women

Try these simple yoga poses for natural pain relief and a fit body

Banging headache? Bad back? You might want to reach for a yoga mat before popping a pill next time you’re feeling under the weather. Yoga has been used for centuries as a powerful natural healing method for a whole range of health woes, from digestion issues to PMS, and it’s still a useful wellness tool today.

‘This ancient holistic technique goes beyond the physical, working with the deeper energy channels,’ explains yoga teacher Sally Lovett (stretchingthecity.com). ‘Specific asanas [poses] can awaken and relax areas of the body to relieve and, in some cases, even cure certain ailments.’

You might want to reach for a yoga mat before popping a pill next time you’re feeling under the weather.

You might want to reach for a yoga mat before popping a pill next time you’re feeling under the weather.

Sally has hand-picked eight yoga moves to create an immune-boosting, pain-relieving workout for Women’s Fitness. You can use these moves to ward off tension, keep your muscles relaxed, digestion flowing and your body generally fighting fit.

Ready to give it a try? Grab your yoga mat and get stretching

The digestion booster

Reclining spinal twist

How it heals: flushes and refreshes the internal organs, relieving constipation and spurring a sluggish digestive system into action

Technique

Lie on your back with your arms outstretched in a ‘T’ shape with your palms facing upwards.

Bend your legs to a 90-degree angle, so your knees are in line with your hips. Breathe in, and as you exhale drop your knees to the left and turn your head to the right.

With every exhalation, let your right shoulder soften towards the floor a little more. Repeat on the other side.

The tension buster

Neck roll

How it heals: relieves tension in the neck and shoulders

relieves tension in the neck and shoulders

relieves tension in the neck and shoulders

Technique

Sitting upright and keeping your spine straight, lower your chin to your chest. Hold for three breaths.

 Slowly and gently roll your left ear toward your left shoulder, letting your right shoulder drop away from your right ear. Hold for three breaths.

Slowly move in a semicircle, rolling your right ear to your right shoulder. Repeat for three breaths. Moving with the breath, continue to move your neck in this semicircle motion, both clockwise and anti-clockwise.

The spine stretcher

Downward dog

How it heals: lengthens the spine and stretches the hamstrings to alleviate lower-back pain

Technique

Start on all fours, with your hands splayed and placed about shoulder-width apart on the mat, and your knees under your hips.

Gently push up onto your toes, keeping your knees slightly bent as you do so, and raise your tailbone toward the ceiling.

Keeping your hands splayed, push into the floor and gradually begin to lower your heels down to the floor.

The circulation tune-up

Boat pose with rotating wrists and ankles

Boat pose with rotating wrists and ankles

Boat pose with rotating wrists and ankles

How it heals: warms up the body and improves blood flow to the fingers and toes

Technique

Sit on your yoga mat and raise your arms and legs, so that your shins are parallel to the floor and your arms are outstretched. Keep your spine straight, dropping your toes to the floor if you experience any discomfort in your lower back.

Holding this pose, take strong, energizing breaths in to build heat in your body and start to rotate your wrists and ankles in a gentle figure-of-eight motion.

Rotate your wrists and ankles in the opposite direction. Hold boat pose for five breaths, rest for three, then repeat three times.

The PMS reliever

Child’s pose

How it heals: naturally massages the abdominal organs, relieves lower-back tension and calms the mind

How it heals: naturally massages the abdominal organs, relieves lower-back tension and calms the mind

How it heals: naturally massages the abdominal organs, relieves lower-back tension and calms the mind

Technique

Kneel on all fours with your legs together and knees hip-width apart. Push back so that your bottom is resting on your heels and your forehead is resting on the floor.

You can either keep your arms as they are, stretched out in front of you, or for a more nurturing version of the pose, place your arms alongside your body with your fingertips pointing toward your heels.

Closing your eyes, take soft, deep abdominal breaths, feeling your belly pressing against your thighs as you inhale and letting your hips drop back further toward your heels with every exhalation.

The immunity enhancer

Bridge pose

How it heals: breathes life back into the lungs and energizes the oxygen in the bloodstream

Technique

Lie on your back with your legs bent, feet hip-width apart and your heels close to your bottom. Keep your arms alongside your body with your palms facing down.

Pressing your feet firmly into the floor, breathe in and squeeze your bottom to raise your hips up. Your body should be in a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.

Hold for five breaths, breathing deeply to expand the chest before slowly lowering your hips down as you exhale.

The blood pressure regulator

Meditation in a seated pose

How it heals: calms the mind, reduces stress, slows the heart rate and stimulates the calm-inducing parasympathetic nervous system

Meditation in a seated pose

Meditation in a seated pose

Technique

Sit in a cross-legged position, using a cushion if your hips are lower than your knees.

Place your hands on your knees, close your eyes and soften the muscles in your face.

Maintaining length in your spine, take deep and even breaths, filling your lungs. Feel your body expand as you breathe in, and soften as you exhale. Try to keep your focus fully on your breathing and your body.

The muscle relaxer

Low lunge

How it heals: helps to relieve tight quads and hip flexors, which can become shorter and tighter during runs

How it heals: helps to relieve tight quads and hip flexors, which can become shorter and tighter during runs

How it heals: helps to relieve tight quads and hip flexors, which can become shorter and tighter during runs

Technique

Start in downward dog position and bring your right foot forward so that it sits comfortably between your hands and your right knee is above your ankle.

Push up onto your fingertips as you gently sink down into your right hip, extending your left leg and heel away from you until you feel a good stretch in your groin.

Inhale and rock forward slightly and, as you exhale, push back, as if you were pressing your left heel against a wall. After five breaths step back and resume the downward dog position. Repeat on the other side.

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