As a beginner, often we equate yoga with some tough twisting poses. Yoga is not about touching your toes, or stretching to impossible degrees. It’s a simple process of uniting with yourself – using your breath, body and mind. While there is a lot to learn, discover and explore in the tradition of yoga, it is best to start simply and not let yourself be overwhelmed. Start with a brief meditation and intention. Sit in easy pose or accomplished pose (or any comfortable seating position) and take a few minutes to ground, center and focus inwards with one of our meditations. You may also want to set an intention, goal or prayer for your practice at the beginning meditation. It is best to start learning yoga under the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher who can lead you through the correct way of doing each technique. This would help you learn yoga asanas (postures) properly and avoid possible injuries. Some of the philosophies or techniques taught in yoga may be new but it is a good idea to keep an open mind, as it will help broaden your vision and enhance your yoga experience.
Yoga poses for beginners:
This pose improves posture, sense of center, mental clarity; solid breathing exercise. Simply stand—feet hip-width apart, weight spread evenly—with your arms at your sides. Then breathe slowly and deeply at an even pace, keeping your neck aligned with the rest of your spine. You can move your hands and arms as you focus; some people take a prayer position or reach up to the sky for a stretch.
Adho mukha svanasana
This Encourages full-body circulation; a great stretch for calves and heels. Get on all fours with hands and knees shoulder-and-hips-width apart. Walk your hands forward and spread your fingers wide for stability. Curl your toes under and carefully press your hips upward so your body looks like an inverted V with your knees slightly bent. You can get a stronger stretch by keeping your heels on the floor; “walk your dog” by alternately pressing your heels down. Stand with your legs three to four feet apart. Turn out your right foot 90 degrees and your left foot in slightly. Keeping your shoulders down, extend your arms to the sides with your palms down. Lunge into your right knee 90 degrees; keep your knee over your foot and don’t let it go past your toes. Aim your focus over your hand for as long as you like then switch sides.
This is one of the simplest externally rotated balancing poses. To do the Tree Pose, start by standing tall, back straight, with arms at your sides. Then shift your weight onto the left side of your body as you bend your right knee sideward and place the sole of your right foot against the inside of your left thigh. The positioning of your legs at this point should resemble the number 4. Keep your hips faced forward and centered in a neutral position. Once you attain balance, bring your hands together in front of you as if in prayer. To advance into the full pose, lift your arms above your head as you inhale, palms still in prayer pose, and hold this position for 30 seconds. Look up if you can.
The Triangle Pose is one of the basic standing yoga positions that relieve neck and back tension, and helps trim the waist. To do this, stand with your feet around 3 feet apart, with your right foot angled at 90 degrees and your left foot facing the front of the room. Then, raise your arms sideways and bend over to your right side so that your right hand is clasped around your ankle. Your left hand should be pointing toward the ceiling, with your head turned in the same direction. Make sure you tuck your tailbone in as you try to get your whole body into one plane. Hold this position for 5 breaths, and then repeat on the other side.
Warrior 2 is a great hip-opener, and a foundation pose to many other positions. To do the Warrior 2 Pose, stand with your legs 3-4 feet apart and turn your right foot towards the side of the room and your left foot slightly turned inward. Let your shoulders relax, then slowly lift your arms sideward, your palms facing the floor. Then bend your right knee to a 90-degree angle, making sure that your knee doesn’t extend past the toes. Turn your head to the right and hold this position for 1 minute as you inhale and exhale. Switch sides and repeat the steps.
This is one of the yoga poses that are often used to begin position sequences and combinations. Also known as a Standing Forward Bend¬¬¬, this position is used to relieve stress and stretch the calves, hips, and hamstrings. To do the Standing Forward Fold, stand with your back straight and your hands in a prayer position in front of your chest. Then lower your body and bend forward while keeping your legs straight. Hold this position as you inhale and exhale.
This is one of the best yoga poses that effectively stretches the spine, shoulders, and abdomen. A mild backbend, this opens up the chest and strengthens the back. To do the Cobra, lie on your mat face down with your legs extended behind you and the tops of your foot touching the floor. Bring your hands to the sides of your ribs beneath the elbows. Spread your fingers wide, keep your elbows close to the body, and let your weight fall to your hands as you lift your upper body off the floor until your chest and abdomen are no longer touching the ground. Lift your head towards the ceiling as you do this, and hold this pose for 15-30 seconds as you inhale and exhale. Take care that you don’t strain your neck in this pose, as your back should be doing all the work.