You’ve heard all about the amazing benefits of yoga, and are finally ready to experience it for yourself. With this popular discipline balancing mind, body, and, soul it is no wonder that the interest in yoga has skyrocketed in the past few years. Once you begin your practice and discover the great rewards of this ancient practice you will find yourself living a life of renewed vitality and peace of mind. Here are some of the best yoga poses for beginners along with their foundational poses.
Where to Begin
When starting a yoga practice you will need little more than a yoga mat and a small space to practice. Yoga can be done anywhere, and when you begin you may want to set aside a small space in your home where you can devote your time to learning the basics. You also may want to take a beginning class in your local yoga studio to learn correct form and some of the philosophy behind yoga. Knowing the following when beginning your yoga practice will give you the knowledge you need for a passion that is bound to last a lifetime.
Basic Yoga Poses for Beginners
Get your yoga routine going with these simple and straightforward poses that anyone can do from the very beginning.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Most yoga sequences begin and end with the corpse pose. Sava means corpse, and in savasana the body lies still, with all the muscles thoroughly relaxed. This pose refreshes both body and mind, and just ten minutes spent in corpse pose each day will bring a sense of refreshment that is parallel with a good night’s sleep.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Tada means mountain, and in the mountain pose posture, one develops awareness and improves general muscle tone. When in Tadasana, the body is erect like a mountain and the feet are planted firmly on the ground. It is an excellent predecessor to tree pose, and is the starting and ending pose of all standing postures. It’s one of the best–and the easiest–yoga poses for beginners to master.
Tree Pose (Vrkasasana)
Vrksa means tree, and this beginning pose is one of graceful balance. The foot that is pressing on the ground is like that of the root of a tree and arms stretched up overhead are like that of the branches that extend from the tree. This pose helps to develop memory and concentration while improving poise and posture. Ancient yogis would stay in this pose for hours at a time as a form of strict devotion.
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This posture is founded on the movements of a dog stretching downward. Adho means downward, mukha means face, and svana /i> means dog. Practicing the downward facing dog strongly stretches the legs and spine while strengthening the back, neck, abs, and thighs. It is also excellent for restoring energy and improving circulation.
Warrior I (Virabhadrasana 1)
Virabhadra is a legendary Indian warrior whom Lord Shiva manifested to fight his battle when he took vengeance on the death of his beautiful wife, Parvati. This pose that strengthens the mind will also increase confidence, cultivate self-esteem, and combat fatigue.
Bhujanga means cobra, and this posture resembles that of the snake with the head nobly raised. This pose strengthens the back, improves digestion, and regulates menstruation. This is an excellent pose for beginners, but is not however recommended for those that have lower back pain.
Shoulder Stand (Sarvangasana)
Shoulder stand is traditionally seen as the “Queen of Postures.” Savra means all or complete, and anga means body. This pose is extremely beneficial to the entire body by firming legs, abs, and arms, toning facial skin and preventing wrinkles, and regulating the function of the thyroid gland. In this posture, the flow of blood is reversed which increases the blood supply to the face and brain while also increasing your metabolic rate.
3 Sequences for Beginning Yogis
Sun salutation is traditionally performed in the morning as a greeting to the sun, the source of all life on earth. It’s a great series of yoga poses for beginners that pushes your knowledge and practice a bit further. For first-timers the cycle will take some time before it flows smoothly, but with a bit of practice it will bring unprecedented benefits. It is excellent preparation for others asanas.
- Stand in mountain pose and bring palms together in prayer position in front of the chest. Hold for 2-3 breaths. Inhale deeply and draw the arms up, bending backwards from the waist.
- Exhale and bend forward from the hips and keep your legs straight with your palms flat on the ground or fingertips resting beside the feet. If your hands do not yet reach to the floor, bend your knees so you may touch the floor.
- Inhale and stretch the right leg back. Rest your knee on the floor and arch your back turning your face upward.
- Bring both feet together and keep the legs, back, and head in an inclined position. Look at the floor and maintain the breath.
- Exhale and lower both knees to the floor, and then slowly lower the chest and forehead to rest on the floor. Keep your toes turned in and your hips off the floor with your elbows held close to your body.
- Inhale deeply and lower your hips to the ground, turn your toes out, and raise the chest and head. This will put you into cobra pose.
- Exhale and turn the toes back in toward your head, and raise the hips, pressing your heels firmly to the ground. Relax the neck and look at the toes as you breathe in downward facing dog.
- Inhale and bring the right leg forward so your toes are aligned with your fingers. Rest the knee on the floor, arch the back, and turn your face upward. This is the same position as step 3, but now your opposite leg is forward.
- Exhale and bring the left leg forward and align with your right foot and fingers. This is exactly the same position as step 2.
- Inhale deeply and straighten the spine to a standing position, and bend back at the waist. This is the same as step the last part of step 1. Exhale and return to mountain pose, poised and ready to begin another sequence.
Beginning Sequence 1
Begin in mountain pose and breathe deeply for at least 3 breath counts.
Exhale and slowly bend forward at the waist from the hips to a 90 degree angle. Look forward and pause for a moment to inhale. Exhale again and continue to bend at the hips, relax the neck, and let hands touch the floor or hold onto your ankles. Breathe deeply for at least 3 breath counts in this pose known as standing forward bend.
Inhale and walk your hands forward, keeping your feet together, and come into downward facing dog. Keep your arms and legs straight and hold for 30 seconds, breathing deeply and evenly.
From downward facing dog, bend at the knees and come to rest with your knees bent, legs under your body, hands resting on your knees. Take a few deep breaths in this posture known as thunderbolt, and then exhale slowly and bend forward. Rest your forehead on the floor and place the arms beside the body, palms facing up. This is called child’s pose and is excellent for reducing fatigue and relaxing the spinal ligaments. Hold for 60 seconds and return to thunderbolt pose.
Stretch the legs out straight in front of you and press your knees down, toes pointing up. Press your palms firmly into the floor beside the hips and center your head looking forward. Staff pose is wonderful for improved posture and toning the legs.
From staff pose, inhale and stretch the arms up over your head. Pint your toes up and push the heels away from your body. Hold for a few breath counts and feel this pose work to lengthen your spine. Exhale and bend forward from the hips and lower your hands to your feet or ankles. Bring your face closer to the knees. Hold yourself in forward bend in sitting position for 20 seconds, breathing evenly. On your last inhale, reverse the motion and return to staff pose.
From staff pose, slowly roll your spine back so you are lying on the floor. Adjust your body so the head is in the center and your spine is aligned. Your arms should be away from the body a bit and your legs slightly apart. Close your eyes and focus on your breath as you relax in savasana. Stay in this pose for 5-10 minutes and let your breath flow evenly. This pose will release all tension you may be holding in your body while it refreshes both the body and mind.
Easy Morning Wake-Up Routine
Begin your morning standing in up-stretched arm posture. Standing in mountain pose, inhale and draw the arms above the head, and interlock the fingers with your palms facing forward. Lift the heels off the floor and hold for a few breath counts. On your last exhalation, lower the heels and unlock your fingers. Do one inhalation and on your exhale, slowly bend to the right, holding for 20 seconds. Inhale and return to a straight position. Repeat the process by bending to the left and holding for another 20 seconds. Inhale and return to standing.
Jump or step sideways so your feet are approximately 3 feet apart. Inhale and raise the arms to shoulder level with the palms facing down. You are now preparing for extended triangle pose which will regulate your digestive system and strengthen your ankles and legs. Turn the left foot 90 degrees and the right foot about 60 degrees to the left. Exhale and bend to the left slowly while keeping the knee in line with the ankle. Slide your left hand down the left leg and hold onto the lowest position you can on the leg. From here slowly rotate the neck to look up at your raised right hand where your palm should be facing forward and your fingers pointing up. Hold this pose for 20-30 seconds.
From here move to tree pose. Begin by returning to mountain pose and breathe deeply in order to focus your mind. Lift your right foot and use your hands to place your foot on the top of the left thigh. Bring your palms together in prayer position in front of your chest. When you find balance, bring the palms up over the head with arms stretched straight. Hold for 20-30 seconds, breathing deeply and evenly, and repeat on the other leg.
Once you have again returned to mountain pose, stretch the body forward so you are in downward facing dog. Remember to push this posture back into the heels and keep your neck relaxed and head down. Hold for 30 seconds.
For the last posture of your easy morning wake-up routine, find comfort and relaxation in child’s pose. Hold this posture for at least 60 seconds and feel fatigue melt away and your body and mind focused and ready to start a new day.
There you have it: a solid collection of yoga poses for beginners along with some basic beginning sequences that will have you up on the mat feeling confident and taking on even greater challenges. Namaste.1