You’ve heard the buzz: Yoga is one of the best ways to relieve stress, reduce depression and increase cardiovascular health, not to mention, give your body more energy, strength, and flexibility. Incorporating mind, body and spirit, yoga is one of the oldest types of exercise, developed in India over a millennium ago. Most everyone can incorporate some type of yoga practice into their daily routine. A great way to start is by taking a 30-day yoga challenge.
Over the next 30 days, challenge yourself with 10-30 minutes of yoga a day
Benefits of the 30-day yoga challenge
Here's how the yoga challenge will positively impact your health:
- One session: Reduced anxiety and depression.
- Two sessions: Increased attention to posture, desire to eat more healthy foods.
- One week: Improved sleep quality, deeper breaths, reduced desire for cigarettes.
- One month: Decrease in blood pressure, lost weight.
There are many ways to practice yoga, just like there are different swim strokes. A good type of yoga for beginners is hatha yoga. This type has easily modified poses, breathing basics and relaxation techniques, making it simple to concentrate on the connection between your mind, body and spirit.
To complete your yoga challenge you can:
- Join the local gym and take one yoga class a day.
- Join a local yoga studio and hire a yogi to guide you through.
- Buy a Blu-ray/DVD to follow in your own home.
- Find out if your cable provider provides on-demand yoga classes you can play on your television.
- Check YouTube for beginner yoga poses.
- Follow the simple plan below to move you through the next 30 days.
30 days of yoga challenge
Each day, you will learn one new pose and add it to those you learned on previous days. For day one, you will only do one pose, and on day 30, you will do all of the poses. Do each pose for a series of three belly breathes (see Tips section) and then switch to the opposite side if you are doing a pose that concentrates on one side of the body.
Here are the poses, their Sanskrit names, and the order in which to do them. You can view images of the poses online or buy a book for easy reference.
- Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
- Sun Salutation ( Surya Namaskar)
- Chair 1&2 (Utkatasana)
- Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
- Warrior (Virabhadrasana)
- Neck Rolls (Brahma Mudra)
- Cat (Majariasana)
- Cow (Gomukhasana)
- Plank (Chaturanga Dandasana)
- Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
- Rag Doll (Paschimottasana)
- Triangle (Trikonasana)
- Cobra (Bhujangasana)
- Wide Leg Stretch (Prasarita Padottansana)
- Tree (Vrikshasana)
- Squat (Bhujapidasana)
- Bridge (Uttana Mayurasana)
- Body Twist (Supta Parivartanasana)
- Seated Wide Angles (Upavista Konasana)
- Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
- Boat Pose (Navasana)
- Crane Pose (Bakasana)
- Camel (Ustrasana)
- Shoulder Stand (Sarvagasana)
- Plow Pose (Halasana)
- Child’s Pose (Balasana)
- Corpse (Savasana)
- Always do yoga on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning or at least three hours after your last meal.
- Warm your body up first. You will be stretching your muscles so make sure they are primed. Take a warm bath or shower, or take a walk around the block first.
- Begin and end each session with a series of three belly breathes. Inhale deeply so that your belly button raises, and then exhale so that your belly button contracts to your spine. Try to increase the counts that each inhale/hold/exhale cycle takes.
- Create a calm environment so you can concentrate on your movements. Play soothing music in the background.