Yoga Workouts: A Little Namaste For Your Day!

Written by: Holly Smith, M.D.,

B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

Written by: Holly Smith, M.D.,

B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

yoga workouts

When women hear yoga, they often think it's just a bunch of stretching. And while yoga workouts enhance range of motion and flexibility, they go far beyond that.

Yoga also builds strength and balance and boosts mental wellness and the mind-body connection.

All of these aspects of yoga are key to improving your overall health and fitness.

Yoga offers the perfect combination of balance, strength, and flexibility.

Since you are engaging your whole body, you strengthen the bones in your legs, hips, spine, shoulders, and wrists. Plus, holding these poses enhances your core strength and improves your balance, which decreases your risk of falls and bone fractures.

Keep reading to learn more about yoga and some of our favorite yoga exercises!

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Benefits of a Yoga Workout

Activities like yoga have been found to help reduce falls and the risk of injury in women. For example, a 12-month balance training program in one study helped improve balance, mobility, and falling frequency in women with osteoporosis.

Yoga is also an excellent way to improve bone health in women. A study found that women who participated in yoga regularly over a five-year period increased their bone mineral density in both the hips and spine.

This shows how yoga can preserve and even possibly increase bone strength in women. Compared to individuals leading a more sedentary lifestyle, yoga has also improved postural control and coordination in adults.

Yoga is a great workout for not just the body but also the mind.

Women can obtain total body awareness by focusing on stability, comfort, and breathing, which further aids in improving balance and coordination.

Stretching and balance exercises enhance mood and emotional fitness and yoga can help decrease stress and improve sleep.

Not only will this make you feel better overall, but adequate sleep and recovery are also critical to keeping your mind and body healthy and ready to tackle each day or new workout.

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Yoga Styles

There are many different versions of yoga that you can choose based on your fitness goals. Some of these styles are slower-paced and more relaxing, while others are more physically demanding.

Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga is great for beginners. This is a more gentle, slower-paced style and is what most people typically think about when they hear yoga. Add this yoga workout to your fitness routine one to two times a week to boost your physical and mental health.

Yin Yoga

Like Hatha yoga, this is a slow-paced variety of yoga with seated postures that are held for longer periods of time. Yin yoga is more of a meditative practice that helps connect mind and body.

Ashtanga Yoga

This more challenging version of yoga involves moving through a sequence of advanced poses, including a beginning sequence with sun salutations followed by unique sequences of seated postures, twists, forward bends, and hip openers, followed by a finishing sequence.

Vinyasa Yoga

Vinyasa is very similar to Ashtanga yoga. Both of these yoga styles use fluid, movement-intensive exercises that smoothly transition from pose to pose. However, while Ashtanga follows a set sequence, no two vinyasa classes are identical. This is a great option if you want a challenge but don’t like performing the same exercise repeatedly.

Bikram Yoga

These classes are held in artificially heated rooms to make you work up a sweat as you move through a series of 26 poses. Like Ashtanga, a Bikram class always follows the same sequence, although a Bikram sequence differs from an Ashtanga sequence. To get the full Bikram experience, an in-person class is needed for a safe and effective workout in a heated room.

Hot Yoga

Hot yoga is similar to Bikram yoga since you perform yoga poses in a heated room. However, unlike Bikram, there is no set sequence of postures.

Yoga Workouts For Women

A lot of gyms offer yoga classes for all different levels. This is a great option for learning in a group setting or for one-on-one instruction.

If you prefer exercising in the comfort of your living room, yoga is one of the easiest at-home workouts. All you really need is a mat and an open mind.

As already mentioned, yoga is one of the top exercises for enhancing the mind-body connection.

Many women initially feel intimidated by yoga because they think it only encompasses complicated poses or holding balance postures for long periods. And while you can eventually work your way up to headstands and scorpion poses, there are much easier moves to start with.

To start a yoga program, you must begin with simple poses. This will give you an introduction to yoga so that you can focus on your breathing and become aware of how your body moves through each pose.

For example, this at-home yoga workout is great for beginners looking to add some yoga poses to their fitness routine.

At-Home Yoga Workout For Women

Cow-Cat Stretch

  • Begin on your hands and knees.
  • Inhale and lift your hips upward.
  • Press your chest forward and allow your belly to sink.
  • Lift your head and relax your shoulders away from your ears.
  • This is known as the cow pose. 
  • Then, to come into cat pose, round your spine and tuck in your tailbone while bringing your head toward the floor.
  • Continue to alternate cow and cat poses five times for each.

Bridge Pose

  • Lie down on your back and bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the mat.
  • Bring your heels in so that your fingertips can barely touch your heels.
  • Rest your palms flat on the floor and push down through your heels as you inhale, lift your hips up, and interlace your fingers at your lower back.
  • Squeeze your palms together and press your chest up toward the ceiling.
  • Keep your hips up as you hold this pose for five deep breaths.
  • Then release your hands and lower your hips down to the mat.

Warrior Pose

  • Stand upright and step your right foot forward about four feet.
  • With your foot parallel and toes pointing forward,  bend your right knee into a lunge.
  • Keep your left leg straight behind you and turn your left heel in at approximately 45 degrees.
  • Raise your arms straight above your head.
  • Lift your chin up to look at your hands overhead.
  • Hold this pose for five deep breaths, and then repeat on the left side.

Tree Pose

  • Stand upright and shift your weight into your right foot while lifting your left foot off the floor.
  • Bend your left knee and bring the sole of your left foot high onto your inner right thigh.
  • Take 5 to 10 breaths, then lower your left foot to the floor and repeat on the other side.

Cobra Stretch

  • Lie face down, with your hands by your shoulders, as if you were doing a push-up.
  • Push your torso up as far as possible or until your hips begin to come off the floor.
  • Hold for five deep breaths, then lower back down.
  • Repeat 1-2 more times.

Chair Pose

  • Begin with your feet about hip distance apart.
  • Bring your arms overhead with your palms facing one another, and bend your knees as if you are sitting on a chair.
  • Bring your thighs as close to parallel with the floor.
  • Hold the pose for five deep breaths.
  • To come out of the pose, straighten your legs and bring your arms to your sides.

Downward Dog

  • Start in a plank position.
  • Bring your hips up into the air so that your body is in an inverted V position.
  • Try to keep your heels as close to the ground as possible.
  • Hold for five full breaths.
  • Come back into a plank position.
  • Then repeat 1-2 times. 

Child’s Pose

  • Come onto your hands and knees.
  • Bring your body to the ground with your stomach between your thighs and your forehead to the floor.
  • Stretch your arms in front of you with your palms toward the floor.
  • Stay as long as you like, but for at least five full breaths.

Once you master these yoga poses, you can challenge yourself with more difficult yoga varieties.

These different yoga styles can be learned through in-person or online classes where you can see the moves and sequences demonstrated.

Yoga requires great balance and self-control to maintain certain postures and movements.

By incorporating yoga one to two times a week, women can improve both physical and emotional health.

These techniques also enhance strength and flexibility, which benefit all activities of daily living.

Holly Smith, M.D.
B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

Holly is an osteopathic physician, runner, triathlete, and fitness and nutrition enthusiast.

She is board certified in nephrology and internal medicine, has a bachelors degree in dietetics and is a certified personal trainer with NASM-PES certification.

Holly has completed four full ironmans, twelve marathons, countless half ironmans, olympic distance triathlons, half marathons and numerous other road races.

Holly joined the Fit Father Project in May 2019 as a regular writer, contributing articles on health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition.

She has also recently qualified for the 2020 World Championships for Ironman 70.3, in New Zealand!

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