Yoga opening poses will help awaken your body as you open up your chest. This helps to stimulate your lungs, work the spine, as well as stand proud with shoulders opened.
Doing the introductory poses here will take about 15 minutes and is great for yoga beginners. Of course, if you want a fuller practice you may insert any other yoga poses – perhaps by beginning with some warm-up cat and cow poses, and ending off with a savasana resting pose.
START THE PRACTICE WITH BREATHING
Start your balance practice, again with a clear mind. Do this by using breathing exercises to align and stabilise your body with your mind.
Before your opening poses, take a deep breath first to clear out your lungs. Sit straight on your mat, cross-legged, with shoulders relaxed, and tailbone pointing downwards.
Proceed to breathe in and out, through your nose:
Inhale with 3 counts, hold for 2 counts, and exhale for 5 counts
Throughout the practice, you may want to hold each pose for 5 counts. If you have mastered Ujjayi breathing, you might want to try it. To activate the Ujjayi breath, also known as “ocean breathing”, you want to breathe through your nose only, whilst constricting the back of your throat, creating a misty breath that can fog up a mirror. This form of breathing helps to create warmth on the insides and relieve stress.
UPWARD FACING DOG POSE
This is a well known pose that is part of Vinyasa sequences. You might want to do a full flow in this sequence: downward facing dog, plank, chaturanga (low plank / yoga push up), upward facing dog, and back to downward facing dog.
This pose will open up your chest and shoulders, and at the same time, stretch the body and hips. Please avoid this pose if you’re expecting, experiencing any back pain, or have recently had any abdominal surgeries.
- Begin on your mat, lying down on your stomach with your legs straight
- Place your palms next to your shoulders to prepare yourself to push upwards
- Take a deep inhale, and as you exhale, lift your head, shoulders and chest upwards as you straighten your arms
- In upward facing dog, you would want your thighs to also lift off the ground – the weight of your body should be on your hands and toes
- To come out of the pose, you can lower your shoulders again, or proceed back to the downward facing dog/child's pose
You might want to do this flow a couple of times to open up the body.
The Cobra pose is very similar to an upward facing dog, and is used to relieve strains from the muscles in the back and neck. There is also a slight stretch on the abdomen to open up your body. Again, please avoid this pose if you’re expecting, experiencing any back pain, or have recently had any abdominal surgeries.
- Start again, with your belly on the ground, and palms next to your body with elbows bent
- Slowly lift the chest by extending the hands, but with your thighs and shins still on the ground.
You might want to modify this pose by doing a baby cobra, by lifting your upper body upwards halfway (elbows still bent), like in the image.
A challenge would be to lift your palms off the ground with your upper body still hovering above the mat, to activate your core muscles.
If you’re someone who works on the computer all day, you might want to try this pose out. It helps to open up the ribs and reverse the effects of a slouched back. It helps you to sleep better too.
Be very careful with this pose, as we want to prevent injuries while dealing with backbends like this.
This pose can be guided with a yoga block or brick. Without it, you may still use your hands to prop yourself up.
Avoid this pose if you suffer from headaches, back pain, after eating, or if you are pregnant.
- Begin on your mat but this time on your back
- Bend your knees to help yourself get into the pose
- Option 1 (with a block/brick): Place the short edge of the block (second height, or shortest height for a start) on the mat that would coincide with the area just in between your shoulder area. Gently lower your back to rest on the block. Hold the position for 3 to 5 full breaths, before returning by carefully rolling yourself back upwards. For a deeper pose, you might want to lower your head backward.
- Option 2 (without a block/brick): You can use your hands to prop yourself up. As you inhale, lift your hip area slightly off the floor, and tuck your palms (facing downwards), below your buttock area, resting your weight on the back of your hands (and don’t lift them off your hands as you perform this pose). Squeeze your arms and elbows closer to the sides of your body and it will prop your top half up, arching backward. If you wish, you may also butterfly your legs.
To end off the session, remember to thank yourself for the time taken on the mat, and you may wish to have a resting pose like savasana (lying on your backs for a moment to reconnect with your breath).