In the last couple of decades, yoga exercises have become increasingly popular among youth as an approach to fitness. A lot of professionals claim that Yoga is the best exercise regime to boost your fitness levels, while also promoting a stabilized and calm mind. The ancient art of Yoga first came around in 5th or 6th century BC, and has been evolved ever since. The yoga of today is a combination of ancient sciences, and modern additions based on scientific research.
These days yoga has become an alternative to other fitness regimes, as opposed to the earlier belief that yoga exercises were meant only for Sadhus and elderly persons. This shift in perceptions can be attributed to celebrities who started to endorse Yoga. A lot of celebrities started to reveal that yoga exercises were the reason they were so fit. This instigated the youth to pick up yoga, and the rest is history.
Here’s a brief description of how Yoga exercises can help you boost your fitness levels:
- Yoga helps in strengthening the nervous system by ensuring that the brain gets enough blood and oxygen. Yoga exercises help in optimizing blood flow and improving circulation of oxygen throughout the body.
- As stated previously, Yoga exercises regulate blood flow to the entire body and optimize oxygen utilization. Yoga helps in strengthening the cardiovascular system by improving blood circulation to the heart and arteries. Yoga exercises also relieve high blood pressure.
- Regular practice of yoga can also strengthen your skeletal and muscular system. There are specific yoga exercises which are helpful in relieving joint pains, and other such diseases related to a sedentary lifestyle. Yoga asanas also help in relieving pains from accidents. However, if you’ve had injuries it is advisable you consult your doctor before starting any yoga exercises.
- Yoga helps in making the process of digestion smoother and more efficient. Yoga exercises that target the core of your body also gently massage your digestive tract, resulting in much more efficient digestion.
Without any further ado, let us quickly look at the best yoga exercises that will boost your fitness levels:
- Dhanurasana – Also known as the “Bow Pose”
Dhanurasana is also known as the bow pose. This is because the final position of this asana leaves you looking like a bow. Dhanurasana is amazing for the tightening the core of the body because it employs all abdominal muscles. The bow pose is great for losing weight. Apart from that, dhanurasana is great for treatment of rheumatism, gastrointestinal problems, constipation, respiratory disorders such as asthma, menstruation disorders, etc. The bow pose also helps improve the functioning of organs such as the liver, pancreas, kidneys, reproductive organs, etc. This yoga exercise also relieves the practitioner of backache by stretching the back in an elegant manner.
How to perform Dhanurasana:
- On a good yoga mat, lie down on your belly with your chin touching the ground.
- In this position, you should keep your hands beside your body with palms facing the ceiling/sky.
- Ideally, your legs should be placed at about 6 inches apart.
- Now, you need to bend your knees to bring you ankles closer to your hips.
- While still in this position, grab your ankles using your hands.
- Now slowly, lift your chin, head and neck up and backwards while your chest should still be touching the ground.
- Inhale deeply and then lift your thighs and chest off the ground backwards, towards your abdomen. Balance yourself solely on your abdomen.
- Pull your legs using your hands, backwards towards your abdomen till you form the shape of a bow.
- Bring your feet together, and try looking at the ceiling/sky. This is your final position.
- The moment you start feeling the slightest strain in your back, exhale completely and then return to your normal position.
- Baddha Konasana – Also known as the “Cobbler Pose”
Baddha Konasana is also known as the cobbler pose. This is because the final position of Baddha Konasana looks like a cobbler working. Baddha konasana is great for toning up of thigh muscles and tightening of the muscles of the buttocks. The final position of this yoga exercise tightens the muscles in the thighs and stretches the gluteus maximus muscle to give you toned thighs and firmer buttocks. This exercise is perfect for those who want to burn a little fat from the thigh region, or just look good in general.
How to perform Baddah Konasana:
- Sit on a good yoga mat, while keeping your spine comfortably straight.
- Bend your knees and let your feet touch each other. Your heels should ideally be rested against your inner thigh.
- While still in this position, grasp both your ankles using your hands and gently squeeze.
- While you inhale deeply, you should straighten out your spine and draw your shoulder blades backwards.
- When you exhale, press the soles of your feet slightly.
- This is your final position. Hold it for as long as possible without even the slightest discomfort. Inhale and exhale normally when holding the position.
- If possible, you can also try to bend forward from the waist and touch your chin to the ground.
- Urdhava Hastotanasana
Not only does Urdhava Hastotanasana give you a slim waist, it will also give you a broader chest. This yoga pose gives the belly, arms and shoulders a very good stretch. This yoga asana is said to be very good for the treatment of sciatica pains. Apart from these, this yoga exercise also improves blood circulation in the entire body, improves digestion and posture of the body. Here’s how to perform this yoga exercise:
How to perform Urdhava Hastotanasana:
- Stand straight on the ground with your feet placed together. In this position, now extend your hands above your head in a “namaste” position.
- While still in this position, affirm your feet in the ground, and then bend towards the right as much as possible. Hold this position for about 15 seconds or till you start feeling a slight strain in your left thigh.
- Return to your normal position.
- Repeat the same process, but this time on the left side. Let go when you start feeling a slight strain in your right thigh.
- Do these repetitions for 15 seconds, and then slowly increase this time to about 30 seconds.
- Paschimottanasana – Also known as “Bent Tree Trunk Flexion”
Paschimottanasana, which is also known as the bent tree trunk flexion pose is an incredibly versatile yoga exercise. This yoga asana is perfect for those with problems of constipation. This pose is among the best poses for the treatment of constipation. Showing its versatility, this yoga exercise is also said to be a good yoga exercise to increase height. Apart from all this, Pashimottanasana is said to be great for melting fat deposits in the waist, stretching the spine efficiently thereby preventing backache. This asana is also helpful in balancing of the menstrual cycle and is especially recommended to ladies after pregnancy.
How to perform Paschimottanasana:
- To perform Paschimottanasana, sit on a good yoga mat and stretch out your legs without bending the knees. Rest your palms on the ground, beside your hips.
- Now, inhale deeply and straighten your spine. Don’t go to the point where your spine feels downright uncomfortable.
- Now, as you exhale, bend forward and try to touch your toes with your fingers.
- Ideally, you should have your forehead on your knees. However, that is possible only with regular practice. For beginners, it is advisable that you bend forward only as much as possible. You can also bend your knees just a little bit.
- Take around 3-4 normal breaths, while keeping your own comfort in mind. After a few breaths, straighten your spine back up and sit in your original position.
- Repeat this about 4-5 times more with the same breathing pattern.
- Vrikshasana – Also known as the “Tree Trunk Pose”
Vrikshasana is said to be an amazing stimulant for the heart. It promotes healthy heart function by ensuring proper circulation of oxygen and blood to the heart, and throughout the body. This yoga exercise particularly toughens up the lower body. It strengthens the tendons and ligaments in the feet. It also tones up the standing leg, right up till the buttocks. This yoga pose also strengthens the bones of hips and legs due to the standing and balancing nature of this exercise.
How to Perform Vrikshasana:
- To perform vrikshasana, you must stand on your yoga mat with your feet about one feet apart.
- Now, raise your hands above your head in a “namaste” position. As much as possible, try to avoid bending your elbows at all.
- While still in this position, lift your right foot, bend it at the knee and place the sole of your right foot on the inner thigh of the left foot. This is illustrated in the picture.
- Balance your body only on your left foot. Breathe normally and then return to the normal position.
- Repeat this exercise for both legs for at least 3-4 repetitions.