Yoga has become a popular sport, a relaxation method based on a sequence of body postures and meditations. Yoga exercises stretch the muscles and relax the body and mind. In addition to improving mental and physical health, yoga helps to combat stress and sleep disorders.
Better still, it can even increase self-esteem. A recent British study in Southampton showed a link between the practice of yoga and better self-esteem among practitioners. To begin learning these gentle gymnastics, a few basic postures are important to start your awakening.
Posture 1: Sitting posture with alternate breathing
Also called “Pranayama”, this breath control technique has many benefits for the body. When we are stressed, our breathing is short and jerky. Conversely, when we are relaxed, our breathing is naturally calm and deep. In this sense, yogists believe that being aware of our breathing naturally leads to control of our emotions and thoughts and promotes relaxation.
Position yourself in a sitting posture (cross-legged or “half-lotus”). Place your thumb to block the left nostril with your hand extended upwards. Breathe in completely through the right nostril. Exhale. At the end of the exhalation, block the right nostril and repeat the exercise by breathing through the left nostril. It is generally recommended to start with five cycles.
Posture n°2: the child’s posture
This posture, also called “Balasana”, is practised at the beginning of yoga sessions to stretch the body, especially the spine and lumbar region. It is very comfortable and can be done by anyone. Kneel on your mat. Then place your forehead on the mat, stretching your arms on the floor. Close your eyes and become aware of your breathing. Feel the different pressure points of the body on the mat. Hold the posture for 2 minutes. This posture allows you to withdraw into yourself and reconnect with your identity.
Posture 3: the cobra posture
“Bhujangâsana is one of the first postures to be acquired when beginning the practice of yoga. It is one of the postures of the sun salutation ritual. It helps to energise the body’s vital energy (or Kundalini) and strengthen many muscles. Start the posture by lying flat on the mat. Place your hands on the floor at shoulder level and bring your elbows close to your body. As you breathe in, begin to raise your torso. Height is not the goal; you should feel the extension of the spine and the opening of the chest. Hold the position and then return to the initial position. Repeat the posture three times.
Posture n°4: the posture of the dog’s head down
“Adho-mukha-svanasana is a classic yoga pose. Start the posture on all fours on the mat with “Table Posture”. The hands are under the shoulders and the knees under the hips. Make sure your fingers are spread wide, and your feet are parallel. Breathe in calmly with your belly. As you exhale, bend your heels and raise your body by lifting your knees and squeezing your hands. Raise your buttocks as much as possible. Make sure your back is straight, and then stabilise the position. Hold the position. You can try to put your heels on the floor for more difficulty. Hold the position for 1 to 3 minutes and then release.
Posture n°5: the dancer’s posture
To reproduce “Natarajâsana”, start with the mountain pose. This consists of shifting all your weight onto your right foot. Then bend the left knee towards the left buttock. Hold your head in your hands for stability and balance to make it easier. Then raise your left leg and rest your foot on your elbow. Stretch your body well and hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds. Release the posture and repeat on the other side. For beginners, using a strap can make it even easier to hold the pose. In this case, put a strap around the foot and then grasp the strap rather than the foot.