Yoga for every day and everyone

12 Poses for a better you

Hop on the mat and do these 12 poses for 10 to 15 minutes a day.

1. Wide Squat

Why I do it: This is a great hip opener and feels so good on my lower back, especially before a CrossFit class when I know I'll be doing lots of squats or box jumps.

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips. Bend your knees and lower your hips toward the ground.
  • Bring your palms together at your heart center and firmly press your elbows against the inside of your knees. This will help to open your hips even farther. Shift weight onto your heels and lengthen the crown of your head toward the ceiling.
  • Hold the pose for five deep breaths.

2. Plank

Why I do it: A strong core and upper body is a must for all my fitness goals.

  • Begin on the hands and knees.
  • Inhale to straighten the legs and hold the body in one straight line, shoulders over the wrists, abs pulled in, for five complete breaths.

3. Down Dog and Three-Legged Down Dog

Why I do it: Down Dog is a popular pose for a reason — it feels so good! I love how it opens my hamstrings and shoulders, and creates length in my back. Three-Legged Dog allows me to intensify the hamstring stretch.

  • Come onto your hands and knees, so your hands are shoulder-width distance apart, with your knees directly below each hip. Tuck your toes and straighten your legs, coming into Downward Facing Dog. Hold here for five breaths.
  • Keeping your shoulders parallel with the floor, step both feet together and raise your right leg into the air.
  • I like to circle my leg a few times in each direction to really open my hips. I also bend my knee to stretch my hip flexor.
  • After five deep breaths, lower the leg and repeat this pose with the left leg lifted.

4. Extended Tabletop

Why I do it: This pose not only opens the chest, stretches the abs, and activates the glutes and hamstrings, but it's a nice way to increase flexibility in my wrists and strength in my shoulders.

  • From Three-Legged Dog, slowly lower your right leg to the floor behind you as you simultaneously raise your right arm in the air. You're essentially rotating your body 180 degrees so your belly is pointing up toward the ceiling. Readjust your feet if you need to so they are parallel and slightly wider than hips-width distance apart.
  • Press firmly into your feet to lift your hips high, engaging your glutes and hamstrings, and extend your right arm over your face.
  • Hold here for five complete breaths, gazing at your extended hand or up toward the ceiling.

5. Lizard

Why I do it: I have to do hip openers every day or my body just doesn't feel right! I stay in this pose for at least a minute or two on each side.

  • Come into a lunge position with your right knee forward. Lower your left knee to the floor, and rest your hands on the ground under your shoulders.
  • Slowly lower your right knee to the right so you're resting on the outside of your right flexed foot. Keep your arms straight, pressing your chest forward to increase the stretch.
  • Hold like this for five breaths, and then repeat on the left side.

6. Cobra

Why I do it: This is just the pose I need to stretch my abs and increase the flexibility of my spine, which I need in order to do Full Wheel pose.

  • Lie on your belly and bring your legs together so your knees are touching. Extend your arms straight out in front of you.
  • As you lift your head up off the ground, begin to slowly walk your hands in, keeping your hips and thighs on the ground, but gently arching your lower back. Walk them in as far as you can, keeping your elbows slightly bent.
  • Actively relax, keeping your gaze forward or lowering your head back between your shoulder blades.
  • Stay here for five breaths, opening through the chest and abs.

7. Wide-Legged Forward Bend

Why I do it: I love to stretch my hamstrings and lower back and this variation also stretches the chest and shoulders.

  • Stand with your feet four or so feet apart, heels turned out slightly wider than the toes. Standing tall, interlace your hands behind you, pressing the heels of your palms together in a double fist.
  • Take a deep breath in, and slowly fold forward at the waist, lowering your hands as far as you can. Keep your spine long and straight as you breathe for five deep breaths.

8. Seated Straddle

Why I do it: This pose is great for easing the tight hips inner thighs, hamstrings, and lower back I often feel after running or heavy lifting. I'm also working on pressing into Handstand, and this hamstring-opening pose is so helpful.

  • Sit down with your feet about three to four feet apart (not as wide as you can go). Reach back with your right hand and move the flesh of your right bum cheek away from you, and then do the same with your left. This will help your pelvis ground more firmly so you can stretch your hamstrings more effectively.
  • Sit tall, reaching your head away from your hips, and draw your belly and ribs in. Keep that length as you begin to fold forward at your waist, sliding your hands down your legs or on the floor in front of your head.
  • Go down as far as you need to feel a stretch in your hamstrings and inner thighs, but you don't want to feel pain.
  • I hold this pose for a minute, walk my hands over to my right leg, hold for another minute, and then repeat over the left leg.

9. Wheel

Why I do it: We never bend this way, so I feel like it's important to. I used to have an extremely flexible back 15 years ago, way before having kids, and I'm working on getting that flexibility back.

  • Lie on your back, bend your knees, and place your feet flat on the ground (heels as close as possible to your bum). Bend your elbows and place your palms flat on the ground above your shoulders, fingertips facing your feet.
  • Inhale, press into your palms and lift your head, shoulders, and hips off the mat, straightening your arms and legs. Try to walk your hands and feet a little closer together.
  • Stay here for five deep breaths and then slowly lower your body down. Eventually you want to do this pose for a total of three times.

10. Happy Baby

Why I do it: Another feel-good pose, I do this after Wheel, and it also feels really good before getting into bed.

  • Begin lying flat on your back. Bend both knees and hold onto the outside edges of your flexed feet with your hands. Keep your arms on the outsides of your legs.
  • Gently use your upper body strength to equally press both knees to the floor below your armpits. Try not to tense your shoulders or chest, but keep your upper body relaxed.
  • Stay like this for five deep breaths.

11. Handstand

Why I do it: This is one of my absolute favorite yoga poses, and lucky for me, this gymnastics move is also part of my CrossFit workouts. I love that handstands are challenging and there are so many variations, so there's always something to work on when I'm upside down.

  • From a short Down Dog, put all the weight into your hands and jump both feet up, either doing Donkey Kicks, holding in a tuck position with the knees bent, or with straight legs (the goal!)
  • Aside from doing handstand in the middle of the room, I also practice doing it against the wall, L-stands, lateral walks, and wall walks to strengthen my handstand practice.

12. Headstand B

Why I do it: I love inversions and aside from Handstand, Headstand is great for clearing my mind and strengthening my upper body. This variation also works my core.

  • Begin on your hands and knees. Lower your elbows to the floor and interlace your fingers, bringing your lowest pinkie in front of the other pinkie, forming a semicircle with your hands.
  • Place the back of your head against your palms, and the top of your head on the mat, so your skull is vertical with the floor. Once your head and forearms feel stable, straighten both legs and walk your feet toward your face as far as you can.
  • Shift your hips over your shoulders, and keep your elbows planted firmly on the mat. Lift both legs into the air, coming into Bound Headstand.
  • Stay in Headstand for five breaths, relaxing the jaw as well as the shoulders away from the ears.
  • Take a breath in, and as you exhale, slowly lower both feet toward the mat so they are parallel with the floor. Hold here for another five breaths.
  • Inhale and then exhale to raise the legs back up into Headstand. Repeat four more times.
  • I also like lowering my feet all the way to the floor and raising them back up to Headstand a few times for a major core burner.

Published By: Bellaland

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