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10 Yoga Poses to Add to Your Daily Routine

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No matter where you find yourself on your fitness journey, there is one thing we all have in common: the need to stretch. Why? Well, it turns out there are many reasons.

Benefits of Daily Yoga

There are so many reasons to add yoga to your daily routine, even if it’s just a five-minute flow:

1. Helps Stiffness and Sore Muscles

The most obvious benefit of stretching is to relieve stiff, sore muscles. Whether you are hurting from a hard workout or stiff from being sedentary, stretching alleviates muscle pain. And it’s a more natural and inexpensive solution than popping Advil or Tylenol—both of which can be hard on your body over time. Stretching after workouts helps prevent your muscles from becoming stiff and sore the next day, so you can be ready to get back at it again tomorrow.

2. Increases Range of Motion

Everything in our bodies is connected: muscles, bones, and joints included. If the muscles around the joint aren’t flexible, it’s difficult to move efficiently. In other words, muscle stiffness can prevent you from doing full range of motion exercises, cause injury, and worst of all keep you from progressing with your fitness goals. Even those who DON’T exercise regularly will find that skipping stretching limits the ability to take full strides when you walk, reach for things, or move with a complete range of motion. Skip stretching and you’ll eventually have that familiar “grandpa shuffle.”

Related: The Beginner’s Guide To Yoga

3. Relieves Stress

Don’t underestimate the damage stress can have on both your mental and physical health. A brief stretch break that utilizes deep breathing can provide a respite during the day to find clarity and slow down your breath.

The bottom line is this: maintaining flexibility is the key to feeling good, preventing injury, moving well and continuing to enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle well into your second half of life. And while you probably know that yoga provides the flexibility benefits that everyone desires, you may not have the time or the desire to get into a regular yoga practice. But truthfully, if you only do a handful of poses each day, you’ll start to see the difference in how your body looks and feels. Try our 10 yoga poses below to get a simple stretch every day that will benefit your mind and body.

10 Yoga Poses To Do Every Day

This 5-minute yoga workout gives you 10 yoga poses you should add to your daily workout routine:

1. Standing Side Bend

Lengthen a compressed spine and a tight back by moving in a new direction: sideways!

  1. Stand tall with feet and legs together and reach both arms straight up overhead as you inhale.
  2. Lower your right arm down the right side of your body and exhale as you lengthen the left arm over the head, bending body gently to the right.
  3. Inhale to return arms overhead to center and exhale as you repeat on the left side.

Hold for 30 seconds.

2. Downward Dog

Stretch the entire backside of your body: your back, hamstrings, calves and Achilles.

downward dog yoga pose

  1. Begin in a kneeling position on your mat with hands directly under shoulders, fingers spread wide.
  2. Tuck your toes under and engage your abdominals as you push your body up off the mat so only your hands and feet are on the mat.
  3. Press through your hands, moving your chest gently toward your thighs and your heels gently toward the floor.

Hold for 30 seconds.

Related: 6 Morning Yoga Poses You Can Do In Bed

3. Up Dog/Cobra

Open your chest and the front of your shoulders for better posture.

up dog yoga pose

  1. Begin lying face down on your mat with head slightly lifted and hand sitting directly under shoulders.
  2. Point your toes so the tops of you feet are on the mat.
  3. As you exhale, press through your hands and the tops of your feet raising your body and legs up off the ground until arms are straight.

Hold for 30 seconds.

4. Crescent Lunge

Open tight hip flexors and lengthen your spinal column.

crescent lunge yoga pose

  1. From a standing position, step the ball of your left foot to the back of the mat. Keep your feet slightly wider than one another like you’re standing on railroad tracks.
  2. Reach both arms straight overhead and bend the right knee to 90 degrees.
  3. Relax your shoulders as you continue reaching up and lengthening the back leg. Hold 30 seconds and switch sides.

Hold for 30 seconds.

5. Cat

Relieve a tight back and maintain spinal flexibility.

cat yoga pose

  1. Begin on your hands and knees with hands directly under shoulders and knees directly under hips.
  2. Start with your spine in a “neutral” or long position, then slowly tuck your tailbone and lower the crown of your head so your back gently rounds.
  3. Draw your naval up to your spine and breathe gently as you hold the stretch.

Hold for 30 seconds.

6. Cow

Relieve a tight back and maintain spinal flexibility.

cow yoga pose

  1. Begin on your hands and knees with hands directly under shoulders and knees directly under hips.
  2. Start with your spine in a “neutral” or long position, then gently lift your heart and tailbone so your back gently curves downward. Be sure to focus on the lifting; do not press your back downward. Let the curve happen naturally.
  3. Look slightly upward with a relaxed neck and breathe gently.

Hold for 30 seconds.

7. Pigeon

One of the best hip stretches around. Open hips and lower back with traditional pigeon or do it lying on your back.

pigeon yoga pose

  1. Begin in a plank position. Tighten your abdominals and pull your right knee toward your right hand placing your right foot as close to your left hand as you can.
  2. Keep your back leg long and keep your hips even as you relax your weight through the middle of your hips.
  3. Breathe and hold for 30 seconds. Step back into plank and switch sides.

Hold for 30 seconds.

8. Happy Baby

A pose of relaxation! You will also open your groin, inner thighs and low back.

happy baby yoga pose

  1. Begin lying on your back and grab your big toes with your index and middle fingers.
  2. Gently draw toes down so knees pull toward shoulders. Keep elbows gently pressing knees open.
  3. Relax and breathe. Hold 30 seconds.

Hold for 30 seconds.

9. Yogi Squat

Yogi squat has been called the “pose of youth.” Keeping your hip flexors open and hip joint mobile, this pose will keep you walking and moving like a young person.

yogi squat yoga pose

  1. Begin on feet, crouched down with tailbone between ankles and hands in prayer at chest.
  2. Continue to press hands firmly together while at the same time pressing elbows against inner thighs.
  3. Hold and breathe for 30 seconds.

Hold for 30 seconds.

10. Windshield Wiper

Stretch external hips, lower back and relieve sciatica.

windshield wiper yoga pose

  1. Begin on your back with knees bent, feet flat on floor and arms stretched out to the sides.
  2. Gently lower your knees to the left side of your body and place on the floor. Gaze right and breathe.
  3. Engage your abdominals and slowly pull your knees back to the start position.
  4. Gently lower your knees to the right side of your body and place on the floor. Gaze left and breathe.

Hold for 30 seconds.

Printable Yoga Poses

Print these 10 yoga poses as a daily reminder to stretch. Your body will thank you for it!

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Health & Fitness

Small Shifts to the USDA Dietary Guidelines

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The recent updates to the USDA nutrition guidelines recommend lowering sugar and alcohol intake and opting for breastfeeding over infant formula.

Every five years, a government-appointed committee draws up a national healthy-eating menu. Since the first Dietary Guidelines for Americans was issued in 1980, this nutritional advice has been broadly focused on our health, but it also affects food-stamp policies and school-lunch menus.

It influences processed-food formulations for the food-manufacturing industry, as well — and this is where politics and big business enter in.

More than half of the members of the panel formulating the 2020–2025 guide have food-industry ties. And those involved in adding first-ever advice for pregnant mothers and toddlers are all connected to baby-food makers.

“My concern is that these guidelines, heavily influenced by the food and beverage industry, will dictate what kinds of food are offered at schools and set the eating habits of children, particularly Black and brown children, for the rest of their lives,” says pediatrician Yolandra Hancock, MD, an obesity expert at George Washington University’s Milken Institute of Public Health.

Despite her own reservations, Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH, author of Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health, has been pleasantly relieved by this panel’s work. “I was concerned about this when the committee was first appointed because so many of the members had worked with companies making products high in sugar, salt, and fat. But the committee surprised me. It stuck to the science and came out with recommendations quite consistent with previous recommendations, but even more restrictive.”

Among the new guidelines:

  • The committee reduced the recommended limit for alcoholic drinks from two to one daily.
  • The panel advised lowering daily consumption of added sugars by 40 percent, cutting intake from 12.5 to 7.5 teaspoons, or a maximum of 120 calories or 30 grams.
  • For the first time, the guidelines recommended breastfeeding versus infant formulas, stating that being breastfed “may reduce” the risk of obesity, type 1 diabetes, and asthma.

For her part, Nestle — who served on the 1995 committee — recommends the dietary guidelines be taken with a grain of salt compared with our own intuitive common sense.

“I always have concerns about the guidelines’ increasing complexity — it’s now 835 pages,” she says. “From my standpoint, [journalist] Michael Pollan’s seven-word mini-haiku takes care of things quite nicely: ‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.’”

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