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Yoga Moves to Improve Health

 

by Katie Morell

“Yoga may be one way that you can relieve stress, build strength and improve balance and flexibility,” says Dr. Baxter Bell, a longtime yoga teacher and author of the blog Yoga for Healthy Aging. “If you can go to a yoga class two or three times a week, it will be really great for you.”

For those who don’t have the time (or the money) to go to several live yoga classes each week, Bell offers three easy moves to try at home.

Don’t forget to place a mat or thick towel on the floor for these poses to protect your back and knees.

Yoga Move 1: Sun Salutations

Step 1: Start by standing up straight with your arms down by your sides.

Step 2: Breathe in, lift your arms straight up and pull your abs in.

Step 3: Breathe out, lean your arms forward and stretch them down to your toes (it’s fine if they don’t touch).

Step 4: Breathe in and lift your head to look forward so as to straighten your back.

Step 5: Breathe out, plant your hands on the ground and move your feet back so you are in a push-up position.

Step 6: Breathe in and with your feet and hands stationary, glide your body forward and lift your torso up toward the wall in front of you with your head to the sky.

Step 7: Breathe out, keep your feet and hands stationary and lift your glutes up to the sky and press downward. This is downward facing dog pose.

“Especially if you have a sedentary job, it is important to move around and get your circulation flowing,” Bell says. “Do a few sun salutations every day for exercise and to help increase blood flow to your heart. The concentrated breathing will also relieve stress.”

Yoga Move 2: Legs Up the Wall

Step one: Lie down next to a wall.

Step two: With your arms by your sides, lift both of your legs straight up and against the wall.

Step three: Scoot your glutes back so they are touching the wall, your legs positioned up the wall and your torso lying on the ground perpendicular to the wall.

Step four: Inhale deeply and exhale deeply for several minutes.

“This position is great for people who are on their feet all day long,” Bell says. “It is a partial inversion, which offers relief for the nervous system and the heart. Lie on your back for five to 10 minutes and you will feel the stress melt away.”

Yoga Move 3: Child’s Pose

Step one: Start in a comfortable kneeling position on the ground. Use a mat or towel to protect your knees.

Step two: Drop your bottom to your heels and rest your torso on the top of your thighs.

Step three: Look down and reach forward with your hands on the ground. Inhale and exhale deeply.

“After a hectic, crazy day, there are few things better than doing child’s pose,” Bell says. “The pose allows you to turn inward, releases tension in the lower back and relaxes you.”

Learn more about the health benefits of yoga on Go Red.