There’s a first time for everything and today’s first will be doing….
Key word here friends… today, not tomorrow, not the next day, but right now.
All firsts are scary.
I vividly remember my first yoga class and it wasn’t pretty…. but I came back to my mat, day after day, week after week and with time, the practice became natural, graceful, and so incredibly rewarding.
Like anything we do in life, the more we practice and stay consistent, the easier and more natural it will become. This is definitely true with yoga.
Before we get into the physical postures and how to do them, I want to stress the points below.
- Yoga is a practice for all ages, shapes, and sizes.
- Yoga doesn’t discriminate.
- The practice can benefit everyone – even if it’s just breathing, quieting the mind, and reducing stress.
- Yoga is not about bending the body into a pretzel shape.
- Like any physical activity, a consistent yoga practice will yield weight loss, toning, strengthening, and flexibility. But the real work is how we practice yoga off our mats, this is where it truly matters.
- The postures and their names will sound like alien talk at first. This is normal. Everyone is lost the first couple of classes and that’s part of the fun, the unknown.
So with all that in mind….. roll out your yoga mat, play some funky tunes, and get moving!
Below are 10 yoga poses for beginners to help inspire, motivate, and clear up any confusion.
1. Child’s Pose
Sanskrit name: Bālāsana
How to do the pose (from tabletop):
- Bring big toes together to touch.
- Send the hips back over the heels.
- Take the knees wide to open and stretch the hips or keep knees together to lengthen and stretch the low back.
- Extend arms straight out to the front of the mat.
- Gently rest the forehead on the ground, keeping length in the back of the neck.
- Let the chest melt down.
- Relax the entire body, feel supported by the ground beneath you, and melt into the space that’s being created.
- Massages the abdominal organs, kidneys, and adrenal glands.
- Good for cramps and constipation.
- Heals, relaxes and rejuvenates the entire body.
2. Downward Facing Dog
Sanskrit name: Adho mukha śvānāsana
How to do the pose:
- Begin in tabletop position with shoulders stacked over wrists and hips aligned over knees.
- Curl the toes under and spread the fingertips as wide as possible.
- Exhale – send the hips back and high as you straighten the legs.
- Engage the entire arms – rolling the upper arm outwards & melting shoulders away from the ears.
- Lengthen the backside of your legs, letting the hamstrings towards the back of the mat and keeping a slight bend in the knees.
- Head and neck should be completely relaxed – let it hang heavy.
- Inhale and send the breath up the front side body, exhale send it down the back side body.
- Continue to breathe and find stillness here.
- Creates integration and balance between the upper and lower body.
- Strengthens and stretches the legs and shoulders.
- Calming for the nervous system.
3. Upward Facing Dog
Sanskrit Term: Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
How to do the pose:
- Begin lying on the stomach with palms face down by the lower ribs and the feet toe nail side down.
- Spread the fingertips wide, roll the shoulders away from the ears and onto the back, and engage the core by guiding bellybutton back to spine.
- Focus on the fingertips, use the entire hand for support, and press down firmly between the index finger and thumbs.
- On the inhale breath, simultaneously lengthen and lift the chest – forward and up to the sky.
- Push into the tops of the feet, engage the legs and lift the knees off the ground, zip up through the core, and continue to roll the shoulders onto the back.
- Gaze forward and gently up – be careful to not crank the neck.
- Breathe into the open space being created
- Creates spinal health as long as the forces are distributed evenly.
- Provides a massage and opening for the endocrine system.
4. Warrior 1
Sanskrit name: Virabhadrasana I
How to do the pose (from tadasana):
- Begin in mountain pose at the top of the mat and bring hands to rest on the hips.
- Step the left leg back – 2 to 4 feet – depending on flexibility and strength.
- Plant the back left foot at a 45 degree angle, root down through the outer edge of the foot and feeling a gentle lift of the inner arch and ankle.
- Bend the right leg and stack knee over ankle.
- Guide the right knee to the right pinky toe and feel the inner right leg open and strengthen here.
- Keep the back leg super strong and engaged – think warrior here!
- Begin to square the hips towards the front of the mat. *This is the most challenging aspect of this pose, be patient and honor your body!
- Raise the arms overhead, keep fingertips active, melt shoulders away from the ears, and pinky fingers rotate inwards.
- Root down through both feet to find extension and expansion both vertically and horizontally.
- Gaze can be straight out on the horizon or gently up to the sky.
- Develops flexibility in the hips and shoulders as it enhances stability.
- Tones the abdominal organs.
- Teaches us to face life with an open heart – directly and honestly.
5. Warrior II
Sanskrit name: Virabhadrasana II
How to do the pose (from down dog):
- Begin in downward facing dog – inhale the right leg in between both hands.
- Exhale – rise up and windmill the hands open to a T shape.
- Open the body to left side of the mat and square the hips in this direction.
- Bend the right knee and stack knee over ankle.
- Bring special attention to the knee – guide it to the right pinky toe, make sure it doesn’t collapse inwards.
- Plant the back left foot at a 45 degree angle.
- Engage the entire leg to support the posture.
- Center the trunk of the body over the perineum – not leaning forward or backwards. *If unsure of the body’s placement, tick-tock from front to back, then find stillness in the center.
- Position arms to a T shape and roll the shoulders back and down.
- Keep both arms active from fingertip to fingertip.
- Slightly tuck the tailbone and engage the core.
- Gaze is soft and positioned over the right middle finger. Breatheeeee.
- Strengthens and aligns the shoulders, legs, pelvis, and hips.
6. Triangle Pose
Sanskrit name: Trikonasana
How to do the pose:
- Begin in Warrior II with the right foot forward.
- Straighten the front leg and keep arms in a T shape.
- On an exhale breath, begin to move the chest and right hand as far forward as possible, creating length and space in the body.
- Send the left hip high and the right hip to the back of the mat.
- Windmill the right arm down to the shin, floor, big toe, or a block & send the left hand high to the sky.
- Arms are in line with one another, shoulders stacking on top of one another, and fingertips active.
- Imagine the tailbone is melting down towards the back left foot and your body is pressed between two panes of glass – making one straight line.
- Gaze can be wherever the neck is comfortable – straight out, at the ground, or up towards the left thumb.
- Aligns the legs, hips, and arms.
- Tractions the spine and creates gentle rotation from a lengthened position.
- Works with all of the respiration muscles to create fuller breathing.
- Balances the entire being physically and energetically.
7. Chair Pose
Sanskrit name: Utkatasana
How to do the pose:
- Begin in mountain pose, on an inhale breath – bend the knees, drop the hips, and lift the chest.
- Extend arms towards the sky, keep fingertips active, and relax shoulders away from the ears.
- Glance down at the toes – make sure they are visible and knees aren’t surpassing them.
- Bring all of your weight into the heels.
- Gently tuck the tailbone here – no banana back shapes.
- Zip up through the core and lengthen both the front and back side body.
- Practice a strong breath here to support the posture – this is a tough one!
- Strengthens the supporting muscles of all the major joints in the body
- Develops core strength.
- Massages the abdominal organs and builds digestive fire.
8. Wide-Legged Forward Fold
Sanskrit name: Prasarita Padottanasana
How to do to the pose:
- Begin in mountain pose at the front of the mat.
- Step the left foot back, 3 to 4 feet, and turn both feet to face the left side of the mat.
- Position the feet with toes in & heels out and press the big toes into the ground (feel the inner thighs fire up).
- Brings hands to hips, inhale to lengthen and open the chest, and exhale to fold forward.
- Hands can stay on the hips, come to the floor, or peace fingers can wrap around the big toes.
- Engage the quadriceps to protect the hamstrings.
- Keep your weight in the toes and out of the heels.
- Relax the head & neck and breathe into the posture!
- Strengthens and stabilize the legs.
- Lengthens the hamstrings and inner thigh muscles.
- Tractions the spine and hydrates the spinal discs.
- Circulates fluids and energy to the trunk and head.
- Invigorates the brain.
9. Crescent Pose
Sanskrit name: Ashwa sanchalasana
How to do the pose:
- Begin in mountain pose at the front of the mat and step the left foot back 2 to 4 feet.
- Stay on the ball of the left foot with the heel pointing towards the sky and foot flexed.
- Square the hips to the front of the mat.
- Gently tuck the tailbone and bring bellybutton back to the spine to protect the low back.
- The back left leg can be straight or slightly bent – do whatever feels right for the low back!
- Right foot is rooted firmly into the ground and knee is stacked over the ankle.
- Arms extend overhead with fingertips active and pinky fingers spiraling inwards.
- Melt the shoulders away from the ears.
- Gaze softly straight out or up to the fingertips.
- Strengthens and aligns the legs.
- Opens the hip joints in extension and flexion.
- Helpful for sciatica.
- Massages the digestive and reproductive organs and is helpful for elimination.
10. Pigeon Pose
Sanskrit name: Kapotāsana
How to do the pose:
- Begin in tabletop pose – bring right knee to right wrist and left foot towards left wrist.
- Let the left knee melt down and slide the left leg back.
- Let the hips melt down towards the ground, use a block here if the hips are tight.
- If flexibility in the hip permits – the right shin can works towards parallel with the front of the mat.
- Bring fingertips to either side of the body, lift the chest, and puff the chest up like a pigeon.
- Lengthen the spine, slowly walk the hands forward, and bring the chest to rest over the right leg.
- Rest the head to the ground or a block.
- Breathe into the right hip and relax into the posture.
- Opens the hip joints.
- Provides a powerful stretch and opening for the glutes and piriformis muscle, which can be helpful for sciatica.
- Massages the digestive and reproductive organs and helpful for elimination.
Holy information overload.
I know that was a lot of alignment cues, steps, foreign terms, and loads of movement. I suggest doing a few poses at a time and easing yourself into the practice.
Until next time – xoxo.