If you’ve got a specific health problem you’d like to address in your yoga practice, you might play around with Yoga Journal’s pose finder. You can search by anatomical focus or by therapeutic focus. It’s a great resource, whether you’re looking to overcome a one-time headache or a chronic health issue through yoga.
I haven’t really talked about it here, but I’ve got some health problems that sort of nag at me. Without getting into the nitty gritty, I’m very prone to UTIs – way more than the average woman my age. Healthy diet, plenty of water, and exercise help a lot, and I’ve put together a series of 25 poses that help promote bladder and kidney health. I try to do some if not all of these whenever I practice and thought it might be a helpful list for anyone else who has trouble with UTIs.
I try to hold most of these for 10-15 deep breaths, depending on how I’m feeling.
- Lotus Pose – This is such a great warm up to practice. I like to add some neck rolls, just for kicks.
- Cat and Cow – Instead of holding this, it’s nice to go back and forth between the two about a dozen times, especially on a cold morning. It gets the blood flowing!
- Staff Pose – It might look like not much is going on here, but if you’re focusing on keeping your back straight and legs flexed, this is a really active pose.
- Reverse Plank – Back bends are awesome for your posture and your kidneys!
- Bridge Pose – Another back bend!
- Upward Bow – This pose looks tough, but it’s really about wrapping your head around it more than anything. Plus, you feel like a superstar when you push up into it!
- Boat – Hello there, abs! You can modify this by bending your legs if straight legs are too tough.
- Gate – This pose was new to me, but it’s quickly becoming a fave! That side stretch feels so awesome.
- Wide Legged Forward Bend – The back stretch is nice after all those backbends. There’s a nice stretch up the sides of your legs, too.
- Big Toe Pose – This is another nice counter pose to the backbends.
- Half Lord of the Fishes – Who doesn’t love a good spinal twist?
- Head to Knee Forward Bend – This one’s great for runners.
- Seated Forward Bend – Like Staff, Seated Forward Bend is tougher than it looks.
- Marichyasana I – This pose is a little tricky to figure out but so worth it!
- Side Leg Stretch – I couldn’t find this on Yoga Journal, but it’s one of my faves. Bend your left leg, so your left foot is near your groin, then stick your right leg out straight to the right. Inhale, and as you exhale, stretch to the right, placing your right elbow on the floor on the inside of your leg. Then, rotate your body to the left, twisting your spine, and reach with your left arm toward your right foot. Repeat on the other side.
- Cobra Pose – More back bends! The next few are all back bends where you start out laying on your belly.
- Sphinx Pose – This is a nice gentle back bend.
- Half Frog – Another one that’s new to me, this pose is serious business!
- Upward Dog – I love how this stretches the whole front of the body.
- Downward Facing Dog – Down Dog is a nice counter pose to all that back bending. If your back needs a little more love, you might push back into Child’s Pose for a bit before continuing on with your practice.
- Standing Forward Bend – Gravity does most of the work in this posture. You get to just sort of hang out there.
- Lord of the Dance – This is a challenging balance pose, so don’t fret if you can’t hold it for long. Just keep at it, and it gets easier.
- Garland Pose – My knees are always happy to do a squat near the end of this series.
- Supported Shoulder Stand – You can do this with or without props. It’s easier with.
- Plow – You can transition into plow right from Shoulder Stand.
Sometimes, I think the poses we avoid are the ones our bodies need most…does that make sense? Those seated forward bends are hardest on me mentally, but I always feel so much better after doing them.
I try to do some of the poses from the series above every time I practice and the whole shebang at least once a week. Do you guys have any poses that you think are particularly beneficial for you?
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by pedromourapinheiro