Home » 10 Easy Feel-good Yoga Stretches to Conquer Your Day

10 Easy Feel-good Yoga Stretches to Conquer Your Day

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It’s easy to get sucked into the mindset that yoga is only for experts – seeing super stretchy and flexible yoga instructors can definitely be intimidating. But don’t worry, if you can relate then keep reading, because I’ll be sharing my favourite easy feel-good yoga stretches; FYI, I’m a beginner too! I’ll also throw in some personal favourites of our fantastic yoga master Rohini Emanuelsson, who has given me some insight into her most loved stretches, so you too can become an expert in no time.

Whilst doing these stretches, be mindful of your breathing. Unlike most high intensity workouts, yoga requires a slow and steady approach in order to create a connection from the body to the mind; regulating your breathing is a key part of this process. Lastly, have fun with it! Yes it’s important to focus and be mindful but yoga should not be a chore – enjoy the flow and let it be something you look forward to.
 
 

1. Mountain (Tadasana)

 
This one is nice and easy to get you started. It may look like simply standing still, but the mountain pose requires you to engage different areas of your body, and is great for in-between stretches to regulate your breathing.
 
How to do it:

Begin standing with your feet together on the mat. Engage your quadriceps and lift your kneecaps. Draw your abdominals in and lift your chest, keeping your shoulders down – feel your shoulder blades coming together as you maintain this position. At this point you should be aware of your breathing as you hold this position for a few breaths.

 
 
 
Benefits:
 

– Improves body posture

– Improves body awareness

– Strengthens legs

 
 2. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
 
 This is a very common stretch in yoga practices. It increases blood flow in the brain so it’s perfect to practice this one in the morning to simulate alertness.
 
How to do it:

Begin on all fours in a table-top position – your hands should be directly beneath your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips. Inhale, and as you exhale, lift your knees off the floor and draw your hips towards your heels. If you can’t straighten your legs completely, you can bend your knees slightly or walk your hands forward to ease the tension in the hamstrings. To safely return to all fours, slowly drop your knees to the floor.

 
 
Benefits:

– Strengthens the whole body

– Stimulates blood circulation

– Helps calm the mind and ease stress

 
 3. Cat-Cow pose (Marjaryasana & Bitilasana)
 
 The cat-cow is an amazing stretch for bringing flexibility and movement to your spine. Try this stretch when you have been sitting or standing for long periods – it will feel incredible.
 
 How to do it:

Begin on all fours, in a tabletop position – your hands should be directly beneath your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips. Your head and neck should be neutral. Start moving into cat pose, by drawing your abdominal in towards your spine and dropping your head – release any tension in the neck here. Coming back into neutral position, exhale and enter cow. Lift your chest, chin and gaze to the ceiling without straining your neck and drop your belly towards the mat. Switch between the two poses at your own pace.

 
 
Benefits:

– Stimulates and strengthens the abdominal organs

– Stretches and strengthens the spine and neck

– Improves posture and balance

 
 4. Cobra (Bhujangasana)
 
 The cobra is another great stretch for your spine and also your abdominals. But be careful with this one; it’s easy to over stretch and push yourself too far. Ease into it gently and stop before you feel too much compression in your lower back – you shouldn’t feel any pain or discomfort.
 
 How to do it:

Begin lying on your belly, placing your hands directly under your shoulders with your arms hugged against your body. Engaging your core, inhale and lift your chest off the floor, keeping your arms hugging your sides and your shoulder blades back. If you want to take the pose to the next level, you can lift your knees off the mat to go into upward facing dog. Or for a more relaxed option, you can start with baby cobra, which is simply done with your arms bent rather than straight.

 
 
Benefits:

– Increases the mobility of the spine

– Can help relieve back pain

– Opens the heart and lungs

 
 5. Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana 1)
 
 I love practicing the warrior poses because although they’re suitable for beginners, it does require a strong form and balance, which is so empowering once you’ve mastered it. The balance aspect can take some getting used to, so if you’re finding it difficult, try putting your hands on your hips or use a wall to support you.
 
 How to do it:

Begin standing on your mat. Inhale, and as you exhale, step back into a lunge, pressing both feet into the mat. Inhale as you draw your abdominals in and lift your arms up, making sure your spine is neutral and not arched. Regulate your breathing and hold this position for a few breaths.

 
 
Benefits:

– Improves focus, balance and stability

– Opens yours hips, chest and lungs

– Strengthens your shoulders, arms, legs, ankles and back

 
 6. Triangle (trikonasana)
 
The triangle is one of Rohini’s favourites, as it is one of the 12 basic asanas (yoga poses) that she teaches in her classes. For more information on how to join her classes click here.
 
 How to do it:
 
Begin standing with a wide stance. Raise your arms so they are at shoulder height and parallel to the floor. Turn your right foot outwards 90 degrees. Anchor your left heel and reach your torso forward, connecting your right hand to your right shin whilst your left hand reaches towards the ceiling. For my more flexible yogis, you can reach down to your ankles or the floor.
 
 “Keep your neck neutral so you don’t strain it – to do this, shift your gaze towards the left arm reaching for the ceiling” – Rohini.
 
 
Benefits:

– Stretches whole body

– Stimulates abdominal organs

– Improves digestion

 
 7. Tree (Vrikshasana)
 
 Despite what you might be thinking, yes, the tree pose is still perfect for beginners even though it requires a fair bit of balance and concentration. With the tree, you’ll learn to regulate your breathing whilst supporting your body. You’ll also use this time to gain focus and clarity and to centre yourself if you’re feeling unbalanced in life.
 
 How to do it:

Begin standing on the mat with your arms by your sides (mountain pose). Shift your weight into your right leg and lift your left leg, placing your foot on your inner right leg; avoid placing it directly on your knee. Bring your arms into a prayer position in front of the heart. The tree is great because you can tailor the pose to your level of balance and flexibility. If you’re able to, you can place your foot on your thigh, or if that’s too high you can place it on your calf or ankle – the main point is to maintain awareness. If you’re struggling to balance, try the pose with your back resting on a wall.

 
 
Benefits:

– Improves balance

– Improves postural and body awareness

– Calms and relaxes the mind to relieve stress

 
 8. Half spinal twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
 
 Another one of Rohini’s favourites – the half spinal twist is the ninth pose in the 12 basic asanas, one of which Rohini loves teaching due to the awesome stretch in the spine and abdominals. This is another great stretch to do after sitting for long periods of time. It is slightly more challenging but you can definitely do it, practice makes perfect!
 
 How to do it:

Begin sitting on the matt with your legs extended in front of you. Fold your left leg across the floor so that your foot is resting by your butt. Lift your right leg up and stand it on the outside of your left thigh. The right knee should point to the ceiling. Inhale, and as you exhale, twist your abdominals towards the inside of your right (standing) knee. Place your right hand behind you and your left elbow on the inner right knee. Engage your core and hold for a few breaths. On exhale, slowly unwrap your arms and legs and repeat for the other side.

 
 “If you’re having trouble connecting your elbow to your leg, you can simply hug your thigh into your torso” – Rohini.
 
 
Benefits:

– Stimulates the liver and kidneys

– Stretches the shoulders, hips, and neck

– Relaxes the nervous system

 
 

9. Bridge (Setu bandha sarvangasana)

 
 The bridge is a superb glute activator and chest opener. You’ll definitely feel the burn with this one after a while, but feel free to move at your own pace. Try not to rush the bridge, as it requires you to move with focus and intent, so you can get the most out of the movement.
 
 How to do it:
Begin lying on your back, with your feet on the ground hips distance apart. Bring your heels as close to your butt as you can. On exhale, drive your heels into the mat and use your core strength to lift your hips off the ground. Be aware of your knees – keep them hip distance apart, as they often naturally fall inwards. Also be aware of your neck – once your hips have lifted, lift your gaze towards the ceiling to avoid tucking your chin into your chest.
 
 
 
 

Benefits:

– Strengthens your core

– Relieve back pain

– Isolates and strengthens your glutes and hamstrings

 
 10. Childs pose (Balasana)
 
 Child’s pose is a personal favourite of mine; if you’ve never done this pose, get your yoga mat out! The stretch that this gives you is just incredible and is the perfect wind down for any yoga session. It may look easy (and it is) but to fully reap the benefits try to extend your arms out as far as possible.
 
 
How to do it:

Begin on all fours in a tabletop position, with your big toes touching. Sit back into your heels and stretch your arms forward. Lower your head to the floor and feel the stretch in your back and shoulders. You can stay in child’s pose for as long as you need, as it’s great for reconnecting with your breath and bringing awareness to the mind.

 
 
 
 

Benefits:

– Helps calm the brain and relieve stress

– Lengthens and stretches the spine

– Helps release tension in the hips and thighs

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