Let's face it: yoga class can be intimidating. Whether you need a tension-busting workout on the go or you're just not ready to commit to 90 minutes of sweating in a room full of hyperflexible people, daily yoga poses can help keep you in shape. Choose poses and styles that fit your mental and physical needs.
Poses for Everybody
Whoever you are and whatever shape you're in, you can't go wrong with Downward-Facing Dog. This is the first pose many yogis strike at the beginning of practice, and for good reason: It's a powerful stretch that engages your arms, legs and core. Other essential daily poses include Warrior I, II and, if you like a challenge, III. Add Upward-Facing Dog or a variant such as Cobra pose or Knees, Chest and Chin, in which you lower each to the floor, in that order.
Poses for Women
Nurture your reproductive organs (it's okay, go ahead and play the 60s music) with a series of asanas that stimulate your belly and spine. Camel pose, in which you stand on your knees and shins, bend your back, and grab your heels, is intense but powerful. Other spinal flexion poses include Bow pose, Seated Forward Bend, Pigeon and the Cat/Cow combination, in which you start on your hands and knees and alternate arching your back and swaying it.
If your main goal is to unwind at night, grab a yoga block, a blanket or bolster and a strap. Supported poses allow you to release tension as you passively relax into the asana. Try rolling a blanket lengthwise and placing it beneath your head, neck and spine so your shoulders hang off, opening up your chest. Or do a supported Bridge pose, in which you lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet touching the floor, then lift your hips and place a block under your sacrum to relieve back tension.
Styles of Yoga
To determine which daily yoga poses are best for you, visit a variety of different classes. If you're a fan of Vinyasa or Ashtanga classes, your daily poses might include the Sun Salutation series. Fans of Iyengar may choose to spend some time in basic poses such as Warrior II and Triangle, taking the time to really focus on alignment. Restorative and yin yoga are ideal if you want to learn more stress-relieving poses to relax your muscles and joints.
Neville Smithson did his undergraduate work at Hampshire College and earned an MFA in creative writing at the University of Cincinnati. Having had a change of heart about his passions, Smithson is now back in Massachusetts, where he enrolled in a combined MA/PhD physical therapy program.