We all know that yoga has many benefits from flexibility to weight loss. The beauty of yoga is that it can be practiced by any gender at any age. While all poses and styles of yoga can be practiced by whomever is willing to give them a try, there are poses that can provide a greater benefit to specific genders. For women, these poses are designed to help you gain balance and deal with the constant changes your mind an body face as you progress through life.
The following article provides 5 poses that are designed to benefit the female body. These are poses that you will want to include in your daily routine.
By Elisha Thompson
1. Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle or Butterfly Pose):
The nurturing nature of women often means that they do not take enough time to nurture themselves. Reclined Butterfly pose ensures that you do just that. Lay back, close your eyes and melt into a deep, sweet surrender and allow your hips and heart to open and renew.
This pose relieves symptoms of menstruation, intestinal/digestion conditions, heart disease, insomnia, and asthma.
Alignment tips: For those with tighter hips, place a block underneath each knee. For a deeper chest opening, place a block between the shoulder blades (long side of the block along the spine). This pose can be held from 5 breaths, or up to 5-10 minutes for Yin/Restorative. For longer holds, use a bolster beneath the torso to reduce the pressure on the hips.
2. Utkata Konasana (Goddess Pose):
This pose is great for stretching the hips and strengthening the lower body. Goddess is also good for letting go of frustrations and finding inner strength. This pose can be very challenging, especially when held for 30 seconds to a minute, or even longer.
By staying put and breathing through the discomfort, you prove to yourself that you are a goddess capable of staying calm in rapid waters. While in the pose, visualize your worries and fears leaving your body with each exhale.
Alignment tips: Bend your knees deeply so that they are directly over your toes and your body is in a squat position. Tuck your tailbone slightly while pressing your hips gently forward. Hands can come to the hips or you can cactus your arms.
3. Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Pigeon Pose):
Pigeon is a wonderful pose to open the hips and engage the sacral chakra where most of us store a great deal of emotion and stress. Folding your torso forward in Pigeon pose is an ideal variation to find deep relaxation and surrender.
Women tend to be emotional creatures, but in our busy world it can be difficult to find time to let it all go. Take time out in Pigeon to notice where you are holding tension, and breathe into those areas. Reconnect with your breath and your heart, and become aware – of your emotions, and of how you feel in this pose.
Alignment tips: Begin by planting your palms on the mat, lifting your heart, and then hinging forward, coming to rest on a block, forearms, or all the way down to the mat. If the hip of your bent leg is off the ground, you can place a blanket or block beneath it to find support and stability. The closer your front shin is parallel to the mat, the deeper the stretch.
4. Apanasana (Knees to Chest, or Energy Freeing Pose):
This gentle pose is wonderful for helping us feel connected and centered. Apanasana also helps to eliminate the body of impurities through the lungs and excretory systems. By slowly drawing the knees into the chest and giving yourself a gentle hug, you help the body let go of what it no longer needs (tension, stagnant energy, etc).
In addition to helping to relieve menstrual cramps, indigestion, and bloating, Apanasana is great for stretching the lower back.
Alignment tips: Keep your spine and tailbone lengthened and pressing down into the mat. Your hips should press firmly down into the mat. For more spinal lengthening, you can lift your head and round your forehead in towards your knees.
5. Salamba Sirsasana (Supported Headstand):
Inversions are one way to not only reduce the symptoms of menopause but also stimulate hormone production. The inverted position of Headstand flushes and detoxifies the adrenal glands, bring fresh oxygen to the head, scalp, and face, and improve circulation – all of which can help women at various stages of life. This is why Headstand is commonly referred to as the “King of Asanas.”
Alignment tips:Instead of trying to kick your legs into Headstand, engage your core to lift your legs with control. Practice against a wall until you’re steady and confident. Once you’re in position, engage your legs and flex your feet. Note: If you have neck injuries, uncontrolled high blood pressure, ear or eye problems, or are menstruating, headstands should be avoided.