NO matter what age, fitness levels or body shape you are yoga can make a massive difference to your life.
A regular practice will leave you stronger, more flexible and fitter. Just ten minutes a day is all it takes to get the benefits.
The ancient practice is a favourite past time for a host of celebrities. The likes of Jennifer Aniston, Lady Gaga, Gisele Bundchen and Fearne Cotton regularly share pictures on social media of themselves in poses.
But yoga isn’t just for super flexible, super bendy people – it’s an exercise that everyone can benefit from.
Kent yoga teacher Natasha Harding chooses the best pose for man, woman and child to enjoy.
The latest research comes from The Manchester University where they discovered that a weekly yoga class can help ease stress during pregnancy and reduce women’s fear of childbirth.
The study reported that even a single yoga class can cut the amount of anxiety the women felt by a third.
It’s ideal to ease many of the ailments that women suffer from when they’re pregnant such as backache and sciatica. Pregnancy yoga includes visualisations and women can use this time to connect with their unborn child.
This position allows the baby to move down into the pelvis and uses all the muscles that a women draws upon in labour. The yoga guru BKS Iyengar claims if a women practises this pose every day it will take the pain out of child-birth – while I won’t stake my name on that it is a great hip opener and a lovely stretch.
Sit against a wall and put the soles of your feet together and let your knees drop to the sides – if your knees are higher than your hips sit on a cushion or two – as demonstrated. Once you’re comfortable sit back and breathe with your hands on your knees. If you want an additional stretch reach forward with your arms, making sure you keep your back straight and your chest lifted.
Touch is the first sense to develop and lots of positive contact is vital for a young baby’s development.
Researchers from Goldsmiths, University of London discovered that parents taking a ‘hands-on’ approach with their babies could help them develop their spatial awareness too.
The research found that the ‘tactile’ experiences babies have are important for them developing their sense of place in the world around them.
Baby yoga is fun for both mother and baby and may help with ailments such as colic and constipation.
Knees to chest
This pose is good for digestive complaints such as trapped wind or constipation.
Lay your baby on their back, with their feet nearest you.
Gently push your baby’s knees to their chest and hold for three seconds – if they’re happy you may also like to circle their knees round in small clockwise circles.
Yoga for children has grown in popularity over recent years. It helps youngsters to maintain and improve their natural flexibility, enhance concentration and most of all to have fun.
Not all children are ‘sporty’ and yoga allows children who might not be the fastest or fittest to do some exercise that will boost their confidence as well as being beneficial.
Yoga teaches children how to balance, to strengthen their core and to be aware of their growing bodies.
When yoga is taught to little ones there are lots of rhymes and songs and the class tends to be a faster pace so that children are engaged throughout.
Child’s pose, often called mouse when teaching children, is nurturing and soothing. It is a great way for youngsters to take time out of a busy day. It also stretches the hips and back and is lovely to relax in.
From a hands and knees position, push your bottom all the way back on to the heels. The arms are by the sides, palms up so the shoulders are able to relax. Focus your awareness on the back of the body and breathe.
Although men aren’t as naturally flexible as women, they will gain enormous benefits from yoga. Men are often tight in their shoulders and hamstrings and yoga helps these trouble spots.
Stress is at an all time high and many men are feeling the strains of long commutes and family life. Yoga offers some respite in a busy world and is perfect for people who spent hours sitting at a desk.
Most classes welcome men, and with a few adaptations and regular practice there isn’t reason why men can’t ‘down dog’ with the best of them.
Men are prone to having bad knees, often caused by the sports that men traditionally do such as football. By strengthening and stretching the muscles around the patella, some of the pain may be alleviated.
Lie on your back. Bend your knees, planting your feet firmly on the floor, making sure they’re hip width apart and straight. – your heels are as close to your bottom as possible. Inhale and as you exhale lift your hips from the floor. Continue to lift as high as you can, making sure you’re pressing strongly into your palms and feet. Squeeze your bottom and draw in your abdominal muscles. Hold and breathe.
Women are generally the lynchpin of the family and juggle working, childcare and family admin.
The back can often be an issue, caused by having a weak core and childbirth. A regular practice will help to strengthen this area.
When stressed, it’s natural to hold tension in the body and likely areas of tension are the neck and shoulders. Gently stretching these areas will help, and prevent a ‘hump’ forming on the back.
Taking time out to breath correctly and stretch your body will be a companion for your whole life and it’s a complete exercise for women of all ages.
Down dog stretches and strengthens every part of the body. It’s such an empowering pose when it’s mastered – and quickly becomes a favourite.
From a hands and knees position, inhale, exhale and straighten your arms and lift your hips so you resemble a ‘v’. Spread your fingers far apart and ensure that there is equal weight underneath each part of the hands. If you’re flexible enough your heels will touch the floor. Hold for at least three breaths before exhaling and releasing.
Health Benefits of Yoga
It teaches you how to breathe correctly using the whole of your diaphragm which will strengthen your immune system, reduce your stress levels and increase your energy levels. If you’re not breathing fully you’re more likely to suffer with panic attacks and develop conditions such as insomnia and depression.
It boosts your immune system meaning you’re less likely to get infections and other ailments.
It protects your spine and strengthens your back.
It perfects your posture, so you’re less likely to have the many conditions associated with standing or sitting incorrectly.
It makes your bones stronger – which is especially important as you age.
It improves your flexibility so you’re less likely to have aches and pains.