I’ve been a yoga convert since my Mum took me along to one of her classes 7 years ago. I was 21 and trying to balance a part-time job and the stress of training to be a teacher, after recently graduating.
The end of my first one hour class was the most calm and focused I had felt in months. My anxiety has gone down, my back wasn’t aching from all the tension I had been carrying around, and I had managed to switch my brain off from everything I had to get done.
I’ve been going to weekly yoga classes since that class. With lockdown, I’ve been practicing yoga daily.
I recently completed a 30 days of yoga challenge (again with my mum who has been doing the same daily practice as me, just from her own home). Not only is yoga extremely easy to practice at home, it has been helping to keep me focused, calm and active while we’re stuck at home.
Below are 10 easy yoga poses that you can do at home. Each of the poses below encourage deep and slow breathing, to help relieve stress and anxiety. They can be done individually, or together to form a short but effective yoga practice flow.
Make sure you remain mindful of your body as you hold each pose, it can take some practice if you’re not used to yoga and/or meditation, but don’t give up.
Remember, yoga is about the breath rather than how far into the pose you can go (never push your body to the point where you feel any pain!). Try to hold each pose for up to 5 deep breaths, and remain mindful of your body as you hold each pose. It can take some practice if you’re not used to yoga and/or meditation, but don’t give up.
1 – Savasana, Sukhasana and Mountain Pose
Grounding is the perfect start to any yoga practice as it helps to calm the mind and release anxiety. There are 3 poses that work well for this, which you choose is down to personal preference, as well as how dynamic your practice is going to be. At first they may seem like simply standing, sitting and lying down – but there is a lot more going on.
Savasana: Lie on your back with your legs stretched out to the width of your yoga mat. Your arms can either also be out toward the edge of your mat, or flat on your stomach to keep you mindful of your breathing. Try to let the whole of your spine sink into the ground.
Sukhasana: Sit with your legs crossed. Engage your core and back muscles to hold your body up tall and straight. Rest your hands on your knees, or in prayer pose. Keep your gaze soft and straight ahead.
Mountain Pose: Stand with your feet together or hip width apart. Engage your core to draw your abdominals in and lift up through the thighs and chest. Draw your shoulders down, and keep your arms low with your palms facing out. Look softly, straight ahead. It can be helpful to imagine a string drawing you up towards the ceiling from the crown of your head.
2 – Cat-Cow Pose
Cat-Cow pose is a gentle dynamic pose that helps to warm up and bring flexibility to the spine. Start on hands and knees in a neutral tabletop position. Make sure your wrists are directly under your shoulders and knees under hips. Move into cow pose by inhaling as you drop your belly towards the mat. Lift your chin and chest as you look up towards the ceiling, and draw your shoulder blades down. Then move into cat pose. Exhale and you draw your belly in and arch your back towards the ceiling, look down. Move with your breath between these poses.
3 – Cobra
An easy backbend that is great for releasing tension. Lie flat on your belly and place your hands under your shoulders. Keep your elbows close to your body, as you inhale and push up through your palms. Draw your stomach away from the mat, and lift your head and chest up. Depending on how you feel, you can either do a full cobra with your arms straight, and your pelvis lifted off the floor. Or you can stay in baby cobra, where your forearms remain on the mat as you lift your chest. Exhale as you lower yourself to the mat.
4 – Downward Facing Dog
Downward facing dog is probably the most common and recognisable yoga poses. Start in the neutral tabletop position from cat-cow. Press into your palms as you raise your knees off the ground and lift your hips up. Lengthen your spine, pull your shoulders away from your ears, and try to straighten your legs as much as possible. Your head should be tucked under, looking between your legs. If your wrists hurt try to shift your weight backwards through your leg. Remember, your heels do not have to be flat on the ground if you are struggling to get there.
5 – Warrior 1
Each of the warrior positions are strong confident poses. From downward facing dog, move into a lunge position. Step your right leg through between your hands, and twist your left foot so it is parallel with the short end of your mat. Your right heel should be inline with the arch of your left foot. Keep your right knee stacked above your ankle. Lift your arms up and over your head. Keep your hips angled to the front of your mat.
6 – Warrior 2
You should move into warrior 2 from warrior 1, making sure to keep your feet the same. Move your arms down, with your right arm in front over your bent leg, and your left arm behind. Keep them parallel to the floor with your palms facing down.
If you’re doing these poses as a flow, move back to cobra and repeat downward facing dog and the two warrior poses on the left side of your body. If taking each pose one at a time, be sure to repeat each warrior on the left.
7 – Pigeon Pose
Pigeon pose can be difficult at first if you are new to yoga. I have included it however as it is a great way to open up your hips, and release tension in your lower back. Start on all fours in the neutral tabletop position. Bring your right knee forward toward your right wrist. Your right ankle should be somewhere in front of your left hip. Slide your left leg back till it is straight out behind you. Inhale and push up on to your fingertips, lengthen your spine and open your chest. As you exhale, walk your hands forward and lower your upper body over your right left. Work towards lowering your forehead towards the mat. Repeat on the other side.
8 – Bridge Pose
Bridge is the perfect stretch to open up your chest and heart. Lie on your back, with your knees bent and your feet flat on your mat. Your heels should be as close to your bum as possible. Place your arms alongside your body, with your palms facing down. Press into your feet and hands and lift your hips up. For a deeper stretch move your arms up and over your head.
9 – Supine Twist
Twisting is the perfect way to release any tension or stress that has built up in your hips, neck, spine and shoulders. Lie flat on your back and open your arms into a t or cactus shape. Lift your knees up, and keep them bent so your shins are parallel to the mat. As you exhale, send your legs over to the right while keeping them bent, while your head looks over to the left. Inhale, and bring your legs and neck back to neutral. Exhale and repeat on the other side.
10 – Child’s pose
Probably the next most recognisable pose after downward facing dog. Child’s pose is used to rest and check in with your body. Kneel down with your knees hip-width apart and your big toes touching. As you exhale, lead forward and rest your torso between your thighs. Try to keep your bum as low as possible. Rest your head gently on the mat, and depending on the level of stretch you want either reach your hands out in front of you with your palms facing down, or rest them alongside your body with your palms facing up towards the back of the mat.