We've all been there. Walked into a yoga class for the first time full of trepidation and played follow the leader as you tried to nail that pose that you have no idea how to pronounce let alone remember. Thankfully, all the stress was worth it because you feel so damn good after all that bending and stretching. We chatted with our friends over at Yogi Peace Club and asked what their top 5 yoga poses for wellness are. Thankfully they gave us the pose name too so you can be an absolute pro and know exactly what to do next time you're in class.
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) – To energise you
Backbends can excite the nervous system leading to an increase in energy levels and boost your feeling of vitality. Lie spine on the floor then bend your knees and set your feet on the floor, heels as close to the sit bones as possible. Exhale and, pressing your inner feet and arms actively into the floor, push your tailbone upward and firm the buttocks. Then lift the buttocks off the floor. Keep your thighs and inner feet parallel. You can also try this with a block under your sacrum, for a supported bridge variation. Lift your buttocks until the thighs are about parallel to the floor. Keep your knees directly over the heels, but push them forward, away from the hips, and lengthen the tailbone toward the backs of the knees.
Boat Pose (Navasana) - For core strength
Boat Pose fires up your core muscles, as well as deepens and strengthens your hip flexors. Come directly onto the top of your sit bones while maintaining a neutral spine. Lift the shins to be parallel with your mat and extend the arms out past the knees. To deepen this pose, you can begin to extend the legs out, drawing the toes towards the sky. If you would like to bring movement, transition to low boat pose by lowering your torso to hover your shoulders and heels off the mat, on the inhale reach back up into high boat pose. It’s important to maintain a neutral spine throughout but broaden through the collar bones and draw your shoulder back and down.
Chair Pose (Utkatasana) - To build heat in the body
The ultimate fire building asana. Perfect for the colder months for a quick fix of heat, or a great pose to warm up the body for deeper asanas. Drawing your big toes to touch and your heels slightly apart, sink the sit bones down towards the earth as you raise your arms up and forward and your shoulders back and down. Take any compression out of your lower back by tucking your tailbone towards the floor and drawing your navel to the back of your spine. Squeeze the knees together and ensure they’re not tracking too far forward by checking you can still see your big toes.
Closed Twist – To improve digestion
Twists are amazing for our digestive system, as they rinse out our organs and get the internal body moving! Always good to twist towards the left first, as it coincides with the direction of our digestive system. This is a softer variation of gomukasana legs, enter by keeping your right leg extended, drawing your knee to be in line with your pubic bone. Bend the left leg and take the sole of that foot to floor next to the outer edge of the right knee. Then bend off the right knee, taking your heel towards your left glute. Keeping both sit bones drawing towards the earth as you lengthen through your spine on the inhale, with your exhale begin to twist from the navel up taking your right elbow to your outer left knee. Use the strength of your core muscles to deepen your twist and try to refrain from using the momentum of your elbow against your knee. Important to keep length through your neutral spine here.
Supported Viparita Karani – To calm
Inversions are an incredible way to reverse the flow of fluids in the body, they give the heart a break from tirelessly working to pump re-oxygenated blood back up to our brains and sensory organs. This flow of fresh fluids through our most important areas of the body often leave us feeling clearer and calmer. To achieve the full effect of this refreshing feeling, we generally hold these inversions for around 20 breaths. Using a block or a bolster underneath your hips for Supported Viparita Karani decreases the engagement in the core, allowing us to soften into the pose.