As a registered and certified yoga instructor, I both personally utilize and teach yoga for a variety of different results. It can specifically be really helpful for weight loss, stress release, and even cardio. Certain yoga postures can help with reducing stress, while other yoga poses can aid in digestion, weight loss, and getting the heart rate up. There are many varieties of yoga: more athletic and challenging yoga (like Vinyasa Flow), slower yoga that focuses on restoring balance in the body (like Restorative Yoga), yoga that focuses specifically on alignment (Iyengar Yoga), and basic yoga that moves through positions and holds them for a few breaths (Hatha Yoga).
Aside from all of the physical benefits of yoga, there are many mental benefits as well. Mindfulness strategies like meditation and following your own breath can help you become happier and more in tune with yourself. After all, yoga is broadly a physical, mental, and spiritual practice that aims to bring your mind, body, and spirit into harmony.
While learning every kind of yoga would require at least a few lessons each, I’ll describe a simplified routine that will give you each of their benefits. The yoga sequence that I created below will help you get your heart rate up, unwind from a stressful day, and also aid in your weight loss efforts. My own private clients love integrating yoga into their regular workout routines too. Many of them claim that yoga helps them find peace, balance, and relaxation within their hectic and busy lives. So check out each yoga pose individually with our “Good For” listing below each one, or do the full routine to reap all of the benefits!
Start with your feet close together so that your big toes are touching and your heels are a few centimeters apart. Bend your knees and reach your glutes back as if you’re sitting in a chair while sweeping your arms up straight towards the ceiling. Pull your abs in tight and relax your shoulders.
Repeat this motion 10 times, holding the chair pose for one breath each time.
Good For: Weight loss, muscle and strength building, speeding up the metabolism, and balance.
From Chair Pose, bend at your hips and hinge forward. Allow your arms to dangle down and keep your knees bent if the hamstrings are really tight.
Hold this for five slow, deep breaths.
Good For: Reducing stress and anxiety, self-reflection, stretching the back of your body, and reducing low back pain.
From the Forward Fold, step your left foot back and come up into Warrior II. Bend your right knee over your right ankle so that it’s tracking over the second toe. Open your hip so that your knee is opening out instead of caving in. Press down through your back foot, specifically the outer edge of your left foot, and engage the left quad. Extend your arms out towards the front and relax your shoulders.
Hold for two slow deep breaths. Repeat Warrior II five times.
Good For: Opening your hips, improving concentration and focus, burning fat, and strengthening the whole body.
Reach your left arm back and down your left leg. Reach your right arm up towards the ceiling. Feel a long stretch on the right side of your torso. Press down through both feet to help you feel more grounded.
Hold for one slow deep breath. Repeat Reverse Warrior five times.
Good For: Creating more space for the internal organs; improving flexibility; strengthening the hips, groin, back, and spine; and improving balance and mindfulness.
Extended Side Angle
From Reverse Warrior, come up through center and then rest your right forearm onto your right thigh. Reach your left arm up towards the ceiling. Open up the left side of your waist and relax your shoulders. Press down through the back outer edge of your left foot and ground down through your right heel.
Hold for one slow deep breath and then repeat Reverse Warrior into Extended Side Angle five times.
Good For: Getting your heart rate up, improving flexibility, and speeding up your metabolism.
From Extended Side Angle, come back to Warrior II and then step forward with your left foot. Now your left foot will remain at the top of your mat while you step back with your right foot into Warrior II on the opposite side. Repeat the Warrior II, Reverse Warrior, and Extended Side Angle sequence on this side.
From your last Extended Side Angle, step your right foot forward to meet your left foot and then step or jump back into a plank position. Line your shoulders up with your wrists and engage your core to hold you up in this plank pose.
Hold for 10 seconds.
Good For: Weight loss; building core strength; and toning the arms, back, and legs.
Downward Facing Dog
From plank, press back into Downward Facing Dog. Reach through your heels and press your chest back towards your thighs. Press down through all 10 fingers and drop your chin towards your chest.
Shift forward into Plank pose and repeat this sequence five times.
Good For: Getting your heart rate up, helping with weight loss, and opening up the back of your body.
From your last Downward Facing Dog, step or jump forward in between your hands. Slowly sit down and then lie down onto your back. Hug both knees into your chest and then twist your knees over to the left. Reach your arms out into a T position and look over your right shoulder. Inhale and exhale as you pull your naval in further towards your spine and relax more into the twist.
Hold for five slow deep breaths, hug your knees in, and then repeat to the right.
Good For: Improving digestion, speeding up your metabolism, helping with weight loss, improving spinal mobility, lessening back pain, and opening up your chest.
Savasana (Corpse Pose)
After you’ve done the Lying Twist to both sides, it’s time for our final relaxation, Savasana! This is also known as Corpse Pose. Instead of focusing on breathing, being present, or being mindful, now is the time to really release and let go. Lie down in a comfortable position for two to five minutes as the culmination of your yoga practice.
Good For: Reducing anxiety, reducing stress, calming the nervous system, and relaxing the mind and body.
If you’re trying to unwind at the end of the day or even prepare for bedtime, feel free to continue your Savanasa in bed. This yoga routine can be made even more relaxing by skipping the extra Chair Poses at the beginning and adding in another Forward Fold before coming forward into a seat and then finally lying down.
Download full-sized image of yoga routine guide.
Like the exercises described in my previous article, the above mentioned routine can certainly help you achieve your fitness goals. However, keep in mind that yoga is not only an exercise but also a practice with many benefits. Therefore, I highly recommend learning more about it to discover the full range of benefits.
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