Yoga delivers the physical and mental health benefits they promise if you take care to ensure that your poses and breathing are on point. A common mistake rookies make is not inhaling and exhaling correctly. When you inhale, your chest and stomach should expand, and when you release your breath (exhale), they should contract. What about poses, where many body parts are involved? Here is a look.
Tadasana: Standing Mountain Pose
This yoga exercise requires you to stand tall with your spine straight and the big toes of your feet touching. A common mistake that people tend to make is straining their body too much such that their spine and butt stick out. The idea is to keep the top of your head to your tailbone in one straight line. Stand purposefully without strain, planting your feet firmly and feeling all four corners, and relaxing your shoulders a bit. Draw your tailbone down and look straight ahead, ready to climb every mountain and feel powerful!
Bhujangasana: Cobra pose
This pose mimics the posture of a cobra with its hood raised, and is known for strengthening the lungs as well as the digestive and reproductive systems. In this exercise, you pull your torso back slowly and off the floor, with your hands for support. Try to straighten your arms by arching your back as much as you can, without exerting undue strain, and tilt your head back gently.
The problem occurs when you force your lower body down hard to push up your upper body. This can cause unnecessary stress on your back and neck, canceling any benefit that you may have received by performing the cobra pose correctly. What you should be doing is keeping your shoulders relaxed and bending your elbows slightly while ensuring that your feet are close together. Push your pelvis down on the mat gently and look in any direction of your choosing.
Uttanasana: Standing Forward Bend
Uttanasana is performed by beginners and advanced practitioners for its strengthening effect on the thighs, knees, hamstrings and calves. Advanced students are able to bend forward intensely till their face touches their legs, while beginners may try this after weeks of practice engaging the right muscles.
It is often seen that beginners tend to keep their legs very straight and in the process, roll their spine instead of keeping it straight and long. Remember that it is fine to bend your knees and keep them soft (instead of locking them), but important to maintain a straight spine as you fold over forward.
Virabhadrasana II: Warrior Pose II
Warrior Pose II gives your leg, chest and groin a potent stretch, strengthening thigh and butt muscles, improving digestion, increasing stamina and helping alleviate back aches. A common mistake made here has to do with alignment: the goal is to tug your hip back not up, while keeping your hip bones facing forward. Bend your front knee as much as you want- this will assist with balance and prevent your knee from locking. Keep your back leg straight and relax your neck. Voila, you have mastered the warrior pose!