At times, it is almost impossible to complete a full hour of yoga, with your daily schedule. But there are some yoga exercises that you can do even if you have the minimum time. These exercises will effectively stretch your hips, hamstrings, and back, which are the key problem areas for most people.
Some of the top yoga exercises that you can perform within the premises of your home are:
- Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutation
There are many different variations of this particular yoga exercise. It is a series of moves and postures that end up saluting the sun. This yoga exercise is practiced typically when the sun is rising. It does not matter what variation you use; this exercise is a great way to warm up the body and sync the flow of your breath with the movement of the body, as they work on all seven major chakras.
- Utkatasana, or Chair Pose
Most commonly known as the Chair Pose, this particular exercise is a bit more on the relaxed and comfortable side. Some other translations of Utkatasana are Fierce Pose and Thunderbolt. But ultimately, this exercise is a great way to generate heat all over your body and build up energy levels quickly. It also activates the legs and core and helps your mind stay positive and present.
- Parivrtta Utkatasana, or Revolved Chair Pose
It is important that your body gets the benefits of twisting of the revolved variation. It has been proven that twisting poses have a squeeze-and-release effect on the body that is good of the internal organs and the digestive tract. This exercise also helps in detoxifying the body. But it is advised that you skip breakfast before getting all twisty on your body.
- Adho Mukha Svanasana, or Downward Facing Dog
This is a yoga exercise that will have the best effects on your body when done in the morning. It will involve your whole physique and is a great exercise to wake your sleeping muscles up. The stretch will go through the back of your hips and legs and will make you feel incredible. It is no surprise that dogs perform this particular exercise when they wake up.
- Anjaneyasana, or Low Lunge
If you have a psoas problem where the muscles like to shorten and grip any chance they get, then this yoga exercise will benefit you greatly. Also known as the low lunge, Anjaneyasana will feel like a bubble bath for your hips. The open stretching will benefit your torso, arms, and hips, apart from building strength in the legs.
- Natarajasana, or Dancer Pose
This is one of those yoga exercises that will allow you a few moments on grace on the yoga mat. The backbend involved in this exercise will open up the heart space and you will feel a surge of beautiful energy simply traveling down your spin. The perfect balancing posture will encourage equilibrium in both your mind and body.
Apart from the above, there are many different yoga exercises that can greatly benefit your body. So pick up your yoga mat, try out as many exercises as you can, and stick to those that you can perfect.
Here are 4 of our favorite yoga poses for building muscle and gaining strength.
Yoga Is a diverse and thorough practice, meaning that you have got a lot to pick from. So, to narrow the field and get you started, Barajas shares five of his favorite yoga poses for building muscle and gaining strength.
Bridge Yoga Pose
The Bridge Pose requires the body to squeeze through the legs, glutes, heart, and lower spine, and is a great lower body strength building exercise. Along with its muscle-building advantages, bridge pose also opens up the chest and shoulders, while giving the spine and hip flexors a fantastic stretch.
Tree Yoga Pose
This single-leg pose Helps the body establish balance and root throughout the floor. It works all those small stabilizer muscles around the ankle, knee, and hip of the implanted leg while giving another leg a fantastic groin stretch. To maintain from beginning to end, your body steady, the heart must stay engaged.
Plank Yoga Pose
The plank pose Is an awesome upper body strength builder, and a killer way to fortify your heart. To keep things interesting, mix up your boards . Practice high boards on your palms, low planks in your forearms, along with side boards. The latter puts more weight on one arm while working the whole side body, from your legs to your obliques.
Chair Yoga Pose
Similar to bridge pose, chair pose engages the legs and glutes, and needs a solid core and lower back to hold yourself steady. With your feet together, you may feel that your quads and glutes burn off as your legs support your own weight in this narrow-stance, half-squat position.
If You are new to yoga, the aforementioned exercises will be challenging. But, the more you do them, the easier they will get. Shortly, your body will be stronger Than when you started as you build muscle . This will translate To more than simply getting a great work out on the yoga mat. Yoga builds functional strength while lengthening and stabilizing the body, which is Noticeable both inside and out the gym. So whether you’re Lifting weights or simply carrying groceries, you will reap the benefits of those newly-fortified muscles.
Three styles of Manduka Yoga Mats that are commonly used
There is a short analysis of each mat’s key features such as material, grip, texture, support, and odor, along with a summary of why you should or should not use that particular mat.
1. Manduka Pro Yoga Mat
The Manduka Pro is stable, firm, extremely resilient and supportive. I also found that it was so supportive that I didn’t need additional padding for my knees or elbows. It rarely absorbs your sweat or smell and is made with eco-certified safe PVC and is free from toxins (specifically phthalate free).
The major issue with this mat is its weight. If you practice away from home, or if you walk or bike to the yoga studio, you might find this one to be way too heavy. The mat can also be too firm for some people and can become quite slippery when sweaty.
Buy the Manduka Pro if:
- You like your mat to feel firm
- You need extra support under your knees
- You do yoga mostly under dry conditions
- You care that it’s free from toxins (specifically phthalate free)
- You want one that doesn’t absorb moisture
- You want a mat that is remarkably resilient, with a lifetime guarantee
Don’t buy the Manduka Pro if:
- You don’t want a hefty mat
- You plan to use it in wet conditions
- You want your mat to feel soft
- You would prefer one made mostly from natural materials
2. Manduka Prolite Yoga Mat
This mat is the thinner and lighter version of the Manduka Pro. It features the same material, surface, and density as the Manduka Pro, so bears the same advantages, is also made with eco-certified PVC and, in contrast to the Pro, it comes in a variety of colors.
Even though it’s quite a bit lighter and thinner than the Manduka Pro, some may still find it too heavy. It also provides less support for boney joints, and like the Manduka Pro, slippage can also be a problem since it repels sweat and so it tends to stay on top.
Buy the Manduka Prolite if:
- You like your mat to be more firm
- You need reasonable amount of support under your knees
- You do practice yoga mostly in dry conditions
- You care that it’s free from toxins, more specifically phthalate free
- You want one that doesn’t absorb moisture or odors
- You want one that is incredibly resilient
Don’t buy the Manduka Prolite if:
- You don’t want a relatively heavy mat
- You want very thick padding
- You plan to use the mat for practice in wet conditions
- You want your mat to feel soft
3. Manduka Eko Yoga Mat
The Manduka Eko Mat is made entirely from non-Amazonian, all-natural tree rubber that is reinforced with polyester and cotton and manufactured without toxic glues or foaming agents. The two layers of this mat are different densities, offering a combination of both spongy and firm support, and have a closed-cell surface that repels moisture. The natural rubber has a good grip and feels nice under your body.
Given the thickness 3/16” of the the Manduka Eko is surprisingly heavy 7 lbs. Like the Manduka ProLite, it may not be supportive enough for some and loses its grip when it becomes wet. Also, because Eko mats are made from natural rubber, a rubber smell may linger for quite some time.
Buy the Manduka Eko if:
- You need reasonable support under your knees
- You do yoga mostly under dry conditions
- You care that it’s mostly made from natural, eco-friendly rubber
- You want a mat that doesn’t absorb moisture
Don’t buy the Manduka Eko if:
- You don’t want a heavy weighing mat
- You want thicker padding
- You plan to use it for practice in wet areas or conditions
Investing in a good yoga mat is essential to your mind, body, and practice. Mats provide comfort between your body and floor. They allow for cushioning hips, elbows, and knees when flowing through the different poses.
Mats allow for a personal space and boundary if you aren’t familiar with the person next to you.
Rental mats just aren’t worth the process. You may not be receiving a mat that is cleaned therefore owning your own provides you with satisfaction that it isn’t engulfed in bacteria.
When researching yoga mats, you will quickly see there is a vast variety of mats that are out there. Mats range from cheap plastic ones to high-quality mats made almost entirely from natural materials.
Mats have come a long way over the last decade, so if practicing yoga is a big part of your life, take advantage of it and buy one that feels good under your body.
Yoga Mats provide the best foundation for you and your practice. These mats have an integrated anti-tearing net and high-quality material. These mats allow for you to practice different poses and exercise activities.
The design of these yoga mats is to be super easy to clean. These yoga mats are made with moisture-resistant technology and high-quality materials. These mats wipe clean if you spill liquid on it, if you use it on a beach, or if you use it at home while sweating. The texture of these mats allows for an easy cleaning. Just wipe clean with a cloth, soap, and water.
Both sides of the mat have the same materials providing the mat with non-slip material on either side. Having a non-slip mat prevents possible injuries that could occur while practicing.
Each and every yoga mat is unique in their way, much like the people who practice yoga. Yoga has levels to it, and there is no telling where most people should be because it is more of a sense of what an individual likes. Do you like to relax and have an ‘aahhhhhhh’ moment or would you rather have a towel next to you for when you pour sweat?
It’s a common mistake to assume that a Level 1 class is just for ‘stiffies’ or ‘newbies’ and a Level 2 for the more physically adaptable. It’s so much more complicated than that because some people can and do attend Level 1 classes for many years, or even their whole life, whether or not they are considered ‘bendy.’ There is a lot of value to be gained working on foundational postures. Likewise, someone with a background in gymnastics or dance should always start with Level one classes. It is not about your flexibility; it’s about your knowledge and experience of doing yoga. Just because you can put your leg behind your head doesn’t mean you don’t need to learn the essential points of alignment in a pose like Downward Dog or connectedness to the body.
All classes, no matter the level you’re in, should place emphasis on using the breath and working mindfully with the body to tap into working with the subtleties of the mind.
Newbies are always welcome in a Level one class, but it’s best to take a Beginners Course if you are totally new to yoga. You will likely feel more comfortable in a group that doesn’t know their Warrior 1 from their Trikonasana! A beginner’s course assumes no previous knowledge of yoga, where a Level 1 class assumes basic understanding.
Some advanced students like to take a Beginner’s Course as they recognize their practice improves after going back to the basics.
Here is a short breakdown of what is to be expected, and what not to expect from Level one, two and three yoga classes:
Level 1 Yoga Class – Beginner
Level 1 classes will guide you slowly through so many basic yoga asanas. While it is suitable for beginners, it is also for those working with an injury (tell the teacher first!) and more seasoned practitioners. Many advanced students return again and again to a Level 1 class to work on the finer points of alignment in basic postures – for often the more advanced asanas (Sanskrit for postures) are rooted in the basic ones. The focus will be on safety and alignment and make the beginner more comfortable and familiar with the standard yoga poses.
What to expect:
Your teacher will most likely demonstrate the position, Sanskrit name but also give the English translation so as not to overwhelm any beginners. You can expect a well-rounded class of forwarding bends, gentle back bends, and twists. Modifications will be given like when bend your knees in a seated forward bend, and use props like sit bones on a block in Sukhasana while sitting with crossed legs and then tilt the pelvis forward.
You may also be introduced to postures that could prepare you for more standard poses, for example; you could work on Dolphin Pose to strengthen and develop your shoulders for headstands taught in Level two or three classes. If the class is not so busy like in some daytime classes, and the teacher says it’s safe to do so, then you could try a full headstand it might be taught in stages.
Commonly taught asanas to include:
Downward Dog, Virabhadrasana 1 also known as the Warrior 1 pose, Sphinx Pose, Paschimottanasana or the Seated forward bend, Vrksasana or the Tree Pose, and Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose.)
What not to expect:
Anything might compromise the integrity of the main joints in the body like your knees, your neck, and your lower back. You are more unlikely to be practicing asanas like Urdhva Danurasana also known as the Full Wheel, and Padmasana commonly known as the Lotus. Some teachers might not teach full Surya Namaskar as each pose within the Sun Salutation is more likely to be separately shown.
Are you ready to try to advance to Level two?
It might be a bit tricky to provide benchmarks to know if you are willing to move to a Level two class. At the very least you must have a solid understanding of key points of alignment in Level 1 asanas as it’s upon these that the deeper backbends, arm balances and inversions taught in a Level 2 class are built.
Another prerequisite is to know at least how to bend forward, how to twist, as well as to understand the basic mechanics of breathing and linking asana to breathe.
The following benchmarks are not meant to serve as absolutes, especially if someone needs to modify for their permanent structural imbalances within their body. But you can consider them as general guidelines: Navasana also was known as the boat pose, with straight knees for five breaths, ability to sit comfortably in Baddha Konasana commonly known as the Bound Angle Pose, with or without support under the thighs, and holding Downward Dog comfortably for ten breaths.
Level 2 Yoga Class – Mid Range Ability
Level two class is to assume a person teaching has a knowledge of yoga. A teacher might instruct people to do a Downward Dog as a transitional pose, and expect the student to understand and follow the essential points of alignment, even if modifications, such as slightly bent knees, are taken in it. The class might be a little bit quicker than a Level one class but time will still be spent on working on each pose unless in more rapid Vinyasa Flow class. More advanced Pranayama might be taught, like Kumbhaka (breath retention) wherein a seated position, you bring your awareness to each breath while pausing between inhales and exhales.
What to usually expect:
Your postures are often instructed in Sanskrit, and not always with an English meaning. A teacher will most likely demonstrate a little less, and walk around the room offering some hands-on adjustments. You will explore inversions you will go upside-down in shoulder stand or Headstand. Your stamina, as well as your flexibility, will be tested as you hold balancing postures like Ardha Chandrasana or also known as the Half Moon Pose, which requires sustained muscle support as well as concentration.
At a level two, the class might be characterized by more sophisticated techniques, as well as work with mudras, or hand gestures, and the application of bandhas also known as the Uddiyana, Mula, and Jalandhara, which are energy seals created internally.
Being super patient in a Level two class, and listen to your teacher. The body takes some time to change, and you don’t want to risk injury by expecting too much, too soon. You will likely encounter all sorts of internal dialogue bouncing around in your head. Like ‘How does that bloke next to me float up in handstand when I struggle kicking one foot up at a time?’ This is completely normal. Try not to become attached to what you expect your practice to look like, and instead accept it for what it is.
Are you ready to advance to Level three?
Your headstands and handstands should be more fluent. And more subtly, you should have an ability to feel the workings of your body, adapting and responding to its relative tightness and openness.
An advanced practitioner, crucially, understands when not to push it. Each day on the mat is different, and a Level 3 practitioner listens, responds and adapts to their internal energy.
In a General Yoga class, you should be able to hold a headstand comfortably away from the wall. In an Ashtanga class, you should be able to come up to Tadasana (Mountain Pose) from Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose). In a Vinyasa Flow class, hips should be open enough to work into Hanumanasa or Monkey Pose with or without a bolster for support.
Level 3 Yoga Class – Expert Level
If you think you have arrived at your yoga practice with a Level three class, sorry to say that you’re going to be very disappointed! Humility is one of the greatest lessons a Level three practitioner learns.
What to expect:
You will have to be entirely concerned what is happening with your body and your mind. A Level three class will be likely chock full of arm balances and deep back bends, peppered with Level 1 and two transition postures.
Getting older presents many gifts much like maturity, grace, wisdom, experience, and perspective, to name just a few. Growing older can also carry many challenges for some people.
Physically, it becomes harder to keep extra weight off your body. According to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, it is found that over one-third of adults 65 and older are obese.
Yoga can, in fact, be suitable for adults of all ages, especially seniors. Studies show that yoga can be extremely helpful when it comes to fighting stress, fatigue, and strain. Some yoga poses can increase your core strength and your balance, which can reduce the risk of falling-related injuries. Other poses can alleviate some senior-related health issues such as menopause. Above all, yoga is a form of exercise that can help seniors feel much younger.
Even though you may never be able to bend yourself into a pretzel, you can learn some simple yoga poses that can increase your overall quality of life. If you’re just starting out with yoga, you should look for a beginning class taught by a certified yoga instructor. Good instructors can help you attain the right body positioning and encourage you to learn your body’s limits. You may not be able to reach all the poses shown or hold them for a long time, but good teachers understand that and encourage you to do your best. Yoga books and DVDs are other tools that can help you reap the benefits of yoga.
The risk of life-threatening illnesses, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancer also increases with age. Joint stress, osteoarthritis, and other forms of pain will also commonly show as you age.
Psychologically and emotionally, elderly may experience increased rates of minor depression, acute anxiety, and possibly other mental health disorders. Memory can sometimes decline, your balance might be impaired, and with that, a person’s sense of self can suffer.
Not to mention the number of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease which can alter the ability to form and have relationships and to function in the world this doubles almost every five years after age 65.
With these statistics, the topic of aging can often render fear as birthdays pile up and you become eligible for social security benefits. There is good news, and that is, there are many things you can do to increase your overall health and well-being as a senior.
Eating healthy and exercising can help aide in preventing disease, injury, and keep your physical body in excellent shape, and by using meditation and brain training exercises can keep your mind sharp.
Yoga, especially restorative yoga, can also offer a wide array of health benefits—working physical and psychological wonders. Seniors, who often struggle with pain, joint stress, imbalance, osteoarthritis, and other physical limitations, can benefit from incorporating a yoga practice into their daily routine.
Here are just six of the many advantages of a daily yoga practice for seniors.
Yoga Helps Improves Your Balance and Stability
Many yoga poses focus on balance and stability, both incredibly important as you age. Strengthening your muscles and improving your balance prevents the likelihood of falls, which can be a common concern for elderly.
Not only does it prevent them in the first place, but an increase in strength and stability also helps seniors bounce back and recover, should a fall occur.
Yoga Improves Your Flexibility and Your Joint Health
If you’re looking for a gentle exercise that increases flexibility, yoga is a great option. Flexibility exercises such as yoga are great if your joints tend to be achy or stiff. In a study that looked at the effectiveness of yoga as an exercise to manage osteoarthritis in senior women, researchers found that it provided therapeutic benefits.
Not only can these low-impact moves loosen your muscles, but they can also tone your supporting muscles and help prevent injury.
Yoga May Contribute to Improving Your Respiration
With aging comes some respiratory limitations and reduced tolerance to physical exertion. Anything that reduces oxygen in the respiratory system can have adverse effects on your mind and your body. Recent studies have shown that practicing in a 12-week yoga program can significantly improve your respiratory function in many senior women.
Breathing is the foundation of life for humans. People can go many weeks without food, but you can’t go more than just a few minutes without breathing, so it is a good idea to keep your respiratory system in excellent shape at any age in your life.
Yoga Helps Reduces High Blood Pressure
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, might lead to cardiovascular disease and is this is known to be the second leading cause of kidney disease. Recent studies have found that yoga reduces oxidative stress in the elderly. Oxidative stress is considered to be one of the underlying causes of high blood pressure and, in particular, for seniors citizens, it is a strong risk factor for heart attacks.
Yoga Helps Reduces Your Anxiety
Yoga classes are restorative, relaxing and calm to your body and mind, especially those geared toward elderly. When you practice regularly, yoga can reduce your sympathetic nervous system’s fight-or-flight response, which can cause inflammation of all kinds and wreak havoc on your mind and body.
Yoga practice involves focusing on the breath you take in and slow movements through your body, which can generally help you trigger your parasympathetic nervous system, reducing the byproducts of stress and feelings of anxiety.
Yoga Encourages Mindfulness
Since so much of yoga is so focused on just breathing and listening to your body respond, an added benefit is the expanded awareness of Self through practice.
As you start to practice yoga and start to become more mindful of not just your body, but also of your thoughts and emotions, you will be made more connected to and aware of your environment, your community, and the world around you.
Yoga mats have many purposes, not just yoga. These mats can be used for Pilates, or some people even use the mats as a place to lay on a gym floor to allow them to do abdominal workouts or claim an area that might be highly populated in the gym.
You’ll experience a different type of grip on these yoga mats because they are specifically designed to be used to prevent hands and feet from slipping during practice. The mats are frequently used for in home use or at a studio but can also be used outdoors on different types of surfaces.
Germs and odors will be the least of your worries when it comes to these mats because the bacteria can be easily wiped away with just a mild soap and cloth. The closed cell construction prevents bacteria and odors from absorbing into the mat.
Four suggestions to finding a perfect Yoga Mat
Choosing a thickness of a mat is important for many reasons. First, comfortability is essential when selecting your yoga mat. A thicker mat will allow you to be more relaxed. It also allows people with pains in their back, legs or arms to have a more serene session. Thicker mats also may prevent many strainful injuries that could happen to the body. For example, weakened wrist due to lesser support.
If selecting a mat that is on the thinner side, it will provide you with a more surface-based feeling. This meaning if you are on the beach the sand becomes the ground, and the mat is there for covering. The thinner types of mats are more efficient and allow more space when traveling.
The standard size of a yoga mat tends to be about 1/8 inches thick. Some mats may vary from 1/2 inch, which provides more comfort, to the thinnest mats at about 1/16 inch allowing for a more grounded feel.
Essential buying guide to consider when choosing a size for your mat: are you going to be always traveling with this? Is this mat going to be used at home where it could have potential not to relocate? And what is your sweet spot of comfort?
The material of a mat is crucial when considering what type to buy. Materials used in the mat dictates the texture, stickiness, eco-friendliness, sponginess and how it wears over time. Having a material that best suits your lifestyle is important and should be taken into consideration when purchasing a mat.
Most standard yoga mats are made of PVC, otherwise known as vinyl. Have a newer, more earth-friendly options include natural and recycled rubber, jute, and organic cotton or natural cotton. This meaning, the fabric is not usually treated with synthetic finishes during manufacturing.
Basic buying guidelines: If you’re allergic to latex, avoid yoga mats made of natural rubber. If you want to stick with the tried and true sticky mat, choose a yoga mat made out of PVC, which can endure your use and abuse for more than a decade. Sponginess can vary widely with different blends of materials, but in general, PVC has the most “give” of any yoga mat material; jute and cotton have the least.
Beyond these fundamentals, read on and let your other priorities — texture, stickiness, and eco-friendliness — be your guides.
The surface of your mat is important to understand because it provides traction for you. The overall stickiness of the yoga mat will prevent you from slipping and sliding across the surface. Texture also affects the way a yoga mat feels, so it becomes an overall component of comfort.
Texture can be either human-made or dictated by the materials. A pattern of raised bumps, for example, a jute yoga mat has a slight roughness to them. Some yoga mats are usually textured and have a smooth feel.
Options: There are yoga mat textures to suit every person’s needs — from very sleek and smooth to very textured with ridges and grooves.
Basic buying guidelines: If you’re looking for a yoga mat that prevents slipping look for rubber, jute, or cotton yoga mat that has a raised, tactile pattern. The added grip the raised texture provides can help you stay put no matter how sweaty or vigorous your practice gets.
If you prefer stickiness but are curious about the newer, more earth-friendly options, try to test drive a few before you buy. Some of the eco-friendly yoga mats may surprise you with how much traction they provide even though they don’t have the traditional “sticky” feel.
Why is stickiness important? Having a sticky yoga mat keeps you from sliding all over the surface and helps allow you maintain your position as you move from one pose to another, as well as when you hold poses for several seconds. Having a grip that holds to the floor is essential while picking a mat and using it at home or in a Yoga Class at your local fitness facility.