In the dead of winter, you’re faced with a dilemma. After enjoying all the holiday culinary indulgences – turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams, eggnog, pie – you realize you need to take up an exercise regimen to trim your physique and stay in shape. The problem? The cold weather makes it hard to get to the gym, let alone the park, for a few laps of jogging. Your best bet is to exercise indoors, but what routine is physically demanding enough that you can do it anywhere? Nothing makes you break a sweat and take a breath like yoga poses.
What are the benefits of yoga?
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a division of the National Institutes of Health, yoga is an ancient Indian mind-body regimen that combines breathing techniques, meditation and physical poses. Today, researchers have suggested that yoga may have a range of medical benefits when combined with other healthy lifestyles, including relief of lower back pain, improvements in blood pressure, better heart rate, and relief of anxiety or depression. Additionally, researchers are studying whether yoga can be beneficial for other medical conditions, such as arthritis, menopause and diabetes.
Do it yourself
Generally, yoga comes with very few risks. However, it’s possible to injure yourself if you attempt poses that are either too advanced for your level or too physically demanding. Ideally, you should work with a trained and licensed professional who can guide you and make sure you don’t hurt yourself. Ask your physician if he or she has any recommendations. However, if the weather is too harsh for you to leave your house, you can do some light yoga in your home. Here’s the Sun Salutation, which you can practice at least once a day, courtesy of Women’s Health Magazine:
- Remember to hold each of these positions while breathing deeply. It cannot be emphasized enough that breathing is important through this entire process. Each breath should come in and out through your nose. To keep rhythm, make sure that each breath is slightly longer than each pose you enter.
- Stand straight with your feet together and arms at your side.
- Raise your arms to the side until your palms meet above your head.
- Bend your hips forward until your hands touch the floor.
- Keep your hands on the floor as you raise your head and chest slightly to look forward.
- To enter the Plank pose, extend your legs behind you, keep your hands on the floor and below your shoulders and straighten your back, keeping your core muscles engaged.
- Bend your elbows and pull them inward until you are in a pushup position. Roll over your toes and push your chest away from the floor using your arms.
- Roll your toes again so that your feet are flat on the floor and lift your hips up while keeping your head and chest facing downward, and hands planted on the floor. Hold this Downward-Facing Dog position for five breaths.
- Step or jump forward until your feet met your arms, and your arms are on the floor and to the sides again.
- Slowly lift your chest until you’re standing straight again.
You can repeat the Sun Salutation two to five times a day.