Yoga is a combination of physical postures, breath techniques and meditative practices designed to unite the body and mind in a peaceful state. According to the American Yoga Association, regular practice of yoga produces a strong, capable body and a clear, bright mind – a desirable state of being for any woman. Reap the benefits of this ancient practice and boost your overall health with these important yoga postures.
Postures for Strength
According to "Yoga Journal," yoga postures strengthen the muscles that protect your joints, helping you build a better foundation for your whole body. The most important postures for strength are those that effectively strengthen your body as an entire unit. Try standing postures such as Warrior I and II, and throw in a few balances such as Half Moon pose and Tree pose. These postures engage the muscles in your legs, core and arms, building strength from head to toe.
Postures for Flexibility
While building strength is important, it’s just as essential to maintain elasticity in your muscles. Tightness in some muscle groups, such as the hip flexors, can affect the position of your pelvis and cause lower back pain. Important yoga postures for flexibility focus on the areas of the body that, when tight, can cause injury elsewhere. Common culprits are your hips, hamstrings and upper back. Forward Bending pose is an excellent posture to open the hamstrings, while Crescent Lunge pose is a perfect release for the hip flexors. Try Eagle pose for a soothing stretch in the space between your shoulder blades.
Postures for Relaxation
Relaxing yoga poses can improve mood and ease the symptoms of stress-related diseases. Postures for relaxation involve an element of surrender, such as Child’s pose. The simple action of resting your forehead on your mat slows your breath cycle and can help calm a busy mind. Perhaps the most important posture for relaxation is Corpse pose, performed at the end of a yoga practice. This may be one of the only opportunities in your day to completely rest your body and mind, so take advantage of it. Focus on the natural rhythm of your breath in this posture to avoid drifting off, and enjoy some rejuvenation.
Practicing at Home
If you’re new to yoga, consult a doctor prior to beginning a new exercise program. You may find it beneficial to attend a few yoga classes at a studio before attempting a home practice; many studios offer classes that are specifically designed for first-time or newer yoga practitioners. If you regularly practice at home, start and end with gentle, relaxing postures, so you can keep that balanced state of mind through your practice as well as when you leave your mat.
Based in Calgary, Canada, Julia Marshall has been writing professionally since 2007. Her work has appeared on websites in the financial, technology, fitness and retail industries. Marshall holds a Master of Arts in communications and technology from the University of Alberta and is a registered yoga teacher with the Canadian Yoga Alliance.