6 Basic Yoga Workouts

It's time to forget the idea that yoga is only for the young, the absurdly flexible, or the spiritually inclined. In fact, yoga is a fantastic addition to any fitness workout plan, no matter your age or ability. And even if you'd never try a scorpion pose, the health benefits can't be beat. Just one yoga workout session can temporarily help lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone linked to a greater risk of heart disease.

Research shows that yoga workouts relieve back pain as well as or more effectively than traditional exercises. Most recently, a small University of California, San Francisco, study revealed that 90 minutes of yoga a week for 8 weeks may help decrease the frequency and severity of hot flashes by more than 30 percent. Still hesitant? You'll also increase strength, get toned, and sleep better.

To get you started, Peggy Cappy, creator of the Yoga for the Rest of Us DVD series, designed this easy 15-minute routine that uses a chair to gently increase your flexibility. "As your body becomes more resilient, your mind will, too," she says. "Everyday stresses, like traffic jams or rude people, won't push your buttons as easily." Perform the yoga poses in this routine daily, and you'll be moving with more energy and ease within 2 weeks.

Yoga Workout Basics

The Plan
Do each stretch one time, repeating on the opposite side where instructed. Practice the routine at least three times a week, daily if possible.

What You'll Need
Comfortable, loose clothing; a mat or carpeted floor; and a sturdy kitchen or dining room chair.

For a Challenge

Hold each pose up to 60 seconds.

Shoulder/Wrist Stretch

Realigns shoulders that are out of balance from carrying handbags on one side; soothes wrist soreness from too much computer time

Sit on edge of chair, keeping spine erect. Slowly swing right arm in a large circle, up in front and then down behind you. Start a second circle, but stop when hand is directly overhead. Keeping arm up, circle hand (from wrist) clockwise two times. Then lower arm behind you, completing the circle. Do two more arm/wrist circles and then repeat in the opposite direction, making counterclockwise circles with wrist. Repeat with left arm.
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