Yoga is growing in popularity, and even if you don’t belong to a fancy yoga studio, you can still practice the art with just the use of a simple beach towel. Here are three basic exercises that can be done by anyone, anywhere, that will strengthen, stretch and relax your mind and body.
1. Downward Facing Dog
Downward facing dog is not only one of the most common yoga poses, but is also one of the most simple and can be done with ease by practically anyone. This basic yoga pose helps to stretch muscles in the calves, hamstrings and lower back, and strengthens the shoulders and abdominal muscles. To start, spread your beach towel on a surface that is relatively free from rocks, sticks or bumps. Start on your hands and knees, with your hands positioned directly under your shoulders. Look down at your hands, making sure your fingers are spread apart as widely as possible. Next, look back at your knees. Make sure they are evenly spaced under your hips. Take a few deep breaths. As you inhale, curl your toes under so they are flat on the ground. As you exhale, slowly lift your knees off the ground, and push back into your heels. Alternate your weight back and forth for awhile between both feet, putting most of the weight first on the right foot, and then switching to the left, bending the opposite knee as you do so. Once you feel your muscles begin to loosen, push back evenly into both heels, trying to get them as close to the ground as possible.
Cobra is another great pose that can easily be done in any location. As with downward facing dog, position your beach towel in a flat area free from debris. Lay flat on your stomach, with your hands directly under your shoulders, palms flat on the towel, and elbows bent. Look down at the towel directly below your head, keeping your spine in a straight line, and inhale deeply. As you exhale, push your upper body off the ground, straightening your arms as much as possible. Look straight ahead, or up to the sky for an even greater stretch. Cobra pose stretches the muscles in your chest and abdomen, and strengthens muscles in your shoulders, arms, back and glutes.
Corpse pose is a great way to end any workout. Start by lying flat on your back on the beach towel. Rest your arms by your sides, and extend your legs out in front of your body. Close your eyes, and try to relax your body into the beach towel as much as possible. This pose is an excellent way to eliminate tension in the back, shoulders and neck, and is a great way to calm anxiety or nerves.