There are many great reasons to add yoga to your exercise routine. Yoga improves muscle tone, flexibility, and balance, and it helps you relax and reduce stress, thanks in part to its signature pranayama breathing. Research have also shown that yogic practices also reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain; help you sleep better; and enhance overall well-being and quality of life.
Here are eight beginner poses — recommended by yoga instructors:
1. Mountain Pose
Start standing with your feet together. Press down through all ten toes as you spread them open. Engage your quadriceps to lift your kneecaps and lift up through the inner thighs. Draw your abdominals in and up as you lift your chest and press the tops of the shoulders down.
Feel your shoulder blades coming towards each other and open your chest; but keep your palms facing inwards towards the body. Imagine a string drawing the crown of the head up to the ceiling and breathe deeply in to the torso. Hold for 5-8 breaths.
2.Easy Pose — Sukhasana
Sit cross-legged on a yoga mat with your hands on your knees, palms up. Keep your spine as straight as you can. Push the bones you’re sitting on down into the floor — your “sit bones” in yoga-speak. Close your eyes and inhale.
“This is a great pose for beginners to use as an assessment,” says Gwen Lawrence, yoga coach for the New York Knicks and other sports teams, athletes, and celebrities. “Just sitting on the floor gives you a perfect way to see and feel the external rotation on the legs.” This pose also boosts back flexibility and can help relieve stress.
3.Seated Forward Bend Pose
Start seated with your legs together, feet firmly flexed and not turning in or out, and your hands by your hips. Lift your chest and start to hinge forward from your waist. Engage your lower abdominals and imagine your belly button moving towards the top of your thighs. Once you hit your maximum, stop and breathe for 8-10 breaths. Make sure your shoulders, head and neck are all released.
It’s important to incorporate a forward bend in yoga practice to stretch the hamstrings, lower and upper back and sides.
Get on your mat on all fours with your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips. Distribute your weight equally between your hands and spread your fingers wide. Inhale and round your back, arching it up as you lower your chin to your chest; feel the stretch from your neck to your tailbone, like a cat. As you exhale, lower your back down all the way to a scoop shape as you lift your head, and tilt it back.
“Cat-Cow stretches and awakens the spine, which helps ease back pain,It also opens and increases flexibility of the whole spine, neck, chest, and shoulders. I recommend repeating 5 to 10 times or more.”
5.Tree Pose — Vrksasana
Start by standing straight for this pose. Bring your hands together in the prayer position and lift them over your head. Balance on your right leg. Bend your left knee out to the left side and press your left foot to the inner thigh of your right leg. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
This pose helps to stretch the body long, from the heels to the tips of your fingers, It will also help you improve your balance.
6.Downward-Facing Dog Pose — Adho Mukha Svanasana
n Downward-Facing Dog, your body forms an inverted V-shape. Start by placing both hands on the mat in front of you, palms down; your hands should be slightly in front of your shoulders. Place your knees on the ground directly under your hips. Exhale as you lift your knees off the ground and lift your buttocks and hips toward the ceiling. Push the top of your thighs back and stretch your heels down toward the floor. Keep your head down between your upper arms and in line with them, not hanging down. If you notice your lower back rounding, try bending your knees to help lengthen your back.The pose is often held for five breaths between sides, or longer for more strength-building benefits. Lengthen from your wrists to your hips on your inhales, and deepen your roots from your hips to your heels with each exhale, suggests Cullis.
This pose calms the nervous system, works on overall flexibility, decompresses the spine, tones the arms, sculpts the legs, and opens the shoulders.
7. Warrior I pose
For warrior one, you can take a giant step back with your left foot coming towards a lunge, then turn your left heel down and angle your left toes forward 75 degrees.
Lift your chest and press your palms up overhead. Step forward and repeat on the opposite leg.
Warrior 1 is a gentle backbend; and a great pose for stretching open the front body (quads, hip flexors, psoas) while strengthening the legs, hips, buttocks, core and upper body.
8.Warrior II Pose
Stand with your feet one leg’s-length apart. Turn your right toes out 90 degrees and your left toes in 45 degrees. Bend your right knee until it is directly over your right ankle while keeping the torso even between the hips.
Stretch your arms out to your sides and gaze over your right hand. Hold for 8-10 breaths before straightening the right leg and turning your feet to the other side to repeat on left side.
Warrior 2 is an external hip opener and opens up the inner thighs and groin. It’s a good starting point for many side postures including triangle, extended angle and half moon balance.