Yoga is hardly one of those flash-in-the-pan fitness trends. There are multiple disciplines to choose from, and like other forms of exercise, its benefits go beyond the physical: Regular yoga practice has been proven time and time again to promote a healthier mind-set and decrease stress, among many other things. Unfortunately, despite the increase of affordable destinations like Yoga to the People, classes remain inaccessible to those who don’t have the budget or time for a more hands-on approach to the self-healing practice.
Luckily, the best part of jump-starting a yoga routine is that there is a slew of poses that don’t feel intimidating or take long to get into. Ahead, celebrity yoga and fitness instructor Laju Choudhury shares a set of quick-and-dirty stretches that you can ease your way into at any time and any place. (These may be familiar to Bikram or hot yoga enthusiasts.) Just remember to take deep, long breaths as you attempt each one.
Stand up straight with feet together, toes and heels touching. Stretch your arms straight up over your head, and then put your palms together. Interlock your fingers, ease the index fingers, and cross your thumbs with a tight grip. Elbows should also be locked,= and arms touching the ears. Push your hips forward, bring your upper body back, and shift the weight onto your heels.
While breathing in, stretch up out of the waist, bend your body to the right without bending your elbow or knees, continuously pushing your hips to the left. You are trying to create a stretch on the left side of your body, fingertips to toes. Push the hips forward more, upper body back, and weight on the heels again. Come down and repeat on the opposite side.
With the same starting stance as half-moon, drop your head back, with the intention of looking at the floor behind you. Keep breathing throughout the pose. Push the hips forward as much as possible to create more space so you can go further back.
Slowly come down with your stomach sucked in and grab your heels from behind, stepping on all five fingers of each hand and elbows behind the calf muscle. Pull on your heels, lift the hips up, and lock the knees. Continuously keep pulling and try to touch your forehead below the knees on your shins. Shift weight onto the toes and pull on heels, lift hips up and try to lock your knees one more time.
Start with your feet together and hands by your side. Pick up your right foot from the outside of the ankle and bring it up all the way until your heel is touching wherever you are comfortable with for that day. The left leg is locked, meaning not bent at the knee, and quadriceps contracted.
Then bring your right hand up into namaskar (prayer hands) in the middle of your chest. And then if you can still stay there without your foot slipping, bring your left hand up into namaskar. Push your hips forward. Keep the chest up, eyes open, and continue breathing in and out the nose.
Start standing with feet together and arms down by your side. Lift your arms straight up over your head, inhale and continue breathing. Step your right foot wide to the right and arms down by your side. Suck your stomach in and lower down, trying to look in front of you as much as possible so you have a full extraction of spine from coccyx to neck.
While your body is going down, both knees remain locked. Then grab your heels from the outside. Pull on the heels, stretch your body down, and try to touch the forehead to the floor. Shift your weight onto your toes, pull on the heels, roll forward, and keep trying to touch your forehead to floor. If you can’t, walk feet in closer together to make it easier. If it’s too easy, then walk feet out a little to challenge yourself.
Start by sitting with your knees and feet together. Bring your arms straight up over your head, bring your palms together, interlock your fingers, release your index fingers, and cross your thumbs so you have a nice and tight grip. Suck your stomach in and go down until your forehead touches the floor. Continuously stretch your hands forward, creating a natural traction in the spine. Breathe in and out through the nose continuously while doing the posture.
Sit with both legs out in front of you, heels and toes touching. Grab your big toes with your middle and index fingers. Suck your stomach in and pull. Try to lock your knees with no gap underneath the legs. Keep pulling. Bend the elbows next to the calf muscle. The goal is to touch your toes. Although you may be very far from the goal, keep trying throughout the posture.