Let's wind down the work week by looking inwards.
On the last day of our 5 Days of Yoga series, we want to end off by looking inwards: to focus on yourself and calm your mind with various meditation and breathing postures after a long day of work.
Doing the poses here will take about 15 minutes and is an introduction to the poses for yoga beginners.
Start your practice with breathing exercises to align and stabilize your body with your mind.
Before your opening poses, take a deep breath first to clear out your lungs. Sit straight on your mat, cross-legged, with shoulders relaxed, and tailbone pointing downwards.
Proceed to breathe in and out, through your nose:
Inhale with 3 counts, hold for 2 counts, and exhale for 5 counts
Throughout the practice, you may want to hold each pose for 5 counts. If you have mastered an Ujjayi breath, you might want to try it. To activate the Ujjayi breath, also known as “ocean breathing” by some, you want to breathe through your nose only, whilst constricting the back of your throat, creating a misty breath that can fog up a mirror. This kind of breathing helps to create some warmth from the insides and relieve stress.
The Hero pose is an alternative sitting position to the commonly used Lotus pose in Yoga for meditation, usually used to relieve stress in the legs after a long day of standing or walking. It helps to soften our knee and ankle joints and awaken the muscles in the hip area. Avoid this pose if you experience any pain in the joints.
- To get into the pose, simply begin in a kneeling position, sitting your bum on your shins
- Gently spread your ankles apart
If you experience difficulties getting into this pose, be sure to have a yoga block or brick next to you to slip it under your buttocks in between the ankles as you get into the pose.
Keep your back straight and sit tall and proud.
- This pose can be hard for those with really tight knees and hips. However, if you’re more experienced and wish to go deeper into the pose, slowly bring your torso to lie backward on the floor.
As simple as it seems, this basic sitting pose promotes breathing, opens the pelvic area, and when done properly, can also stretch our spine to release tension and promotes relaxation. Avoid this position if you experience any joint pains.
- Begin by sitting cross-legged. Take note to be actively sitting straight (not slouching), but with shoulders relaxed.
Alternatively, you could raise your hands together overhead and bend backward, slowly stretching your upper body. Take a few counts of breathing as you stretch.
- Slowly bring your hands down, still clasped together, to the front of your face, and slowly place your wrists on your knees
- With your palms facing up, join your thumb and index finger to promote energy flow
- Meditate for a few minutes here. You will be able to focus on every breath moving in and out of the body.
If it helps you get more comfortable, you might want to place a yoga zafu or brick under your buttocks.
You might want to make it a little more different by sitting cross-legged with the alternate leg above.
This pose opens up our hips and shoulders, and at the same time relaxes the whole body and mind. Try this pose for a deep and relaxing stretch. It’s called Cow Head pose because in the full pose, our legs form the shape of the cow’s snout, and our arms will look like the cow’s ears!
- Sit cross legged, place your right leg over the left, and the left leg to stretch backwards to get your ankle meet the buttocks.
- Overlap your knees.
- Sitting up tall, grab a yoga strap, or even simply a towel, to help you get into the pose. Bring the strap or towel overhead with your right hand, and bend your left hand behind your chest area to grab on to the strap.
- Open up the elbows and pull your arms in the opposite directions, balancing the opposition of the two hands. You will feel a nice relaxing stretch on your shoulders.
Remember to repeat the steps on the other side to keep your body balanced. Avoid the position if you are experiencing joint pain.
To end the session, remember to thank yourself for the time taken on the mat, and you may wish to have a resting pose like savasana (lying on your backs for a moment to reconnect with your breath).