Easy Yoga Poses for Beginners and Home Practice
For those who are new to yoga, there is no substitute for personal instruction. A well-qualified and experienced yoga teacher is a much better source for learning yoga poses than a DVD or a book. This article is primarily for those who, 1) have begun classes and want to supplement those with a home practice; 2) do not have a good teacher available; or 3) are just curious about trying a few beginning yoga poses before they commit to a class.
Yoga poses are called asanas. Each asana has a Sanskrit name and an English translation.
Tadasana - Mountain Pose
This is the basic of the standing yoga poses. Though it appears easy, it should not be overlooked. Actions learned here will be applied in many other asanas. Stand with your feet together and engage the thighs to draw up the knees. Lift your chest and draw your shoulder blades down your back. Stretch your arms straight down. Keep your eyes soft.
If viewed from the side, your ankles, knees, hip joints, shoulders and ears should all be in a straight vertical line. Counteract the tendency of the hips to shift forward by drawing the inner thighs back.Keep the weight balanced evenly on the feet. See if you can remain still in Tadasana for 1 - 2 minutes.
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Trikonasana - Triangle Pose
From tadasana, step or jump your feet about 4 ½ - 5 feet apart. Extend your arms straight out to the sides. Turn in your left foot slightly and rotate your right leg 90 degrees out to the right. Keep turning your right thigh to the right. Extend your torso over to the right. Rest your hand wherever it falls on your right leg. It is more important to keep your chest facing the wall in front of you than to get your hand to the floor (which may result in your upper body angled toward the floor).
Stay for at least five relaxed breaths and then return to a vertical position. Repeat to the left side.
Adho Mukha Svanasana - Downward Facing Dog
Kneel on your hands and knees with your hands just wider than your shoulders and your feet hip width apart. Tuck your toes under and lift your hips up high. Press your palms into the floor and roll your outer shoulders toward the floor. Press your thighs back as you roll back further on the balls of the feet, heels moving toward the floor. Keep your back flat, not concave. Hold from 30 - 60 seconds and come down to your knees to rest. Repeat 1 - 2 more times.
Baddha Konasana - Bound Angle Pose
Sit on the floor with your legs extended straight in front of you. With the legs relaxed, grab behind each knee in turn and pull the knees straight out to the side. Bring the soles of the feet together as close to the body as possible. If your pelvis is tilted back and/or your lower back is rounding out, add 1 - 2 firm folded blankets to sit on until there is lift in your low back.
Hold your ankles or feet and be sure to lift your chest and take your shoulders back. Don’t slump! Stay for 2 - 5 minutes.
Bharadvajasana - Seated Twist
Sit on the floor with your legs extended straight in front of you. Swing both legs around to your left side. Keep your knees facing forward. Your right foot should be on the bottom, toes pointing out to the side. Rest the top of your left ankle in the arch of the right foot with the toes pointing straight back. Add a folded blanket under the right side of the buttocks to level the hips. Grow your spine tall and revolve to the right. Do not tilt the torso. Rest your right hand behind you and your left hand across the front of the left knee.
Your shoulders should remain level. Broaden across your collarbone and keep your eyes soft. After 30 - 60 seconds swing your legs forward. Repeat on the other side.
Savasana - Corpse Pose
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Extend the arms about 30 degrees to either side, palms facing the ceiling. Extend the legs, one at a time, slowly from the top of the buttocks through the heels; then relax the legs and feet. Close and relax your eyes. The face and all muscles of the body should completely relax and release. The senses should have an inward focus. Allow the breath to become shallow and relaxed. The mind is alert but quiet. As the mind drifts, bring awareness back to the inner body and the breath, letting go of thoughts. After a few minutes roll to your right side, rest for a few breaths and slowly sit up.
The asanas described are Iyengar yoga poses and hatha yoga poses similar to what is practiced in many styles of beginning yoga classes. Depending how long you hold each asana this sequence can take from 15 - 30 minutes. If you have time, repeat each pose two or three times to explore it more deeply. Take a few moments to observe how you feel after your yoga sequence. Then enjoy the rest of your day!
All photographs are by the author unless otherwise noted.
© 2012 chet thomas