According to American Osteopathic Association, incorporating yoga into your daily life has physical as well as mental health benefits. Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity, relieves chronic stress patterns, and helps calm and relax the mind.
It is important to maintain a good posture during yoga and yoga straps or yoga belts help to do exactly the same. The yoga straps can help less flexible beginners to enjoy the various yoga stretches easily.
Benefits of Yoga Stretches
Yoga exercises help you improve your flexibility, muscle strength, and balance. Yoga also offers physical and mental health benefits for people of all ages. Here are some of the benefits of yoga stretches:
- Yoga helps ease back pain and improves mobility in people with lower back pain issues.
- According to Johns Hopkins’s recent studies, yoga helps to ease the discomfort of tender and swollen joints for people with arthritis.
- Another study indicates that yoga helps lower blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood glucose levels. That leads to lower blood levels of markers for inflammation which reduces the chances of heart disease.
- Yoga helps in stress management, mental health, mindfulness, healthy eating habits, and quality sleep.
Yoga Poses & Stretches for Beginners
If you want to loosen up tight muscles, yoga stretches are the right solution to your problem. For beginners accessories like yoga straps can help to dive deeper into practice and enable you to find the stretch you need. Here are a few yoga poses that beginners can try.
King Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
This pose helps stretch the hips, thighs, and back.
- Start in a high plank position and bring your right knee forward towards your right hand.
- Lower your right leg to the ground, and straighten your left leg behind you.
- Keep your hips level and square to the front of the mat, and fold forward over your right leg.
- Hold for 5-10 breaths and repeat on the other side.
Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This pose stretches the hamstrings, calves, and spine.
- Place your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
- Spread your fingers wide and tuck your toes under
- Lift your hips up and back to come into an inverted V-shape.
- Press your heels down towards the floor and lengthen through your spine
- Hold for 5-10 breaths.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
This pose stretches the hips, thighs, and ankles, and can also help release tension in the back and neck.
- Start on your hands and knees,
- Sit back onto your heels and fold forward
- Rest your forehead on the mat.
- Stretch your arms out in front of you or alongside your body
- Hold for 5-10 breaths.
The hamstring stretch can be performed in a standing or sitting position and it targets the hamstring muscle group located at the back of the thigh and is responsible for knee bending or flexing.
Simple Hamstring Stretch (Paschimottanasana)
It is suggested that beginners start with a simple hamstring stretch. Follow the steps below:
- Sit on the floor with both legs out straight.
- Keep your knees straight at all times, extend your arms and reach forward by bending at the waist.
- Hold the position for 15-30 seconds.
- Relax back into the starting position.
- Repeat three times.
Standing Hamstring Stretch (Uttanasana)
As the name suggests, it is to be done in a standing position.
- Stand and cross your right foot in front of your left foot.
- Lower your forehead slowly towards your right knee bending at your waist.
- Keeping your knees straight.
- Hold the position for 15-30 seconds. Relax and repeat on the other side by crossing your left foot in front of your right foot.
One-Legged Standing Hamstring Stretch
It is considered one of the easiest stretches.
- Stand up straight with one heel resting on the yoga block, if that is not available, a small stack of books.
- Keep your knees straight and lift both arms so that they are even with your ears.
- Bend forward slightly from your hips.
- Hold the position for 15-30 sec. Relax and repeat with the other leg.
Side Stretch (Parsvottanasana)
Follow the steps mentioned below to practice side stretch:
- Stand straight with your feet slightly wider than your shoulders.
- Slowly lift your left arm up and sideways over your head. Simultaneously, reach down with your right arm and bend your upper body to the right-hand side.
- Hold the position for 10-15 seconds. Relax and do the same for the other side.
Crow Pose (Bakasana)
As a beginner, you should use yoga straps for crow pose, it helps to maintain proper distance between your arms by placing tension on the elbows.
- Start with the tabletop position with arms shoulder-width apart.
- Wear the strap around your arms just below the elbows.
- Pull your shoulders away from your ears.
- Move onto the balls of your feet and lift your hip into the air.
- Bring your feet closer to your body so that the knees fit into the space created by your armpits.
- Slightly shift your weight towards your fingertips and float your toes in the air.
- Hold the position for a few seconds and increase the time as your body grows stronger.
Cow Face (Gomukhasana)
The Cow Face pose helps to stretch the hips, ankles, shoulders, arms, and chest. This yoga pose helps you to correct your posture and equalize your flexibility. A tip for beginners is to protect the neck by broadening across your shoulder blades and drawing your shoulders down, away from your ears.
- Begin in the tabletop position, keeping your hips directly over your knees. Your hands should be placed slightly ahead of your shoulders, shoulder distance apart.
- Press down firmly through your hands.
- Arch your back by lowering your belly, lifting your chin, and broadening your collarbones.
- Keep your back long and core toned to find more movement in the mid and upper back.
- To release the pose, slightly return to the neutral spine.
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
Cobra Pose helps you strengthen your arms and shoulders. It decreases the stiffness of the lower back and increases flexibility. Follow the steps below to practice Cobra Pose:
- Place your palms on the ground directly under your shoulders. Bend your elbows straight back and hug them into your sides.
- Anchor your pubic bone to the floor.
- Inhale to lift your chest off the floor. Roll your shoulders back and keep your low ribs on the floor.
- Keep your neck neutral. Your gaze should stay on the floor.
Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
This pose stretches the hamstrings, lower back, and hips.
- Begin seated with your legs straight out in front of you.
- Inhale to lengthen your spine, then exhale to fold forward
- As you exhale, Reach towards your toes.
- Keep your knees slightly bent if needed, and hold for 5-10 breaths.
Big Toe Pose
It Stretches the hamstrings, calves, and hips. Big toe pose strengthens the thighs and knees, improves digestion, relieves constipation, calms the mind and alleviates symptoms of menopause.
- Stand in Tadasana (Mountain pose).
- Bend forward and hold your big toes with your fingers.
- Inhale and straighten your arms and spine, lifting your head.
- Exhale and fold forward, pressing your belly towards your thighs.
- Hold the pose for a few breaths, then release.
How to Maintain Proper Form using a Yoga Strap?
Here are some tips for proper form and alignment when using a yoga strap:
Start with a comfortable length
Make sure to adjust the strap to a comfortable length before beginning your stretch. It’s better to start with a longer strap and gradually shorten it as you become more flexible.
Use the strap as an extension of your arms
When using the strap, think of it as an extension of your arms rather than a separate entity. This will help you maintain proper form and alignment.
Avoid jerky movements
When using the strap, avoid jerky movements or sudden pulling. Instead, move slowly and gently pull the strap steadily to avoid injury.
Deep breathing helps relax the muscles and allows for a deeper stretch. Inhale deeply as you prepare for the stretch, and exhale as you deepen it.
Keep your spine straight
When using the strap, keep your spine straight and avoid rounding your back. This will help you maintain proper alignment and prevent injury.
Don’t force the stretch
It’s important to listen to your body and not force the stretch beyond your comfort level. As you become more flexible, you can gradually increase the length and intensity of your stretches.
Relax your shoulders
When using the strap, relax your shoulders and avoid tensing them up. This will help you maintain proper alignment and prevent strain in the neck and shoulders.
Yoga helps you get fit for life and gives you self-reliance and builds self-esteem. The bottom line is yoga helps you fine-tune your body, and make mental and spiritual peace. It also helps you to sharpen your mental focus in stressful situations in daily life.
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