8 Yoga Poses to Help Body, Mind, and Sleep During the Lockdown

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Surya Namaskar


Life during COVID 19 has brought its set of struggles. Juggling work meetings from home with cooking, cleaning, and catching up on gossip is exhausting. As gyms are ordered to remain shut, even amidst the lockdown, most dedicated workaholics have turned to yoga. Yoga has long been the talk of the town – from B-town celebrities to the PM of India, practicing yoga is a part of everyone’s routine. 

Yoga asanas, coupled with pranayama, can improve flexibility, strengthen bones, enhance balance, and even boost the body’s immunity. Not just that, regular practice can also help to reduce stress and other mental conditions. And the best part – you don’t even need any fancy equipment or workout outfit to practice yoga. Now we are not trying to guilt-trip you but how about a deal? For every three episodes, you have to do a yoga pose. Since you are already dressed in your most comfortable pyjamas, just grab a mat or towel to get started. Here are 8 Yoga poses to help body, mind, and sleep during the lockdown.

#1 Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)

Surya Namaskar is a strong sequence of 12 yoga poses that activate about 14 groups of muscle throughout the body. It is proved to be an effective method for weight management. Regular practice of Surya Namaskar also helps to keep the blood sugar level in control and reduces the risk of heart disease.

Benefits: 

  • Maintains cardiovascular health
  • Stimulates the nervous system
  • Stretches and tones the muscles
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Improves cognitive function
  • Relaxes the mind

How to do it: 

Surya Namaskar is a 12-step routine which starts with the hands together in front of the chest in a prayer position, followed by raising both arms in an upward salute, moving gracefully down for a forward bend, followed by inhalation and entering a half-standing forward bend. The next step is to get into the plank pose and steadily lower down into a low pushup. Now, pushing the toes on the mat curl into the upward dog pose which is followed by the downward dog pose to return to the opening pose. A single round of Surya Namaskar is incomplete unless the same poses are repeated in the opposite direction. 

Best time to practice

Early morning on an empty stomach.

#2 Anulom Vilom

Anulom Vilom

Anulom Vilom is an alternate breathing technique. Regular practice not only helps to improve the lung capacity but also regulates the flow of energy through the nostrils. It restores the balance between the two hemispheres of the brain. It can be practiced anywhere, including your work station at any given time. 

Benefits

  • Balances the nervous system.
  • Relieves headaches.
  • Detoxifies the body.
  • Improves lung capacity.
  • Reduces stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Recommended for those with respiratory issues like asthma and allergies.

How to do it: 

Anulom Vilom relies on breathing in and out from alternate nostrils. Start with the eyes closed. Breathe out from the left nostril only by closing the right nostril with the thumb finger. Block the left nostril with the ring finger and inhale from the left nostril and exhale from the right nostril. Now inhale from the right nostril closing the left nostril and exhale through the left. This completes 1 round. Repeat it for at least 5 – 10 minutes. 

Best time to practice

Although the best time to practice is early in the morning, before breakfast, it can be done at any time of the day. 

#3 Uttanasana (Standing forward fold)

Uttanasana

Uttanasana is a relaxing standing forward stretch. It is part of the Surya Namaskar routine but can be practised independently too. This yoga pose helps to soothe the mind by bringing the head right below the heart. The posture stabilizes the heart as well as the brain.

Benefits: 

  • Tightens the hips, hamstrings, and calves.
  • Strengthens the thighs and knees.
  • Improves flexibility of the spine.
  • Reduces stress, anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
  • Relieves tension in the spine, neck, and back.
  • Activates the muscles of the abdomen.

How to do it: 

Stand up on the feet and inhale deeply. Now, gently bend the knees and fold forwards as you exhale pulling in the chest towards the thighs. Relax the head, neck, and shoulders entirely and allow the arms to swing on the side. 

Best time to practice

Early morning, as part of Surya Namaskar 

#4 Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-wall pose)

Viparita Karani

Viparita Karani is considered to be both an asana as well as a mudra in hatha yoga. It is common for beginners to support themselves with a wall or a couple of blankets. Practising Viparita Karani not only pumps blood throughout the body but also calms the nervous system.

Benefits: 

  • Regulates the flow of blood.
  • Relieves menstrual cramps.
  • Reduces swelling in the ankles and varicose veins.
  • Improves digestion.

How to do it: 

As the name suggests, lie on the back and raise both the legs up with the support of a wall. Place a cushion under the head or a rolled blanket under the hips for better support. Hold the pose for 5-10 minutes before bed and breathe deeply. 

Best time to practice:

Just before bedtime 

#5 Virabhadrasana II (Warrior 2 pose)

Virabhadrasana II

Since the beginning of lockdown, standing yoga poses have served as an effective alternative to walking or jogging. Virabhadrasana II is one of these standing yoga poses that enhances strength, stability, and concentration, just like a warrior. When held for five breaths or more, the muscles are tightening, which in turn stimulates the bone. Virabhadrasana II is also a test of focus, patience, and self-control. 

Benefits: 

  • Stretches the hips and shoulders.
  • Opens up the chest.
  • Builds stamina and improves concentration.
  • Stimulates the abdominal muscles.
  • Relieves backaches.
  • Enhances circulation and deep respiration.

How to do it: 

Start with your feet together. Take a wide step back with the right leg and place it parallel to the edge of the mat. Turn your toes in, align the left heel with the right foot’s inner arch. Bend the left knee such that it rests on the ankle. Stretch out the torso and spread out both arms at shoulder level. Hold the pose for 5-10 breaths. Repeat on the opposite side. This asanas should be done from both the sides.

Best time to practice

Early morning to set the tone for the day.

#6 Anjaneyasana (Crescent Moon Pose)

Anjaneyasana

Anjaneyasana is also known as a low lunge or monkey lunge as it stretches the hips and gluteus muscles to improve balance and enhance concentration. Since Anjaneyasana is a lunging back bending asana in modern yoga, it may sometimes be included in Surya Namaskar as part of its variation. 

Benefits: 

  • Stretches the hips, muscles around the knee and arms. 
  • Opens up the lungs and chest. 
  • Tightens the calves, hamstrings, and shoulders.
  • Engages the core muscles in the abdomen. 
  • Improves balance and stability. 

How to do it

Step back with your left leg back and drop your knee. Push down the pelvis and raise the arms over the head. Curve the upper body back to form an arch (resembling the half-moon). This asana should be done from both sides.

Best time to practice

Early morning on an empty stomach.

#7 Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Tadasana or Mountain Pose is also known as Samasthiti. It is one of the foundations for advanced poses. Samasthiti restores the body’s natural posture and is ideal for those with weak back muscles. It is also recommended for those with long sitting hours to correct their posture.

Benefits: 

  • Improves balance and increases flexibility.
  • Tones the muscles of the hips and abdomen. 
  • Regulates respiration.
  • Boosts metabolism and digestion. 

How to do it: 

Stand with the feet together and back straight. Interlock the palms and lift the arms while inhaling. Look up and gently drop the head back. Hold the pose for 5-10 seconds and repeat at least two times.

Best time to practice

Can be practiced at any time of the day

#8 Balasana (Child’s pose)

Balasana

Balasana or Child’s Pose is a resting kneeling asana in yoga. Balasana is used to recharge the mental, physical, or emotional states during the practice. 

Benefits:

  • Mildly engages the hips, thighs, and ankles.
  • Calms the nervous system.  
  • Relieves stress and reduces fatigue.
  • Relieves back and neck pain.

How to do it: 

Kneel on the floor and sit on the heels. Exhale and bend down with the head-on floor in front of your knees. Spread out the hands on the floor next to the torso. Hold the posture for 15-30 seconds and repeat three times. 

Best time to practice

Just before bedtime.

Summary

The uncertainty and unpredictability associated with Coronavirus can fuel an unpleasant and scary train of thoughts. Controlling this mental overload is not an easy task – and so it is essential to take a break. The benefits of yoga are widely known and accepted, particularly to boost both the mood and immunity. Yoga asanas relieve the tension in the body, while pranayama helps to take control of the endless thoughts. HealthifyMe provides an easy way to include yoga and mediation in your daily routine. Just download the app, and you are ready to keep your mind relaxed during this time of difficulty.



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