One of the best things about yoga is that it has something for everyone. Novice to experienced master, there is always something more to learn, always a deeper level to accomplish. There are a number of easy beginner poses, but you don’t even have to be a beginner to use them. Many of them are poses learned before moving on to more complex movements, all of them beginning from these simple steps. Whether you have never tried yoga before or you’re building up your skills to attend a yoga retreat, the following poses will be helpful in preparing you to experience the physical, mental, and spiritual balance that comes from the practice of yoga.
This is a foundational pose and the beginning of all of the standing poses. It is extremely simple, yet even this pose has its benefits, granting a sense of stability, improving posture, and building confidence.
• Stand with your feet together, with your hands at the side of your body. Keep your shoulders relaxed, and your weight evenly distributed.
• Inhale deeply and lift your hands above your head. Your palms should be facing each other and your arms should be straight. Reach upward with your fingertips.
• That’s it!
The Mountain Pose is an essential part of the practice of yoga and it prepares the body for many of the other standing poses involved in yoga. Different teachers may practice different forms of this pose, but the intent and ease are generally the same.
The popular Downward Dog stretches the whole body, but especially the spine, shoulder and legs. Practicing this pose will strengthen your body — not just your muscles, but your immune system, digestion, and circulatory system, as well. You may find it will also help you clear your mind.
• Get on all fours and place your hands right under your shoulders, your knees directly below your hips.
• Move your hands gradually a few inches forward and spread your fingers, pressing your palms to the floor.
• Slowly press your hips upward until your body forms an inverted V, while keeping your shoulders straight. Your feet should be apart about the width of your hips, knees bent slightly.
• Hold the pose for three breaths.
This is actually the first Warrior Pose, and the simplest. This one leads into the others. Just this basic pose can make the legs stronger, while opening up the chest and hips. It will also improve balance and concentration. Because it improves circulation, this pose can also bring a feeling of energy to your entire body.
• Stand with your feet 3 to 4 feet apart. Turn your right foot pointing away from your body to 90 degrees and turn your left foot back toward your body slightly.
• Move your hands down to your hips and let your shoulders relax. Now lift your arms up to shoulder level, with your palms down.
• Bend your right knee into a 90 degree angle — keep your knee over your ankle. Look out over your right hand. Stay in that pose for a minute.
• Now do the exact same thing with the other side of your body.
• Start with your arms down at your sides.
• Move your weight onto your left leg and put the bottom of your right foot flat on the inside of your left thigh. Keep your hips facing forward.
• When you have your balance, press your palms together in front of you, as if praying.
• Inhale and extend your arms out over your shoulders. Pull your palms apart, but keep them facing each other. Hold that position for 30 seconds.
• Put your arms and legs down and repeat on the opposite side.
• If it’s difficult to bring your foot all the way to your thigh, you can start by putting your foot on your left ankle, with your toe on the ground for balance. As you develop your balance and strength through this pose, you can move your foot up to your calf, and perhaps even eventually to your thigh.
You don’t even have to stand up for this one. The Seated Twist is a great way to relax, because it relieves stress and anxiety. The released tension also helps clean your body of toxins that have accumulated in your system during the course of your day.
• Sit on the floor with your legs straight.
• Put your right foot over the outside of your left thigh and bend your left knee. Your right knee should remain pointed upward.
• Put your left elbow outside your right knee and your right hand on the floor behind you.
• Twist your abdomen as far to the right as you can, keeping your rear flat on the floor. Stay in that position for one minute.
• Do it again, but on the other side.
• If this is hard for you, you can keep your bottom leg straight and put both hands on your raised knee. Sit on a folded blanket if your lower back bends forward.
The Pigeon Pose is one of what’s known as “hip openers”, one of those yoga postures that make your hips more flexible and receptive to more complex moves. For now, however, the standard pigeon pose is all that’s needed.
• Start on the floor in a push-up position, your arms full extended below you, with your palms under your shoulders.
• Put your left knee on the floor so your left heel is near your right hip.
• Lower yourself to your forearms, then pull your right leg down to the top of the foot on the floor.
• Keep your chest toward the wall in front of you, while looking down.
• If you think you can do it, bend until your chest touches the floor and extend your arms in front of you. This step is purely optional for now, however.
• Pull your navel toward your spine while keeping your pelvic-floor muscles tight. Contract your right gluteus muscle.
• Keep your right toes curled, while pressing the ball of your foot into the floor.
• Bend your knee until it touches the floor then release. Do this about five times.
• Switch sides and repeat.
• Sit up on your heels.
• Carefully roll your body forward until your forehead rests on the mat.
• Lower your chest down toward your knees, as close as you comfortably can. Extend your arms in front of your body.
• Hold that pose and just breathe.
These poses are just the beginning, but after some time, you’ll really start to feel the difference, gaining the ability to move to more complex poses. Consider visiting a yoga retreat to really learn the nuances of yoga. You may surprise yourself at your own capabilities.