Following a year of pandemic living, it’s time to reinvigorate your mind and body as we unfold into spring and begin to see an end to lockdown life. Incorporating just a little yoga into your everyday routine can make a big difference to your overall happiness and health. Even 15 minutes can make a positive impact on how you feel. You don’t need to be young and flexible to do yoga; the most important thing is that you are willing and open to try something new.
With yoga, you also don’t need to break the bank or fit some kind of ideal to reap the energy-balancing benefits. Also, there are so many styles to try—from the super-relaxing ones, such as Yin and Restorative yoga, to more dynamic types of yoga, like power vinyasa flow. With a little trial and error, most people find that there is an approach that works for them.
Yoga teacher Sarah Highfield shares five go-to yoga poses to reinvigorate and revitalize you this spring. You can do 3-5 rounds of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) to warm and prep your body for the following poses. Once you’ve moved through these shapes, cool down with Balasana (Child’s Pose) and a few minutes in Savasana (Corpse Pose).
Viparita Virabhadrasana (Reverse Warrior Pose)
Start in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose). Step your right foot between your hands, come up to standing, keeping a deep bend in your right knee. Spin your back heel down with your toes aiming at the top left of your yoga mat. For an extra balance challenge, lift you right heel off the floor, rising to the ball of your right foot.
Sweep your right arm up toward the ceiling and lower your left hand onto your left thigh for support. Lean your torso back toward your left leg and look up at your right hand. Lift your chest up, relax your shoulders, and lengthen through your spine. Hold for 5 deep breaths. Return to Down Dog. Repeat on the second side.
Benefits: This pose stretches and opens up your front and side body, releasing tension and allowing for a freer, deeper breath. It strengthens your legs and shoulders, and stretches your hips and inner thighs.
Anjaneyasana, variation (Low Lunge)
From Down Dog, step your right foot forward toward your hands. Stack your right knee on top of or slightly behind your right ankle. Keep left leg behind you with your back knee down. Place your left hand on the floor. Inhale to twist your torso to your right. Reach your right hand up toward the ceiling.
Let your hips sink down toward the floor. Allow your right thigh to move out to the right a bit, to stretch your right inner thigh and outer hip. Keep your spine long as you twist. Aim for a smooth and even twist throughout your spine. Hold for 5 deep breaths. Repeat on the second side.
Benefits: This pose opens up the front of your body and provides a deep hip stretch and spinal twist, stretching all the small muscles between your vertebrae.
Baddha Konasana, variation (Bound Angle Pose)
Start by sitting on your bum with the soles of your feet together and your knees dropping out to the sides. Place your bolster or cushion lengthwise on your feet.
Inhale to elongate your spine. Exhale to fold forward and rest your arms or forehead on the bolster or cushion. Breathe deeply here, allowing your upper body to feel heavy and soften down with each exhalation. As you do so, feel your hips opening a little more. Hold for 5-10 deep breaths. Use an inhale to slowly rise to seated position.
Benefits: By doing this classic hip stretch with a bolster, you can fully relax into the asana, making it feel very restorative. It helps to relieve fatigue and anxiety, opens your hips, grounds the mind and body, and is good for healthy circulation.
Janu Sirsasana (Head-of-the-Knee Pose)
Start seated. Extend your left leg out in front of you and place your right foot on your left inner thigh, allowing your right knee to drop down toward the floor. Rotate your torso so that it’s facing your left thigh.
Inhale to lengthen your spine, as you exhale, walk your hands forward on either side of your left shin or foot. Keep your left foot flexed and your left leg strong and engaged. Maintain a long spine and lift your chest. Each time you inhale, lengthen your spine, each time you exhale, soften forward a little more. Hold for 5 breaths. Repeat on the second side.
Benefits: This pose is said to relax your brain and relieve mild fatigue. It also stretches your spine, shoulders, hamstrings, and groin.
Camatkarasana (Wild Thing Pose)
Start in Down Dog. Lift your right leg up in the air, opening up your right hip. Bend your right leg and look under your left armpit to check that you can see your foot. Release your right foot down to the floor outside of your left leg. Pivot on your left hand and left foot, and turn your torso over so that your chest faces the ceiling.
Press your left hand firmly down and lift your chest up toward the ceiling, creating a beautiful backbend. Stretch your right hand back, allowing your right hand to frame your face.
Hold for 5 deep breaths. To exit the pose, flip back over by bringing your right hand down to the floor, placing it parallel to the left hand. Let your legs follow through so you end up back in Downward Facing Dog. Repeat on the second side.
Benefits: This energizing pose opens up the front of your body, making it perfect for counteracting all the flexion in that area that we experience from sitting. Enter it slowly, as it’s a deep stretch and requires both strength and flexibility, as well as shoulder stability.
Born in Hong Kong and based in London, Sarah Highfield is an international yoga teacher. She is the founder of Yogagise Yoga and believes there is a style of yoga for everyone. Visit her website for more information yogagise.com or follow her on Instagram (@SarahHighfield and @Yogagise).