5 Yoga Poses You Need to Practice Every Day
Whether you’re new to yoga or a seasoned practitioner, it’s really important to build a solid foundation in your practice. Most of the foundational poses of yoga are intended to give you a stable base from which to open, strengthen and steadily build you in your yoga practice.
If you want to really create strength, space, alignment and freedom in your body, these are 5 poses that you should do every day:
1. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This is probably the most-practiced asana in many yoga classes, and for that reason alone, it’s really worth taking the time to get to know it and get it right. Downward Facing Dog also comes with a huge list of benefits including: strengthening the arms, legs and bones and opening the hamstrings, upper back and shoulders – perfect for preparing the body for more challenging standing asanas, balances and backbends. Downward Dog also helps you learn about the inner workings of your own body: where your tightness and tension lie, and where you need to correct imbalances.
How to do it properly: Focus on activating your arms and opening the chest by drawing the shoulder blades down the back and externally rotating the upper arms slightly. Press the sit bones and tail bone up and back, keeping the knees as bent as you need to in the beginning to achieve length in the spine.
2. Four-Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana)
Want to work towards arm balances and inversions? Then this is the pose for you! It is very easy to cheat chaturanga, but done correctly, this pose will help you build the most incredible amount of strength and stability. Chaturanga Dandasana strengthens the arms, legs and abdominals, builds core stability and healthy shoulders, and is the best preparation for balancing on your arms and hands.
How to do it properly: Engage your core and thighs muscles, and keep your body in a straight line. Keep your arms at 90 degrees and hug your elbows into your sidebody. If you find it a real struggle, then drop the knees down first while you build the strength in the arms and core to get you into the full version of the pose.
You may want to read: 5 Tips to Practice Chaturanga Correctly
3. Childs Pose (Balasana)
This is your go-to resting, restorative, and rejuvenating pose. It helps relax the body and release tension in the back, hips, shoulders and chest, and also lengthens and stretches the spine. It’s a great pose to get to know for when you want to skip your Down Dog, or for any time you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, as this calming pose helps to alleviate stress and anxiety.
How to do it properly: Spread your knees, bring your big toes together, and allow your chest to sink towards the mat as your seat sinks down towards your heels. There are many variations of child’s pose, but the main aim is rest and relaxation, so find a position and any support (resting the forehead on your hands or forearms if it won’t reach the floor) that you need to feel completely relaxed and able to simply be and breathe.
4. Cobra (Bhujangasana)
This is the preparatory pose for moving into deeper backbends, so getting your alignment correct here will open you up (literally!) to a whole world of deeper backbends in the future. Cobra helps increase the flexibility of the spine, open the chest, tone the abdomen and open the hip flexors – all essential for backbends.
How to do it properly: Begin with a low cobra as you start out to ensure that the spine is lengthening and opening, rather than pushing into the hands and hunching the shoulders around your ears. Keep the legs active, a slight bend in the elbows and feel that the movement is coming from the thoracic (middle) area of the spine.
5. Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Savasana is one of the most challenging yet beneficial asanas. If you want to ‘master’ any pose, this is the one! It is during Savasana that all the changes and benefits of your yoga practice begin to integrate into your body, mind and nervous system. Savasana not only helps to deeply relax the entire body and central nervous system, but also helps slow down the brain waves bringing with it a deep sense of calm.
How to do it properly: Keep the legs slightly apart and allow the feet to drop evenly out to either side. Arms are down by the sides slightly away from the body with the palms facing up. Relax your entire body into the mat and simply surrender yourself to the present moment, enjoy a few blissful moments and experience total peace. ☮
Focus on getting these poses correct over the next few weeks and watch your practice begin to transform. Practice often – if only for a few minutes each day – to see the benefits take hold, and your evolution unfold!
I’d love to hear your experiences and any other go-to poses that have really helped you to evolve your practice . . . Please share in the comments below!