5 Yoga Asana You Should Have In Your Daily Practice
When people ask me for ways to help them gain the most out of their yoga practice, there are two key components I point out; balance and consistency.
Though anyone can walk away from a single yoga class feeling amazing, it is with consistency and over time, that the real magic starts to happen.
This is why I encourage everyone to practice yoga daily, even if its just 15 minutes each morning.
So what asana should you practice each day, you might ask?
Along with consistency, balance is another important consideration. Not just ensuring you work your left and right, or front and back equally, but also considering the benefits different asanas provide.
I like to incorporate 5 asanas to my daily practice that each provides me with a little balance, strength, flexibility, grounding, and energy.
Here are 5 asanas you should consider adding to your daily practice:
Naukasana - Boat Pose
Strengthening asanas are great for toning your body and keeping you actively independent and strong. This is why Naukasana is a good strengthening asana to practice daily as it works your whole body.
- Sit on your mat with your legs stretched out together in front of you.
- Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the mat, stretching your arms out in front of you, on either side of each knee, keeping them engaged and at shoulder height. This is the start position.
- Activate through your core, keeping your spine straight, then slowly lean back until your hands are aligned with your knees, as you simultaneously lift your feet up off the ground so that your weight rests on your buttocks.
- If you feel strong enough, you can straighten your legs so that you create a ‘V’ shape between your torso and legs (make sure you keep your shoulders back and your spine straight!)
- Hold for as long as you can, before gently returning to the starting position.
Benefits: Strengthens your whole body, focusing on your abdomen, shoulders, thighs and spine. It also improves digestion and helps relieve stress.
Contraindications: To be avoided if you are pregnant, and practised with caution if you have high blood pressure, asthma, heart conditions or back/neck problems.
Uttanasana - Standing Forward Bend
Many asanas focus on cultivating flexibility, yet some give you more of a ‘whole-body’ stretch more than others. This is why I like to incorporate Uttanasana into my daily yoga practice.
- Begin in Tadasana, then step to the side so that your feet are hip-width apart.
- Either bend your elbows and place your hands on your hips (to protect your back), or raise arms up above your head stretching your body upwards.
- Keeping your spine aligned, slowly bend forward from your hips, lowering your head and arms towards the ground at your feet.
- Place the palms of each hand under the soles of your feet, with your elbows to the outside of your legs. Bend your knees if needed, yet try to then straighten them as much as possible once in this position.
- Keeping your back flat, draw your forehead towards your knees, as you relax the muscles of your neck.
- Breathe into this position.
Benefits: Stretches your whole body, focusing on your hamstrings and wrists. It also massages your digestive system and soothes your nervous system.
Contraindications: To be avoided by people with hypertension, back injuries, hamstring injuries or heart conditions.
Natarajasana - Dancers Pose
Balancing asanas help improve balance, stability, and posture, as well as cultivating focus, concentration and memory. This is why I like to practice Nataranjansana daily.
- Start from Tadasana, and focus on an unmoving spot in front of you, to gaze at to help you keep balance.
- Shift your weight onto your right leg, before bending your left knee and reaching back with your left hand to grasp your ankle. Draw your navel back towards your spine, activating your torso.
- Begin to lift your foot up, whilst pulling your arm back, whilst simultaneously raising your right arm in front of you and pivoting forward.
- To help keep balance, gently kick back with your leg, straightening your left arm back.
- Hold this position for several breaths, then lower and repeat on the opposite side.
Benefits: Improves physical balance and promotes focus and concentration. It also strengthens your legs and ankles, stretches your thighs, groin, shoulders and chest.
Contraindications: Practice with caution if you have weakness in your ankles or have a falls risk.
Virabhadrasana II - Warrior 2
Life can be quite hectic and busy at times, which is one of the reasons yoga is such a fantastic tool. It helps ground us, both body and mind, into the present, so we can move forward from a calm and mindful space. Virabhadrasana II is an excellent asana for grounding both body and mind.
- Starting in Tadasana, separate your feet about 3-4 feet apart, then raise both arms parallel to either side, with the palms facing downwards. Actively engage through your torso, legs and arms.
- Turn your right foot just slightly out to the right, whilst turning your left foot a full 90 degrees. Make sure your left and right heel are aligned.
- Turn your body to face over your left leg, then exhale as you slowly bend your left knee, whilst making sure your knee doesn’t extend over your left foot.
- Engage through though your whole body, keeping your torso upright as you lower down through your hips.
- Hold this position for several yogic breaths, making sure your arms stay engaged, as you gaze out, across your left hand.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
Benefits: Promotes stability, both physically and emotionally. It also stimulates your abdominal organs and stretches and strengthens your legs, ankles, shoulders and groin.
Contraindications: Practice with caution if you have high blood pressure or a neck injury.
Utkatasana - Chair Pose
Energising asanas help stimulate your internal systems and activate your brain so that you can move through your day with energy, focus and enthusiasm. This is why I like to practice Utkatasana daily.
- Begin from Tadasana, then as you inhale, raise your arms perpendicular to the floor, palms facing inwards.
- Exhale as you engage through your torso and legs, bending your knees and lowering down into a half squat. Tilt your pelvis forwards and draw your navel back towards your spine.
- Hold for several breaths, then inhale as you return to tadasana.
Benefits: Stimulates the heart, warming and energising your body. Stretches the shoulders and chest and strengthens your ankles, calves, thighs and spine.
Contraindications: Avoid this practice if you have a headache or high blood pressure.