LAST month, we hosted our annual initiative called Yoga for Smiles – which encourages people to take time out of their busy day to practice some yoga while raising funds for children with clefts around the world.
To help lift spirits and keep the nation smiling, on the International Day of Yoga (June 21), we encouraged people to ‘Give 5, Take 5’ – by taking a five-minute break out of their day to stretch, breathe deeply, smile and then donate £5 to Smile Train.
Every three minutes, a baby is born with a cleft – the money raised through Yoga for Smiles helps us empower local medical professionals around the world with the necessary training, funding and resources required to provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children within their local communities.
This year, we enlisted the support of yogi and Game of Thrones star Nathalie Emmanuel, who hosted a free-to-attend live yoga class on her Instagram. Nathalie guided viewers through a mixture of beginner level breathing techniques, stretches and exercises, to raise awareness and funds for Smile Train and our Yoga for Smiles initiative.
Although International Day of Yoga has been and gone, our Yoga for Smiles initiative is something that yoga lovers – whatever their level and experience – can support all year round. To help inspire you to get involved, we’ve compiled a list of 15 yoga poses that you can try at home.
- Child’s pose: This is a very calming pose that gently stretches your lower back, hips and thighs.
- Downward-facing dog: This pose helps to strengthen the arms, shoulders and back.
- Tree pose: This can be carried out to improve balance, as well as strengthen the core.
- Cat pose: A simple pose to help stretch the spine, back muscles and neck. You can couple this with ‘Cow pose’, which stretches the front of the torso and throat area to create a calming warm up.
- Bridge pose: Acting as an accessible backbend for most people, this pose is a great way to strengthen the back, glutes, hamstrings, and legs.
- Mountain pose: A great pose to practice alignment and posture. This pose draws a straight line from the crown of your head to your heels, with the shoulders and pelvis stacked along the line.
- Staff pose: This is a seated version of the mountain pose, which encourages you to engage the leg muscles and flex the feet while lifting your chest and relaxing your shoulders.
- Cobbler’s pose: This pose stretches neglected areas of the body, including the groin.
- Plank pose: This pose is very effective for building core strength – which is essential for many yoga poses.
- Four-limbed staff pose: This pose is a push-up variant of the plank pose and works to strengthen arms and wrists, as well as tone your core.
- Cobra pose: This back-bending pose helps to increase spinal flexibility and strengthen the back muscles.
- Triangle pose: This pose helps build strength in the legs, as well as stretches the chest, hips, shoulders and spine.
- Seated half-spinal twist pose: This twisting pose increases the flexibility in your back and relieves any tension in the middle of your back.
- Lotus pose: This pose stretches the front of the thighs and ankles and helps manage stress.
- Corpse pose: Yoga sessions typically end with you lying flat on your back in this pose, which allows for a moment of relaxation.
If you’d like more information about the initiative and would like to get involved, please visit: smiletrain.org.uk/yoga-for-smiles.