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Yoga Exercises

Hatha yoga is the most commonly practiced form of yoga in America. It consists of a series of poses (asanas). Hatha yoga also incorporates breathing techniques and is very effective exercise for relieving stress.

The physical benefits of yoga poses are increased muscle strength, balance, flexibility, and circulation. Yoga poses also massage internal organs and cleanse toxins from the body. The concentration required holding in yoga poses and on controlling your breath clears your mind and develops inner awareness. The goal is to balance the body, mind and spirit.

It is best to take a class with a qualified instructor to guide you and give you feedback. Most yoga poses are easy to hold but some may not be safe for certain people. There are many yoga instructional tapes on the market if you can't find a good, affordable yoga class. There may also some TV shows on yoga that you can check out and record for use at a time convenient to you.

YOGA POSES:

*If you have any physical limitation (bad back, arthritis, etc.) ask your doctor if the following yoga poses are safe for you. Never do any yoga exercise that causes you pain.

Ease into yoga poses gradually. When starting out, only hold each pose for a few seconds and do a few repetitions. Gradually work up to 10 seconds and 10 repetitions over several weeks.

Tip: Focus on synchronizing your breathing with your movements. Holding a yoga position for, or completing a movement in the time it takes to inhale or exhale helps accomplish the harmonization of breath and movement.

Basic Twist:
Lie on back, arms stretched out to the sides.
Bend knees and bring knees up close to your chest
Take a deep breath
Exhale as you slowly lower knees (keep knees together) to floor to the right or as close to the floor as is comfortable.
Pause.
Inhale as you slowly return your knees to chest.
Exhale as you slowly lower knees to left side
Inhale as you return your knees to chest.
Repeat about 5 times.

Cat:
Begin on all fours, hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips.
Inhale as you drop tummy towards the floor and look up over your head.
Exhale as you bring your tummy back up, rounding your back as you tuck your chin in and tuck your tailbone in.
Move slowly back and forth between these two positions pausing on each pose.
Repeat about 5 times.

Cat Hang:
Begin on all fours, hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips.
Inhale as you tuck under your tailbone and bring your chin to your chest, rounding your back.
Exhale as you lower your chest toward your thighs (keeping your back rounded), and lower your buttocks towards your calves.
Move slowly back and forth between these two positions pausing on each pose.
Repeat about 5 times.

Cobra:
Lay flat on stomach, forehead to ground, with arms bent and palms down on the ground under the shoulders.
Push downward with arms as you raise your upper torso and arch your back.
Hold for 3 full breaths before slowly bringing the upper torso back down to the ground.

Although yoga is an excellent stress relief exercise, the full mental and spiritual benefits of yoga may not be apparent until you have been practicing for three months or longer.
Your body will get toned more quickly.

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