YTT – a journey of self-discovery and growth

It’s hard to describe all that I’ve learnt and experienced in the past 4 weeks of my 200hr YTT with Tirisula Yoga. There’s just too much to share in one blog post, so I thought I’d share an excerpt of my journal entry from last week:

I’m about to embark on my 4th & final week of my 200hr YTT, what?!! Time really flies and I wish I had more time. I’ve really loved seeing Master Sree and my classmates almost every single day. We spend our mornings getting our minds blown by Sree and his truth bombs, have interesting discussions and support one another while we attempt crazy poses! I say attempt because sometimes we get it, other times we (try not to) flop on our faces. But we cheer each other on regardless and it is never a failure because with each attempt we learn a little more, and we grow.

The practice of yoga is not confined to our mat – it is a way of life. We practice yoga by choosing how we live and act every day, and to continuously “sharpen our axe” as Sree said. It’s not about pure physical strength or effort, but having clarity and focus. For me, the biggest lesson and struggle thus far is citta vritti nirodhah – removal of thoughts from our mind.

In our physical practice, this means removing any anxious thoughts, fear or frustration. Only when we achieve this, can we truly be focused and present to hold the asanas and reap the full benefits. It’s easy for me to lose sight of this when attempting challenging poses. Each time I fall, I would get increasingly frustrated in my mind. Master Sree always catches me in that state and would make me stop for a moment. “Stop thinking. Breathe, and clear your mind. Then you do.”  The first time he said that I had no idea if it was going to help me get into the pose. But he’s the master, so I listened, stopped what I was doing and just breathed. Immediately, there was a shift in my mental state. With a focused and calm mind, I managed to do the posture with control. It felt amazing!

Some days, it’s easy for me to be fully focused and present in the moment. It’s difficult to describe the feeling – you’re fully immersed, there is this sense of self-confidence, of believing in yourself but also being okay when you are unable to do certain poses. But on many days, I find myself comparing and beating myself up for not being able to “do as well as the others”. I still struggle to quiet my mind and stay in that mental state, even when I’m alone. But I’m learning that it’s okay, and I just have to pause, breathe, believe in myself and try again. With enough practice, I will get better at it.

So while I’ve gotten physically stronger, the real training for me has really been a mental one. There’s still so much for me to learn and I’ve a long way to go. I guess that’s why I still feel like a baby. Thought I would finish the course feeling less like a child, but really it’s shown me how me how much more I have to learn and how much more I can be.

I’m grateful for this opportunity, for the people I’ve met and for the lessons learnt. The course may have ended but the learning doesn’t stop here. I will miss this daily routine but I am also excited to see where our yoga journeys will take us!

Yoga is not about touching your toes, but what you learn on the way down. 

Balasana (Child’s Pose)

Being one of the most relaxing and restorative poses in yoga, balasana (child’s pose) is a common beginner’s pose and often used as a resting position between more challenging asanas. Each time we hear “come to child’s pose” in a class, we heave a sigh of relief. If you haven’t done so…maybe you aren’t working hard enough and it’s time to try a tougher class! Jokes aside, let’s dive into the anatomy of this pose so we can get the most out of it.

First, let’s talk about the basic alignment. A quick search on Google will produce the image on the left – which is actually utthita balasana, extended child’s pose. Dig a little deeper and you will find balasana as seen on the right.

Utthita balasana
Balasana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They are largely similar:

  • minimal muscle engagement and our body is mostly in flexion
  • knees hip-width apart, big toes touching
  • shins, feet, forearms, hands and forehead resting on the mat
  • abdomen compressed as we release our body weight and relax our muscles
  • both stretch and elongate the splenius muscles (neck), erector spinae (spine), quadratus lumborum, gluteus maximus and feet dorsiflexors

The main difference lies in the shoulders and arms. Extending the arms makes the pose more active, lengthening and broadening the latissimus dorsi (“lats”). Folding the arms inwards alongside the thighs in balasana allows your shoulder and upper arm muscles to fully relax. You may also feel a gentle stretch of the posterior deltoids from the inward rotation of your arms.

Diving deeper, let’s look at the main group of muscles being stretched here. The erector spinae group of muscles include the iliocostalis, longissimus and spinalis. They maintain a natural curve in our spine and allow us to bend backwards and sideways. You will be able to feel the engagement of these muscles in most sitting and standing postures, backbends – try Virabhadrasana I, II, III (warrior), Trikonasana, Ustrasana (camel), and even Tadasana. Without regular stretching, all the accumulated tension may lead to chronic tightness of these spinal extensors, which can cause headaches and neck pain. This is why it is important to include poses like balasana and halasana (plough pose) in our practice to stretch them out.

Modifications

Every body is different and the traditional balasana may not be comfortable for everyone. Here are some modifications to help you fully relax into this pose:

  • tight ankles: place a rolled up blanket underneath
  • hips cannot reach the heels: place a cushion or bolster on your heels for support
  • knee issues: place a rolled up blanket behind your knee joint, in between your thighs and calves.
  • back issues: spread your knees wider to keep the spine straight. You may also rest your forehead on a firm pillow or a stack of blankets if your lower back is tight.
  • If you’re pregnant: spread your knees, allow your belly to rest comfortably between your thighs.
  • Spreading the knees deepens the stretch in your hips, if you have tight hips you may keep your knees close together.

Use your breath to help you deepen the stretch. Breathe deeply, and which each inhalation magine your expanding and doming toward the ceiling, allowing the spine to lengthen and widen. As you exhale, release your torso deeper into the pose. Balasana is also great for beginners to get comfortable with thoracic breathing.

Balasana may seem like child’s play, but it has a wide range of benefits. Besides stretching our muscles, it also helps with dizziness and fatigue. The forward fold massages your internal organs and aids in digestion. Mentally, it can alleviate stress and anxiety, allowing us to calm our minds as we focus on our breath. In short, child’s pose is a great way to rest and rejuvenate physically, mentally and spiritually.

Restore Balance In Your Mind & Body With Pranayama

“I took a deep breath and listened to that old bray of my heart: I am, I am, I am.” – Sylvia Plath

Image from Unsplash

Breathing is something that we do involuntarily, day in, day out. It comes as no surprise that we hardly ever think about it.

However, the breath is closely connected to the mind and body – so even if we don’t realise it, they can actually influence one another.

When we develop the awareness and learn to breathe consciously, we can then create balance in the mind and body. This can be especially useful since we live in a fast paced world and sometimes forget to slow down.

If you’re dealing with stress on the regular, pranayama (life force extension via the breath) can do wonders for you. For those who simply wish to improve your well-being and health, it is a great tool for you too.

After all, studies have shown that having a regular practice of simple, deep breathing can reduce anxiety and depression, boost energy levels, improve immunity and reduce feelings of stress, among other benefits.

Ready to make every breath count? Try any one (or all) of the below techniques to restore balance in your mind and body!

1. Kabalabathi

Image from Unsplash

Kabalabathi translates to skull shining, and as its name suggests, this breathing technique rejuvenates the mind and body. Also, it improves memory and concentration as well as enhances blood circulation.

How to do it:

  • Sit in a comfortable cross legged position with your hands on your knees
  • Keep your spine straight and close your eyes
  • With both nostrils, take a deep breath
  • Pull the stomach inward and exhale sharply in short bursts
  • Follow each exhale with an automatic inhale
  • Repeat the process for 10 to 15 minutes

2. Anulom Vilom

Image from Unsplash

Anulom Vilom, or alternate nostril breathing, helps to ease symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. It also boosts memory and improves lung function.

How to do it:

  • Sit in a comfortable cross legged position
  • With your right hand, bring down your index and middle finger to your palm, and use your thumb to close your right nostril
  • Inhale through the left nostril for 3 counts
  • Close the left nostril with your ring finger and exhale from the right nostril for 6 counts
  • Inhale through the right nostril for 3 counts
  • Close the right nostril and exhale from the left nostril for 6 counts
  • Repeat this process for 5 minutes and focus on every inhalation and exhalation

3. Ujjayi

Image from Unsplash

Ujjayi is also known as ocean breath, simply because of the sound you’ll make when you exhale.

If you love being by the beach, take a moment to enjoy the ocean wave-like exhalation sounds while improving your focus, clearing sinus and staying positive, among other benefits.

How to do it:

  • Sit in a comfortable cross legged position
  • Inhale gently, in a long deep breath, from both nostrils
  • As you inhale, contract your throat and avoid letting the air touch your nose
  • With relaxed and light breathing, exhale with your mouth open or closed and repeat 3 – 4 times

Yoga is LIT

“Yoga is a lifestyle. Do not refine your life for yoga, but let yoga refine your life” – Master Sree. I wish I could put into words to show how much this statement has increasingly held true in my life, over the course of consistent yoga practice for a month with Master Sree and a group of 5 other amazing women.

The statement was made by Master Sree to the class in Week 1, and over the subsequent 3 weeks, he has consistently driven in the belief that we’re each on our own path, and we do not have the right (nor should we) engage in the petty judgement of others – the perceived differences that we may not agree with, and neither should we let things of the material world define our identity. My key takeaway from this was to approach the world with greater acceptance, and stemming from that, conscious detachment, especially to the outcomes of actions, situations and life. This does not mean that we don’t practice empathy, but while we understand and feel the extent of things happening in our lives, we don’t fixate upon the experience or the outcome. We let ourselves grow from it.

 

Yoga as a chosen lifestyle

Yoga is a lifestyle option that people choose to live by, choose to participate in, choose to integrate in their lives. There are many aspects in yoga philosophy that overlap with modern day mantras of practicing self-kindness, self-care, a focus on mental health, and also religious doctrines of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and more. The beauty of it is that the underlying principle is an acceptance of all varied beliefs, experiences and viewpoints. Everything that a (rational) person embodies and believes at a given point in time, is completely valid. The person has chosen a particular course of action or belief based on what he/she thinks is best for himself/herself, and his/her appetite for acceptance of a certain mantra, doctrine, response etc. What is medicine to one is poison to another, and this holds very true for yogic belief (in my opinion, at least). Master Sree gave an example in class once about the concept of healing. He said that depending on what the person believes, he would have to tailor his healing to suit the individual. For a person who is religious, healing would touch upon more spiritual aspects, but if a person believes in science, healing would gravitate towards a scientific explanation and solution. Ultimately, it is about what works for the person, and based on the answer (spiritual, scientific, anything else) given to the person, can it help the person gain the conviction to push through and overcome the obstacles?

As such, I have chosen to integrate some core principles of yoga into my life simply because it works for me at this given point in time. The practice of yoga makes me feel more at peace in a world where everything seems to be so unsettled, so confusing, so uncertain. It makes me feel like while everything around me could revolve to a state of utter confusion and uncertainty, the onus is upon me to remain positive, remain strong, and keep my conviction towards the pursuit of the path(s) that have seemingly opened up for me, and walk away from those that have closed too. I believe in the divine shaping of my life and as long as I approach life with a positive and strong mindset, things will work out!

 

Yoga as an individual journey

I know this is cliché, everybody says it. However, I think everyone says it because they have experienced it and it really holds true. You just gotta experience it and internalise it for yourself. The beauty of this is that you can take the principles from this state of “yoga being an individual journey” and apply it to all other aspects of your life – relationships, family, career and anything else that matters to you.

When I first started practicing yoga as a beginner, my practice was heavily centered around mastering poses. I inevitably kept comparing myself to those around me – my friends who were doing yoga, the other people in classes and thought to myself “okay I need to improve and improve and improve”.

However, throughout the course of the practice, you start to realise that yoga is so broad that there’s really no ONE measure of what is considered “better” or “worse”. It really depends on how you want to use yoga to enhance your life, and how you want to integrate it into your life.

Some practitioners prefer to focus on the more meditative aspects, while others want to focus on the physical aspects, and you can’t definitively say that one is better than the other. It’s really about what works best for you. Nonetheless, I would say that a desire to foundationally understand yoga philosophy should underpin the choice.

Furthermore, we’re all built differently. Some body structures make entering and training for certain postures more easily than others. While we tend to compare what can be seen most easily (aka comparison of the achievement of postures), there’s really so much more that goes behind the scenes and affects the outcome. Thus, I have learnt over the course of my yoga practice and YTT not to fixate on achieving postures too because ultimately, it is about the process and the mindset going into it, not the outcome.

 

Yoga as a form of reprieve from a world that tends to be competitive

In the light of the above that I shared, one thing I love about yoga is that it is fundamentally not about being the best or even better than other people – it is truly about being the best version of yourself.

In a world that teaches you to outsmart and outperform others in order to achieve “success”, for yoga, “success” is based on your own individual terms and based on your own parameters. The beauty of it is that understanding that it is purely your own journey reflects a deeper walk in the yoga journey.

This brings me so much relief, contentment and peace in this very competitive world.

 

Detachment from social situations

As someone who struggles with being too emotionally involved with many social interactions in my daily life, the fundamental concept of detachment has been a good principle to adopt in my life. Master Sree gave the example of a floating lotus – one who is in the water, experiences the water, but is unaffected by the water. I hope to be able to adopt this mindset in all aspects of my life where I feel the most of life but am able to not fixate upon certain outcomes, emotions and experiences that I go through.

 

 

Moving forward, I want to be able to fully practice this, practicing both self-care and self-kindness.

I feel that one of the most important things is to keep our intentions pure. Only by doing so will we be able to let go of the outcomes of various situations that we are put in. I use social situations as an example here because of all the things in life that we seek to control, other people (their actions, behaviours and attitudes) remain fleetingly out of our grip. This is why it is difficult to let go and change outcomes because we cannot change other people. Coming to terms with this and being able to practice detachment will help us (me) deal with the uncertainty of life when it comes to the other. I feel that this will have a profound impact on how we handle many things in life that come at us – a job opportunity outcome, our friendships, our relationships, even life/death.

Pranayama : The Life force

The word Prana literally means ‘Life Force’ and ayama means regulation or extension. So Pranayama means regulation of the breath. There are about 120 techniques to regulate the breath.

We try to feed our ‘Prana’ or life force through food, water and air. In order for life to function well, these three elements need to be supplied adequately. Yogis have concluded that there is a strong connection of the breath and the mind. When there is disturbance is the breath, the mind will get disturbed and when the mind is disturbed, the breath is also not at ease.

For human beings, when the mind is in happy state, the breath is smooth and when we are angry, the breath goes fast.  When we are not breathing well, the entire system gets affected and is disturbed. This may cause disturbance in the organs, the hormones and the entire heath.

We often hear that we need to still the mind and free it of random thoughts. But we really are unaware as to how to achieve this state. For most of us, meditation isn’t easy as there are lots of thoughts rushing in our minds. So we know how difficult it is to control our mind. Hence it becomes utmost important to regulate our breath. By regulating the breath, we can conquer the mind. The mind may wander and go into negativity, but with the help of breath, we can bring it back to the present moment and maintain balance.

Some of the most popular pranayamas are :

  1. Anulom Vilom
  2. Kapalbhatti
  3. Nadi Shodhan
  4. Ujjayi
  5. Bhastrika
  6. Chandra Loma
  7. Surya Loma
  8. Shitali
  9. Shitkari

We need to learn how to consciously breathe. If we observe any emotional turbulence in our systems, it’s time to check the breath. Try to consciously breathe deeply, and you can immediately see that your emotions are much in control. Different types of pranayama give us variety of breathing techniques. These pranayamas when performed with correct techniques, can bring immense benefits. Hence we must try to put at least one Pranayama in our daily regime so that the basic thing like breathing can enhance our lives in a massive way.

YTT: My 200 Hour Leap Of Faith

“What if I fall?”
“Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?”

A year ago, if you told me I’m going to spend an entire month waking up daily at 6:15am to travel to Paya Lebar for 5 hours of yoga, I wouldn’t have believed you.

Fast forward to today: I think I’m actually going to miss the 50 minute journey to the studio (even though I started off complaining about it), the challenging poses and learning about the different aspects of yoga – be it philosophy or anatomy. Okay, maybe not so much anatomy but I shall not digress and go into that.

More than anything, I’m having mixed feelings about the YTT ending.

I feel relief, at the thought of not having to worry about juggling the daily homework with my job. Anxiety, at the thought of sitting for my exam two days from now. A tinge of sadness, at the thought of having to say goodbye to a routine that I’ve grown to love. And above everything, a ton of gratitude for the conversations and lessons with Master Sree as well as the privilege to deepen my practice in the presence of five strong, beautiful classmates that have inspired me every day.

Over the last month, I was forced to face my fears, demons, self-doubt and uncertainty.

At some point, I felt like I wasn’t going to be strong or brave enough to make it to the end.

While my head kept spiraling into a never ending black hole of anxiety and doubt, something in my heart told me to keep going. To just show up, and know that it is enough.

So I did. The same way I had to show up for myself all those times when the only thing I could do was lie on the floor with my heart cracked open.

I didn’t see it then, but I see it now. I see the beauty of those cracks because without them, I would never have learned that light can still shine in.

The cracks that were caused by my own thoughts and doubts during this period ended up showing me that no matter the season, or how I may feel, I will still bloom the way I’m supposed to. We all will, and light will meet us wherever we’re at – as long as we keep showing up.

So here’s to showing up every day, for ourselves, our loved ones, and our practice.

As the month (and YTT) draws to a close, I don’t know what my life will be like in the weeks ahead. But after nearly falling to my death – or what felt like it – from Sirsasana, I believe that it’s worth taking that leap of faith because along the way, we will learn to build our wings on the way down.

My Yoga Journey

Being born and brought up in Maharasthra (India) – a land of saints, as a kid I was always fond of Yoga and was highly convinced by the massive benefits it can bring to an individual. I always had that strong urge in me to explore my body a little bit more every time. The different crazy photos of Yoga poses never failed to amuse me. Being in the corporate industry with very hectic schedule, I never had enough time for myself.  In recent times, with the global pandemic hitting the world, self immunity had become very important to everyone to fight the virus. This was the time when I strongly felt to quit what was not truly serving me in any way and to try something that really amused me.

Joining the YTT at Tirisula was one of the best decisions that I ever made. I always wanted a guru or a teacher to guide me on my Yoga path and in my postures. After meeting the teachers here, it was the 1st thing that I realised that Yoga is not all about postures and you need not look like a leftover noodle. It was more of a lifestyle – a Yogic Lifestyle which could be developed only with patience and discipline.

Some of the keys things that I learned here and that brought about a change in my life over the last 3 weeks are as below:

In the very first class itself Master Shree explained how important it is to 1st accept the body as it is right now. Be it healthy , unhealthy, bulky or slim or not according to social norms. We are in this body, living in this body. It is doing too many things for us and never take it for granted. Our body is the place where we will be living until we die, hence learning to accept it and nurture it is most important thing that I learnt.

The Patanjali Yoga sutra ‘Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodaha’ means try to still the fluctuations in the mind with Yoga. Master Shree kept on reminding this with every posture that we wanted to master. He always stressed that one cannot enter into any posture with ego or aggression. It can only be achieved with a clear mind.

Here I also learnt different Pranayams to achieve a mind which is clear from the nectar of thoughts. We regularly did kapalbhatti and anulom vilom pranayama to have a calm and healthy mind along with physical practices. As it was told that when the body and mind are in equilibrium, then spirituality can start.

It was also taught to us that once you master any posture, we need not be egoistic or very possessive about it. All the more our master stressed is to be detached and at the same time to be absolutely involved in all the practices. He taught the importance or performing kriya (holistic action) rather than karma (unconscious action).

As the Vedic chat goes ‘Om Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah’ , our master emphasised that as a Yoga practioner , one should slowly start shifting our focus from just me and myself to the universal well being. May everyone live happy and may everyone be free from illness.

I am still trying to adopt the teachings taught my our master and there is still a long way to go. It feels that the journey has begun just now and has many interesting things to explore and experience.

15 minutes Yoga routine – Sadhana

It is no secret that Singapore is a fast-paced society, with everyone striving to get ahead of one another. With such lifestyle it becomes utmost important to take care of the physical body and mind. I have tried to describe a few Yoga asanas and Pranayam that could be done in just 15 minutes every single day but can yield a lot more benefits.

As stated by master Sree, if one regularly practices these asanas for 48 days, (1 Mandala) there is a possibility to alter the DNA of a person. When faced with any disorder which is genetic in nature, one doesn’t  argue or reflect upon it as to why is he facing it. He just accepts it and works with the remedies to cure it. But here, with the help of Yoga and Pranayama, even this is possible.

The sequence of the exercises is as follows:

A. Kapalbhati Pranayam:

1. Sit comfortably with your spine erect. Place your hands on the knees with palms open to the sky.Take a deep breath in.

2. As you exhale, pull your stomach. Pull your navel in back towards the spine. Do as much as you comfortably can. You may keep your right hand on the stomach to feel the abdominal muscles contract.

3. As you relax the navel and abdomen, the breath flows into your lungs automatically.

4.Take 20 such breaths to complete one round of Kapal Bhati Pranayama.

5.After completing the round, relax with your eyes closed and observe the sensations in your body.

 

B. Downward facing Dog:

 1. Start with table top position, then lift chest and hips off the floor. Try to raise the hips towards the ceiling.

 2. Straighten knees and elbows, forming an inverted V shape.

 3. Feet should be hip-width apart. Keep the spine and legs straight.

  4. If possible, press the heels down onto the floor. Gaze towards the navel.

 

C. Upward Facing Dog:

1. Need to lie down on the floor with belly pointing towards the floor and palms side to the body.

2.Inhale pressing your hands on the mat as you gently lift your knees, hips off the mat. Your body weight must be spread across the top of your feet and your palms.

3. Gaze in between the eyebrows.

4.Hold the pose for a few seconds. Exhale and release.

 

D. Forward Bend

1. Exhaling, lengthen the spine, fold forward from the hips with belly in.

2.Place palms down next to respective feet.

3. With every exhalation try to bring the face close to the thighs.

 

E:  Shoulderstand 

1. Lie on the back

2. Inhale raise the legs upwards and lengthen the spine. Feel the upward lifting action. Place your palms on the upper body until you balance.

3. Exhale Support the shoulder blades with your palms, grounding elbows and shoulders – stay for 25 breaths in this pose.

F:   Fish pose

1.Lie down on your back  legs extended and  arms resting alongside the body with palms down.

2.Lift your chest to create an arch in your upper back by pressing forearms and elbows into the floor.

3.Tilt your head back and  bring the crown of your head to the floor.

4. Keep pressing through your hands and forearms. There should be very little weight pressing through your head.

Surya Namaskar : To start the day with

Surya means ‘SUN’ and Namaskar means ‘SALUTATION’. So the exact translation of Surya Namaskar is ‘Sun Salutation’. It is the act of bowing down to the sun with utmost gratitude and endurance. In ancient Indian traditions, Sun Salutations were performed at dawn with the rising sun. The sun being vital source of energy was worshipped in most traditions.

Among all the elements of nature and the divine energies, the solar energy is the most powerful and has remained untouched by any impurities. Mankind activities in recent times have adversely affected other elements like air and water causing a lot of pollution. However, the solar power is the one which cannot be contaminated. Hence for more than one reason, it is always advisable to salute the sun and be receptive for a transformation.

The sun is the main source of energy for all life on the planet,  hence  ‘Surya Namaskar’ cannot be considered as just another form of exercise or combination of asanas. Only with this realisation, there is a possibility of maximum benefit from the ‘SUN’ element.

The solar cycle is at about twelve and a quarter years. The 12 postures of Sun Salutations are not by accident but by intent to keep up the individual cycle in sync with the solar cycle. By being in sync with the solar cycle one can be balanced and receptive.

For most Yoga practices, the Sun Salutations have just become the practice to warm up the body and is done at the beginning of each class. It is always done in auto-pilot mode without being present with it. If the bowing down to the sun is done consciously with surrender, it can bring a certain level of devotion, meditativeness and compassion within oneself. This is when actual transformation is possible with a certain level chemistry being changed within the body.

Some of the physical benefits of Surya Namaskar are as below:

  1. Warms up the body, loosens the joints
  2. Stretches the spine in different directions
  3. Stretches and tones the major muscles, e.g. hamstrings, abdominal
    muscles, arms
  4. Improves overall flexibility
  5. Increases blood circulation and flow of prana
  6. Increase lymphatic circulation hence speeds up the removal of toxins
  7. Exercises cardiovascular system
  8. Massages the internal organs, e.g. digestive organs, reproductive organs
  9. Regulates the pingala nadi which is the solar energy channel in the body
  10. Enhances memory and concentration
  11. Invigorates the nervous system as spine is stretched
  12. Promotes good sleep and calms anxiety

Sitting All Day? These 4 Yoga Poses Will Relieve Tension

Corporate warriors, this one’s for you!

Image from Unsplash

If you have a desk job, chances are you’re familiar with that feeling of sitting by your computer all day.

Unfortunately, all those hours you’ve spent hunched over your keyboard contribute to tension in your body – from achy shoulders to tightness in the hips as well as legs, and sometimes even a stiff neck.

For some people, this can also result in bad posture and low energy.

The good news is that it is possible to undo the damage caused by sitting at your desk all day (without having to quit your job). All it takes is a little time from each day to consistently do these 4 yoga poses.

Apart from soothing your body, these yoga poses can also help to calm a busy mind that is plagued by day-to-day work stress. So why not give them a try after a long day at work? Your body will thank you after that!

1. Forward fold (Uttanasana)

Image from Pexels

If you have anxiety, the forward fold can do wonders for you as it calms your nervous system.

Besides that, your hamstrings, back muscles and glutes also get a nice juicy stretch while your abdominal muscles enjoy a gentle massage.

To get into this posture, stand with your feet hips-width apart and slowly bend forward from your hips. Bend your knees slightly to avoid locking them so you protect your tendons, ligaments and meniscus from tearing.

 

2. Downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Image from Pexels

The downward facing dog might look like a simple pose, but it is not to be underestimated because it can strengthen and stretch various parts of your body.

To get into this posture, come into an inverted V by stretching your hands out in front of you with your hips lifted and feet grounded at hips-width distance.

When you’re in the downward facing dog, the muscles in your arms, chest, shoulder and back are engaged. Also, you’re able to strengthen your wrist and ankle joints as well as stretch your leg muscles after a long day of sitting.

It is not only relaxing, but also energizing. So the next time you need quick relief from a stressful day, get into this pose!

 

3. Cobra (Bhujangasana)

Image from Pexels

The cobra pose is a simple backbend that can counteract the hours of hunching over your desk.

It strengthens your wrist, arm, shoulder, back and abdominal muscles. As it also stretches your abdominal muscles, it helps to tone uterine muscles. Apart from that, it also contracts the dorsal muscles in your spine’s lumbar region, flushing out your kidneys.

To get into this posture, start by lying on the ground with your hands slightly in front of you. Tuck your elbows in and push up into your hands with a slight backbend. Make sure you bring your shoulders down to open your chest, while gazing upwards.

 

4. Fish (Matsyasana)

Image from Pexels

If you feel tension in your neck or head, the fish pose can help you to relieve it.

Since it stretches the front of your body, expect to engage your throat, chest, hip flexors, abdomen and intercostal muscles. Also, as it contributes to strengthening the back of your neck and upper back muscles, you’ll have improved posture and spinal flexibility.

To get into this posture, sit on your hips with your legs stretched out together in front of you, with toes pointed (or get into a seated lotus position if you’re able to). Bring your hands under your hips and prop yourself up on your forearms while learning back.