Most of us want to be more confident, but few know that regular practice of Yoga can help us to achieve it.
Yoga realigns our posture, helps us to find balance and enables us to constantly keep our center of gravity. In this way, we learn to hold our selves in an ultra-confident way, just from practicing a little every day.
If you want to improve your posture, stand straighter and give off an air of confidence, then these 10 yoga poses will help you to achieve it!
1. Mountain Pose – Tadasana
Description: Begin by standing with feet together, heels and toes touching. While maintaining a straight back, hold your arms gently to your sides and turn your palms outward. Lift your toes, spreading them out and placing them back down so you create a wide base. Sway, side to side, until you place your weight evenly on all four corners of your feet.
The muscles in your knees and thighs should be contracted, rolling inward to create a widening of the sit bones, and your abdominal muscles should be tightened. Make sure that your shoulders are parallel to your pelvis, lengthen your neck so your crown extends towards the ceiling and your shoulder blades slide down your back. Hold for 30 seconds and relax.
Benefits: The mountain pose is the foundation of all standing poses and once mastered will allow you to progress onwards. It improves your posture and firms the buttocks, thighs and abdomen.
Common postural errors: Wrong alignment or ankles banging against each other. Tips: Practice against a wall first so that you learn how to form a true, straight line. If your ankles are hitting against one another, widen your feet slightly and find your centre of balance again.
2. Downward Facing Dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana
Description: From Upward Facing Dog, kneel on your hands and knees with your knees directly below your hips. Stretch your hands out slightly in front of your shoulders with your fingertips facing forward and hands should-width apart. Exhale and press against the floor keeping your elbows straight. Lift your sit bones up toward the ceiling and your knees away from the floor, lengthening your hips away from your ribs and elongating your spine. Press your heels against the floor, contract your thighs and try straightening your knees. Turn your thighs slightly inward and broaden your chest and shoulders. You should position your head in between your arms. Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
Benefits: Reduces anxiety, strengthens your arms and legs while stretching shoulders, calves and hamstrings.
Common postural errors: Sinking shoulders down into the spine. Tips: Focus on contracting your thighs and lengthening spine to stop shoulders from sinking.
3. Awkward Pose – Utkatasana
Description: Begin in the Mountain Pose, raise your hands forwards and over your head, keeping your hands shoulder-width apart or clasped, depending on your preference. Exhale and bend your knees and your upper body forward so that it is at a 45-degree angle in relation to the floor. Maintain a straight back and relax your calf muscles, allowing the weight of your upper body to sink into your pelvis instead, transferring the weight onto your heels. Inhale and straighten your knees while lifting strongly through your arms. Exhale, returning your arms to your side and returning to mountain pose.
Benefits: The Awkward Pose strengthens the lower back and quadriceps, stretching the shoulders, arms and hamstrings.
Common postural errors: Having an arched back. Tips: Try to keep your back as straight as possible by performing the lowering motion with your thighs, knees and hips.
4. Tree Pose – Vrksasana
Description: Begin in mountain pose and bring both hands up, pressed together in a prayer gesture and shifting your weight onto your left foot keeping the inner foot firmly to the ground. Bend your right knee, reach down with your right hand and grasp your right ankle, drawing it up and placing the sole against your inner left groin with toes pointing at the floor. The centre of your pelvis should be directly over the standing foot. Straighten your spine and firmly press your right foot into the inner thigh while resisting with your outer left leg and returning your hands to the prayer position in front of you. Gaze at a fixed point directly in front of you and hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Exhale and return to Mountain Pose, repeat again for the opposite leg.
Benefits: The Tree Pose improves your sense of balance and strengthens thighs, calves, ankles and spine. It also relieves sciatica pain and reduces flat feet.
Common postural errors: Misaligning the hip. Tips: You can start by doing this pose against a wall to aid in finding you balance. Keep your hips square and pointing forward.
5. Extended Triangle Pose – Parivrtta Trikonasana
Description: From the Mountain pose, move your feet until they are roughly three feet apart, with your pelvis, chest and head aligned. Inhale and raise both arms straight out to the side, until they’re parallel with the floor, palms facing down. Exhale, and keeping your legs straight, pivot on your heels to turn your left foot all the way to the right and keeping your heels in line with each other.
Lower your torso to the right, as far as is comfortable and keep your arms parallel to the floor. Once your torso is fully extended, drop your arm so that your left-hand rests on your ankle and extend your right arm to the ceiling. Extend your arms as far as you can in opposite directions and turn your head to focus on your left thumb. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Repeat instructions with the opposite leg.
Benefits: It stretches the spine, back, shoulders, ankles, hips, groin, hamstrings and calves. It also alleviates backaches.
Common postural errors: Twisting your hips. Tips: Keep your leading knee centred over your foot and if you feel unbalanced, you can practice with keeping your back heel against a wall.
6. Low Lunge Pose – Anjeneyasana
Description: Step your right foot forwards, aligning your right knee over your heel. Then lower your left knee to the floor, making sure you keep your right knee steady and in the same place. Slide your left foot back along the floor until you can feel a comfortable stretch in your thigh and groin, resting the top of your left foot against the floor. Lift your torso upright while inhaling, sweeping your arms up by your sides until they point at the ceiling. Push your tailbone down toward the floor and lift your pubis up. Tilt your head and gaze upward while reaching toward the ceiling, and hold for 1 minute before moving into the plank pose.
Benefits: The low lunge pose tones hips, arms and shoulders while stretching knees tendons and ligaments.
Common postural errors: The knee leans to one side rather than being straight. Tips: If your lowered knee is uncomfortable, place a folded blanket underneath it.
7. Standing Forward Bend – Uttanasana
Description: From the Mountain Pose, exhale and bend forward from your hips, sweeping your arms to the sides, with your palms facing the floor. While lowering your torso, keep your back flat and tuck in your abdominal muscles to lengthen your spine. Keep folding your torso forwards until they are parallel to your legs (Or as close as you can get). Grasp the back of your ankles and contract your thighs to keep your knees as straight as possible.
With each exhalation, draw your sit bones upwards, elongating your spine and lengthening the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute before moving onto Standing Half Forward Bend.
Benefits: Stretches the spine, hips, calves and hamstrings while strengthening thighs and improving posture.
Common postural errors: Rolling the spine. Tips: If you find this difficult, then bend your knees as you bring your torso forward, and then straighten on each exhale afterwards.
8. Cobra Pose – Bhujangasana
Description: From a prone position, place your palms under your shoulders and legs flat to the floor. On inhalation slowly raise your chest up, bending backwards as much as possible and hold for 10-15 seconds. On exhalation bring your body back down to the prone position. Repeat 5 times, taking a 15-second break between each hold.
Benefits: Strengthen the spine, stretches the chest, shoulders, and abdomen, firms the buttocks, betters posture and relieves stress and fatigue.
Common postural errors: Overarching the neck and lower back. Tips: Keep your gaze directed down at the floor and focus on bringing movement into the area between the shoulder blades.
9. Hero Pose – Virasana
Description: Begin by kneeling, with your thighs perpendicular to the floor and your feet angled slightly wider than your hips. Bring your knees together while pushing your feet into the floor. Lean forward, exhale and sink back so that you are sitting with your buttocks to the floor, in between your heels. Lift your chest and press your shoulders back and down, lengthening your tailbone. Rest your hands, palm down on your thighs, pulling in your abdominals and hold for 30 seconds to one minute.
Benefits: The Hero Pose stretches thighs, hips and ankles and provides a counterbalance to hip-opening postures.
Common postural errors: Lifting shoulders, turning the soles out or sitting on the heels. Tips: If you experience pain then place a folded blanket beneath you and point your big toes inward slightly.
10. Upward-Facing Dog Pose – Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
Description: Start by lying in a prone position on the floor. Bend your elbows and place your hands directly beneath the flat to the floor on either side of you. Separate your legs slightly, extending your toes backwards so the tops of your feet press against the floor. Inhale and push against the floor with your hands and tops of your feet, lifting your torso and hips from the floor. Contract your thighs and tailbone toward your pubis. Continue lifting until your arms are fully extended, creating an arch in your back. Push your shoulders down and lengthen your neck, gazing slightly upwards. Hold for 15-30 seconds and exhale as you lower your self back to a prone position.
Benefits: The Upward-Facing Dog Pose improves your posture and strengthens your spine, arms and wrist.
Common postural errors: Raising the shoulders or dropping the thighs to the floor.
Tips: Make sure your arms and legs are fully elongated to create the full extension and drop your shoulders while lengthening your neck upwards.
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