Chances are you have heard all about the various benefits of an active yoga practice. If not, Yoga Journal can provide you with the whopping 38 health benefits of practicing yoga, including but not limited to the following:
- Reduces stress
- Improves mood
- Relieves chronic pain
- Helps you relax
Yoga is accessible for anyone who wants to practice its postures and breath work as it is gentle enough to do at any age or ability level. And with the increased interest in the practice over the last 5 years, yoga studios have started popping up all over the place. Many studios and online offerings have beginner yoga classes or workshops you can take. However, as yoga studios have had to close due to COVID-19, this has made it more difficult for those new to yoga to try it out. To help, we have compiled a list basic yoga poses that are great for beginners as well as tips if you are brand new to the practice.
Tips for Yoga Beginners
Use yoga props
This is a good piece of advice for a yoga practitioner of any skill level. There are many yoga props available that can either help you feel more comfortable in a posture or support you in a manner that allows you to relax more deeply. The props you use during your yoga session will vary according to the type of yoga you decide to practice. Some yoga props include the following:
- Yoga straps
- Eye pillows
- Sand bags
- Yoga wedge
- Yoga wheel
As a beginner, you will most likely use yoga blocks and a yoga strap. Yoga blocks can help you deepen into poses, ensure proper alignment, and offer relief if you have tight muscles. A yoga strap also helps with alignment and getting into poses. The strap is helpful for individuals with tight shoulders, hamstring muscles, and quad muscles. It is also a great tool for those working with an injury or limited range of motion.
Remember to breathe
Yoga is a practice that connects your body to your breath. When you are first starting it may be difficult to remember to breathe – especially if a pose feels intense at first. Try to breathe while you hold a pose and feel the sensations in your body as they come and go.
During class, most yoga practitioners use what is called ujjayi breath. This is a breathing technique where you breathe in through your nose and then out through your nose, creating what sounds like ocean-like breath.
Focus on how the pose feels in your body, not on what it looks like
Practicing yoga is sort of like having an intimate conversation with yourself. It is deeply personal and your experience is uniquely yours. It does not matter what your yoga pose looks like on the outside, if you are getting the benefits of it on the inside. What this means is do not worry about trying to perfect your yoga poses. That is not the goal of yoga. Instead, focus on how the yoga poses feel inside your body and the benefits you receive while doing them.
Yoga Poses That Are Great for Beginners
Here is a list of yoga poses that are accessible for individuals that are new to the practice of yoga:
- Stand tall with your shoulders drawn back and down. Your feet can be together or slightly apart.
- Ground down through your feet, engage your core, and lift your chin slightly.
- Option to leave your arms by your sides or reach your arms overhead.
- Hold for 4-8 breaths. Remember to breathe in through your nose and out through your nose.
- Come down onto the floor. Bring your big toes together to touch, ensuring your knees are about as wide as your hips, and sink back towards your heels.
- Bring your torso down in between your thighs and relax your forehead down to the floor.
- Rest your hands out in front of you with your palms facing up or down or keep your arms by your sides.
- Variation for people with knee issues: Place a folded blanket down to rest your knees and shins on if you have sensitive knees. If you feel any pain or are recovering from a knee injury, place a rolled-up blanket directly behind your knees before lowering down into child’s pose. If the pain is still too intense, come out of the pose.
- Come down on your hands and knees keeping your shoulders over your wrist creases and your hips over your knees. Spread your fingers wide and keep your legs hip-width distance apart.
- Move into cow pose: Inhale and drop your belly down towards the floor while your lift your head and tailbone up towards the ceiling. Gaze up and draw your shoulders away from your ears.
- Move into cat pose: Exhale and draw your belly in towards your spine, rounding your back towards the ceiling. Gaze at your belly button.
- Continue to move from cow to cat for 5-10 rounds.
Standing forward fold
- Bring your hands to your hips.
- Bend from your hips and fold forward. If you have tight hamstrings, bend your knees slightly before folding forward.
- Let your head hang heavy, refrain from locking your knees, and lift your sit bones (also known as your butt bones) up towards the ceiling.
- Hold the pose for as long as you would like.
If you would like to learn more about yoga for beginners, we offer online yoga classes. Get in touch with us online today to schedule a session.