4 Intermediate Yoga Poses For a Healthy Mind and Body
Already mastering beginners’ yoga and wondering what comes next? Here are four intermediate yoga poses you can start with.
For those of you who have already passed the beginners’ phase, you may have discovered that yoga does not only help tone and build muscle, but also gives you a feeling of inner joy and peace of mind. Transition from one phase to another can be puzzling. Being more than a simple workout routine, yoga works on your mind just as well as it works on your body, helping you master your energy and establish a deep connection with your inner self. Yoga enhances your body awareness by shifting your focus from your day-to-day woes to your body. By doing so, it increases your flexibility, balance, self-confidence, minimizes stress, and sharpens your mind. Did you know that some yoga poses support weight loss? The following intermediate yoga poses boost your efforts. Create a workout routine that best suits your health condition and level of fitness. To avoid any injuries or complications, ask your doctor for advice.
Bharadvaja’s Twist (Bharadvajasana)
Sit down on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Turn by shifting your body weight to your right buttock.
Bend your knees and swing both your legs to the left. The position of your feet on the floor should be laying outside your left hip, with your right ankle resting in the right arch.
Breathe in and lift the top of the chest to extend the front torso. Breathe out and turn your torso to the right, keeping your left buttock on or as close as possible to the floor. Extend your tailbone towards the floor to keep your lower back stretched. Soften and relax your abdominals.
Place your right hand under your right knee and put your right hand on the floor, beside your right buttock. Slightly pull back your left shoulder while pressing your shoulder blades firmly against your back as you continue the chest twisting movement to the right. You can turn your head in either one of the two directions. Continue the torso turning movement by turning to the right or, if you’re left handed and prefer turning to your left, then twist your torso to the left and look at your feet over your left shoulder.
Open the chest more with every inhalation by lifting your sternum. To do so push your fingers on the floor and twist a tiny bit more with every breath. Stay in pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute without exhaling, then return to the original position and repeat these steps to the opposite side for the same amount of time.
Tones your waist and improves BMR (basal metabolic rate = the amount of energy you use up every day while resting).
Relaxes your spine and neck.
Opens your chest for Pranayama
Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
Lie on the floor face down, with your arms along your torso holding your palms upward. (For comfort, you may use a folded blanket). Breathe out and bend your knees, bringing your heels as close as possible to your buttocks. Bring your hands to your back and take hold of your ankles. Your knees should not be wider than your hips. Maintain hip-knees width for the entire duration of the pose.
Breathe in and put your leg muscles to work by strongly pulling up your heels away from your buttocks. Try to lift your thighs from the floor at the same time. By doing so, your head and upper torso will also be pulled up away from the floor. Hold your tailbone down toward the floor while keeping your back muscles relaxed. While lifting your heels and thighs higher, firmly press your shoulder blades against your back to open your heart. Pull down the tops of your shoulders away from your ears and look forward.
Breathing will be a bit difficult with your belly pressed against the floor. However, try not to stop breathing (breathing and movement coordination is key in yoga); breathe into the back of your torso.
Stay in pose for 20 to 30 seconds. Release your ankles as you exhale and lie still for a few breaths. Repeat the pose up to two times more.
It strengthens your lungs as it opens the chest cavity.
Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose (Utthita Hasta Padangustasana)
Stand in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) holding your feet together and arms at your sides. Breathe in and out deeply and focus on the present moment.
Shift your body weight to your left foot. Draw your right knee toward your chest very slowly. Move your right arm to the inside of your right thigh. Loop your index and middle fingers around the big toe of your right foot. Put your left hand on your left hip.
Keep your spine straight. Engage your abdominal and left leg muscles. Hold your left leg straight without locking your knee.
Stretch your right leg forward while exhaling. Keep you right leg as straight as you can.
Hold both your hips squared forward and your spine straight. Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed.
Slightly drop your right hip to align it with your left hip. Focus on your midline (the line running straight down the center of your body).
Maintain pose for about 5-20 breaths. To return to the initial position, pull your knee back to your chest and slowly lower your foot. Repeat the same steps on the opposite side.
Promotes a healthy urinary tract and reproductive organs.
Improves concentration and balance.
Half Lord of Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
Sit on the floor with your legs straight forward. (You may wish to use a blanket or exercise mat for comfort). Bend your knees, place both your feet on the floor and slide your left foot under your right leg toward the outside of the right hip. Lay the outside of your left leg on the floor, then cross the right foot over the left leg and stand it outside your left hip. Your right knee will be pointing to the ceiling (or the sky if you’re outdoors).
Breathe out and turn toward the inside of your right thigh. Press your right hand against the floor behind your right buttock. Place your left upper arm on the outside of your right thigh, near your knee. Pull your right thigh and front torso together in a way that you feel comfortable.
Press the inner right foot strongly against the floor, while releasing the right groin and elongating the front torso. Slightly lean back the upper torso against your shoulder blades and continue to stretch the tailbone into the floor.
Depending on whether you’re left or right handed, switch your head in one of the two directions. Continue twisting your torso by turning it to the right or counter the movement by turning it to the left and looking at your right foot over the left shoulder.
Each time you breathe in, lift the sternum a little more, pushing your fingers against the floor. With every exhalation turn a little bit more. While doing so, make sure to distribute the twist evenly along the spinal cord, don’t concentrate it in the lower back as is the general tendency with this pose. Maintain pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute ideally. Then breathing out, release tension and return to the initial position. Repeat these movements on the opposite side for the same duration.