Yoga is so good for you on so many different levels. It is one of the safest types of exercise you can suggest to family, and even the most out of shape friend can gently find a path to better health. It is especially good for kids, helping them with stress and sharing a relaxing time with Mom.
Whether you practice yoga everyday or as a beginner, I’ve selected some poses for a healthy and fun family practice with Mom and the kids.
Place your hands on the ground, shoulder width apart, and stretch your feet out behind you about 3 feet apart from one another with your hips high in the air. You should look like an upside down letter “V.” Because your heart is higher than your head, this pose causes blood to flow to your brain, which calms the nervous system, improves memory, enhances concentration and relieves stress. Downward Dog also gently tones your abdomen, which stimulates digestion.
Place your hands on the ground alongside your body, next to your lower ribs. Inhale and press your hands firmly into the floor. Straighten your arms, lifting your torso and your legs a few inches off the floor. Hold for five slow breathes.
Upward dog stretches the chest and spine, strengthening wrists, arms and shoulders. It stimulated the abdominal organs and improves digestion. It firms the buttocks and thighs, helping to relieve sciatica. It energizes and rejuvenates, relieving fatigue and depression.
THREE LEGGED DOWNWARD DOG
Place your hands on the ground, shoulder width apart, and stretch your
feet out behind you about 3 feet apart from one another with your hips
high in the air. You should look like an upside down letter “V.” Lift one leg as your opposite leg stays on the mat. Straighten your arms and press your shoulders back. Move your elbows forward and push your chest closer to your feet. Keep your hands, arms, shoulders and hips in a line. Three legged downward dog has the same health advantages as downward dog, adding a leg stretching element for encouraging length in your spine and increases hip joint flexibility.
TREE POSE (VIRKSASANA)
Start by focusing the balance on the left foot. Lifting the right foot to the ankle, calf, above the knee or in lotus position (inside the hip joint), bring your arms to prayer position in front of your heart center. Straighten the back, tuck in the pelvis and breathe.
On an inhale, extend your arms over head into any hand mudra you desire; pinky to thumb, thumb to index finger or thumb to middle finger. Hold here for 5-10 inhale and exhale breaths.
Stand with your feet about 3-4 feet apart. Look toward your right leg as you turn your torso and your hips towards your right leg.
Bend your right knee at a 90 degree angle, keeping your left leg straight so that you are in a low lunge. Bring your hands to prayer position in front of you.
Inhale and on an exhale, twist to your right, bringing your left elbow over your right knee. Look up and make sure your elbows are facing in opposite directions with your right elbow facing up at 12 o’clock and left facing down at 6 o’clock.
Hold this pose for 5-10 inhales and exhales. Slowly release, coming back to center. Repeat on the other side.
Look toward your left side, bend your left knee at a 90 degree angle and move into a lunge by keeping your right leg straight. Inhale and exhale to twist to the left, hooking your right elbow over your left knee. Breathe for 5-10 inhales and exhales.
The twisting of the torso in this move applies pressure to your muscles, increasing toning and detoxifying powers. Fresh oxygen rushes to the area once the twist is released, which helps flush toxins within the body and improve digestion. This pose is great for balance, energy and confidence – plus, it tones your legs, hips and butt.
SUPINE SPINAL TWIST
Lay on the ground with your legs stretched out in front of you. Bend your right knee, bringing it close to your chest.
Take your left hand and slowly guide your (bent) right leg over to the left side of your body. Look right and breathe 5-10 inhales and exhales.
Slowly come back to center with both legs stretched out on the ground. Reverse on the other side by bending your left knee toward your chest.
With your right hand, gently guide your left leg over to your right. This time, look to the left and breathe for another set of 5-10 inhales and exhales. This spinal twist will help to release lower back tension, open tight shoulders, improve digestion and elongate spinal muscles.
Don’t worry if it doesn’t come easy at first. Like all things, yoga takes time and practice to get right, but you will start feeling the detoxifying benefits right away. Just start with slow and steady breaths and the rest will follow!