Yoga continues to dominate the workout and health world as the up-and-coming ‘super’ fitness, promising strength, flexibility, and higher overall wellbeing. It’s been proven to improve your mental health, touts success as a relaxation and stress-relieving technique, and has cute workout gear to boot.
As a beginner, though, joining a class is daunting, if not downright confusing. The terminology, various poses, and etiquette create a barrier that this quick guide aims to remove.
Try these yoga poses each day to set a foundation for your first class, and you’ll be off to a great start.
The name doesn’t deceive: this pose is as basic as they come. To execute it, sit cross-legged and rest your hands on your knees, palms facing upward. Sit up tall, with the goal to straighten your back as you take even, long breaths. Try to hold this pose for at least a minute (though we recommend three), inhaling and exhaling for the same length of time throughout. Though it seems easy, this move alone can improve your posture and relieve tension.
Moving into a standing pose, this is meant to make you feel ‘rooted’ into your mat. Stand with your feet slightly apart, and image placing 90% of your weight on one leg, and 10% on the other. When you’re comfortable there, lift the leg holding less weight up, bend it at the knee, and place the flat of your foot on your opposite leg.
If this is enough for you, simply hold your palms together in front of you as you focus on your balance. The more advanced variation has you raise both arms up in a slight ‘V’ shape over your head and hold there, always focusing on your breath.
Yoga is also excellent for your core strength, as the boat pose can attest. To start, sit on the floor (or your mat) with your back straight and your legs outstretched, toes pointed out, not at the ceiling. Bend your knees and lift your legs to a 45-degree angle.
Once you’re comfortable there, slowly stretch your legs out and lower your upper body until that too, rests at about a 45-degree angle, always keeping your back straight. By now, you’ll definitely feel this in your abs. If it’s too much, you can put your arms on either side of you on the mat and hold your body in position. When you’re more confident in the position, stretch your arms out, palms up, beside your outstretch legs.
You may have heard this classic term before; it’s a foundation of most yoga practices that also builds stronger arms and legs.
Start on the floor, resting on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Keep your hands flat on the floor and slowly rise from your knees to your feet, pulling your sit bone into the air until you look like an upside-down V.
You may experience tightness in your calves or your shoulders — that’s completely normal. The goal of this pose is to maintain a straight spine and relax your head and neck. A helpful trick is to put most of the pressure of your hand on your first finger and thumb, which will straighten your arms.
Push your belly button toward your toes, and try to focus on deep breathing and pulling your tailbone skyward while getting your heels as close to the ground as possible.
This pose is the perfect way to end a yoga session, relax your mind, and let any last physical or mental tension go. Simply kneel down, bend at the waist, and lay forward over your thighs, reaching your arms in front of you, palms down, and trying to rest your forehead on the mat.
Close your eyes and breathe deeply, and try to keep your mind blank of any worries, to-do lists, or other stress.
As a beginner, staying in these poses for approximately three minutes is a great starting point. Look to increase this time as you develop your yoga postures, but never strain. And, if you feel any pain, try to relax or modify the pose, or skip it.
Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to joining a luxury yoga retreat in Spain, France, Costa Rica, or beyond.