You’ll be Glad You Added the Frog Stretch and Eagle Pose to Your Yoga Regimen!
Admit it: You’re curious about why so many yoga poses are named after animals but you’re too busy enjoying your favorite way to relax and unplug to stop and ask.
Seek no more, enlightened reader. It turns out that pose names originated with ancient yogis who “found imitating animals to be an enlightening experience for both the body and mind,” writes Shannon Austin for the Yoga Fever website.
“As humans, we often struggle to keep ourselves aligned – we do fall victim to that sickness, worry, and depression,” she adds, but when we emulate animals, we honor and respect the lessons taught by every animal on the planet,” she adds.
Think about this profound relationship next time you are introduced to a new yoga move, including the ones you already know and a few you might not.
Why Yoga is hot – and not for reasons you imagined
Over the past five years, interest in yoga has grown so dramatically, the “number of Americans doing yoga has grown by over 50% in the last four years to over 36 million as of 2016, up from 20.4 million in 2012,” reports Marlynn Wei, MD.
“The number of 50+ men and women discovering yoga has “tripled over the last four years to reach 14 million, she adds, and adherents cross cultural, age, and demographic lines even before COVID came along.
U.S. National Institutes of Health were interested in whether COVID attracted more practitioners in a February 2021 study. Results were stunning and concluded that physical and mental benefits yoga fans enjoy, including “less anxiety, stress, fear, and having better coping strategies than the non-Yoga group.” Participants also showed “a superior ability to cope with stress and anxiety associated with lockdown.”
And you thought yoga was all about chakras, floor mats, and mastering ohms!
Channel your inner animal via these popular poses
Reclining Pigeon Pose: Stretch your hips, calm your mind, and open the fourth chakra by adding this pose to your repertoire. Lie on your back to accomplish the reclining pigeon pose. If you need help, use a strap or towel in place of your hands while assuming this pose.
Puppy pose: You don’t have to love dogs to assume this therapeutic pose is best described as a cross between Child's Pose and Downward-Facing Dog. Puppy pose is easy to learn and master – with or without the encouragement of your pet.
Camel Pose Yoga: This intermediate pose targets quads, the chest, and abdomen. It may be the closest position to a back bend you’ll attempt. Use props or don’t -- but if you do, Camel Pose Yoga moves will increase your flexibility as your spine extends and you enjoy the feeling of relief.
These beneficial poses are worth mastering
Frogs stretch: Strengthen your back muscles, improve circulation, and stimulate digestion by adding the frog stretch to your regular routine. Assume the plank position, hips above bent knees. Slowly widen your legs and point your feet outward.
Using one arm to stabilize your body, use the other to reach back and grab your corresponding foot. Roll down onto your torso front while keeping your head aloft, the hallmark of the frog stretch.
Use the other hand to hold the other foot (e.g., right hand/right foot; left hand/left foot). Your toes should face forward. Push your feet toward your hips -- palms pressed atop your feet and elbows at 45-degree angles. Press down, pushing heels toward hips before breathing, holding for 30 seconds, and releasing.
Eagle pose yoga: Mastering eagle pose yoga improves balance, focus, body awareness, and strengthens core, upper back, and legs. Assume a classic mountain pose, feet slightly apart. Hands-on hips, press your pelvis down while lifting through the crown of your head to lengthen your spine.
Bending both knees, lift your right foot while wrapping your right thigh over your left thigh before moving your right foot behind your left calf. Reach both arms forward, wrap your left arm over your right and cross the left elbow over your right upper arm.
Move your right hand toward your face as you cross your forearms while pressing palms together until your elbows reach shoulder height. Take 5 deep breaths as you enjoy a fabulous upper back stretch.