How To Get Started: 9 Simple Yoga Poses For Beginners
Yoga has always been one of the only types of "exercise" that has really intrigued me. I love the strength that it builds and how I can physically feel how each pose works to remove stress from my body. And then there is the mental aspect of it. Unlike doing cardio for some, Yoga helps me to calm my constantly racing mind and helps me to find peace, which is needed for someone like myself who has always struggled with anxiety.
But I'll admit, when I was first introduced to the yoga practice I found it to be very intimidating. Watching how the instructors would bend and flex their limbs effortlessly like some type of contortionist made me feel like I would never be able to accomplish anything other than a very basic tree pose. That was until I began to practice consistently. Overtime I learned that not everyone jumps in ready to do a handstand but with time you'll slowly be able to see your body bend further than it used to and go deeper into each pose without much force.
If you've been wanting to learn more about yoga and some of its benefits, I've brought in Yoga Pro, Emily Newcity to share a few basic poses to help you get started along with their key benefits.
Sanskrit Name: Trikonasana (Bikram Lineage)
Triangle pose is a great pose for those of us stuck behind a desk for most of our lives! It opens the hips, helping alleviate the tension that most chronic desk workers suffer. It is also a wonderful chest opener, counteracting forward posture or "slouching" posture. This posture is truly a "heart opener"! It also provides benefits to your stomach, liver and spleen by improving blood flow to those regions.
Please note, your bent knee should never extend beyond your ankle. This maintains the postures integrity while protecting your knee joints.
Sanskrit Name:Vrksasana (Bikram Lineage)
This posture is great to improve our balance while also opening our hips. It is a great opportunity to gauge your current stability on one foot, and improve your overall balance. This posture also serves to improve focus while calming your mind and body. While you may struggle at first on one foot, know that is completely normal, and with practice it will get easier. This posture stretches your groin, thighs and helps tone your core. This posture is also great for people with flat feet or those who suffer from sciatica.
Standing Bow Pulling Pose
Sanskrit Name: Dandayamana dhanurasana
While this postures Sanskrit name is certainly a tongue twister, this postures western name really depicts the biomechanics at work here. This posture is of tremendous benefit to your body because it causes the "tourniquet" effect, where circulation is restricted slightly to certain muscles, but don't fret! When you release the posture rich, oxygenated blood will pump back into those muscles where the flow had been restricted, rejuvenating your muscles and improving your overall circulation. This is a multifaceted posture designed to improve balance, flexibility and circulation.
Sanskrit Name: Utkatasana
This is another posture that is meant for anyone sitting at a desk or in front of a computer for hours! It is stimulating to the abdominal organs and opens the diaphragm, counteracting the negative effects of sitting for extended periods of time. It offers tremendous benefits to your shoulders and chest, which will also help "undo" those hours on your laptop or phone. It can even help treat discomfort associated with flat feet!
A Mudra is a yogic hand position that have been used for thousands of years! Pictured here with "Gyan Mudra" which is characterized by the connection of your thumb and index finger. The mudra is optional, but oh-so-satisfying!
Extended Triangle Pose
Sanskrit Names: Utthita Trikonasana
You can almost see where this posture gets its name when you look at the multiple triangles reflected in the body during the pose. This posture improves digestion with the subtle twist through your mid-section and helps address lower back pain. It is also great to begin to unlock stiffness in your neck. This is another posture great for those of us stuck behind the desk.
Standing Half Forward Bend
Sanskrit Name: Ardha Uttanasana
This is a great posture for beginners and for those of us working to improve general flexibility. It is a wonderful release for your lower spine while it stimulates your abdominal organs. Also stretches tight hamstrings. Please note, anyone suffering from a recent or severe lower back injury should modify or skip this posture.
Sanskrit Name: Bhujangasana
This posture is great for you abdominal organs as they get increased blood flow with the opening of the front body. This backbend is a great way to introduce your back to a backbend, without having to go straight to a standing backbend. It also is a very soothing posture promoting a calm stress free mind. This posture is also highly recommended for those suffering from sciatica and is great for your kidneys.
Downward Facing Dog
Sanskrit Name: Adho Mukha Svanasana
This is probably the most recognizable yoga posture in the western world. It offers a full body stretch while also helping release tension in the spine. It also strengthens shoulders and arms, while calming the mind. If posture is uncomfortable or difficult simply modify with bent knees, which will allow you to go deeper in your posture.
Sanskrit Name: Shavasana/Savasana
This posture is usually for the end of your practice and requires you lie down in your anatomical position. While this may look like the easiest posture so far, many consider it the most difficult. This is because when we enter Savasana we are striving to have a "clear mind" and relax; which surprisingly is incredibly hard for most of us. With the constant onslaught of work, family, and life commitments getting the mind to actually quiet is incredibly hard. As we work toward stillness in Savasana the posture is designed to allow you to descend into a truly relaxed state, so even if thoughts appear, recognize them, and let them pass. You will be amazed by the mental benefits of this seemingly simple posture.
Whether you're taking classes at a local studio or popping in a dvd at home, practicing yoga can be extremely helpful for not only toning your body but also de-stressing after a long day. If you've practiced yoga before, let us know some of your favorite poses in the comments!