Five Yoga Positions That Are Beneficial to Everyone
Five Yoga Positions That Are Beneficial to Everyone

Five Yoga Positions That Are Beneficial to Everyone

We at Elan Azure believe that short workouts and stretches throughout the week are the perfect complement to more intense sessions customized for you by your trainer. Yoga is one of the best ways to gain both strength and flexibility, and is an excellent way to promote mindfulness and reduce stress. The following positions (known as asanas) can be done individually or in a sequence together, or they can be added at the end of other workouts to provide additional work or relief to particular parts of the body.

Downward-Facing Dog

Overview and Benefits:

Downward-facing dog, sometimes also simply called “downward dog” or “down dog” is a particular beneficial position as it builds strength in and offers optimal stretches to many parts of the body. Specifically, this pose stretches the shoulders, legs, and spine, and it strengthens the arms, legs, and feet. It also engages the abdominal muscles when performed correctly, loosens the shoulders, and relieves tension in the neck. Downward-facing dog is believed to boost the immune system, improve blood flow to the sinuses, facilitate digestion, calm the mind, and rejuvenate the entire body. This pose should be held for five deep breaths at a time, followed by a rest, and can be repeated several times.

Keys to the Pose:

  • Initiate pose by walking hands out in front of you from a forward bend.
  • Keep hands shoulder distance apart.
  • Keep feet hip distance apart and parallel.
  • Keep back, arms, and legs straight.
  • Tuck your chin in and look towards your navel.
  • Do not worry about placing heels and feel entirely on the floor if
  • you can’t stretch that far.

Warrior Pose A

Overview and Benefits:

Warrior Pose “A” (often also referred to as “Warrior One”) is used to generate power throughout the whole body. This position stretches the hip flexors, the groin, and the calf muscles, while also strengthening the shoulders, arms, and back. Additionally, this pose improves concentration and balance. It should be performed on both sides (alternating which leg is in front and which is in back) and held for at least five deep breaths on each side.

Keys to the Pose:

  • Start standing with feet hip-width apart.
  • Turn your right leg and foot out 90 degrees.
  • Turn your left leg and foot 45 degrees.
  • Turn your chest to the right, inhale, bring your arms over your head, and bring your palms together.
  • Exhale and bring your right knee to a 90 degree angle over your ankle; keep your back leg straight.  
  • Drop your tailbone (to open your hips) and lean your head slightly back, looking up at your finger tips.
  • Inhale, straighten your legs, and lower your arms.

Warrior Pose B

Overview and Benefits:

Warrior Pose B (also referred to as “Warrior Two”) is similar to Warrior A (described above), but performing both poses will ensure a greater overall workout and will target all parts of the arms and shoulders. Warrior B provides all of the same benefits as Warrior A, namely building balance and stability, but also opens the chest and lungs to improve respiration and stimulates abdominal organs to aid digestion.  Additionally, this is an excellent position to relieve backaches, especially for women in the second trimester of pregnancy.  Both of the Warrior positions are therapeutic for sciatica and carpal tunnel as well. This pose should be held for at least five deep breaths, and repeated as desired.

Keys to the Pose:

  • Follow the above directions for Warrior A, except for the instructions for the arms.
  • Raise your arms to the side to shoulder height, so they’re parallel to the floor. Your arms should be aligned directly over your legs. With your palms facing down, reach actively from fingertip to fingertip.

Chair Pose

Overview and Benefits:

Chair pose strengthens the thighs and ankles predominantly, but also significantly tones the buttocks, hips, and back. It stretches the shins and Achilles tendons and well as opens the shoulders and chest. Chair pose is said to be beneficial for the heart and holding the pose for several (typically five) deep breaths stimulates the metabolic and circulatory systems.  This pose builds heat in the body very quickly so on top of being great for strengthening and toning, it also offers an outstanding cardiovascular boost.

Keys to the Pose:

  • Start by standing straight, with feet close together (big toes touching). If you are a beginner, keep your feet hip-width apart.
  • Inhale and raise your arms above your head (perpendicular to the floor).
  • Exhale and bend knees to bring thighs parallel to the floor (like a little squat).
  • Your knees will be slightly over your feet and your torso and thighs will form a right angle.
  • Draw your shoulder blades down (into your back ribs) and reach elbows to your ears.
  • Lower your hips slightly for a deeper workout and stretch.

Bridge Pose

Overview and Benefits:

Bridge pose stretches the hips, spine, neck, and chest and strengthens the back, buttocks, and hamstrings. This position is intended to alleviate stress and mild depression as well as to calm the nervous system, most specifically the brain. Bridge is often recommended to relieve headaches, backaches, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), anxiety, and insomnia. Like the rest of the pose, it should be held for five deep breaths and repeated as necessary.

Keys to the Pose:

  • Lie flat on your back with your arms to the sides, palms down.
  • Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart and as close to the buttocks as possible.
  • Press your arms and feet into the floor and lift your hips towards the ceiling.
  • Keep your lower back extended by keeping your knees over your ankles.
  • Lift your hips as high as you are able to without sacrificing your form.

Good luck and remember that Elan Azure offers consultations on nutrition and personalized workout regimens that account for every need, restriction, and goal you may have!

Written by By Nadyja von Ebers

Poses by Yoga Land Chicago

Photography by Saule Photo


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