5 Important Yoga Postures for Beginners
From West to East yoga has grown tremendously in popularity. From yoga studios popping up left and right, to “new age” yoga fusions featuring barre, pilates and aerial this Eastern tradition has something more to it than wearing a pair of cute leggings and becoming a pretzel. Yoga was developed over 5,000 years ago in North India by the Vedic priests and recorded in one of their oldest sacred texts of rituals and practices. Fast-forward to 2019, and we have all different lineages of yoga from Ashtanga and Hatha as the primary sequences to Yin, Restorative and Mixed Styles. As a beginner, its intimating at times to start, as the postures vary in difficulty and require attentiveness and lots of practice!
A yoga practice can have over 300 different positions (asanas). We have put together a list of five easy and important postures, that you can master as a beginner to get you started on your way to finding your own practice. Note: always LISTEN to your body and modify the poses as necessary.
Even if you have never done yoga in your life, chances are you know the classic Downward dog pose! It stretches your entire body and builds arm strength.
How to: Start by creating an upside-down V shape with your body by sending the sitting bones up the sky and the heels towards the ground. Engaging the entire length of the arms, let the neck hang between the arms, ensure the middle fingers are facing forward and the thumbs towards each other. Send the heels to the matt, press the tops of the thighs back against the thigh bones and hold for a count of 5 deep breathes.
2. Warrior I
Warrior I helps us build strength in our lower body, specifically the glutes and thighs. Its great for stretching the hips and thighs, while creating stamina and confidence.
How to: To find warrior I step your right foot 3/4 of the way up the mat. Drop your left heel to 45 degrees or 11’ o clock and sweep the arms up beside the ears. Roll the shoulders away from the ears, reach through the finger tips for the sky, engage the entire length of the arms. Draw the left hipbone back, right hipbone forward to square the hips to the front of the mat. Check to see if you can see the big toe, if not walk out the foot a little further until you can see it. Lunge into the front knee stacking the knee above the ankle creating a 90 degree angle. Do this exact sequence on the opposite side.
3. Warrior II
Warrior II is great for opening the hips and inner thighs. It helps build confidence and stamina, focus and strength in the entire lower body. Its a great starting point for other poses such as Side Angle, Half Moon and Triangle pose.
How to: To find warrior II start in downward dog. Step your right foot in-between your hands and pivot your back foot parallel to the mat. Align the arch of your back foot to the heel of your right front foot. Bend into your right knee, trying to stack it directly above the ankle. Walk the front foot out further if you aren’t able to see the big toe. Bring your arms parallel to your shoulder and reach forward through the finger tips, keeping your gaze fixed at your middle finger of the front hand. Lean into the front thigh, trying to make it parallel to the mat. Do the same thing on the opposite side.
4. Wide Leg Forward Fold
Wide leg forward fold is great for getting deep into the hamstrings, inner thighs and releasing stress off the neck and spine.
How to: Step your left foot at one end of the mat and the right foot at the opposite end taking up the entire length of your mat. With the edge of both feet parallel to the mat, slightly turn in the toes so the heels are slightly out. From there, bring your hands to your waist and hinge forward leading with the chest, until your able to plant the hands on the mat. Walk them in-between your feet and use the leverage to pull the crown of the head towards the mat and the sitting bones up towards the sky. From there try different variations like bring your nose toward one knee and the other, or grabbing onto your ankles for more leverage.
5. Side Angle
Side angle is great for building core strength and continuing to work the thighs and glutes. Its a variation of the initial Warrior II.
How to: Start in Warrior II. * refer to above description. From Warrior II sweep your left arm toward the front of the mat, bringing the pinky finger toward the mat and the thumb up towards the sky, rotating the hand. Bring your right elbow onto your right thigh, do NOT drop all the weight into your right forearm. Engage your core here to keep a light weight in your thigh. Reach toward the front of the matt finding a nice straight line from the edge of your finger tips to the edge of your left toes. If you want to challenge your core, lift the right hand up as if your holding a beach ball between your arms and count down from 10. Do the same position on the opposite side.