Beginning Yoga Poses
Yoga is for everyone. There are many basic yoga poses suitable for beginners. You need not be an expert or at the peak of physical fitness to be able to do it. The strain and stress of modern life can lead to physical pain and illnesses. The stress of modern life can also lead to mental suffering: feelings of inadequacy, isolation, or powerlessness. Yoga helps to integrate the mental and the physical plane, bringing about a sense of inner and outer balance, or what I term alignment. True alignment means that the inner mind reaches every cell and fibre of the body.
Many students who practice yoga only pay attention to the physical aspect of yoga. Such practice is like a fast-flowing stream, tumbling and falling, which lacks depth and direction. By attending to the mental and spiritual side, a sincere student of yoga becomes like a smoothly flowing river which helps to irrigate and fertilize the land around it. For that to happen it is a good idea to familiarize oneself with the philosophy of yoga, the eight limbs of yoga and the practice of pranayama or yogic breathing exercises. It will not only motivate you to practice yogic exercises or asanas regularly but also have a positive effect on all aspects of life.
The Benefits of Yoga Poses for Beginners
It is important to remember the various advantages of practicing yoga poses or asanas regularly. Some of the benefits that a beginner should keep in mind to be motivated are:
- regular practice builds up the body's inner strength and natural resistance
- alleviates pain
- strengthens bones and muscles
- corrects posture
- improves breathing and increases energy
- cleanses the body by increasing circulation of fresh blood through the body removing the toxins.
- reduces stress and disease
- calms and stimulate the brain at the same time.
- calms the nerves
- creates balance in the body between the respiratory, circulatory, nervous, hormonal, digestive, excretory and reproductive systems perfectly.
These are only some of the benefits that you will notice after practicing the poses or asanas for a few months.
Yoga Poses for Beginners
As mentioned earlier, anyone can start practicing yoga, whatever be their physical, emotional or mental state. It is all about being gentle with oneself and doing whatever is comfortably possible. It is not about competition with others or with oneself. It is not about exerting oneself and getting things perfect the first time you make an attempt. It is about progressing towards perfection slowly but surely. We have to remember that no effort is wasted. Once the opportunity for energy flow is created through the various poses, you will notice an increase in vitality and well-being.
Asanas or yoga poses involve more than simply moving the body into a posture and holding it. Each asana or pose has three aspects:
- moving into the pose
- holding it
- movement out of the pose
All the three aspects have to be performed smoothly, calmly without rushing, and with balance and poise.
Always breathe with your movement. Generally you should inhale when you extend or bend back, and exhale when you compress or bend forward. But there are exceptions. When you hold a pose then breathe normally and relax into the pose.
Beginners at first might need to rest after every pose. Gradually you will find the correct rhythm for you. However, if you are trying to lose weight it would be better to have fewer rest pauses than if you are trying to relax and become calm.
The typical order of asanas begins with:
- standing poses – helps to loosen the legs and body
- prone poses
- inverted poses
- sitting or kneeling poses
- relaxation pose
- pranayama - yoga breathing exercises
Careful attention to breathing engages the mind and body to work together. Meditation brings in spiritual qualities to the yoga asana practice and brings about a complete transformation of mind, body, and spirit.
Mountain Pose, Forward Bend, Side Bend
Beginner Yoga Poses Routine
Before you begin your routine, always warm up your body. Breathe in and out as you hold each pose as long as you can without discomfort. The following routine is helpful for beginners:
Mountain Pose or Tadasana
Stand straight, with your feet together, chest lifted, shoulders square, neck lengthened. Hands on your sides with the open palms facing the thighs. Body weight should be evenly distributed on the toes and heel. Breathe for 8-10 counts.
Backward Bend and Forward Bend
Inhale as you stretch your arms up over your head, palms facing each other. Arch back as you push your hips out, legs straight. Gently relax your neck and back. Try to arch from your upper back, rather than the lower back, slowly and carefully.
Exhale as you slowly bend forward, keeping your arms extended. Bending at the waist, move your arms and upper body down toward the floor. Keep your back straight as long as possible. Let your neck relax and head hang down. Try to touch the floor, but in a relaxed way. Hold briefly as you relax fully into the forward stretch.
Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and extend your arms out straight from your sides at shoulder height and bend down to one side, grasping your leg as low down as comfortably possible.
Relaxation - Corpse Pose or Savasana
Lie flat on your back with arms and legs comfortably apart. Breathe slowly for 14 counts.
Cat Pose for Beginners
Downward Dog Pose - Beginners
Kneeling and Inverted Poses
Cat's Pose: Begin in 'table position' with your knees under your hips and your arms under the shoulder. Down on your hands and knees, gently arch your back and raise your head as you inhale, then gently lower your head and round your back as you exhale.
Downward Dog Pose: From your hands and knees, Inhale; tuck your toes under. Exhale and straighten (but don't lock) your legs. Keep your knees slightly bent in the beginning as you go up on and raise your torso up. Push your arms down into the floor. Press your chest toward your thighs and shins. Allow your ears to touch your upper arms so that your neck is free of tension. Breathe deeply as you hold for 8-10 counts. Lower your legs and come back to 'table position'.
Relaxation - Corpse Pose or Savasana
Cobra Pose - Beginners
Crocodile Relaxation Pose
Prone Yoga Poses
Cobra Pose: Lying prone on your stomach with hands resting on the floor under your shoulders, slowly raise your upper body off the floor one vertebrae at a time.
Locust Pose: Lie on stomach with arms at sides, fists pressing onto the floor and raise your legs up behind you.
Relaxation – Crocodile Pose or Makarasana
Lie face down on the floor with your chin touching the ground and your hands at your sides. Let your legs stretch apart at a comfortable distance, with your heel facing inwards and toes outwards. Bend one arm to make a resting place for your forehead, placing the hand on your opposite shoulder, forming a triangle. Let the other hand come across your body at shoulder level and grasp the opposite side between the shoulder and the elbow. Let your body relax completely.
Sitting Spinal Twist -- Variations for Beginners
Sitting Spinal Twist Pose: Seated with one knee raised and the foot over the other side of the leg that is stretched out, one hand holding behind your knee and the other hand behind you as you twist. Repeat with both legs.
Yoga Mudra Pose: Sitting cross-legged, clasp hands together behind back and lean head forward toward the floor.
Pranayama – Practice several complete breaths in Savasana pose with your hands on your abdomen.
Meditation – Practice deep relaxation in Savasana. Tighten and hold each muscle group for 30 seconds and then relax for 30 seconds. Tighten your whole body 30 seconds, and then relax your whole body for several minutes.
Yoga Poses for Different Parts of the Body
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