One of the major benefits of practicing yoga is its ability to calm the nervous system, giving your body the chance to get out of the fight-or-flight mode and stabilize your hormones. Here are some how-tos of our favorite yoga poses, along with some insight from professional ballerina and certified yoga instructor, Violetta Komyshan.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Violetta says, “Any breath work calms your mind and balances energy.”
Sit in a comfortable position
Exhale completely and then use your right thumb to close your right nostril.
Inhale through your left nostril and then close the left nostril with your fingers.
Open the right nostril and exhale through this side.
Inhale through the right nostril and then close this nostril.
Open the left nostril and exhale through the left side.
This is one cycle. Repeat for up to 2 minutes.
Always complete the practice by finishing with an exhale on the left side.
8-Point Sun Salutation
Violetta says, “The 8-point is great because it’s working to really stretch the neck region which is where your thyroid glands sit. It’s also extremely relaxing.”
Begin in a high plank
On an exhale, lower your knees, chest and chin to the ground while keeping your hips lifted. (This is Ashtanga Pranam, the toes, knees, hands, chest and chin all make contact with the ground creating eight points of contact.)
Extended Puppy Pose
Violetta says, “This pose opens up and massages the neck area which is where your thyroid and parathyroid glands sit. It also stretches the abdomen, where female reproductive organs, another major hormonal system, sit.
Come onto all fours. Make sure your shoulders are above your wrists and your hips are above your knees. Walk your hands forward a few inches and curl your toes under.
As you exhale, move your buttocks halfway back toward your heels. Don’t let your elbows touch the ground.
Drop your forehead to the floor and let your neck relax. Keep a slight curve in your lower back. To feel a nice long stretch in your spine, press your hands down and stretch through your arms while pulling your hips back toward your heels.
Breathe into your back, feeling the spine lengthen in both directions. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute, then release your buttocks down onto your heels.
Violetta says, “Any inversion balances hormones because being upside-down brings blood and circulation to areas that are not used to it.”
Place your forearms and knees on the floor, with your elbows directly under your shoulders.
As you exhale, curl your toes under. Engage your lower belly and lift your knees away from the floor
Lift your pelvis up as you straighten your legs and lower the heels towards the floor – they do not need to touch the floor.
Engage your thigh muscles and keep the lower belly drawn in, press the forearms actively into the floor.
Firm your shoulder blades down onto your back while maintaining space between them. Lengthen your spine. Hold your head between your arms, off the floor.
Stay for 5 to 20 breaths.