Yoga at Home vs Yoga at a Studio
Yoga positions for beginners are best learned in a yoga class at a health club or in a yoga studio beginner’s class. Since an instructor is on site to answer questions or even to assist when entering a pose, it will make practicing yoga at home independently or with a video much easier. During the classes, most instructors check the students’ forms, offering modifications best suited to the individual’s flexibility which will, in turn, prevent injury. The intent of yoga exercises for beginners is to make sure each movement is mindful and precise, and that all awareness is turned inward toward the heart.
Revitalizing Beginner Yoga Poses – Wake Up
Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar) – 8 Poses
Most health clubs and beginning yoga classes incorporate sun salutation (surya namaskar) into the yoga routine. It is comprised of eight beginner yoga poses which are done in sequence and then reversed to end in the starting pose. Unless instructed otherwise, when doing yoga always breath through the nose to warm up the air entering the lungs and to slow the breathing down. Each transition from pose to pose is coupled with either an inhalation or exhalation.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana) With Hand Gesture (Heart Seal / Center)
Beginning with Mountain Pose (tadasana),it is preformed standing with feet hip width apart, straight back and chin at a neutral position. The hands are pressed together with palms facing each other and the knuckles of the thumbs touching the sternum. This hand gesture is the hrdayanjali mudra (heart seal), sometimes known as the heart center. For energy balance, make sure the palms are pressed together evenly so the dominant arm does not overpower the other. Take several breaths through the nose and prepare to move into the next position.
–If you want take your yoga experience further, I recommend this book. It is a take-you-by-the-hand guide that you can easily integrate into your daily routine. Additionally, there are some great how-to secrets that helps you master the techniques. Check out the site here to read more.
Upward Salute (Urdhva Hastasana)
While in the Mountain Pose, on an inhale, move the arms overhead to the Upward Salute (urdhva hastasana). This is an intuitive movement that many folks practice when they wake up in the morning, like a nice good stretch. When performing this asana, one should feel a subtle lift in the spine and the breath across the back as the arms are raised. Become aware of the length in the arms as they stretch toward the sky. When the hands reach the top, face the palms together spreading the shoulder blades apart. Pull the chin slightly inward in order to gently lay the head back and look at the thumbs. If there are any neck problems, then the head must not lay back, but remain facing forward between the biceps. Remain there for one extra inhalation and on the next exhalation move to the next position.
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
Moving from the Upward Salute to the Standing forward Bend (uttanasana), exhale and bend at the hip joints, not the waist, with arms reaching outward to the wall like a swan dive. Use the quadriceps in the legs in order to open up the hamstrings. The weight of the body is brought forward onto the balls of the feet to keep the hips in line with the ankles. In the beginner yoga poses, it is encouraged to bend at the knees in order to lay the palms flat on the floor. With more practice, the legs can be straightened more.
Lunge (Ardha Mandalasana)
From the Standing Forward Bend, exhale, reaching the left leg back onto a long Lunge (ardha mandalasana). In this yoga position for beginners, keep the hands shoulder width apart on either side of the front foot while the ball of the back foot is the only thing touching the floor. Remember to keep the front knee in alignment with the ankle to avoid injury.
–Gaiam, a pioneer in the wellness media environment, has a huge collection of yoga videos. I usually get my fitness DVDs here because they’ll refund or exchange opened DVDs that don’t work for me. See for yourself.
On the inhale, moving from Lunge to Plank (kumbhakasana) where the forward leg joins the rear leg. This will resemble the starting position of a push-up. Spread the fingers wide with the middle fingers pointing forward away from the body. The tailbone is tucked in so the body forms a straight line and the heels are pressed back. To modify this beginner yoga pose, lower the knees to the floor. For the next three asanas, or poses, the hands and feet will remain in the same position while moving the torso around.
Four-Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana)
Some people might find difficulty moving from Plank to the Four-Limbed Staff Pose (chaturanga dandasana). On the exhale, lower the straight body from plank to a position parallel to the ground. Stop when the upper arms are at a right angle to the forearms. Remember, the elbows travel close to the abdomen when lowering the body. It is different from a standard push-up where the elbows flare out to the side. The Four-Limbed Staff Pose is used to prepare the back for backbends such as Cobra (bhujangasana) as well as strengthening the arms for more advanced poses such as Crow (akasana) or the Full-Arm Balance (adho mukha vrksasana). When first learning this asana feel free to keep the knees on the floor to reduce the weight for the back and upper arms.
Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana) or Cobra (Bhujangasana)
Inhaling, arch the torso upward from Plank while straightening the arms. This is Upward Facing Dog (urdhva mukha svanasana) where the knees and thighs are off the ground. The practitioner is on the hands and the tops of feet, or toes only. This varies from Cobra (bhujangasana), where the lower part of the body, from the hips down, remain on the floor. With Cobra, especially for someone just beginning without a lot of strength and flexibility in the back will only raise the head and torso halfway up allowing the arms to remain bent. In upward facing dog, the arms are distinctly straight. If there is too much strain on the back to do Upward Facing Dog, modify it to the Cobra with the arms bent and the torso only arched a small amount.
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Syanasana)
For the last position introduced, exhale and raise the sit bones to the ceiling from Upward Facing Dog or Cobra. Reach the heels toward the floor and make sure the ears are even with the biceps. This beginner yoga pose is Downward Facing Dog (adho mukha syanasana). It is a resting pose, as well as a strengthening pose. Make sure to keep the shoulders away from the ears. At first, beginners usually will not be able to lower the heels all the way to the ground. This will happen with practice.
Reverse the Order
One of the more troublesome transitions is from Downward Facing Dog back to Lunge. Most make it halfway forward due to tight groins and weak abdominal muscles. On the inhale, move the left foot forward to in between the hands. When steady, also move the right leg forward next to the left. At the next exhalation, move the torso into Standing Forward Bend. Inhale and raise the torso and arms up into the Upward Salute. From there, exhale and return to Mountain Pose. This is half of a cycle. Then the sequence is repeated using the right leg as the lead.
These Easy Yoga Moves are the Best Yoga Exercises for Beginners
Purported to be the equivalent of running a mile (performing both sides ten times each) while simultaneously using all the major muscles in the body, the Sun Salutation is really easy on the body, lengthens the spine and is one of the best workouts for someone looking into starting a fitness program.