Developing a yoga practice at home can help anyone who's on a budget, never makes it to the studio, or simply wants to enjoy some yoga in the comfort of her own home! Whether you're a beginner or an advanced yogi, watch this video to learn all about the four yoga essentials you should always have on hand.
Yoga calms your mind and increases your flexibility, but it can also strengthen your core and give you the tight and toned tummy you need to feel confident in your tiny two-piece. Try these five yoga poses that target your abs and back muscles.
While a proper diet and plenty of exercise are the real prescription for flat-belly success, taking time for a little yoga can assist when an uncomfortable, distended belly needs a little debloating. The following four asanas aid in digestion and will help you feel better faster:
Bow Pose engages the muscles in your belly, while stretching and lengthening out your torso:
- From Downward Facing Dog, bring your knees to the mat and come to lie on your belly. Bend your knees and hold onto the outside edge of your right ankle and then your left.
- Once you have a firm hold of each ankle, try to keep your toes together, either pointing or flexing your feet. Lift your feet up as high as you can and shift your weight forward so you're resting on your naval instead of on your pubic bone.
- Hold for five deep breaths and then slowly release.
Wide-Legged Forward Bend C
The folding motion of Wide-Legged Forward Bend C squeezes in your belly to help move things along. If your belly pains are related to stress, this pose will also help you release tension:
- Stand with your feet three to four feet apart, turning heels out slightly wider than toes.
- Bring your arms behind your back, clasping your fingers and pressing the heels of your palms together in a fist.
- Fold forward, hinging at your hips, drawing the crown of your head and your hands toward the floor. Relax your toes, and try to shift the weight of your hips forward so they're in line with your feet.
- Stay here for five deep breaths. Then press into your feet, engage your quads, and inhale as you stand up.
Keep reading for two more poses to help you debloat.
Yoga is supposed to be all joy and bliss, but it's hard to feel peaceful when being in certain poses can cause dizziness. Holding the head below the heart and quickly coming up commonly results in a head rush; when blood rushes to and from your head too quickly it causes a drop in blood pressure, which can cause disorientation, spotty vision, foggy hearing, and can sometimes impair the ability to control movement. If this sounds familiar, here are ways to stop feeling like your head is spinning while trying to get your Om on.
- Try variations: If you know doing a Wide-Legged Forward Bend (shown above) causes head pain or lightheadedness, only fold halfway. Or do this pose while sitting on the floor to get the same hamstring stretch without your head hanging below your heart. Do what's right for your body even if it means doing a completely different pose.
- Take it slow: Sometimes it's not the actual pose that causes the dizziness, but the way you move in and out of it. Take a few breaths to get into poses that tend to make you dizzy so the blood doesn't rush to your head all at once. And the same goes for coming out of poses — stand up too quickly and you might feel so topsy-turvy that you end up falling to the ground. Take your time, and concentrate on moving slowly as you draw out each breath. When doing poses like Headstands where you're inverted for longer periods of time, don't be shy about resting in Child's Pose afterward until the blood has a chance to circulate back to the rest of your body.
- Check out other styles of yoga: Vinyasa, Ashtanga, and Jivamukti yoga are more fast-paced than other styles like Iyengar. You may experience a head rush when moving too quickly from seated to standing poses such as when doing Sun Salutations. If head rushes are happening every time you practice these types of yoga, try a slower-paced style next time.
- Grab that reusable water bottle: Heading to a yoga class slightly dehydrated can increase your chance for these sort of dizzy spells, so be sure to sip water throughout the day before heading to the studio.
Sometimes a head rush is inevitable, so if you feel a dizzy spell coming on, sit down, tuck your chin into your chest, and breathe deeply until it passes. Then slowly move onto the next pose when you're ready.
If you're having trouble settling down before bed, then unroll your mat and give this gentle yoga sequence a whirl. These poses are designed to bring your senses inward and to stretch the areas that are most prone to tension, so your mind and body will feel relaxed and ready for sweet slumber. Brush your teeth, slip into your jammies, turn down the lights, and start stretching.
To safely build up to advanced yoga postures, strong wrists are a necessity. Focusing on proper alignment in basic asanas is a great start, but regularly practicing the following three poses — and holding them for at least five breaths each — will help stretch and strengthen your wrists and support your yoga practice.
- Begin sitting on the floor with your legs extended straight out in front of you. Place your palms behind your hips about six to eight inches away, with your fingers pointing toward your toes.
- As you inhale, press into your hands and feet firmly, lifting your hips into the air. Lift them as high as you can so your spine is in a long line. Slowly release your head back, looking behind you, and open through your throat.
- Stay here for five deep breaths, then lower your hips back to the floor.
- Begin on your hands and knees. Your wrists should be underneath your shoulders, and your knees underneath your hips.
- Inhale as you tuck your toes under your heels. Then exhale to lift your hips, coming into an upside-down V shape called Downward Facing Dog.
- Spread your fingers wide and create a straight line between your middle fingers and elbows. Work on straightening your legs and lowering your heels toward the ground. Your heels should be slightly wider than your toes, so the outside edges of your feet are parallel with the outside edges of your mat. Relax your head between your arms, and direct your gaze through your legs or up toward your belly button. Hold for at least five breaths.
- Begin in Downward Facing Dog. Step both feet together so your big toes are touching.
- Move your left hand over to the right so it's at the center of your mat (still at the top of your mat). Roll over to your left side, and plant your left heel down so you are balancing on the outside edge of your left foot, stacking your flexed feet.
- Reach your right arm up above you and, if you can, gaze up at your palm. Stay here for five deep breaths, trying to keep your core strong and the pose steady.
- Lower your upper hand to the mat. Repeat this pose on the other side.
After a run nothing feels better than stretching out tired, overworked muscles. Here are eight essential stretches to do after a run to target your lower back, quads, hip flexors, and hamstrings.
We've all had a Polly or Peter Pretzel in our yoga class, and admit it — you can't help but ogle a little at their awe-inspiring strength and flexibility. It's inspirational and gives a little insight into what years of practice can lead you to. But let's face it: some poses are just flat-out out of the question. Get ready to be wowed when you click through and see these amazing advanced yoga poses. Would you try them?
On a hot day when you need a bit of a breather, this beginner-friendly yoga sequence will help revive the spirit, as it helps relax muscles and release tension. The poses are still active, but there are no intense vinyasas or arm balances necessary. Instead, consider this a luxurious massage for your whole being.
Photo: Jenny Sugar