Yoga Poses for Beginners
In December’s issue, we introduced the health benefits of yoga. A lot of people are interested in practicing the art of yoga but are a bit intimidated because they don’t know where to start. I’ve put together some simple instructions and poses for beginners.
Preparing for the Practice:
Decide how long you would like to practice. I recommend starting small, maybe 10 minutes and working your way up to 20 then 30…adding more poses as you go along. The following poses will occupy about ten minutes. Pick a place (indoors or outdoors) where you will not be disturbed. Use a mat or a non-slip surface. To clear your mind, close your eyes and focus on your breathing — filling your entire diaphragm with slow, long breaths and exhaling in the same manner, emptying your diaphragm. If your mind wanders, just bring your awareness back to your breath.
Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
Start by sitting in a simple, loose, cross-legged position making sure the sit bones of your pelvis are equally grounded into the mat. Bring awareness to your alignment by rolling your shoulders back to straighten your posture. Imagine a string above your head that pulls your spine, neck and head into alignment. You can either rest your hands on your thighs (palms face down or up), form a circle with your pointer fingers and thumbs, or bring your hands in front of your chest in prayer form. Close your eyes and take ten slow, deep breaths through your nose. Switch the positions of the legs and repeat for another ten breaths.
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasan)
Start by lying on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor and arms by your sides. Push into the ground with your hands and feet lifting your tailbone into your hips. Shoulders are still on the floor and you can clasp your hands together underneath your body for an extra stretch. Hold for five breaths. Unclasp hands and lower yourself slowly on an exhale. Repeat.
Get on all fours with a neutral spine (imagine a straight line from your tailbone through the top of your head). Hands should be directly under the shoulders and knees directly under the hips. Using slow, deliberate movements on the inhale, let your abdomen drop towards the floor while your head rolls up towards the sky. On the exhale, drop your head to the floor and curl your spine up towards the sky. Do this for at least ten breaths to massage and warm up your spine.
Move from Cat-Cow to Child’s Pose by sitting back on your feet. Stretch your arms out above your head while pressing your forehead to the floor. Hold for at least ten breaths.This is a personal journey practiced at your own skill level and you should consult your physician before starting any new exercise program. Practicing yoga will help you take a break from the stress of the day, making time for yourself because you deserve it. You can also state an intention to meditate on during practice — such as “I am open” or “I love myself” or “I am healthy.” Your intention can include any area within yourself you’d like to work on or improve. Namaste.