Yoga: It's not just for the gym

August 25 2017

It's long been proven that yoga is incredibly good for both the body and the mind, with the benefits of practicing yoga including improved flexibility, posture, bone structure and balance. Yoga is also known to increase muscle strength and blood circulation, alt the while helping to calm the mind, aid sleep, and reduces anxiety and stress.

At DW Fitness First we teach a wide range of yoga styles, which include the dynamic Ashtanga yoga, detoxifying hot yoga, and the non-stop Vinyasa Flow yoga. If you can't make it to the gym however, yoga is something that can easily be practiced at home too, whether it's in the bedroom, in the lounge or even in the garden when the sun is shining.

If you have a yoga mat and a big enough space, then you can recreate most yoga postures in your house. If you want to recreate the relaxing and mindful atmosphere of a yoga class as well, we suggest you draw your curtains slightly so you're not distracted, turn off your phone, TV or radio, and even find some relaxing music to play in the background.

If you do want to practice yoga in the comfort of your own house but aren’t sure where to start, try the postures below. Complete them all in a sequence and you've got a short but effective yoga routine too, which is perfect for doing every morning before heading to work. Give it a go and see if you can feel the difference in your muscles...

To warm-up

To begin, sit on the floor either cross-legged or in lotus position. Make sure your back is straight and keep your hands loose in your lap. Then shut your eyes and start to breathe deeply through your nose. Do this for two minutes and then slowly sway the top of your body side to side for 30 seconds.

Cat cow

On all fours, begin with 'cat'. Arch your back up to the sky and press down into your shoulders. Drop your head in between your shoulders and look back to your thighs. For 'cow', drop and curve your chest into a U-shape, and push your head and tailbone up to the sky. Move slowly from one to the other three times, holding each pose for one long breath.

The cat cow pose will flex the spine, hips, core, neck and shoulders.

Downward dog

From cat pose, slowly raise your bottom up into the air, stretching your legs out straight below you. You should be aiming to create a V-shape with your body. Keep your legs and hands strong, and keep your core stretched. Drop your shoulders to relieve tension in them, and drop the head to gaze at your feet. Try and keep your feet flat on the floor too, though you may need to pedal them and stretch our your hamstrings in order to do that.

The downward dog pose will strengthen the arms and legs, and stretch out the shoulders, core and hands too.

Side stretch with parallel arm

From downward dog, step into a low lunge with your right leg. Drop your left heel to the ground and turn your foot out so it’s facing outwards. Then drop your right forearm down to the knee and reach your left arm up over your head, so that your left hand is parallel to your right foot. You’re aiming to create a straight, diagonal line along your body from your right foot up to your left hand.

Doing this will stretch the calves, thighs, arms and back, and really helping to strengthen the knees and spine.

Locust Pose

Lay down on your stomach facing the floor. Put your arms straight along your sides and point your toes so they're straight. Press your thighs strongly down in to the floor, and then slowly lift your shoulders, neck, head and lower legs (from your feet to your knees) up. Your weight should be then on your chest, hips and thighs. Take a long breath in and out, and then lower back down. Repeat this five times.

The locust pose will strengthen the back, glutes, and legs. It will also stretch out the shoulders, chest and core too.

Before trying yoga at home, be sure to try one of our classes. Our specially trained instructors will be able to advise you on form, as well as adapt certain poses for any injuries you may suffer from.

Give one of our classes a go for free here, and if you're already a DW Fitness First member, find a yoga class at your local gym here.