International Day of Yoga: Introduce these simple asanas into your daily routine

Yoga. This word derives from the Sanskrit word ‘yuj’ which can be translated to ‘union’. Mind, body and spirit are unionised during this ancient practice. Yoga originated in India during the Vedic period and for the past 3,000 years, we have been developing the practice to produce the yoga we have today.

The United Nations General Assembly decided to dedicate a day to yoga in December 2014. Since then it has been recognised internationally every year on the 21st of June.

This year the theme is ‘Yoga for Self and Society’. Yoga is a holistic practice that has benefits to an individual and to society as a whole. This practice is not only intended to help with physical balance but also bring balance to your life. The theme this year explores that aspect of yoga. 

There are different ways to incorporate yoga into your life. This monsoon start your mornings with a chai, the billowy petrichor and a little yoga. Here are a few simple asanas with their medical benefits.

1) Adho Mukha Svanasana

Also known as a downward-facing dog, this pose requires both hands and feet planted firmly on the ground. Point your rear upwards for your body to make a triangle. This asana can benefit you by decompressing your spine, relieving leg and ankle pain and can improve body strength throughout.

2) Tadasana

Tadasana, or mountain pose, is a simple pose that requires you to have both feet planted firmly, your back kept straight and your arms stretched out above you. This pose can improve your posture, and your balance and improve your alignment. It also has been observed to strengthen lungs by increasing lung capacity.

3) Bhujangasana

Also known as the cobra pose, this asana is part of the Surya Namaskara as a salute to the sun. You begin the pose by lying face down on a mat and then proceed to stretch your torso upwards with both your hands on the ground supporting you. The many benefits of this asana include stretching out your spine and your chest while strengthening your back and your arms. This asana also can improve cardiac health by increasing circulation.

4) Ustrasana

Ustrasana, known popularly in the West as Camel pose, is a pose that focuses on opening ‘Anahata’ or your heart chakra. The pose begins with a simple kneel which moves into a backward bend and your hands on your ankles for support. Many people use Ustrasana to help improve flexibility and strength as it stretches the entire front of your body, thighs and groin. This asana also stimulates the organs in your abdomen and can reduce cervical tension.

5) Baddha Konasana

Baddha Konasana or butterfly pose is an asana that has many benefits for women. This pose requires you to sit on the ground with your feet facing each other inwards. With your hands on your feet bring your thighs as close to the ground as you can. This pose can open up your hips and increase flexibility in that area. This pose engages with the pelvic region which can reduce menstrual cramps in the abdomen, back and hips.

Each of these asanas are beneficial in many different ways and have been proved through research to improve quality of life. You need not limit yourself to these five asanas, there are thousands of different asanas to explore. Tailor your yoga routine to your lifestyle. Allow yourself to connect with yourself and nature through yoga this 21st of June. There can be an infinite number of combinations of asanas to try; you can find what works for you by exploring the ones that grab your attention.