We’ve come a long way in our yoga journey.
Two years ago, we would have lamented about how we just didn’t like it. We thought yoga was just too slow for our fast-paced, high-intensity workouts we love. Now, we’ve come to appreciate the balance (literally and figuratively) that it gives us. Yoga helps strengthen us as athletes, allows us to keep moving through our recovery days and is a great way to check out when we need to unwind.
Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India. It is a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation.
What we’ve loved most is discovering more women who look like us that enjoy the practice and more black women entering the space as yoga instructors. You believe what you can see, right?
To celebrate International Day of Yoga, we are sharing five poses that we believe you should do everyday to strengthen, stretch and tone.
From kneeling, bring your chest down onto your thighs and your forehead to the floor. Your arms lengthen by your side with your hands next to your feet; if it’s more comfortable, stack your hands underneath your forehead.
Take a slow, full breath in through your nose and notice the back of the chest expand and the ribs widen. As you exhale through the nose see if you can sink the buttocks back down toward the heels feeling the spine gently curving over the thighs. Stay here for 5-10 breaths.
Place your palms flat on the ground directly under your shoulders and bend your elbows straight back and hug them into your sides
Pause for a moment looking straight down at your mat with your neck in a neutral position. Anchor your pubic bone to the floor.
Inhale to lift your chest off the floor.
Roll your shoulders back and keep your low ribs on the floor. Make sure your elbows continue hugging your sides. Don't let them wing out to either side.
Keep your neck neutral. Don’t crank it up. Your gaze should stay on the floor.
Exhale and begin to shift into our next position, Downward Facing Dog.
Downward Facing Dog
Take the palms a little wider than shoulder width, tuck the toes and lift the hips into the air.
The chest moves back toward the thighs with the head relaxed and arms straight.
Roll the shoulders away from the ears, keep the knees bent and start to walk one heel down at a time.
Remember: it’s more important to keep the hips high than to get the soles of the feet to the ground. Another 5 -10 breaths here.
Knee to Nose
Begin on your hands and knees. Keep your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Un-tuck your toes so the tops of your feet are pressing against the floor. The fold of your wrists should be parallel to the top edge of your mat. This is Table Pose.
Gaze at a point between your palms. Draw your belly button toward your spine without arching your back. Then extend your right leg behind you. Tuck your toes and keep them resting on the mat. Press back through the ball of your foot to lengthen your leg. Keep your spine neutral.
With your abdominal muscles engaged, extend your left arm forward to shoulder-height and reach through your fingertips. At the same time, lift and extend your right leg off the floor, a few inches or all the way to hip-level. Do not lift your leg higher than shoulder-level. This is Balancing Table Pose.
On an exhalation, draw your right knee in toward your nose as you round through your spine and tuck your chin. At the same time, bring your left elbow toward your right knee. Inhale as you extend your left arm and right leg once again. Repeat this sequence up to 10 times.
Exhale and release back to Table Pose on your hands and knees. Repeat on the other side, extending your right arm and left leg. Repeat the same number of times.
Spread your fingers and press down through your forearms and hands. Do not let your chest collapse.
Gaze down between your hands, lengthening the back of your neck and drawing your abdominal muscles toward your spine. Tuck your toes and step back with your feet, bringing your body and head into one straight line.
Keep your thighs lifted and take care not to let your hips sink too low. If your butt sticks up in the air, realign your body so your shoulders are directly above your wrists. Draw your pelvis toward your spine as you contract your abdominal muscles. Keep your head in line with your spine. Broaden across your shoulder blades and across your collarbones.
Draw down through the bases of your index fingers — do not let your hands roll open toward the pinkie fingers. Press the front of your thighs (quadriceps) up toward the ceiling while lengthening your tailbone toward your heels. Hold the pose while breathing smoothly for five breaths.