Beginning Yoga Poses
To many newcomers to yoga, this ancient practice can seem like impenetrable. It’s easy to get caught up in the belief that yoga is exclusively the realm of young, fit, strong, flexible people.
While there are plenty of advanced yoga poses, yoga is a practice that’s easily adapted for any and all ability levels. There are plenty of yoga poses that are suitable for beginners, that allow aspiring yoginis and yogis to build strength, flexibility, and awareness of one’s body in anticipation for more physically demanding poses. Here are a few yoga poses you can use at home to start cultivating a lean, limber body and a calm, focused mind.
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Tadasana serves as the introduction to many sequences of yoga poses. Stand upright but relaxed, with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Make sure your posture is tall, neither swayed nor hunched, with your shoulders back and your chin slightly down. Relax your gaze. Stand with your arms at your side, or bring your palms together at your heart, or you can even raise your arms up overhead, keeping your shoulders down, your fingers together and your hands tense, and your arms parallel.
Tadasana is one of many yoga poses which cultivate balance. It helps to remedy any muscular weaknesses that may cause poor posture and, over time, back pain. Tadasana requests that we bring our attention to the present moment and become fully embodied, in anticipation of the yoga poses which follow it.
Balasana (Child’s Pose)
Start on the mat, sitting back on your haunches. Fold forward at the waist with your arms outstretched, and rest your palms on the mat. Try to touch your forehead to the mat, though don’t worry if you can’t. Make sure your shoulders are away from your ears. Breathe deeply, and shut your eyes. You may want to open your thighs for a light stretch of your gracilis and other inner thigh muscles; this will make touching your forehead to the mat easier. Alternately, try keeping your thighs together, for a deeper stretch for the lower back. You can remain here for several minutes, if you’d like.
Balasana is one of many yoga poses that’s renowned for its ability to cultivate calm, and relieve anxiety and headache. It lengthens the spine and can even open the chest. When practiced with modifications, opens the muscles and tendons of the hips and releases tension there.
Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
Shavasana may have an ominous name, but it’s a very important pose that’s included at the conclusion of every yoga session. To assume this pose, lie on your back, with your arms and legs extended. Shut your eyes, and make sure your hands are not clenched. Then relax your body entirely, and let your mind go blank. If you find your attention wandering, bring it back to your breathing.
This pose promotes deep relaxation, and serves as a transition into everyday awareness and movement. It allows the muscles, tendons, and nervous system to better incorporate the benefits of the yoga poses that preceded this pose, and to incorporate the changes in posture and flexibility into one’s life.
By incorporating these yoga poses into a daily practice, you’ll grow more calm and focused, and your body will gain essential strength and flexibility. Give it a try!