With World Yoga Day on June 21st, now is the ideal time to discover a range of relaxing and impactful yoga poses to help beat the heat and get ready for the summer months.
Yoga is not only very relaxing, but it is also the perfect exercise to help support the body and mind cope with the summer heat. Rio Nunga, Senior Group Exercise Instructor at Fitness First says, “The practice of yoga during the warmer weather is incredibly beneficial for the body, compared to the winter months. The warm weather allows the essential natural intake of Vitamin D which helps replenish the body and maintain good immune function and heart health. It can also help loosen the muscles which can increase body flexibility. When carrying out yoga in the summer months, it is important to keep the body cool, which can be achieved through a variation of yoga movements.”
Here, Rio Nunga, Senior Group Exercise Instructor at Fitness First shares his/her top five yoga poses that can help send calming waves through the nervous system and aid in the body’s attempt to self-regulate and get in shape:
1. Moon Salutation – The Moon Salutation, is a series of poses performed in a particular sequence to create a cooling flow of movement. Like the popular Sun Salutations, each pose in a Moon Salutation is coordinated with your breathing: Inhale to extend, and exhale to bend. But unlike Sun Salutations, which focus on heating and stimulating the body, Moon Salutations are cooling and quieting. They are used to calm the mind and to draw one’s awareness inwards. Moon Salutations are useful when temperatures are high and when a tranquil, quiet presence is required.
2. Supported Back Bends – Backbends can seem intimidating but you don’t have to be a contortionist or drop into a Full Wheel from standing to reap the heart and chest opening benefits this pose delivers. Possibly the hardest part about backbends is that they go against the natural way we hold and move our bodies. We slouch forward and move forward; backbends take us the opposite direction. They force us to be a bit vulnerable—essentially removing the shield that protects our hearts and emotions.
3. Supported Shoulder Stand – Supported Shoulder Stand stretches the neck and shoulders and strengthens the legs, glutes, arms, and core. The pose also stimulates the abdominal organs and the thyroid gland, aiding with digestion and the regulation of hormones. It can also benefit those who suffer from anxiety, stress, and mild depression. Those with any form of neck injuries should practice this pose with caution, using folded blankets or towels for support beneath the shoulders to protect the cervical spine.
4. Seated Forward Fold – As a forward folding posture, the Seated Forward Bend pose helps to calm and relax. It can also help with stress, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, and mild depression. Physically, the pose stretches the spine, shoulders, and hamstrings, stimulates the internal organs, and can also improve digestion and help to ease menstrual discomfort.
5. Supine Twisting Posture – This pose is one of the go-to, end-of-class, postures. Since it helps to make the transition from the yang of practice, into the yin of Savasana, smooth and seamless. This pose is both calming and conducive for meditative, slow breathing, as well as being very healing in its own right.
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