International Yoga Day 2024: 10 expert yoga tips and must-try asanas for lifelong wellbeing across all ages

21 June,2024 12:07 PM IST |  Mumbai  |  Maitrai Agarwal

On International Day of Yoga, experts share playful poses for energetic kids to gentle stretches for seniors to meet the unique needs and abilities of every individual

Every year, June 21 is celebrated as International Day of Yoga. Image for representational purpose only. Photo Courtesy: istock

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Yoga weaves a tapestry of wellbeing, addressing the mind, body, and spirit, extending far beyond the benefits of physical exercise. Be it gentle stretches to promote flexibility and strength, or mindful breathing to calm the mind, the ancient practice is a path to holistic wellbeing. Yoga instructors Sneha Desai and Sabrina Merchant, masters from JetSynthesys' ThinkRight.Me, believe introducing yoga at a young age can instill lifelong habits of mindfulness and physical activity. "By starting with simple poses and gradually progressing to more challenging ones, they can develop strength, flexibility, and mindfulness. Consistency, patience, and a positive approach will help them embrace yoga as a lifelong practice, nurturing their body and mind in the process," says Desai.

As the world celebrates International Yoga Day, let us forget about intimidating poses or limitations and celebrate its inherent inclusivity that transcends age, ability, and background. "Remember, yoga is a personal practice, and everyone may need to adapt poses to suit their unique needs and abilities," poses Merchant. The experts share yoga asanas for children, teens, adults, and seniors, along with tips and recommendations for a consistent practice. So, unroll your mat, embrace the spirit of exploration, and get ready to experience the magic of movement, mindfulness, and inner peace.

Yoga asanas for children

Tree pose (Vrksasana)
Stand tall, shift weight to one leg, and place the sole of the other foot on the inner thigh or calf (avoid the knee). Hands can be at the chest in prayer position or stretched above the head.

Benefits: This asana enhances balance, concentration, and core strength.

Cat-cow pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana)
On hands and knees, alternate between arching the back (cow) and rounding the spine (cat).

Benefits: Improves flexibility of the spine, promotes coordination, and massages the internal organs.

Cobra pose (Bhujangasana)
Lie on the stomach, place hands under shoulders, and gently lift the chest off the ground while keeping the pelvis on the floor.

Benefits: Strengthens the spine, stretches the chest, and improves posture.

Butterfly pose (Baddha Konasana)
Sit with feet together, knees bent, and gently flap the knees up and down like butterfly wings.

Benefits: Opens hips, stretches inner thighs, and promotes relaxation.

Yoga asanas for teens

Warrior II pose (Virabhadrasana II)
Stand with feet wide apart, turn the right foot out, and bend the right knee. Stretch arms out to the sides, gaze over the right hand.

Benefits: Strengthens legs, opens hips, and builds stamina.

Downward-facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
From hands and knees, lift hips up and back, forming an inverted V-shape with the body.

Benefits: Stretches the whole body, builds upper body strength, and improves blood circulation.

Seated forward bend (Paschimottanasana)
Sit with legs extended, inhale to lengthen the spine, and exhale to fold forward, reaching towards the feet.

Benefits: Stretches the hamstrings, lower back, and promotes calmness.

Bridge pose (Setu Bandhasana)
Lie on the back, bend the knees, and place feet hip-width apart. Lift hips towards the sky while keeping shoulders on the ground.

Benefits: Strengthens the back, glutes, and legs, and opens the chest.

Yoga asanas for adults

Mountain pose (Tadasana)
Stand with feet together, arms at sides, and weight evenly distributed across both feet. Engage your thighs, lift your chest, and reach through the crown of your head.

Benefits: Improves posture, balance, and focus.

Downward facing dog to upward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana to Bhujang Asana)
Start on all fours, lift your hips up and back, straightening your legs and arms. Keep your head between your arms and your heels reaching toward the floor, move your body forward into a snake (Bhujang) asana pushing your hips down to the floor, relaxing your shoulders. Practice this for 5 times in to 3 sets.
Benefits: Stretches the spine, hamstrings, and calves; strengthens arms and shoulders.

Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)
Step one foot back, bend the front knee, and raise arms overhead, keeping hips square.

Benefits: Strengthens legs, opens hips, and chest.

Tree pose (Vrksasana)
Stand on one leg, place the sole of the opposite foot on the inner thigh, and bring palms together in front of your chest.

Benefits: Enhances balance and concentration.

Sphinx pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)
Lie on your stomach, place your elbows under your shoulders, press into your forearms, and lift your chest gently.

Benefits: Strengthens the spine and opens the chest, improving posture and relieving tension.

Yoga asanas for seniors

Chair pose (Utkatasana)
Stand with feet hip-width apart, bend knees as if sitting back into a chair, and raise arms overhead. Can be done by sitting on a chair and standing up without using the hand support (making sure the chair is against the wall).

Benefits: Strengthens legs and improves stability.

Cat-cow stretch (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana)
Start on all fours, arch your back (cow pose), then round your spine (cat pose). This asana can be done with a table or a chair while standing in case of a knee or a back injury.

Benefits: Increases spinal flexibility and relieves tension in the back.

Legs up the wall pose (Viparita Karani)
How to do it: Lie on your back with legs extended up against a wall.

Benefits: Reduces swelling in legs, improves circulation, and calms the nervous system.

Reclining bound angle pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
Lie on your back, bring the soles of your feet together, and let your knees fall open.

Benefits: Opens hips, relaxes the body, and enhances flexibility.

Corpse pose (Savasana)
Lie flat on your back with arms at sides and palms facing up.

Benefits: A must-do at the end of your practise, the corpse pose promotes deep relaxation and stress relief.

10 expert tips to practise yoga across ages

Start simple and progress gradually
Begin with basic poses to build confidence and body awareness. Gradually introduce more challenging asanas as strength and flexibility improve.

Consistency is key
Encourage daily practice, even if it's just for a few minutes. Consistency helps build a habit and allows the benefits of yoga to accumulate over time.

Make it fun
Incorporate games, stories, or music to make yoga enjoyable, especially for younger children. Use animal-themed poses or creative names to keep their interest.

Create a calm environment
Practice in a quiet, comfortable space free from distractions. This helps in focusing on the poses and achieving a state of relaxation.

Emphasise breathing
Teach the importance of deep, mindful breathing. Incorporate simple breathing exercises to enhance the calming effects of yoga.

6. Be patient and positive
Encourage kids and teens with positive reinforcement. Celebrate their progress and remind them that it's okay if they can't do every pose perfectly.

7. Practice together
Join your child or teen in their yoga practice. This not only sets a good example but also provides a bonding experience.

8. Use props if needed
Props like blocks, straps, and bolsters can help with alignment and make poses more accessible, ensuring a safe and comfortable practice.

9. Warm up
Always start with a warm-up to prepare your body. A quick warm-up loosens tight muscles, improves flexibility, and gets your blood flowing. This preps your body for movement and helps prevent injuries

10. Cool down
Finish with a cool-down and relaxation pose to help your body recover. Ease into a cool-down pose like Child's pose. Breathe deeply, letting go of any tension, and hold for several minutes to allow your body to gently unwind

Disclaimer: This information does not replace professional medical advice. Consult a qualified specialist or your physician for personalised guidance.

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