15 Things That Happen When You Get Into Yoga

Calm

Stress is an inevitable part of life, however being able to monitor it with breath and introspection can change the outcome of many situations. Ideally stress will begin to subside with the tools discovered in yoga.

Strength

Over time the body will become stronger and yoga poses will feel much more accessible. Discovering body awareness and incorporating appropriate cues from instructors can take a practice to another level. Yoga will never be easy, however the body builds up strength to support the practice in time. Certain daily activities that felt difficult before will get easier. Activities such as walking up stairs, balancing to put on shoes or picking up children can become less challenging.

Weight loss

Although many people do not initially turn to yoga for weight loss, it is a surprising bonus. The pure and detoxifying feeling the body experiences after practice sends people in a healthier direction. The body begins to crave nutritious foods and denies heavy meals.

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Happiness

Learning tools to incorporate breathing and body awareness into scenarios that are mentally or physically demanding will change the outcome of many situations. Letting go of self-medication with food, alcohol, or prescription drugs is difficult. However in minor cases, replacing self-medication with yoga can help. The residual buzz from a yoga practice can deliver some of the happiness people struggle to find.

Change

Releasing things that no longer serve or fulfill are some of the first steps toward change. Like-minded individuals, and better decision-making replace toxic relationships, negative friends, and harmful environments.

Diet

Some people have been known to try vegan or vegetarianism at least once. There are teachers that promote non-harming and compassion to living beings with emphasis on a plant based diet. Some bodies can handle not having meat while other bodies need it. The best advice is to do what fits for the individual. What works for one, may not work for all. Ask a doctor if uncertainty arises with diet.

Posture

Many of the postures in yoga strengthen the spine and the muscles surrounding the spine. The majority of the work is to maintain a tall spine in each pose. A great yoga class will train the practitioner to take daily habits such as a hunched over body out of the practice. Overtime, students will learn techniques on how to carry the body in everyday life. Some yoga poses and classes strengthen the abdominals, which improve the posture quite a bit.

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Confidence

There are so many poses and ideologies in yoga that make the practice a lifelong journey. There is always another variation to achieve or a style to discover. One of the most gratifying feelings is when accomplishing a posture that seemed so difficult in the past. Noticing changes in the body and advancement in the practice gives a person that confidence they may have been searching for. Whether it is an inversion/arm balance or holding plank pose for an extended period of time, these small achievements ignite a positive sense of self.

Mindfulness

Bringing attention to areas of a person’s life that may have gone unnoticed in the past is the first step toward mindfulness. Maybe its deciding to stop wearing high heals, or forgoing the pain medication for small aches and pains, or possibly holding back on negative thinking. Maybe it’s noticing how many chips are consumed in one sitting or how the body is sitting while eating those chips. Shedding light on these little moments that are overlooked so often can change how life is lived in a positive way.

Flexibility

In time, tight muscles will release. That stiff and achy feeling when getting out of bed or right into downward facing dog won’t be as common. All bodies are different. Some people are extremely flexible and hypermobile, while other’s bone structure won’t allow for a super flexible practice. Finding the appropriate flexibility for each body type is the healthier way to think about it. Forcing or pushing the body to become flexible like the person on the neighboring mat is not a safe decision. It is extremely important to balance that flexibility with strength.

Obsession

The yoga practice can become addictive because of the mental relief it offers practitioners. Yoga is a lifetime practice with so many different postures, variations, and lineages. Some people practice intensely on a consistent basis to achieve their goals faster. This is when injury occurs. Many people learn the hard way and ultimately realize that a safe, strong practice will result in longevity of the muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons.

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Body awareness

Depending on which route is traveled in the yoga world; learning about the body is an incredible discovery. How often does a person cross their legs every time they sit, with the same leg over? Understanding how body patterns and daily routine can affect well-being is tremendous.

Clarity

Lifecan be very hectic and stressful with to-do lists and priorities. The mind eventually becomes cluttered putting up roadblocks in our path to clarity. The physical yoga practice is helpful with clearing the mind, however the meditative aspects of yoga can change thoughts drastically. A daily meditation practice is known to clear the mind and bring clarity to situations in which we feel limited.

Self Inquiry

Depending on the person, there will be interest in becoming a yoga instructor. Even if teaching isn’t the goal, some become certified to understand the practice on a deeper level. Spirituality is a huge part of the path of yoga. Studying yogic philosophy or reading up on spiritual teachings can help. Learning more about who you are as a person is a growth process unlike anything else.

Love

I have found that if you love life, life will love you right back.”- Arthur Rubinstein. Learning to move through life from a place of love is one of the best feelings in the world. Whether it is love for one’s own body, other people, or the love of life in itself, positive outcomes normally result in this way of thinking.

Yoga can turn a person’s world upside-down, literally and figuratively. Diving into a yoga practice in order to gain wisdom, peace, and physical strength is one of life’s best-kept secrets. As time goes on, life will continue to change for the better with the help of a little thing called yoga.

 

(The original article link: http://yogatime.tv/blog/15-things-that-happen-when-you-get-into-yoga/)

Beginner’s Guide to Headstand

There are so many benefits to inversions and they are a lot of fun to do, but if you aren’t ready for them, you can potentially injure yourself or scare yourself out of trying again.

A strong core and strong upper body are necessary to keep you upside down in any inversion. Though you will gain both of these through an inversion practice, it is important to note that you need to take things slow to get there. The more you control your movements, the greater the strength you will develop.

Before you jump right into this guide to headstands, be sure to warm up the muscles that are crucial to support your body in a headstand through Sun Salutations, and/or core exercises/poses, downward facing dog, and stretching to loosen up your hamstrings.

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(The original article link: http://www.bodyrock.tv/fitness/beginners-step-by-step-guide-to-headstands/)

How to Create a Home Yoga Space

The beauty of yoga is that it can be practiced anywhere. It’s relatable across all cultures, languages, and countries. It can be practiced independently in the comfort of your home, outside in Mother Nature, or in a room full of people. The options are endless.

Once you learn the basic postures , the practice can easily be integrated into your daily routine. Wake up. Sleepily walk to the toilet. Gulp down some water. Step on your yoga mat. And flow! Sounds simple enough, right?

While actually practicing yoga every damn day can be quite challenging, mostly because the mind loves to make up excuses, it can also be incredibly simple. If practicing yoga in the comfort of your home sounds appealing, then creating a home yoga space should be added to the to-do list.

Below are the must-knows for you to create your very own home yoga space.

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What to do in your yoga space:

5 – 10 sun salutations upon first waking up to awaken & energize the body. Light stretching before bed to quiet the mind and relax the body. A yoga practice of any kind it’s your studio so anything goes! Meditate.

Practice breathing exercises. Read books, write in a journal, reflect on the day or week ahead. Get creative, make a vision board, dreamcatcher, or take a nap! Enjoy a glass of wine or a steamy cup of hot tea.

Where to create the space:

Choose a room or area in your home where you can be undisturbed and find some quiet time. If you have an outdoor space and live in the sunshine state, then outdoors is best.

A flat surface is key for balancing postures and to root down into the Earth. A room with an abundance of natural light, we all need that vitamin D. Anywhere that lights your inner fire!

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Yoga supplies needed + props:

Yoga Mat. If your practice is only at home, invest in a durable mat! A yoga towel for comfort, easier grip, and to absorb the sweat. Mexican style blanket, super inexpensive and so helpful.

A bolster is a beautiful prop with so many benefits – it helps open the heart, can support the low back, aids in restorative postures, helps to go deeper into postures, or it can be a pillow for afternoon naps.

Meditation pillow, not necessary but a great addition if meditation and breathing exercises are part of your yoga practice. A strap can aid in flexibility and making a lot of postures more accessible. Even if you are flexible, it just makes everything feel juicier.

A set of blocks – so crucial! These babies are like flour when making dough. They help in almost any posture to feel grounded, balanced, lengthened, or relaxed. Required purchase! A yoga sandbag to help the body deepen and relax into postures.

How to decorate your space:

Lanterns of any size, shape, or color. Plants that are easy to take care of. A Buddha statue. Incense, an incense burner or essential oils  and a burner. Candles and more candles.

Seashells, crystals, rocks, something nature related to ground you. Hanging embellishments, wind chimes, dreamcatchers, sea glass or seashell decorations. A portable speaker to play some soothing tunes.

If outside, a lamp to create mood lighting & possibly bug spray. If inside, hang tapestries, curtains, or string lights to create an inspiring environment.

(The original article link: http://www.thejourneyjunkie.com/yoga-3/create-home-yoga-space/)

5 Beginner Yoga Poses for a Strong Core

A strong core is not only essential for your yoga practice, but your overall posture also.  The amount of time we spend sitting in chairs can affect our posture. Another downside to sitting all the time is we forget to engage our core. Most people sit with all their weight dumping into their lower back, which can lead to lower back pain.

A simple remedy for this is to engage your core while seated. Do this by drawing your abdominal muscles in towards your spine, and simultaneously lengthening your spine away from your tailbone. This causes your core to hold your upper body weight and relieves your lower back from being dumped on.

To practice these beginner yoga poses for a strong core, hold each pose for 3 to 5 breaths, and work your way up to holding them for longer periods.

Half Boat Pose

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How To: Begin by seating with your legs bent, feet on your mat hip distance apart. On an inhale, engage your core and shift your weight backward to your sit bones while lifting your feet off the mat. Keep your abdominal muscles drawing in towards your spine, and your chest lifting up towards the ceiling. Reach your arms straight out in front of you, and strongly towards your toes. Your thighs should be at a 45-degree angle from the mat, and your legs parallel to the mat. Keep your legs engaged by flexing your toes back towards your body. To come out, slowly lower your legs to the mat.

Dolphin Plank Pose

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How To:Begin in downward facing dog pose. On an inhale, shift your weight forward, lower your forearms to the mat, and drop your hips to bring your whole body into a straight line with your shoulders stacked directly above your elbows. Draw your abdominal muscles in and up towards your spine. Reach the back of your thighs up towards the ceiling, while pressing your tailbone down towards the mat; this action helps to activate the core. Ensure that your hips aren’t too high up, or too low, but instead in line with your whole body. Keep your neck in line with your spine by focusing your gaze a few inches in front of you on the mat. To come out, gently lower your knees to the mat.

High Plank Pose

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How To: Begin in downward facing dog pose. On an inhale, shift your weight forward and bring your body into a straight line with your shoulders stacked directly above your wrists. Draw your abdominal muscles in and up towards your spine. Reach the back of your thighs up towards the ceiling, while pressing your tailbone down towards the mat; this action helps to activate the core. Ensure that your hips aren’t too high up, or too low, but instead in line with your whole body. Keep your neck in line with your spine by focusing your gaze a few inches in front of you on the mat. To come out, gently lower your knees to the mat.

Knee to Nose Pose

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How To: Begin in downward facing dog pose. On an inhale, extend your right leg back, while keeping both hips facing the mat. On your exhale shift forward into a plank position, and pull your right knee in towards your chest. On that same breath, round your back, push the mat strongly away and tuck your chin in to bring your nose towards your knee. Remember to keep your abdominal muscles drawing strongly in towards your spine. To come out, drop your leg back into downward facing dog, and then lower your knees to the mat. Don’t forget to do the left side!

Knee to Forearm Pose

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How To: Begin in downward facing dog pose. On an inhale, extend your right leg back, while keeping both hips facing the mat. On your exhale shift forward into a plank position, and pull your right knee to the outside of your arm, and up on your forearm. Keep your abdominal muscles drawing strongly in towards your spine, and your leg close to your thigh.  To come out, drop your leg back into downward facing dog, and then lower your knees to the mat. Practice on the other side.

(The original article link: http://socialhermit.me/5-beginner-yoga-poses-strong-core/)

4 Ways to Use Yoga Blocks to Improve Flexibility

1. Forward fold

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For forward fold, we’re working on our hamstring flexibility, so placing a yoga block on the legs (any which way works for you is fine – it can be vertical or horizontal) may help. Rest your head on the block and with each exhale, visualize your stomach coming down toward your thighs. Try to stay here for 5 – 7 breaths (or more, if you can).

2. Janu Sirsasana A

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This is forward fold but with one leg bent, and it’s working on the hamstrings and the inner thigh and hips as well. So, same idea. Place the yoga block on the floor this time, any way that works for you, and rest the head. With each exhale, visualize your stomach coming toward toward your thighs, visualize the shoulders and hips even. Breathe fully here for 5 – 7 breaths or more.

3. Lizard pose

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Lizard pose is hip opener can be super tough for people with tight hips and a block sort of raises the floor so you can spend some time here without wanting to scream (or is that just me?!). Anyway, place the block any way that works for you, and bring the forearms down to the block. With each exhale, visualize any tension you’re feeling totally released. Breathe 5 – 7 breaths or longer.

4. Wide leg forward fold

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This is a good one for the hamstrings, too. Bring your head down and rest here, breathing into the backs of the legs. Visualize the hip joints in line with the ankles and hold here for 5 – 7 breaths or more.

 

(The original article link: http://yogabycandace.com/blog/yoga-block-for-flexibility)

6 Yoga Poses For a Better Butt

1. Hands and Knees with Leg Lifts

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Come to your hands and knees and pull your belly button in to engage the core and support the lower back. Keeping your hips square, lift your right leg until it is parallel to the ground. If you feel balanced, reach the left arm forward to further challenge the core. From here, round the back, draw in the right knee toward your chest and bend your left elbow to tap the right knee. This crunch works your core, and as you re-extend the arm and leg out, you strengthen the larger gluteal muscle (gluteus maximus).

Inhale as you reach out and exhale as you crunch the abdominals, keeping the hips steady and parallel to the ground. Repeat this 5-10 times on the right side, and then repeat the exercise on the left. Feel the burn and enjoy the natural butt lift!

2. Downward Dog Split and Hip Circles

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From downward facing dog, keep the hips square to the ground as you extend your right leg up and back. The height of your leg is irrelevant, and that flexibility will come with time and practice. For now, as you breathe, focus on your gluteal lift, as you defy gravity with that lifted leg. Hold for 5-10 breaths here, then bend your right knee and lift it to the side, opening up the hip.

If you feel balanced, add some hip circles by rotating the knee in a circular motion. This rotation of the hip engages the smaller gluteal muscles (gluteus medius and minimus). Make 5-10 large circles with the right knee then repeat on the other side. After a few weeks of daily practice, your hips will be feeling stronger and more flexible!

3. Crescent Warrior

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From downward dog, step the right foot forward between the thumbs and lift the torso up either extending the arms toward the ceiling or bringing your hands together at your chest. Be sure to keep the front knee bent and safely supported directly above the ankle. When we first practice crescent, we want to keep a slight bend in the back knee. You want to lengthen the lower back and feel the front hip bones tilt slightly upward, so you can engage your core, and help create a safe and stable posture.

Once this pelvic alignment is in place, you can work on possibly extending the back leg straight. This crescent pose will strengthen the gluteus maximus of the back leg, and the outer hip and seat of the front leg as well. Hold crescent for 5-10 breaths, and repeat on the left. If you’re wanting a bit more intensity, add a twist to this pose. If your right leg is in front bring your palms together, twist your upper body to the right and press your left tricep onto the outer edge of your right leg.

4. Warrior 3

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This classic balancing pose is fantastically effective for seat work, as you will be engaging the outer hip muscles of the standing leg (gluteus medius and minimus) as well as the strong gluteal and hamstring muscles of the lifting leg. From crescent warrior, hinge forward and place your weight on to your front foot as you lift the back leg off the mat, keeping the hips square. Your neck, heart and back leg are as close to parallel to the ground as you can. Your hands come to two blocks that are just under your shoulders. This will help you stabilize, and from there, as you gain strength and balance, you can begin to bring the hands to the heart, or wide like airplane arms. Take 5-10 breaths in this pose.

On each inhale, focus on engaging the muscles of your butt by energizing and straightening the lifting leg. On each exhale, focus on engaging your core connection and lengthening your lower back. Repeat on the other side. Remember: both legs are working in this pose, so don’t be alarmed if you feel the side gluteal muscles of your standing leg burning as much as your lifted leg.

5. Chair Pose

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Chair pose is the yoga version of a traditional squat. From a standing position, draw the hips back and down to knee level, while shifting your weight into your heels, and lengthening your tailbone toward the mat. This pose will engage your powerful hamstrings as well as your gluteals. To add a fun gluteal challenge, find chair pose – then press the leg up and back to warrior 3, then back to chair, then repeat this motion on the other side, returning to chair between each warrior 3. Try this 3-4 times per leg for a deep derriere burn!

6. Locust Pose

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This is a fantastic posture for strengthening the entire back body, head to toe. Lie down on your belly in a prone position with your arms down by your sides. Begin by lengthening the tailbone toward your heels so there is no compression in the lumbar region. Using the muscles of the middle and upper back, lift your shoulders, arms and torso off the mat, keeping the back of the neck in alignment with the rest of the spine. Then, keeping the legs relatively straight, lift the legs off the floor, engaging the gluteals and hamstrings. Focus on using the base of the butt (gluteus maximus) to lift the legs rather than the muscles of the low back. Hold this elevation for 5 breaths, extending the legs energetically and feeling the strength in your seat and hamstrings. Repeat 3 times, going for more length and elevation with each round.

(The original article link:https://www.beachbody.com/beachbodyblog/fitness/yoga-workouts)

5 Poses to Prepare You For Lotus

Lotus is one of those poses that everyone wants to do, but is difficult for people to achieve. But don’t give up on it—it’s a very important posture for both yoga and meditation. It’s not only considered to be an advanced yoga posture, it’s also thought to be the best sitting posture for meditation because it allows you to feel stable, grounded, and alert. If you do these 5 stretches and poses regularly, your hips will gradually open, and eventually you will find yourself sitting in full lotus.

1. Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)

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This pose will stretch out your inner thigh muscles (abductors). Doing it regularly will allow your knees to gradually drop towards the floor and make getting into lotus easier.

To do this pose:

Sit with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your knees and pull your heels as close to your pelvis as you can. Allow your knees to fall out to the sides and press the soles of your feet together. Grasp both feet with your hands while keeping your back straight. To deepen the stretch, slowly fold forward. Hold for 10 deep breaths.

2. Revolved Head to Knee Pose (Parivrivritta Janu Sirsasana)

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This pose targets the inner thigh muscles, the quads, and the often stiff muscles and tissues along the side of the torso that connect the waist and hip area.

To do this pose:

From a seated posture, bend your left leg and bring your left foot to the inside of your right thigh. Keeping your torso rotated to the left and your chest open, bend toward your right leg. Allow the right side of your body to sink toward your right leg, and try to take hold of your right toes with your right hand. If you can, stretch your left arm over your head to meet the right. Hold for 10 deep breaths and then repeat on the other side.

3. Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

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Pigeon pose stretches the same areas as eye of the needle, but it allows you to stretch a bit deeper as you’re using the weight of your body to sink further into the hips. If you only have time to do one pose, make it this one!

To do this pose:

From downward facing dog, step your left leg forward and lower your left thigh and shin onto the mat. Flex your left ankle to protect your knee. Keep your right leg straight behind you on the mat. When you feel ready, stretch your arms out in front of you and slowly lower your torso towards the floor. Hold for at least 10 deep breaths, and then repeat on the other side.

4. Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana)

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This intense hip opener targets both the external and internal hip rotators, making it an ideal pose to prepare for lotus.

To do this pose:

Cross one leg over the other so that both ankles are resting next to the opposite hip, and your knees are stacked. For our purposes, you can do the pose with your arms in any comfortable position. Stay here for a few breaths, and then walk your hands in front of you and begin to fold forward. Hold for 10 deep breaths and then repeat on the other side.

5. Half lotus pose (Ardha Padmasana)

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Before attempting full lotus, you should be able sit comfortably in half lotus on both

sides for at least several minutes, with both knees in contact with or almost touching the floor.

To do this pose:

Sit on the floor with your legs crossed. Bring your right foot in close to your groin. Place the outside of your left ankle onto your right thigh, close to your hip.  Allow your hands to rest on your thighs or knees. Straighten your back, and try to sit comfortably here for at least 5 minutes.

Full lotus pose (Padmasana):

Once you feel comfortable doing half lotus on both sides, you are ready to attempt full lotus. Never force yourself into this posture, and if you feel pain, especially in your knees, STOP, and keep doing the preparatory stretches until you can get into the posture comfortably.

To do this pose:

Sit comfortably with your legs crossed. Place the outside of your right foot on top of your left thigh, close to your groin. If you feel comfortable here, gently and carefully bring your left foot up and over your shin, and place it on your right thigh. Allow your hands to rest freely on your knees, thighs, or in your lap. Straighten your back and hold the pose for as long as you comfortably can.

 

(The original article link:https://yoga.com/article/5-poses-to-prepare-you-for-lotus)

7 Popular Yoga Poses and Their Benefits

1. Forward Fold

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You probably already feel the stretch in the hamstrings and spine when you practice Forward Folds, but what you don’t feel happening is the flushing of the liver, spleen and kidneys. This is further proof that you don’t have to pretzel your way into the perfect twist to get some detoxifying benefits.

2. Downward Facing Dog

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Down Dog is technically an inversion, since the heart is above the head. In addition to being a great hamstring stretch, this pose also decompresses the spine and sends fresh oxygen and blood to the brain. This pose also helps relieve back pain, headaches, and fatigue.

3. Warrior II

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Besides causing you to feel the burn in your glutes and legs, holding yourself up in this pose contracts your abdominal organs. This contraction creates a cleansing effect and tones muscles in your abdomen, too. Warrior II, despite being a challenging and strengthening pose, can also be therapeutic for sciatica and backaches.

4. Child’s Pose

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This restorative yoga pose relieves tension in the neck, back and hips. It also helps calm the mind and relieve stress. Child’s Pose is symbolic of surrender in the ancient yogic tradition, so this is a great place to come and surrender to the present moment and all things in life we can’t control.

5. Triangle Pose

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This asana is known for improving concentration and balance, as well as opening the body, which allows blood and oxygen to flow freely to all the organs. Next time you practice Triangle, focus on keeping your side-body long and your chest open rather than collapsing downward. This keeps the energy flowing freely.

6. Happy Baby

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This is one of the last poses you do in your practice, because it is a great stretch for the hips. There are pressure points just above your tailbone, so when you rock side to side, you are massaging this area which helps release the low back. Also, it’s called “happy baby” and not “sad baby,” so remember to smile while you practice. It can change your entire day!

7. Savasana

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This is often described as the most challenging pose in yoga because it requires you to simply be still – a challenge in our modern society of constant movement. What we might not realize is that during Savasana, we are also significantly reducing our stress and anxiety levels in addition to combatting insomnia. Savasana, like other kinds of meditation, has been known to increase grey matter in the brain, which is responsible for everything from muscle control to memory, emotions, speech and decision making.

 

(The original article link: http://www.yogiapproved.com/yoga/7-popular-yoga-poses-and-their-unexpected-benefits/)