If you’re brand new to yoga, it’s completely normal to feel intimidated by the die-hard yogis who warm up before class with headstands. The Eastern practice of yoga has become a modern-day symbol of peace, serenity, and well-being in the West. In fact, according to a Yoga in America study, more than 20 million Americans practice yoga each year! Touted for its ability to reduce feelings of stress, yoga offers a wide range of physical and mental health benefits that are difficult to ignore. In this blog, we’ll look at some important poses for the beginner yogi to help you prepare for your first yoga class.
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As the base of all standing poses, mountain pose is the first yoga pose you should aspire to master. This pose will give you a clear sense of how to ground your feet and feel Mother Earth below you. While this pose may initially just feel like you’re just standing, there is much more that goes into perfecting this posture.
How To Do It: To achieve Mountain Pose, start in a standing position with your feet closely together. Focus on pressing down through all ten of your toes and spread them out wide. Engage your quadriceps to lift your kneecaps and lift up through your inner thighs. Make sure to draw your abdominals in and up as you lift your chest and press the top of your shoulders downward. You should be able to feel your shoulder blades coming close together on your back. Face your palms inward towards your body and imagine that there is a string being drawn from the crown of your head up to the sky. Breathe deeply into your torso for five to eight breaths.
Downward Facing Dog
As one of the most recognizable yoga poses around, Downward Facing Dog is a great way to stretch your back, shoulders, arms, and hamstrings. This will be your resting pose in most yoga practices, and you will find yourself in this pose several times throughout your yoga class.
How To Do It: Come onto all fours with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Tuck your toes under and lift your hips off of the floor as you start to draw them back into space toward your heels. It may be difficult to straighten your legs right away, so don’t be afraid to keep your knees slightly bent if your hamstrings are tight. Press firmly through your palms and work on rotating your inner elbows towards each other. Hollow out your abdominals and keep your legs engaged as you guide your torso towards your thighs. Hold this pose for five to eight breaths before you drop back down to your hands and knees to rest.
If you’re looking for a great way to strengthen your abdominals, Plank is a yoga pose you’ll definitely want to master. Plank teaches you how to balance on your hands while using your entire body to support yourself.
How To Do It: Start on all fours with your wrists under your shoulders. Tuck your toes and lift your legs off of the mat so only your hands and toes are touching the floor. Slide your heels back until you feel as if your body is one straight line of energy from your head to your feet. Work on engaging your lower abdominals and drawing your shoulders away from your ears. Hold this pose and breathe deeply for eight to 10 breaths.
Another popular beginner yoga pose to work on is Triangle. This wonderful standing posture is used to stretch out the sides of the waist, strengthen the legs, open up the lungs, and tone the entire body.
How to Do It: To perform Triangle, start standing on your mat with your feet one leg’s length apart. Open up your arms and stretch them to the sides at shoulder height. Turn your right foot out to a 90 degree angle and position your left toes in a 45 degree angle. Work on engaging your quadriceps and abdominals as you hinge to the side over your right leg. Bring your right hand down near your ankle, shin, or knee (you can always modify this posture by using a block), and lift your arm up towards the ceiling. Turn your gaze to the top hand and hold this posture for five to eight breaths. Once you have completed one side, be sure to repeat the same posture on the opposite side.
Tree is one of the first standing balance poses you will learn in a yoga class. When you practice moving in and out of this pose, you will learn to focus and breathe while keeping your body balanced on one foot.
How To Do It: Start Tree pose with your feet together on the mat. Move all of your body weight into your left foot and, when you’re ready, bring your left foot up to rest on your inner upper left thigh. Push your foot into your thigh and your thigh into your foot to maintain balance. Press your hands in prayer and find a spot on the floor in front of you that you can focus on and hold a steady gaze. Keep your abdominals engaged throughout the entire posture. Hold this pose and breathe deeply for eight to 10 breaths before switching sides.
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