By Dale Wallis
Numerous studies have shown yoga’s effectiveness in helping people maintain peak well-being and deal with various health challenges. Choosing the right type of yoga and poses can get you on your way to feeling better.†
Finding the Best Approach
A traditional approach works best if you’re just starting out. Stick to moderate postures in a moderate environment (not a hot room), coupled with relaxation and breathing practices.
As with any exercise program, always seek a health care provider’s advice before starting a yoga practice, especially if you have a pre-existing condition. Once you are medically cleared, try these expert-recommended yoga approaches.
Qualified yoga teachers can provide guidance, especially for beginners. Ask if they have any experience in helping students with your condition. (For help with poses, visit yogajournal.com.)
Legs-up-on-the-Wall, also known as Viparita Karani, is a restorative pose that allows your body and mind to relax, calming your mind and relieving tension.† It’s also doable, even by first-timers, because it doesn’t require much strength or flexibility.
- Use a yoga bolster or, if one is not available, fold two thick blankets lengthwise and stack one on top of the other to create a support at least 8 inches thick, 10 inches wide, and long enough to support your hips.
- Sit on the support with the left side of your body next to the wall and your feet on the floor. Use your hands for support as you shift your weight onto the outer right hip, then lower your right shoulder to the ground and pivot your pelvis to sweep your legs up onto the wall.
- Settle your back into the floor. Legs should be straight, ankle bones touching each other and the backs of your thighs should rest against the wall, creating a gentle support. If tight hamstrings prevent you from being comfortable in this position, shift your hips slightly away from the wall.
- Focus on your breath, and embrace the feeling of deep rest. Remain in the pose for a few minutes or as long as desired. Then, slowly slide your legs down the wall, bending your knees into your chest and sit up gradually.
Reclining Big Toe Pose
This pose helps soothe sore back muscles and tight hamstrings.†
- For this pose, lie on your back on the floor with your legs extended.
- Exhale and bend your left knee, drawing the left thigh into your torso. Hug the left thigh to the belly while pressing the front of your right thigh against the floor through the right heel.
- Next, loop a strap around your left foot arch and straighten the knee, pressing the heel toward the ceiling. Keep your hands up high on the strap as you press your shoulder blades into the floor.
- Hold the position for one to three minutes, then repeat on the other side.
Child’s Pose helps to stretch the ankles, thighs and hips while centering, soothing and calming the mind.†
- In order to get into this pose, you will get down on your hands and knees.
- Spread your knees apart while keeping your big toes together. Rest the buttocks on the heels and sit up straight as you lengthen your spine through the crown of the head.
- Exhale and bow forward, draping the torso between the thighs and pressing the forehead against the floor.
Corpse Pose (sometimes called the Final Relaxation Pose or Savasana) is usually the final pose you will take during yoga practice. It allows you to rest and take your mind to a place where it can relax.
- To get into this position, simply lie on your back with your arms at your sides and your legs straight out.
- Let your feet drop open, and rest your hands with your palms up. Your body should feel heavy on the ground as you release and relax your muscles and tension.
This Pose helps to improve your balance and posture while calming your focus. It’s also known as Tadasana and serves as the foundation for all standing poses and full inversions in yoga.
- Stand with your arms at your sides and your feet together. Spread your weight evenly across the arches and the balls of the feet.
- Press your big toes together, lift your toes and spread them. Then, place the toes back against the mat one at a time.
- Continue to lift your arches, ankles and thighs slowly.
Warrior Pose I
This pose gives your body a good all-over stretch in addition to helping strengthen the arms, calves, shoulders and thighs.
- Begin by standing in Mountain Pose (toes touching, legs together and hands at the sides), weight distributed evenly and posture aligned.
- Step with your left foot toward the back of your mat. Bring your left heel to the floor and turn toes out to about a 45-degree angle, and start bending the right knee over the right ankle.
- Adjust for stability by widening your stance if necessary. Keep hips squared forward while still maintaining Mountain Pose as you inhale, and bring your arms up over your head with palms touching or separate, according to your flexibility.
- Maintain your gaze on your fingertips, creating a subtle backbend.
The Upward Salute allows you to stretch your body naturally and is beneficial after sitting or sleeping for a long time.
- Stand with your arms at your sides and feet together. Slowly lift your arches and ankles, squeezing the outer shines toward one another.
- Release your shoulder blades, elongate your neck and make sure your ears, shoulders, hips and ankles are in a straight line.
- Face the palms forward and reach toward the floor, then sweep your arms out to the side and up over your head. Straighten the arms without locking the elbow joint and press the palms together.
Standing Forward Bend
The Standing Forward Bend Pose, also called Uttanasana, is believed to soothe a troubled mind and awaken the hamstrings.†
- To get into this pose, stand in Mountain pose with your hands on your hips.
- Bend forward from the hip joints as you exhale, and draw your torso to open the space between the sternum and pubis.
- Bring your fingertips or palms to the back of your ankles, with your knees as straight as possible. If you can’t do that, cross the forearms and hold your elbows.
- As you continue to breathe, lengthen and lift the front of your torso to get more fully into the forward bend. Allow your head to hang between your shoulder blades.
- Remain in this pose for 30–60 seconds. As you come back up, bring your hands to your hips and press the tailbone down and into the pelvis.
The Lunge Pose allows you to flex your hip, helping to restore your natural range of motion and reverse tightness in the muscles in the legs and pelvis.
- Begin on your hands and knees in the table posture, then step the left foot forward and place it between the hands.
- Align your left knee directly over your left ankle, and extend the right leg behind you with the top of the foot and knee pressed against the floor.
- Lengthen your thighs in opposite directions as you lower the pelvis and hips to the floor.
Downward Facing Dog
Doing Down Dog is a time-honored way of finding calmness and energy. It is also recommended to help counteract menopausal symptoms and to improve digestion.†
- Get down on all fours, hips directly over your knees and hands slightly ahead of your shoulders.
- Spread your hands and turn your toes inward then lift your knees off the floor.
- At first, keep your knees bent and your heels slightly raised. Afterward, straighten your spine, but be careful not to do a backbend.
- Press the bases of your index fingers into the floor before flattening your shoulder blades and drawing them towards your tailbone (don’t let your head hang down).
Relaxing Breath into Stick Pose/Wind-Relieving Pose
This is good for relaxing the abdomen, buttocks, hips and thighs.
- Lie down with your knees bent and tented together, holding each other up.
- Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. Inhale through the nose to the lowest lobes of the lungs, which makes your belly rise as your lungs fill.
- Keep your chest as still as possible, breathing only with the diaphragm. Exhale, long and smooth, through the nose. Relax and allow the air to flow in and out, abdomen rising and falling.
- While still lying on your back, inhale and bring both arms overhead, placing the backs of your hands on the floor overhead. Reach the body tall and feel an opening through the abdomen while keeping the shoulders relaxed.
- Exhale and bring your right knee to the chest, holding it gently with both hands. Flex the toes towards the sky. Inhale and repeat, reaching the body long and open. Exhale the other knee to the chest as you did on the right side. Continue this alternating pattern.
†The information provided is not an endorsement of any product, and is intended for educational purposes only. NaturesPlus does not provide medical advice and does not offer diagnosis of any conditions. Current research on this topic is not conclusive and further research may be needed in order to prove the benefits described.
The conditions and symptoms described may be indicative of serious health problems, and therefore should be brought to the attention of a qualified healthcare practitioner.