grow from and remember. With the rising global popularity of yoga, we no longer need to stress about packing a travel yoga mat - you can find a variety of yoga experiences abroad, ranging from all-inclusive retreats to drop-in classes. Design and experience your yoga trip abroad by exploring these unique destinations to connect with your practice and immerse yourself in another culture.

Sri Lanka

The South East Asian island of Sri Lanka is an incredible destination for biodiversity and yoga diversity. The island is easy to get around (by tuk tuk or train), and yoga is readily available in the mountainous towns of Kandy and the surfing and yoga hotspot on the Southern Coast, also popular with surfers. Supplement your practice with delicious morning moringa - a local traditional superfood - and egg hoppers, another delicacy.

Gili Islands, Indonesia

Not to be overshadowed by the yoga-centric Bali, Gili Trawangan (known as “Gili T”), one of the three Gili islands, offers a variety of yoga experiences. With less footfalls than yoga hotspots like Ubud, Gili T is popular for snorkelling and diving - so lots to explore off the mat too! The islands are accessible by boat from Bali or Lombok.

Cornwall, UK

The county of Cornwall in England is a popular destination for Brits to explore hundreds of sandy beaches, surfing, yoga and a cheeky Cornish pasty. The establishment of surfing culture has naturally allowed a yoga culture to bloom. After all, what surfers don’t need a post-wave catching stretch? They also have great Cornish ice-cream worth sampling!

Dharamsala, India

Dharamsala is located at the base of the Dhauladar mountain range in Himachal Pradesh. The area is made up of a few key epicenters: Dharamsala, McLeod Ganj, Dharamkot and Bhagsu. One of the gems of Northern India, the city of Dharamsala is ironically where the least amount of visitors go. Approximately 5 kilometers up the road sits the primary tourist draw: McLeod Ganj, home to the Dalai Lama.

Dharamkot and Bhagsu are both smaller towns up the road from McLeod Ganj and great for yogis looking to get away from the hustle and bustle. Nature is dramatic and abundant here with walks, hikes and treks at every turn. Dharamsala caters to many needs and is an ideal place to practice yoga.

Peru

Peru is an increasingly popular place for yogis to retreat and travel to. With options for adventurous hikes to the famous Macchu Picchu site, vegetarian cooking classes, stunning hikes in nature and adorable llamas, it’s truly a unique place to explore and experience yoga. Challenge yourself by taking a class in Spanish - you may surprise yourself!

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Located in the North part of the country, Chiang Mai is a cultural hub of Thailand boasting over 300 wats (Buddhist temples), stunning nature and the chance to see Asian elephants. When you aren’t practicing yoga or meditating, indulge in a traditional Thai massage, which, in many ways, is like a yoga practice in and of itself. And don’t forget to try Kao Soi, a tasty, local dish that will sustain you on your adventure.

Zanzibar

Just off the coast of mainland Tanzania sits the stunning island of Zanzibar, birthplace to Fred Mercury and a unique escape to practice yoga. The island is renowned for its beautiful beaches and spices, and those white, sandy beaches make it an incredible place to practice and enjoy yoga as well. The island is a melting pot of cultures. Enjoy some local chai and a trip to the famous Stone Town market, where ‘zanzibar’ pizza is a must try!

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Taking time to stretch and centre yourself as a mother is important to try to fit into your hectic schedule. Yoga has been proven to improve both physical and mental health, which, as we all know are so important in this stressful time of life! Are you struggling to try to find time to fit your practice into your routine? Here are a few poses that can be done in hardly any time, anywhere and they offer some amazing benefits:

1. FORWARD FOLD

Inversions, such as forward folds, are thought to provide the following benefits:

  • Improved circulation
  • Increased immunity
  • Increased energy
  • Increased relaxation
  • Better balance

Forward folds also strengthen and stretch the muscles in the legs, hips, and spine. To protect the lower back, keep your knees slightly bent when doing the pose. It can feel nice to fold halfway over while holding onto a countertop, the back of the couch, or your stroller or grocery cart handles. Focus on keeping the spine straight, rather than rolling your shoulders forward into a “hunch” while bending. To do this, think about pushing your chest towards your thighs if folding fully, or towards the floor, if folding halfway.

2. TREE

Balancing postures, such as tree pose, are great for increasing focus and helping us connect to our breath. If you are feeling off-kilter, use tree pose to centre yourself and drop back into your body.

Yogi Elizabeth Wellington recommends the following approach to tree pose:

"Start with your feet hip-width apart. Take a few deep breaths, and lift your left foot. Rest the bottom of your left foot along your shin, and if you’re comfortable, bring it up to rest on your thigh. Breathe with your eyes fixed on a focal point ahead of you. Switch sides to reap the benefits of this balancing pose."

3. CAT COW

Cat-Cow can be performed on the floor, on all fours, or seated in a chair or on a stability ball. It is a simple sequence where you round your back and press the space between your shoulder blades up if you’re on all fours, or into the back of the chair if you’re seated. Exhale as you round, like a cat. Then, inhaling through the nose, raise your forehead and arch your back, like a cow. Keep your core engaged by tucking your tailbone forward a tiny bit. Flowing with your breath, repeat the sequence several times.

This is a great pose to relieve feelings of anxiety or fear. It is easily performed in a variety of settings, from your desk chair, to the bathroom stall, on your bed, or the floor of your living room. If you are practising yoga in the midst of children, this is a really fun way to engage your kids in the practice. Invite them to moo like a cow and meow like a cat as you move through the sequence!

4. STANDING FIGURE FOUR

This is an easy stretch to perform just about anywhere. I’ve been known to drop into a standing figure four stretch while waiting in checkout lines while standing and talking to a friend at the park while cooking, and just about everywhere else.

To get into this pose, sit back as though you’re dropping into a chair, with knees bent and core strength. Shift your weight into the heels. Then, lift one foot and cross it over the opposite leg, so your ankle is sitting on your thigh. You may have to come up out of your “chair” slightly or depending on your flexibility, you might be able to sit deeper into your chair once you've balanced in your figure four stance.

This posture stretches the legs, hips, calves, and piriformis muscles. Keep your core strong and engaged to avoid angering your lower back muscles. Avoid placing the ankle directly on the knee. If you’ve got a history of knee problems, it might feel better to practice this pose lying down on your back.

5. TOE SQUAT

This simple pose comes from the Yin Yoga practice and helps to open the body’s lower meridians. The six meridians that begin and end in the lower body are the Liver, Gall Bladder, Kidney, Urinary Bladder, Spleen, and Stomach. By simply kneeling, tucking your toes under, and sitting back towards your heels, you can gently release these lower meridians through a toe squat.

Those new to the toe squat may find that sitting back is too uncomfortable at first. Only go back as far as you can without experiencing discomfort, and lean forward resting your hands on a block if need be. It is handy to have something to distract you while in toe squat, because focusing intently on the sensation can intensify discomfort. It’s a great time to get down to your child’s level and engage with them!

Place a blanket under your feet, or perform this pose on a rug or soft surface to minimize pain. You can hold this pose up to two-three minutes, but feel free to take a break, roll your ankles, and drop back in. Enjoy the release of your feet and toes!

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A little over a year ago I began a strength training program. After bilateral hip replacements, and the years of dysfunction that led up to them, I needed to regain strength. I'm now working out with weights at least once a week on my own. It feels good and has improved my strength and agility by miles.

I've begun tweaking my workouts recently to include a longer stretching period after my workout. As I expected, making my cool-down period more like a mini-yoga practice has benefits far beyond simple stretching. After I finish my workout now, my mind is clear, smooth and alert—like after a yoga practice. Who would have thought?

6 Yoga Poses for Cooling Down

Of course, there are lots of yoga poses for cooling down after a weight-training session. What you choose can depend on the focus of your weight training. Below are the poses I’ve found to be helpful. Bring along a yoga mat, a yoga strap and an eyebag, and make sure you approach your practice with an attitude of ease rather than one of aggression. Keep your breathing long, slow and relaxed.

  1. UnwindAdho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) is a great way to begin the unwinding process. Begin your Dog Pose by moving around—twisting, flexing and extending your spine and moving through all your joints. The intention here is to “liquefy” your joints and soft tissues before stretching. Downward Facing Dog Pose is the perfect transition pose for moving into stretching.
  2. Stretch Your Quads: There are a number of ways to stretch the quads. My favorite way is to practice Supta Ardha Virasana (Supine Half Hero’s Pose). However, this pose can be out of reach for people whose knees don’t flex all that far. If this is the case, simply flip over onto your belly. Lie flat on your abdomen and then bend one of your knees. Reach back and grab your foot and draw the foot in toward your body to stretch the quads. You can use your yoga strap if your hand doesn’t reach your foot.
  3. Stretch Your HamstringsSupta Padangusthasana (Supine Big Toe Pose) is a classic way to release hamstring tightness after a workout. Be sure to place a strap around your foot so that you can keep the rest of your body in a supine Tadasana (Mountain Pose).
  4. Stretch Your Outer ThighsSupta Ardha Padmasana (Supine Half Lotus Pose) is a great way to release tension in the glutes and outer thighs. Make sure to keep your shoulders relaxed as you draw your legs toward your torso.
  5. TwistJathara Parivrttanasana (Revolved Belly Pose) is a great way to further release tension in the shoulders and core. Be sure to breathe deeply into your abdomen as you relax into the pose.
  6. Let It All Go: As with any asana practice, Savasana (Relaxation Pose) helps smooth out agitation and help you integrate your practice. Give yourself at least 5 minutes. I’ve found 10 minutes to be the minimum amount of time my body needs to benefit from Savasana after a workout. The lights in most gyms and weight rooms are pretty harsh. An eyebag makes a big difference.
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