6 Beneficial Yoga Exercises
Thread the needle
Start on all fours. Lift your right arm to the sky and then thread it under your left armpit, resting your right shoulder and right cheek on the mat. Keep your hips positioned over your knees and extend your left arm forward. Breathe deeply, twisting deeper if your body allows. Switch sides when you feel ready.
Benefits of Thread the Needle:
Opens the shoulders and upper back
Stretches the arms and neck
Reduces tension in the spine with a gentle twist
To come into a low lunge, start in downward facing dog. Bring your right foot to the front of your mat and drop your left knee down. Ensure that your right knee is positioned over your right ankle and then bring both hands to your right thigh. Check to make sure your ribs are over your hips. Then, breathe in and get as tall as possible, lengthening the spine. Come into a small backbend, and as you do, remember to keep your right knee over your ankle and your spine long (so there’s no pressure in your lower back). Breathe deeply for 10 or so breaths before switching sides.
Benefits of Low Lunge:
Stretches the hips and groin
Allows for a chest opener and gentle backbend
Start in downward dog, then bring your right foot to the front of the mat. Place your left foot parallel to the back of the mat with toes facing toward the left edge of your yoga mat. Position your right knee over the right ankle, then ground down into both feet as you rise up. With your chest facing the left and ribs over your hips, extend your right arm forward and left arm back. Ensure that your arms are level with your shoulders and that your right knee stays over the ankle. Work to bring your right thigh parallel with the ground. To switch sides, bring your hands to the ground to frame your right foot then step back to a downward facing dog.
Benefits of Warrior Two:
Opens the hips and chest
Energizes the body
Russian twists are a great core exercise. You can do them with your feet planted on the mat or lifted. In this flow, we keep the heels on the mat. Start seated and bend your knees, pushing your heels into the mat. Lean back about halfway, creating a 45° angle with the ground. Bring your hands together in front of your chest and engage your core. Inhale, then exhale as you twist to the right. Inhale to come center, then exhale as you twist to the left. Repeat.
Benefits of Russian Twists:
Engages the abdominal muscles, especially obliques
Strengthens the lower back
Start on your back. Bend both knees and plant your feet flat on the floor. Make sure your feet, are hip-width distance apart so you can graze your heels with your fingertips. With your arms by your sides and palms facing down, engage your glutes and hamstrings as you lift your hips off the ground. Breathe deeply, releasing the post when you’re ready.
Benefits of Bridge:
Stretches the chest, abdominals, spine, and hips
Strengthens the back, glutes, and hamstrings
Improves blood circulation
Lay on your back and bring both knees into your chest. Bring them into a “T” shape or bent, so you resemble a cactus. Let both knees fall to the right side. Turn your head to the left and feel the stretch from your tailbone to your neck. Hold for a few breaths before switching sides.
Benefits of Spinal Twists:
Massages the abdominal organs
Stretches the back, hips, and glutes