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May 17, 2018

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Everybody's got to start somewhere

As a new student yoga teacher I had to start somewhere and I'm so happy I did! Teaching has provided me with real life context for all of my learning to date.

 

As a beginner to yoga it's important you remember to just get started too. Your body, mind and soul will thank you for it!  Restore & More Yoga's classes have welcomed a number of beginners in recent weeks and I thought it would be helpful to share some of the top yoga poses we have been working on in class to support your home practice.

 

Here are Restore & More Yoga's top 10 posture/ asana picks for beginners:

 

1. Mountain Pose/ Tadasana

This is the foundation for all standing poses in yoga. It provides you with an awareness of how to ground yourself into the earth below. 

Start standing with your feet together. Distribute your weight evenly through your feet and spread your toes. Engage your quadriceps to lift your kneecaps and lift through your inner thighs.  Draw your navel in toward your lower spine and as you lift your chest relax your shoulders away from your ears. Your arms will be by your sides and your hands will be active, palms facing inward towards your body. Reach toward the sky with the crown of your head and focus your gaze directly ahead. You may wish to close your eyes to notice exactly how your body is feeling at this particular moment. Listening to your body is key. Practice holding for 5-10 breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling the same way.

 

2. Tree Pose/ Vrksasana

This is the best standing balance pose for beginners to practice to gain focus and stability. 

Start with your feet together and place your right foot onto your inner left calf or if you're feeling adventurous place your foot onto your inner left upper thigh. Place your hands on your hips or in prayer pose and find a focal point in front of you to hold a steady gaze. 

Think about drawing up through your standing leg and keep your abdominals engaged, relaxing your shoulders away from your ears.

Hold for 5 breaths on one side and then switch to the other. 

 

3. Downward Facing Dog/ Adho Mukha Svanasana

We have been practicing our downward facing dog as it stretches and lengthens your entire body. It is also a key transitional yoga pose for when we progress toward a full vinyasa flow. 

Start by coming onto all fours, ensuring your wrists are aligned under your shoulders and your knees are under your hips. Tuck your toes under and lift your hips up as you draw them towards the sky then work your heels towards your mat.

If you have tight hamstrings maintain a slight bend in your knees. Press firmly through your hands, fingers spread, again looking for even weight distribution. Draw your navel in toward your lower spine and work toward your ears being level with your arms, letting go of any tension in your neck. You may want to work in and out of downward dog dynamically to begin with, building towards holding this posture for 5 breaths.

 

4. Warrior I/ Virabhadrasana I

Warrior poses are important for building stamina and strength within your yoga practice. They help us build confidence and strength in the entire lower body and core.

Warrior I is a gentle backbend and a superb pose for stretching your front body too.

For Warrior I you will need to start in Mountain Pose and take a step back with your left foot , turn your left toes to face the left corner of the front of your yoga mat and ensure you ground the outer edge of that foot.

Your right foot will remain facing the front of your mat and you will lunge into this leg being mindful not to take your knee over your ankle joint, these will ideally be aligned supporting your joints.

Lift your chest and press your palms up overhead. When you have held this for the amount of breaths that feel right for you step your left foot forward and repeat on the other side.

 

5. Warrior I/ Virabhadrasana II

Warrior II is a great starting point for many side postures. It is equally strengthening for your lower body and abdominals and opens up the inner thighs and groin.

Start by standing with your feet one leg's length apart. Turn your right toes out 90 degrees and your left toes will be facing the side of your mat or turning at about 45 degrees. Bend your right knee until it is directly over your right ankle if this feels comfortable to do. Again, it is important here to ensure you don't take your knee over your ankle joint, check in to make sure you can see your toes.  It's also a good idea as a beginner to check in with your heels to make sure they're aligned with each other.

Lift and stretch your arms out to your sides and take your gaze to your right hand. Work toward holding this pose for 5 breaths if that feels accessible or dynamically work in and out of Warrior II with your breath as we've been practicing in class.

 

6. Triangle Pose/ Trikonasana

Triangle is a great standing posture to stretch the sides of your waist, open up the lungs, strengthen your legs and tone your entire body. 

To start, stand with your feet one leg's length apart. Usually you would approach this from Warrior II.  Open and stretch your arms to your sides, at shoulder height. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees and your left toes as above, facing the side of your mat or turned in 45 degrees.

Lean forwards keeping your arms at shoulder height over your right leg. Place your right hand down on your ankle, shin or a block if you have one and reach your left hand up towards the sky.

 

Turn your gaze toward your top hand and work towards holding for 5 breaths. Lift up to stand and repeat on your left side. This is a good posture to practice with a wall behind you to help you find the correct alignment.

 

7. Plank

We're working towards this in class, however, it's a super pose to start practising at home as it teaches you how to balance on your hands while using your entire body for support. This is particularly beneficial for strengthening our abdominals.

 

Start from all fours, tuck your toes under and either stay on your knees for additional support or lift your legs up off the mat.  Push your heels back until you feel you are one straight line from head to toe - try to ensure your bottom isn't sticking up in the air!

 

Draw your navel into your lower spine and your shoulders away from your ears. Practice holding this pose for as many breaths as feels comfortable for you.

 

8. Seated Forward Bend/ Paschimottanasana

We've been incorporating this one each week in yoga class using a belt for support. It's useful to introduce a forward bend into your yoga practice to stretch your hamstrings, lower and upper back and sides. You may also keep your knees bent in this posture as long as your feet remain flexed and together.

Start seated with your legs and feet together and if you're using a belt, wrap this around the balls of your feet and draw your elbows back to the sides of your body. Feet should be flexed, toes pointing towards the sky. Lift your chest as you inhale and start to tilt forward from your hips as you exhale. 

Be mindful to relax your shoulders away from your ears, head and neck should be relaxed with your gaze towards your big toes.

 

9. Bridge Pose/ Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

 

A perfect counter pose to a forward bend is a back bend. Bridge pose is ideal for beginner's and stretches the front body whist strengthening the back body. We've been practicing this in yoga class with a block in-between our thighs to ensure we're engaging our leg muscles and maintaining correct alignment. 

To start, lie down on your back and place your feet hip width apart. Press firmly into your feet and lift your buttocks away from your mat. You may place your hands palm down into your mat with your arms straight by your sides or interlace your hands together under your back and press your fists into your mat as your open your chest up further.

Hold for up to 5 breaths or work in and out of your bridge pose dynamically as we've practiced in yoga class.

 

10. Child's pose/ Balasana

 

This is a wonderfully restorative pose to rest in-between postures. Child's pose is also a key transitional pose.

Start on all fours with your knees together or wider apart, with your big toes touching if possible. Sit your buttocks back towards your heels, placing a block or blanket in-between your thighs and calves for support if needed. Reach your arms forward or relax your arms by your sides, lowering your forehead towards a block or your mat. Hold for as long as you would like to!

 

I hope this helps with your practice as a beginner and as always if there is anything that comes up for you during your practice that you would like to have a chat about, be sure to let me know.

 

Looking forward to tonight's class!

 

Namaste,

Restore & More Yoga

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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