Yoga For Beginners

Good Morning everybody, are you all doing well? I know there are a lot of parents who are happy their children have gone back to school/are starting school this week as it means they can get back into a routine, but I also know that a lot of people are worried about the cost of living and how schools might get affected and the impact it could have on kids, I hope the new Prime Minister Liz Truss, who we all knew won weeks ago (it was very obvious) can shed some light on what plans are going to be put into place to help us all manage with the living crisis, as sadly we’re all being affected by the prices rising. Moving away from whats happening in the news at the moment as the majority of it is quite depressing, we recieved some news ourselves regarding my mum and her surgery – she’s now recieved a letter to have a pre-op surgery assessment at the beginning of next month, where we’ll find out more information about what’s going to happen. For now though we just wait until October comes.

As a way to pass time by and to de-stress with everything that’s going on, something I find really helpful and am a huge fan of is Yoga…Whether you’re a total newbie or haven’t practiced yoga in years, you never regret stepping on the mat for the physical health and mental wellbeing benefits of the mindful practice. No matter your age, size, fitness level or experience, it’s never too late to start yoga for beginners. There are so many benefits of this ancient practice, from increasing strength to reducing stress and discovering acceptance of yourself and the world around you. Coming to yoga as a beginner can be daunting, especially if your only experience with yoga is the ultra-flexible yogis you see doing headstands on social media. While some people who practice yoga aim to achieve such results, that’s not all this activity is about. Many people turn to yoga because it makes them feel good, both physically and mentally. If you want to find out more, read on for further information!

Top 10 Yoga Poses For Beginners

Yoga began in India thousands of years ago and has become increasingly popular in the Western world over the last few decades. It uses a series of movements, breaths, and/or meditation exercises to strengthen the body and ease the mind. And you don’t have to be an expert to reap the rewards. There are many great reasons to add yoga to your exercise routine. Yoga improves muscle tone, flexibility, and balance, and it helps you relax and reduce stress, thanks in part to its signature pranayama breathing. Research have also shown that yogic practices also reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain; help you sleep better; and enhance overall well-being and quality of life. If you want to give it a go, here are 10 easy beginner poses to try…

Easy Pose (Sukhasana)

This pose strengthens the back and abdominal muscles while stretching the hips and groin. The classic seated pose with legs crossed and a straight spine isn’t always easy to do. Most yoga classes will start off in Easy pose, so it is essential to know how to make this beginner pose as comfortable as possible. Easy pose is often difficult to do as most people do not know how to sit still for even 5 minutes in our chaotic, fast-moving society! This pose helps beginning students to establish a seated foundation for their practice, is a common pose for learning the art of meditation, and encourages lengthening and proper alignment of the spine. Sukasana also is very calming for the mind and body, and enables concentration.

How to do it:

  1. Sit on the floor, with your legs out in front of you.
  2. Cross your shins and slip each foot under the opposite knee.
  3. Rest your hands on your knees.

*Quick tip: A pillow or rolled-up towel — can help open your hips and ease the strain on your lower back.*

Childs Pose (Balasana)

You can use child’s pose to rest and refocus before continuing to your next pose. It gently stretches the back, hip, and arm muscles and relaxes your spine, shoulders and neck, as well as calms the nervous system. If you walk your hands forward, you can also add opening to the armpit area and the chest to the list. This pose is accessible for most, and it’s a position those practicing yoga can always go to when they are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or when they have the need to calm their body down. It’s also a good pose to move your body into when you are faced with a pose during your yoga class that you can’t physically or mentally practice at that time. 

How to do it:

  1. Kneel on the floor, with your knees wider than your hips, and toes pointed and together.
  2. Stretch your arms out on the floor in front of you, shoulder-width apart. Rest your forehead on the floor.

*Quick tip: if your knees or hip joint feels tight, place a rolled-up towel or pillow between the bottom of your thighs and your calves. You can also put a pillow or yoga block under your forehead.*

Seated Twist / Half Lord of The Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

Lord of the Half Fishes is a yoga pose that stretches and opens the low back and hips. If your low back is sore or you want to prevent back pain, you should learn how to do Lord of the Half Fishes. This pose will provide relief whether your pain originates in your lumbar spine or if it is coming from tight hips, which pull on the lower back. Lord of the Half Fishes is a seated pose that requires nice, tall seated posture. Be sure to lift your spine, pull in your abs and sit as tall as possible. The tendency to slouch will put your lower back into a compromised position and the pose will not provide the depth that the stretch it is designed to give you.

How to do it:

  1. Begin in a seated position with legs straight out in front of you.
  2. Cross right knee over left, placing foot on the floor and tuck left foot under body next to right glute.(Note: If you knees hurt or hips are too tight, you can keep the bottom leg straight.)
  3. Reach your left arm straight up in the air and, twisting to the right place your left elbow over the top of your right knee and set your right hand on the floor next to you.
  4. As you hold, breathe and continue gently pressing your elbow against your outer leg. Hold 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

*Quick tip: This pose will also show a fairly deep knee bend in your bottom leg. If you are experiencing knee pain or have any trouble bending your knees, keep your bottom leg straight in this pose to provide relief.*

Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

The foundation of all standing poses is Mountain pose or Tadasana, it is perfect for beginners and accessible to the majority of able-bodied yoga students. Mountain Pose is a basic standing yoga pose that strengthens and aligns posture as well as focusing the mind on the body and the breath. While it looks like just simple standing still, Mountain Pose actually engages the mind and the body and teaches a discipline of focus and serenity that most people do not have by nature. If you want better posture and calmer demeanor, you should learn how to do Mountain Pose.

How to do it:

  1. Stand tall with feet a few inches apart and toes spread on the mat.
  2. Hold arms alongside your body, palms facing forward, shoulders relaxed down.
  3. Relax and breathe slowly.

*Quick tip: If you’re struggling with feeling stable in this pose, try to have your feet wider apart. You can also practice the asana against a wall for extra support and to help you properly align your spine in the posture.*

Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

Up Dog, also known as “Upward Facing Dog”, is a pose that stretches the chest, abdominals and shoulders as well as strengthens the arms, upper back muscles and glutes. While many yoga poses focus on stretching muscles on the back side of the body, Up Dog focuses on balancing this out by stretching the muscles in the front. If you think you have poor posture, rounded shoulders, or weak upper back muscles, you should learn how to do Up Dog. Our societal habits of walking hunched over a phone or sitting at a computer can leave us with poor posture and rounded shoulders. Up Dog opens up the muscles that are generally shortened and tightened by these activities leaving you with better posture. In addition, many activities we participate in strengthen the many muscles in our legs without letting the glute muscle fire and take hold.

How to do it:

  1. Begin lying face down on your mat with head slightly lifted and hand sitting directly under shoulders.
  2. Point your toes so the tops of you feet are on the mat.
  3. As you exhale, press through your hands and the tops of your feet raising your body and legs up off the ground until arms are straight.
  4. Keep your neck relaxed and long and quads tight as you hold and breathe.

*Quick tip: Before you take time to lean how to do Up Dog, take time to learn how to do Low Cobra pose. Low Cobra and Cobra both prepare the body for Up Dog. In fact, in most yoga practices the instructor will cue Low Cobra or Cobra several times before encouraging Up Dog.*

Downward Dog (Adhi Mukha Svanasana)

Downward dog stretches the back of the legs, spine, hamstrings, palms, and feet. It also strengthens shoulders, arms, legs, and abdominal muscles. A favorite among most yoga students, downward dog is an outstanding pose for stretching the low back, hamstrings, lower legs and feet. When you arrive in this pose, there is almost an instant sensation of relief as tightness along the entire back of your body is released. Anyone and everyone – yoga student or not – should learn how to do downward dog. There is a reason downward dog is repeated so frequently during almost all yoga practices. It is a pose like no other. Not only is it simple for most people to do, but is feels good to nearly everyone. In addition, it is one of the most malleable poses since it can be adjusted to go deeper or lighter almost instantly by applying more or less pressure through the hands, arms and back. More than just a stretch for the spine, however, downward dog is a pose of strength. It takes back, shoulder and arm muscles to push the body into its proper position for Downward Dog. The deeper you want to stretch, the more you need to push through your upper body muscles and the more you work on isometric strength.

How to do it:

  1. Start on all fours.
  2. Put your hands on the floor underneath your shoulders.
  3. Place your knees on the floor underneath your hips.
  4. Tuck your toes and lift your hips toward the ceiling.

*Quick tip: Bend your knees or peddle out your feet to ease the stretch. You can also place your hands on a chair or wall.*

Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

Tree pose improves balance and stretches muscles surrounding the hip. Vrksasana (Tree Pose) teaches you to simultaneously press down and feel rooted as you reach tall like the branches of a mighty tree. In this pose, you find a sense of groundedness through the strength of your standing leg. Bringing the sole of your opposite foot to your shin or thigh challenges your balance. Continuously engage your ankles, legs, and core and notice what tiny movements your body might make to help you stay balanced. By strengthening your legs, glutes, core, and back, Tree Pose can improve your posture and alignment, which is especially helpful if you sit throughout the day. What makes this pose special is that it teaches you to explore your connection with your body. Maybe one day your lifted foot is positioned closer to your groin. Maybe another day, you leave your foot partially on the ground for balance. Be honest with your limits and learn to honor what your body needs on any given day.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet hip widths apart.
  2. Shift your weight onto your right foot.
  3. Raise your left leg and gently turn your knee outwards.
  4. Place your left foot at the inside of your right calf or above your knee, never on the knee.

*Quick tip: Place your foot on the inside of your ankle instead if you need help balancing.*

Triangle (Utthita Trikonasana)

Triangle is a standing pose that stretches legs, hips, groin, hamstring, calves, shoulders, chest and spine. It’s a powerful and effective stretch! Triangle pose is rich with ways to release many, many muscles in your body if done properly. Triangle pose is also about posture and alignment. This pose will help teach you to stand taller and lengthen short, tight muscles. Often our posture deteriorates after practicing the bad habit of rounded shoulders or hunched over upper backs. Triangle pose seeks to undo that poor posture and lift your spine up.

How to do it:

  1. From a standing position, step your left foot to the back of your mat and lower the inside of your foot so that your back foot is at an angle. Both legs are long and straight.
  2. Reach your right arm over your right leg and left arm over your left leg keeping arms straight and back long.
  3. Now begin to reach the right hand forward over the right foot lengthening through the waist and slowly tip over so right hand rests gently on your shin.
  4. Lengthen your left arm up stacking your left shoulder over your right shoulder and left hip over right hip. Gaze toward left hand.
  5. Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides.

*Quick tip: If you have high blood pressure, turn your head to gaze downward in the final pose. If you have neck problems, don’t turn your head to look upward; look straight ahead and keep both sides of the neck long.*

Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)

There are several asanas that embody the strength and power and fearlessness, and Warrior 1 is the foundation for these empowering standing poses. This is an energizing pose that strengthens the legs, ankles, arms, and back while stretching the hips and torso. It’s also great for improving balance and stability. If the full variation of the posture isn’t appropriate or accessible for your body, you can always lift the back heel to reduce pressure on the ankle and hips or even lower to the back knee. There are a wide variety of options to reduce tension in the chest, shoulders, and neck. If this is an issue, try separating the hands or even bending the elbows into cactus arms while continuing to lift the torso.

How to do it:

  1. From a standing position, step your left foot to the back of your mat and lower the inside of your foot so that your back foot is at an angle.
  2. Bend your right knee 90 degrees and straighten your back leg.
  3. Reach arms overhead and keep torso facing the front.
  4. Relax shoulders and breathe gently in and out. Hold 30 seconds and switch sides.

*Quick tip: If you need to make this pose a bit easier, have less bend in the knee. You can take a break by straightening the leg and then bending it back into position. Make sure the bent knee is pointing directly at the middle toe, to make sure you do not put excess strain on the knee joint.*

Bridge (Setu Bandhasana)

Bridge pose strengthens the thighs, buttock, back, and shoulder muscles. It also stretches the spine, shoulders, and hip, easing the tight muscles that come from hunching over a computer all day. Bridge Pose stretches the chest, neck, spine and hips and also strengthens the glutes, core and lower back and promotes good posture. Almost anyone can learn how to do Bridge Pose and experience the benefits it has to offer. Among the many benefits is headache relief. If you have trouble with tension headaches, bridge pose might be a natural solution for you. If you have been to a yoga class or done a yoga practice on your own, you will notice is there a fair amount of bending forward. This is for good reason, since most of these poses help to stretch and open the hamstrings and back. It is, however, very important to balance out your body and provide ways to stretch and open the chest and front of the hips. Bridge pose is an excellent example of this and it is user-friendly for most people.

How to do it:

  1. Lying on your back with your arms by your sides and your knees bent, place your feet flat on the floor about two feet from your hips.
  2. Raise your buttocks up off of the floor, keeping your knees hip-distance apart.

*Quick tip: Stack a folded blanket under your lower back for added support.*

Yoga is a great form of exercise for people of all ages and fitness levels. However, beginners should look for slower-paced classes to start with and let the teacher know you’re a beginner so they can modify poses. With regular practice, you’ll build strength and flexibility in muscles and joints and reap mental benefits. Yoga can be practiced either in-person at a studio, gym, or recreation center or virtually with online videos. Today, we’re in an unparalleled position to engage with yoga through a multitude of channels. There are countless ways to practice: from studios, gyms, community centers, schools, and outdoor venues, to online videos and social media channels. You can also fully immerse yourself by attending conferences, trainings, and retreats all over the globe. With so many ways to engage with yoga, you’re in an optimal position to begin or enhance your practice and tailor it to best support your health and well-being.

Thank you for coming to my blog and reading today’s post, I hope you all manage to enjoy the rest of your week. For now, though, I shall see you next time!

3 thoughts on “Yoga For Beginners

  1. I love yoga and the kind I practise is called Iyengar which is all about correct positioning in the asana (poses) using equipment like blocks and straps if necessary. I go to a weekly class but also do 20 mins a day at home.

    Liked by 1 person

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