Smart Yoga: 5 Poses to Get You Inspired
“The inspiration you seek is already within you.
Be silent and listen.” –Rumi
Our lifestyles often create mental and structural demands that require the skills of a magician to maintain balance. Ask yourself, how do you really feel? Undernourished, sleep deprived, uninspired, anxious? Research has shown that sitting for long periods of the day can have a negative impact on the human mind and body. The great news is there are yoga poses you can incorporate into your daily routine to feel invigorated, calm, and inspired.
A crash course: We are all made up of energy. When energy gets stuck, it creates disease in the body. Yoga provides a platform to support physical, mental, and emotional changes in the body, where new neuro-pathways begin to develop in your brain as you cultivate courage and compassion simultaneously. (Paradoxically, as you soften your breath, your mind becomes sharp.) Meanwhile, muscles and myofascia fire up, producing heat which builds energy. Our vagus nerve, the largest cranial nerve in the brain, becomes invigorated and we feel inspired!
All poses provide therapeutic value, but you can jump-start your practice with five that target today’s modern lifestyle, focusing on tight hip flexors and round shoulders from sitting and looking at our phones too long, both of which can create a plethora of physical and emotional problems.
Begin your warmup with several cat-cow movements, before rolling the hips and neck. Researchers at Harvard University found that static stretching, or holding a pose while still, is not enough—moving in the stretch sends the message to the brain that you are safe, thereby lowering cortisol levels and engaging executive thinking. So go ahead, move like you mean it!
Lean in with a Low Lunge: From tabletop pose, step the right foot forward close to your right hand and lean in, opening up the left hip flexor. Lift the left hand up over your head and lean to the right, feel the stretch deep in the psoas muscle. Switch sides.
Camel: Kneeling up with toes tucked under, sweep your arms back placing hands on your heels or on blocks. Lift the chin and the heart.
King Pigeon: Bend one knee in front of you with the opposite leg extended behind you. Tent your fingers at your sides and lift the crown of your head. Switch sides.
Child’s Pose: Widen bent knees as big toes touch. Bring your forehead to the mat, or on the back of your hands.
Bridge: Lie on your back with bent knees, arms alongside your body, palms down. Inhale. Lift your hips, raising your sternum towards your heart.
By Jeanne Licurse, Scribner’s resident yoga teacher | Photography: Matthew Jonhson