YOGA FOR BEGINNERS: HOW TO START DOING YOGA + 6 YOGA POSES
Yoga is not just for yogis anymore. In many parts of the world, you’ll see people with a rolled up yoga mat slung over their shoulder everywhere you go. Perhaps you’ve considered taking a class, but felt intimidated by these healthy, energetic individuals in their fitted pants with a meditative look on their faces. If you’ve been thinking about moving more and you’re not sure how to begin, yoga is a great way to get started. You can do it anywhere and adapt it to your level as you get stronger and more flexible.
3 Health Benefits of Yoga
You may be wondering what all the hype is about. Well, practising yoga brings with it a variety of pretty powerful health benefits. And the best part is, it’s easy to get started with a few simple exercises. Check out the health benefits of yoga:
INCREASED STRENGTH AND FLEXIBILITY
Yoga not only brings your body and mind into balance, it helps you build strength and increase your flexibility. Stronger back muscles are really important if you spend most of your day sitting. Yoga will also build your core muscles to improve your posture and give you more stability for other activities.
STRONG MIND AND MORE SELF-CONFIDENCE
During a yoga session, ideally you should just concentrate on yourself and do the series of movements at your own pace. If you’re going through a particularly stressful period in your life, yoga can help you clear your head and take a break from spinning thoughts.
BETTER SLEEP AND GREATER RESILIENCE
Another big benefit is that yoga improves the quality of your sleep. Relaxation is a big part of the sessions, and this basically preps the body for a good night’s sleep. The more soundly you sleep, the more resilient you are to the stress and strain of everyday life.
How to Start Yoga
Now you’re excited and wondering how you can start doing yoga and enjoy these many benefits? One reason so many people opt for yoga as a way to get moving is that you can do it anywhere and any time: at home, in a hotel room, during your lunch break at work, or — when you’re ready — in a yoga class. If you are struggling to imagine yourself in a room full of people on yoga mats, exposing your inflexibility to the world, try it in the comfort and privacy of your own home, first. Take your time and avoid being distracted by what others can or cannot do. Focus only on yourself and you will be able to really feel how your body responds to the different movements. You don’t need much, just some comfortable clothes and a non-slip yoga mat. Remember to be patient with yourself and keep an open mind. We’ve put together some yoga poses for beginners below to get you going.
6 Yoga Poses for Beginners
This is great for strengthening the thigh muscles and buttocks. To start the yoga pose Warrior II, begin in a standing position, sideways on your mat, with your feet wide apart and heels aligned. Turn your right foot out so that your toes are pointing toward the top of the mat. Raise your arms to shoulder height, parallel to the floor and keep them aligned over your legs with your palms up. When you exhale, bend your front knee, keeping it aligned over the ankle of your foot. Keep your torso straight and turn your head until you are looking over your right hand. Hold this pose for one minute. Then repeat this on the other side.
The legs, back, and core are really activated in the Chair pose. Raise your arms up straight above your head, bend your knees until your thighs are almost parallel to the floor. If you can’t keep your arms up, bend them at the elbow and come into cactus arms instead or press your palms together in front of your chest. Lower your hips toward the floor and keep your weight on your heels. If you have knee pain, you can do this yoga pose for beginners with your back against a wall.
Those Side Planks are not as easy as they look, but the more you practise, the easier it will get. With your forearm on the floor directly under your shoulder, stack your feet on top of each other (or one in front of the other for more stability), raise your hips until your body forms a straight line. If you’re just starting with the plank, try to hold the position for 20 or 30 seconds and build upon that.
You’ve mastered these 3 yoga poses for beginners? Check out 3 more!
3-LEGGED DOG TO TIGER CURL
With a huge emphasis on the core and total-body mobility, this dynamic movement is a great way to open up your hips. Start on all fours, with your hands shoulder-width apart. Press your palms into the mat, exhale and lift your knees until your legs are as straight as possible. Feel the stretch in the back of your legs. This is is one of the most common yoga poses for beginners, called the Downward-Facing Dog. Then lift one leg up straight and exhale as you bring your knee to you nose.Tuck your belly button into your spine as much as possible and really try to get your knee forward.
Balance, focus, and lengthen your spine in the Warrior III pose! Begin in a high lunge by bending your right knee over your right ankle and put your palms together in front of your chest. Your left leg is straight behind you with your foot on the mat. Lean forward, shifting your weight onto your right leg. Lift your left leg up as you lower your torso. From the side your body should be shaped like a “T”.
REVOLVED CRESCENT LUNGE
As with all twisting poses, Revolved Crescent Lunge is great for spine mobility and promoting healthy digestion. Start in the Downward-Facing Dog, like the beginning of the 3-Legged Dog to Tiger Curl above, and reach your left leg to the sky. Then bring your left knee back in toward your nose and step between your hands. Inhale and raise your torso upright with palms together in front of your chest. Be sure that your core is activated and you’re not just putting all of your weight on your quad. Keep that back leg active, really pressing the back of the right knee up towards the sky. Lean your torso forward and hook your right elbow to the outside of your left thigh. Keep your spine long as you turn your chest upward to the left.
Don’t be Afraid
Remember to listen to your body and take things slowly when you start doing yoga. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you lose your balance during a Side Plank or can’t quite get your foot in between your hands for the Revolving Crescent Lunge. You’ll get there eventually. Keep at it and you will gradually feel how your body starts yearning for yoga. Your sleep will be sounder, your mind will be quieter, and the stiffness in your joints will become a faint memory. If you already have the mastered the basics, get inspired by watching our 30 Minute Yoga workout video featuring personal trainer Ida May:
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