If you have never tried yoga before, you are in for an adventure! Yoga is an exercise that can be adapted to all levels and abilities, from beginner to very advanced. Yoga studios offer beginning yoga classes or you can find beginning yoga workout videos, like those found in the Yoga Studio On Demand.
I highly recommend that if you are just getting started that you learn a couple of the more basic poses before trying a class. There are a few poses that you should know prior to your first Yoga class or starting your first Yoga video.
This is a brief break down these four basic yoga poses with pictures so you have a leg up for your first class. The first three poses everyone already knows, you just may not recognize them by name. The last pose is one that is good resting pose during any class when you are tired or just need to catch your breathe.
Keep in mind, yoga can be practiced anywhere, at any time. I do recommend that you wear comfortable clothes, practice barefoot, and use a yoga mat for padding, especially for poses where you are on the floor.
If you are not particularly flexible or are a beginner, it is also recommended having a yoga block for modifications as well as a chair or wall nearby to hold onto.
Mountain Pose or Tadasana
Mountain pose is a standing pose that is used frequently is yoga practice. Classes may start in this pose and you will likely go in and out of this pose multiple times during class as you transition between poses during yoga flows (multiple poses in a row).
Mountain pose is where you stand with your feet parallel to each other, either touching or up to 6 inches apart. Your back should be straight, shoulders relaxed, stomach sucked in and arms at your side. As you breathe in, imagine yourself getting taller.
Do not lock out your knees, you will want a slight bend to keep blood flowing properly.
Take deep, steady breaths in this pose to prepare yourself for class or steady your breathing if you become winded during a yoga flow. Your eyes may be open or closed in this position, closing your eyes in this position may cause you to lose balance.
Benefits: Mountain pose improves posture and strengthens muscles in thighs, knees, ankles and butt. This pose also helps alleviate back pain and calms the mind.
Modifications: If you are unsteady in this pose, place your feet 6 inches to hips distance apart. You may also want to keep a chair next to you for balance or stand near a wall or counter.
Easy Seated Pose or Sukhasana
You were probably taught this pose as a young child when your teacher was trying to get you to sit quietly. “Crisscross” or “Cross-legged” or “Indian-style” were some terms my teachers used.
Don’t let this position fool you, it can be difficult as an adult to sit in this position, especially if you have knee or back issues. It is always OK to modify this and any other position if it causes you severe discomfort or pain of any kind. Yoga should stretch you, but not hurt you!
Easy Seated Pose is simply sitting on your butt with your legs crossed comfortably in front of you, hands typically on your knees. You should be sitting up tall with your back straight, shoulders back and relaxed, and stomach drawn in. As you breathe in, imagine yourself getting taller and as you breathe out, relax.
Most classes will start and end in this easy seated pose. This is also a great position for meditating. You may have your eyes open or closed in this position.
Benefits: Calms the brain, strengthens the back, improves posture, and stretches the hips and knees.
Modifications: If you have poor posture, try sitting in this position with your back against the wall. If this position is uncomfortable or puts pressure on knee or hip injuries, try sitting with a yoga block or on folded blanket or pillow under your butt (but not under your feet).
Corpse Pose or Savasana
This is one of my favorite yoga poses! This pose is meant to be one of total relaxation and will most commonly be used at the end of a yoga class.
Lie back on your yoga mat with your back flat on the floor, feet spread almost as wide as your yoga mat with your hands straight down at your sides, hands turned up with palms to the sky. Typically, the legs will naturally fall outward, toward the edges of your mat.
This position is meant to place your body in a completely neutral, natural position. If you are not completely comfortable, try adjusting your body slightly. Place your hands on your pelvic bones if that feels more natural. It may help to put a small pillow under your head or a bolster (round) pillow under your knees. Try to relax all the muscles in your body and focus on breathing in and out. Eyes can be open or closed.
Benefits: Corpse pose calms your brain to help relieve stress, relaxes the body, lowers blood pressure, and reduces headaches, fatigue and insomnia.
Modifications: If you have any lower back issues where lying flat on your back is not comfortable, try laying with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-distance apart. This should place your back flatter on the floor and relieve some pressure.
Child’s Pose or Balasana
Child’s pose is the “break” or resting pose during yoga practice. Anytime that you are feeling tired or winded and just need to catch your breathe or relax for a moment or two, you can drop into child’s pose and still be working.
To get into child’s pose, start sitting on your knees on your yoga mat, your butt on your feet. Breathe in and bring your arms over your head. As you exhale, bend forward over your knees, keeping your butt on your feet and placing your hands on the yoga mat in front of you. Rest your forehead on the yoga mat and breathe deeply while stretching your fingers and arms forward.
Benefits: Child’s pose stretches the hips, thighs, back and shoulders. It relieves back and neck pain and calms the brain.
Modifications: If there is discomfort in this position, place a yoga block or folded blanket between your feet and thighs to sit on. You can also do wide-legged child’s pose by keeping your feet together and spreading your knees to the sides, towards the edge of your yoga mat.
Now you’re ready to begin!
After practice the above four poses, you will be ready to being your first yoga class or workout video. If you are interested in learning some more yoga poses on your own, check out my 5 Best Yoga Poses for Beginners post.
Are you a beginner to yoga? Did you find my descriptions of the positions and their benefits useful? Were you able to try them? Let me know your favorite yoga pose and any other thoughts in the comments below!