Yoga is a form of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to boost physical and mental wellbeing. Yoga is designed around a series of postures and breathing with a whole host of health benefits. It is a safe and effective way to increase your physical activity, strength and balance. We love yoga at Mindful Chef HQ and it definitely helps keep us free from the aches and pains most people suffer from being sat in a chair for the majority of the day (especially lower back pain).
Yoga is very much about connecting to healthy habits, not only through postures and breathing but also in terms of the planet and what they put into their bodies. Most yogis will preach building a diet of whole foods and plant based foods. It is not as hard as you think to shift towards a more plant based diet just make sure you listen to your body and adapt your eating as needed.
We are lucky enough to have a fully qualified yoga teacher as part of the Mindful family. Grace is a fantastic instructor and she has provided a list of her top 5 yoga poses for beginners that you can do from the comfort of your own home. If you’re struggling with tight hip flexors, neck or back pain, or you are simply suffering from stress why not give these poses a go and see how amazing you will feel in a matter of weeks.
Downward Facing dog/ Adho Mukha Savansana– this is not only an integral pose for any individuals yoga practise but can also be one of the most rewarding.
Targets: Tight hamstrings (if you’re sat down all day – this will be very common)
Benefits: Strengthens arms and legs. Stretches out the hamstrings and calves
How to do it: Begin on your mat, hands on the floor, knees directly under your hips.
Spread your palms, push through thumb and index finger and turn your toes under. Connect to your breath, as you exhale lift your knees and hips up, spread your fingers apart and push the thumb and index knuckle into the ground. Straighten your legs and direct the heels towards the mat. Your feet may not touch the floor and that is ok, this depends on your flexibility in the lower back, hamstrings and calves. Lengthen the tailbone away from the pelvis creating a long and spacious spine.
Firm the outer arms and pull your shoulders back and down, wrapping the shoulder blades around the arm pits to engage the serratus anterior.
Stay in this pose anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes, then bend the knees to the floor and return to Childs Pose.
Cat, Cow Pose/ – Marjaryasana, Bitilasana
Targets: lower back and shoulders
Benefits: Stretches out the spine, neck, torso. Provides a gentle massage to the spine and belly organs.
How to do it: Start on your hands and Knees, hands are directly under shoulders and knees are in line with the hips. As you inhale arch the back forwards leading through with the chest and on an exhale round the spine out, tucking the tailbone and looking back towards the bellybutton.
Chair Pose/ Uttkatasana
Targets: Inner thighs and ankles
Benefits: Strengthening thighs, ankles and calves whilst stretching shoulders and chest.
How to do it: Sit your hips low (as if you were doing a half squat) and reach your arms up. Lengthen tail bone down, pull the belly in and lift the fingers up towards the celling. Rotate your thighs in and pull up through the pelvic floor muscles. With each breath try and sit a little lower and breath a little deeper.
Eagle Pose/ Garudasana
Targets: Shoulders, chest and thighs.
Benefits: Strengthen and stretches the ankles and calves. Stretches your thighs, hips, shoulders and upper back. Improves concentration and helps your balance.
How to do it: Start off bringing your right arm under your left, then move your right leg over the left. Focus your eyes on something in the room straight ahead of you to balance, take deep breaths and control your breathing. One of the tricks to balancing is to squeeze the inner thighs together to get more of a sense of grounding through the hips down. Lengthen the tailbone down, pull the belly in and lift the ribs up away from the hips. Move your elbows up and away from the chest, pull shoulders back and down and hold the pose for 30 seconds. Then repeat on the other side, left arm under right, left leg over right.
Half Pigeon/ Ardha Kapotasana
Targets: Psoas, Piriformias, hip Flexors
Benefits: Increases the external, or outward rotation of the femur bone in the hip socket. Lengthens out the Psoas muscle and stretches your hip flexors. If you don’t stretch a lot and have a fairly sedentary job this will be a major concern for you.
How to do it: The pose we all love to hate! Start in your downward dog position, transition by lifting the left leg up, bring the left shin through towards the top of the mat.
If your injured in your knee then the modification for this pose is to lower the left thigh down to the ground. So the weight of the body goes into the thigh, down through the hip into the ground and not into the knee.
Rotate your left thigh out and the right thigh in. So a strong internal rotation through the back leg and a strong external rotation through the front thigh. The pelvis squares off on the mat. Do not point your toes but instead flex your front foot back, reach out through the ball of your foot and big toe.
This pose can become very challenging for many and I would suggest holding it for a minimum of 2 minutes, as this will allow the stretch to go deeper.
Are you looking to compliment your yoga with workouts designed to strengthen your muscles and burn fat? Take a look at our 3 workouts you can do at home in 30 minutes or less.