The art of yoga has been practiced for thousands of years. Today, millions of yogis unite worldwide to engage in stretching, aligning, cleansing, opening and strengthening our minds and bodies through strategic yoga poses. With a shared reputation for encouraging ideal mind-body balance, it’s no wonder that many people use CBD and yoga in concert to achieve an overall sense of wellness.
In our fast-paced, digitally obsessed world, sometimes it’s hard to unwind from our busy schedules. Whether our days are filled with excessive screen time, long commutes or demanding work environments, there’s plenty of evidence to show how important it is to take just a few minutes for some daily self-care. Besides making the body feel well, self-care rituals can encourage a good night’s sleep and general relaxation.
I’ve been practicing yoga for about 10 years and cannot emphasize enough the incredible value of a simple daily practice. Whether you sit behind a computer for hours or find yourself running from meeting to meeting, you can benefit from a regular habit of yoga.
Following are my top five favorite daily yoga poses and their reputed benefits. These poses are appropriate for all skill levels, so give it a shot—and enjoy the rewards.
- Seated Spinal Twist — Ardha Matsyendrasana
Said to: Detoxify the liver
Imagine your body is a wet sponge, heavy with all of the physical, mental and emotional weight you carry from your day. The Seated Spinal Twist (or Ardha Matsyendrasana in Sanskrit) is said to wring out your body sponge of any excess weight that lies in your internal organs.
This pose effectively stretches the shoulders and opens up the chest as the spine twists from top to bottom, squeezing, rinsing and rehydrating your body. This is thought to improve spine health and stimulate healthy digestion.
Find a comfortable seated position on the floor or a yoga mat, sitting with spine tall and core engaged. Inhale as you raise your arms and lengthen your spine. As you exhale, begin to twist your torso towards the right as you gaze over your right shoulder. Plant your right hand behind you like a kickstand as you bring left hand to right knee, deepening your twist. Stay in this position for five breaths, then repeat the twist on the other side.
- Dolphin Pose – Ardha Pincha Mayurasana
Said to: Strengthen the core
A strong core means a solid physical foundation. Without a strong inner core, the rest of the physique suffers, from lower back pain and muscle fatigue to greater susceptibility to repeated injuries. Dolphin Pose is a core-stimulating position that works the abdominals without straining other parts of the body. Plus, it tones the shoulders and lengthens the spine.
Start on all fours in the “tabletop” position. Lower your forearms flat to the ground, elbows under your shoulders, then tuck your toes so they’re pointing toward your head. Lift your hips high, keeping your heels planted into the floor as much as possible. (It's Downward-Facing Dog on your forearms.) Stay in this position for five long, deep breaths while engaging your core muscles.
- Child’s Pose – Balasana
Said to: Relieve stress
Child’s Pose is thought to be both restorative and energy-charging, depending on your intention. I love to use this pose for a calming break during an intense Vinyasa flow or as a way to quickly de-stress from a hectic day. With regular practice, Child’s Pose can feel like a giant, reassuring hug to both mind and body.
Start on all fours in the tabletop position. From your hands and knees, take the sit-bones so your booty is resting on your heels. Stretch your hands out in front of you, and slowly fold your torso down and forward until your eyebrow center rests on the mat. With your big toes touching and knees positioned wider than your hips (either knees together or separate), allow your head and torso to relax into the floor.
In the final position, arms are traditionally resting back alongside the body, palms up, but you also can stack your hands and forearms and rest your head there if feels preferable. If your hips or butt don’t touch your heels, you can place a blanket or cushion in between so you can really let go and relax. Stay in this position for at least 10 breaths and let go as much as you can with every exhale.
Extra tip: I like to rock my forehead gently side to side to massage my third eye center at my brows, which I find relieves any lingering headaches or pains. (It’s also said to enhance your intuition.)
- Leg-Up-the-Wall Pose – Viparita Karani
Said to: Offset headaches
Putting “legs up the wall” gently stretches the muscles of the neck and encourages relaxation and circulation to the upper body and extremities at the same time. Leg-Up-the-Wall Pose is the best way to relax after a long day or relieve the feet and relax the whole body.
Near a wall, sit flat on the floor or on a mat with your right hip touching the wall. As you lean back, rotate your body to lie flat on your back while you extend your legs up the wall. Make sure your butt is nearly touching the wall and your legs are together. Put your hands on your belly or rest them on the floor, then close your eyes, relax your jaw and drop your chin slightly. Enjoy this post for three to ten minutes, breathing deeply and slowly as you maintain the position.
- Plow Pose – Halasana
Said to: Help you fall asleep faster
Plow Pose is typically practiced at the end of a yoga class to prepare the body for resting mediation or Savasana (Corpse Pose). The regular use of Plow Pose to wind down is renowned for its calming and restoring properties. Plow Pose also is said to rejuvenate the entire body and ready it for whatever comes next.
Lie down on your back with your knees bent. Keeping your knees bent, lift your legs up and back toward your head. Straighten your legs as they (hopefully) pass over your head, then rest your feet on the floor behind you. Place your hands either on your lower back for support or on the floor beside your hips with arms stretched out. Make sure you do NOT move your head or neck while in this pose as your neck is in a very vulnerable position.
Remain in this pose for as long as is comfortable, at least one to three minutes. Yoga Journal recommends staying in the Plow Pose for one to five minutes to fall asleep more easily. Beginners may wish to have the assistance of an expert the first few times to ensure proper positioning.
Author: Valeri Beth Spiwak
Born and raised by the beach in Southern California, Valeri Spiwak lives and breathes West Coast culture and its surrounding artistic charm. Valeri, with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication and a Minor in French, continuously seeks to explore the beautiful and obscure and shares her adventures through captivating wordplay, clever writing and skillful copy.