Yoga has soared in popularity in Malaysia over the last five to ten years and will continue to see beginners and veterans roll out the mat in 2017. We’ve asked Team Re-Claim’’s Angeline Ong to take us through 5 easy yoga positions to help improve your movement.
1. Downward Facing Dog
The Downward Facing Dog yoga position deeply stretches the back, opens the chest and builds upper body strength. This posture stimulates the brain and nervous system, improves memory, concentration, hearing and eyesight.
How to perform:
— Come onto the floor on your hands and knees, with your knees directly below your hips and your hands slightly in front of your shoulders. Spread your palms and tuck your toes under.
— Exhale and lift your knees up, slightly bend you knee with the heels lifted away from the floor. Lengthen your spine against this resistance, lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling and from your inner ankles engage the inner legs up into the groin.
— Engage and rotate your thighs slightly inward when you straighten up your knees but be sure not to lock them.
— Engage you outer arms and press your fingers actively into the floor. Lift your spine up with firm forearms and shoulder blades against your back, then widen them and draw them towards the tailbone. Keep the neck active with the head between the upper arms. Don’t let it hang.
Caution: Do not practice this yoga pose if you’ve had a recent chronic injury to the back, hips, arms or shoulders as well as unmediated high blood pressure.
2. Pigeon Pose
This yoga pose is excellent at opening up the hip joint and lengthening the hip flexor. Improves posture and alignment of the body and enhances overall suppleness.
How to perform:
— Begin with Downward Facing Dog. Bring your right knee between your hands, place your right ankle near your left wrist. Extend your left leg behind with your kneecap rotated in and the top of your foot rested on the floor.
— Press your fingertips to lift your torso away from your thigh. Lengthen the front of your body. Keep you hips square and release your tailbone back towards your heels.
— Lower your body through your front-leg shin and balance your weight evenly between your right and left hips. Flex your front foot. Press your back foot down. Look downward softly.
— Breathe and hold for up to one minute. To release the pose, flex your back feet, lift your back knee off the mat and press yourself back into Downward-Facing Dog. Repeat for the same amount of time on the other side.
3. Warrior II
A deep hip-opening yoga pose that strengthens the muscles in the thighs and buttocks.
How to perform:
— Standing upright, exhale while you step 3-1/2 feet apart. Raise your arms in line with your shoulders and parallel to the floor, stretch your arms actively out to the sides, shoulder blades wide, palms facing down.
— Turn your right foot out and your left foot in. Align the left heel with the right heel, activating your thighs and rotate your left thigh inward.
— Exhale and bend your right knee over the right ankle, so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor. If possible, bring the right thigh parallel to the floor. Engage your core muscles by strengthening the left and right leg, pressing both heels firmly to the floor.
— Stretch the arms away with the shoulder blades parallel to the floor. Don’t lean the torso over the left thigh, keep the sides of the torso long and the shoulders directly over the pelvis. Press slightly and rotate the tailbone down. Turn the head to the left and gaze toward your fingers.
— Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to one minute. Inhale as you come up from the pose. Change leg and repeat for the same length of time to the left.
Cautions: Do not practice this yoga pose if you have a recent or chronic knee, ankle or sacroiliac injury.
4. Camel Pose
This yoga pose stretches and strengthens the shoulders and back. Stretches the ankles, thighs, groin, abdomen, chest and throat. Tones organs of the abdomen, pelvis, and neck.
How to perform:
— Come to your knees, with your legs hip-width apart. Place your hands on your hips. Keep your hips over your knees and internally rotate your thighs and squeeze your thigh muscles to activate them.
— Inhale to engage your lower belly and stretch your tailbone forward, creating space between your lower vertebrae. Inhale again, expand you chest and draw your elbows toward each other.
— Keep your chest open, spine long, chin tucked in as you drop your hands toward your heels and keep engaging your core.
— Press the heels of you palms into the heels of your feet while grabbing your feet. Keep lifting your spine up.
— Now lift your shoulders and engage your trapezius muscles to create a cushion on your cervical spine. Gently lower the head and neck and gaze at the tip of your nose.
— To exit, bring your chin back toward your chest and your hands to your hips. Keep engaging your lower belly and rise slowly using your hands to support your lower back.
Cautions: Don’t pinch the shoulders together and tense the neck. Also don’t compress the lower back down by squeezing the butt, that will push the knees wider than hip-width apart.
5. Seated Spinal Twist
Yoga twists can help loosen and lengthen the spine and can ease a stiff neck and shoulders. It also helps open the chest and increases the oxygen supply to the lungs.
How to perform:
— Sit up with both legs straight in front, keep your feet together and the spine extended.
— Bend the left leg and place the heal of the left foot beside the right hip. Place the right leg over the left knee, the left hand on the right knee and the right hand behind.
— Twist your waist, shoulders and neck to the right and look over the right shoulder. Keep extending the spine. Breathe gently and hold.
— Exhale while you release the hand behind you, keep your body posture upright. Repeat to the other side.
Stay fit and active in 2017 and enjoy a healthy lifestyle incorporating yoga, sports, fitness and healthy eating.
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