Yoga Poses for the Beginner
If your New Year resolution(s) included the words fitness and/or health, now is the time to start practicing yoga if you haven’t already – or to make a concentrated effort to continue practicing if you already do.
Yoga offers the body a multitude of benefits, from stress relief (which every parent can use!) to increased flexibility. Yoga also helps strengthen the core and lower back, and it is the perfect complementary exercise to cardio. Cardio often tightens the muscles while yoga allows the muscles to extend and relax.
If you are going to start a yoga practice, begin slowly. Build upon poses as your body grows stronger and more flexible.
Focus on breath throughout the entire practice. Remember, yoga is an exercise in which the breath is key. Don’t hold your breath during a pose. Breathe in and out, and constantly remind yourself to continue to do so. I enjoy taking pauses in my practice to simply breathe. I might finish a seated twist and take a few deep breaths, or stand in a hanging position a bit longer to focus on my breath.
Listen to your body. In cardio (for instance, when I do long distance running), I might ignore my pangs and twitches during a long run. In yoga, though, it’s imperative to listen to those pangs and twitches and do poses that target that specific area. For instance, if your glutes and/or hips hurt, spend extra time in pigeon during your practice. Yoga is not, however, about ‘pushing through the pain.’ If something hurts, figure out what is causing the pain and do poses that will help eliminate it.
Below are three yoga poses to get you started on your yoga practice. Namaste!
Yes, this inverted “v” may be the most popular yoga pose, or the one that is most known, and for good reason. Downward Dog offers a variety of benefits. Inverted poses, where your head is beneath your heart, help circulation. This pose also stretches the hamstrings and is a great pose for people who work at a desk all day, as it lengthens the back. To do this one correctly, ensure you engage your entire hand when distributing weight. Too often people place the weight on the wrist, which can aggravate conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome. When I do this pose I often press down in the heel with my right foot, hold, and then do the same with the left. Stay in the pose for a while and breathe!
This is one of my all-time favorite poses in yoga. I do it daily, multiple times a day. It’s perfect for runners and cyclists, as it opens up the hips. You may not even realize how tight this area of your body is until you begin practicing yoga. This is a tougher pose than, say, the Downward Dog, but once you figure it out you will see the benefits immediately. One word of caution: it’s often not comfortable for a beginner. To do this pose, check out Yoga Journal’s directions.
This is another pose I do daily, multiple times a day. Twists do wonders for the body. They reduce stress and wring out the organs. They also stretch out the lower back and help stretch the sciatic area. Some twists can be done in a chair, which is perfect for those who work full time at an office, and some can be done on the floor. One of my favorites is the Half Lord of the Fishes Pose, which you can find here. Remember to continue to breathe as you do this pose! Beginners often forget and hold their breath, which decreases the wonderful benefits of the pose.
font-family:”Arial”,”sans-serif””>Do you have a favorite yoga pose?
Image via Flickr: kellinahandbasket