YOGA with Theresa Wilk, PT, DPT, Certified Yoga Instructor
The benefits of yoga are endless. It is most well-known for improvements in flexibility, and it also strengthens and tones muscles. It improves balance, respiratory function, and body awareness. Yoga helps to improve the mind-body connection, reduces stress, and creates an overall calmness.
Restorative Yoga Poses:
These are relaxing and restful poses that are meant to be healing and nurturing for the body. Pillows, cushions, and yoga blocks are used in these poses to support the body, creating complete relaxation. This gives the body time to restore, and the practitioner can focus on the breath and meditation to calm and clear the mind. These poses should be held for at least 5 minutes.
Legs up the Wall: (Viparita Karani)
Sit sideways with your hips close to the wall, then lie onto your side. Elevate the legs up the wall as you roll onto your back. The closer the hips to the wall, the bigger the stretch. Slide the hips back if there is any pain or discomfort in the low back or legs, or use the below modification with legs on the chair. Use a pillow under the hips, heads or arms for support. Arms gently resting on the belly (used for cuing belly breathing) or they can be out the side, also supported on pillows for comfort.
This pose has many benefits, including reduction of headaches, migraines, insomnia, menstrual cramps and digestive disorders. It can also help to decrease anxiety and mild depression.
Legs On The Chair
Start sitting in front of the chair, and lie onto your side. As you roll onto your back, bring your legs up on top of the chair, with calves resting on the seat of the chair. A pillow can be placed under the calves for increased comfort, or under the hips or head. Arms gently resting on the belly (used for cuing belly breathing) or they can be out the side, also supported on pillows for comfort.
This pose relieves tension in the belly and pelvis, as well as balances the nervous system, and quiets the mind.
Lie on the back, with knees bent and feet just hip-width apart. Lift the hips off the ground high enough to place a yoga block at a comfortable setting under your waistline. This block should feel comfortable where it is resting at the back. A folded pillow or several pillows can be used in place of the block. Arms gently resting on the belly (used for cuing belly breathing) or they can be out the side, also supported on pillows for comfort.
This pose stretches the chest, neck, and spine. It helps to stimulate abdominal organs and lungs, and to improve digestion. It also helps to reduce anxiety and mild depression.
Stretching Yoga Poses:
These yoga poses are created to stretch and lengthen through the pelvic floor and hip musculature. Holding these poses will also improve flexibility and motion throughout hips and lower back. You should hold each of these poses for 1-3 minutes, or 15-20 slow deep breaths for maximal benefit.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Big toes are touching behind you and knees are spread to the edges of the mat. Stretch your arms forward, and press your hips back to your feet. Breath into your belly, inhaling and lengthening through the pelvic floor musculature, and then contracting through the pelvic floor on the exhale.
Modifications include arms crossed under your forehead (you can also add a pillow/block) or using 1-2 pillows under hips to elevate your hips (recommended with knee/hip problems/tightness). Another alternative is to straight the legs completely, and let toes fall out to the sides of the mat.
This is a restful and restorative pose, helping to decrease stress and anxiety. It also stretches and releases tension from the back.
Squat Pose (Malasana)
Feet are slightly wider than hip-width, with toes slightly turned out. Sink your bottom towards the ground, with hands at the heart’s center and using elbows to press the knees out. Relax through the lower spine and lengthen the tailbone to the ground.
Modifications include the use of a block or stool to support you or can be done lying on your back and pulling your knees into your chest, drawing them towards the outside of your body or armpits.
This pose facilitates improvements in posture and to promote calmness in the body. It aids to boost metabolism as well as helps with the elimination of waste from the body.
Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
Lying on your back, exhale and bring your knees into your chest. Reach for the outsides of both feet with your hands, drawing your knees towards your shoulders. Relax through your lower back, lengthening through your spine to keep your back flat on the floor.
Modifications include reaching to the backs of your calves or thighs. You can also come into the pose with one leg at a time (reaching for the foot, calf or thigh) while trying to keep the opposite hip down.
This pose works to lengthen the muscles of the pelvic girdle, groin, and inner hips to reduce tension. It helps to soothe the spine, reduce stress, and relieve fatigue.
Wide Leg Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana)
Stand with feet at a comfortable spot wider than hip-width, and feet slightly turned out. Pull up through the pelvic floor and core, and fold forward reaching your hands to the floor, yoga blocks or a chair.
Forward folds stretch the back and hamstrings. They help to stimulate internal organs, increase circulation to the pelvic organs and help to calm the mind and body.
lengthen the muscles of the pelvic girdle, groin, and inner hips to reduce tension. It helps to soothe the spine, reduce stress, and relieve fatigue.
Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
Start in a half-kneeling position. Tighten through your core, and tuck your hips under. Lean into the forward leg, checking that your foot far enough in front of you that your knee does not come over your toes. Keep the core tight and lengthen through the spine. Modifications include a pillow under the knee to reduce strain or a chair on the side for balance.
This pose stretches the anterior hip musculature and releases tension in the hips. It also aids to focus the mind and works to improve balance.
Reclining Pigeon Pose (Supta Kapotasana)
Lying on your back with one knee bend, place the opposite ankle on that thigh. Stay here if you feel a stretch, or reach behind the thigh of the bent knee and pull that leg towards you, to increase the stretch on the opposite side.
This pose releases tension in the lower back and hips, as well as increases blood flow. It also helps to improve digestion.
Bound Ankle Pose: Supta Baddha Konasana
Begin lying on your back, knees are bent, and feet flat on the ground. Rest your hands on your belly and slowly let your knees fall out to the sides. Modifications include pillows or blocks under the knees.
This pose will stretch through the groin and inner thighs. It stimulates abdominal organs, as well as improves circulation and respiration. It can help to reduce symptoms associated with menopause, menstrual cramps as well as aide to relieve stress and mild depression.
Supine Twist: Supta Matsyendranasa
Lying on your back with legs straight, pull the right knee into your chest and then over to the left side of your body. Arms reach out to the side and gaze falls to the opposite side of the legs. Modifications include performing with the right leg hooked around the left for a more intense stretch, or with both knees bent.
This pose lengthens the spine and releases the posterior hips. It improves digestion and calms the mind.
Strengthening Yoga Poses:
These poses work to strengthen the muscles of the legs, arms and trunk, as well as improve balance. They are active poses, and requiring contraction o the muscles, and the pulling up and in of the core and pelvic floor to stabilize. Use your Drishti to focus your gaze and mind, holding each pose for at least 3 breaths, and working up to 6 breaths.
Mountain Pose: Tadasana
Feet can be hip-width (2 fists) apart, or big toes can touch with heels slightly turned out. Press down through the heels, and pull up through the muscles of the front of the thighs. Pull up through the core and pelvic floor, and length through the spine. Using a block at the inner thighs helps to integrate core and pelvic floor contractions.
This pose improves posture, balance, and strength in the legs and core.
Chair Pose: Utkatasana
Begin with feet hip-width apart (2 fists distance) and sink hips back as you would to sit in a chair. You want to be able to see your toes, to ensure that your knees are coming forward and that your weight is in your heels. Pull into the belly, and lengthen tailbone towards the ground. Hands reaching up, with shoulders pulling down and back. Modifications include a yoga block between the thighs, or arms crossed at the chest.
This pose helps to strengthen the legs and feet. It also stimulates the heart, diaphragm, and abdominal organs.
Warrior II : Virabhadrasana
The front foot is at 12 o’clock, and the back foot is angled towards the side of mat, or 9 o’clock position. Feet are in heel to arch alignment, hips opening towards the side of the mat. Pull into the core, lengthen the tail bone towards the mat and rotate the thighs open to the wall behind. Pull shoulder blades together as arms reach out at shoulder level, palms down, shoulders away from the ears.
This pose will open the hips and groin, and strengthen through the legs and arms. It helps to open the chest and lungs to improve circulation and respiration. This pose is also said to stimulate the abdominal organs.
Yoga for Tight Hips
Low Lunge for Hips
Crescent Lunge for Hips
Lizard Pose for Hips
Floor Bow for Hips
Warrior I for Hips
Yoga for Core Strength
Quadriped Bird Dog Exercise for Core Strength
Downward Facing Dog for Core Strength
Plank Variation Exercise for Core Strength
Yoga Block Exercise for Core Strength
Boat Pose for Core Strength
Dolphin Pose for Core Strength
Yoga for Tight Hamstrings
Single Leg Forward Fold to Stretch Hamstrings
Rag Doll Pose to Stretch Hamstrings
Pyramid Pose to Stretch Hamstrings
Yoga for Tight Adductors (Inner Thighs)