7 Yoga Poses You Should Learn As A Beginner
If you are new to yoga, you might be wondering if there are any specific asana you should know to help get you started. Well, the good news is that any beginner level yoga class, no matter what the styling, will talk you through each asana, so you have nothing to worry about.
However, there is nothing wrong with being enthusiastic and familiarising yourself with the basics!
Here is a list of 7 basic asanas that form the foundation for many of the other asanas you will be practising in the future.
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
- Stand with your feet together so that your big toes are just touching and your heels are slightly separated.
- Lift your toes up and fan them out, before relaxing them back down, so that you create a solid base. Engage the front of your thighs, so that your knees are drawn upwards.
- Ensure that your head, neck and torso aligned with your hips as you face forward and activate through your torso by gently drawing your navel back towards your spine.
- Widen your collarbone and allow your shoulders to relax down, so that your arms are relaxed by your sides, with your palms facing forwards.
- Hold this position for a set number of yogic breaths.
Benefits: This is the foundation pose for all standing and forward bending asana. It helps strengthen your legs, improves posture and balance and has a calming effect on the mind.
Contraindications: Though this is a beginner pose, proceed with caution if you have low blood pressure, or feel dizzy. Pregnant women might need to take a wider stance for this practice.
Padahastasana (Standing Forward Bend)
- Starting from Tadasana, step to the side so that your feet are hip-width apart.
- Either bend your elbows and place your hands on your hips (to protect your back), or raise arms up above your head, stretching your body upwards.
- Keeping your spine aligned, slowly bend forward from your hips, lowering your head and arms towards the ground at your feet.
- Place the palms of each hand under the soles of your feet, with your elbows to the outside of your legs. Bend your knees if you need to, yet try to then straighten them as much as possible once in this position.
- Keeping your back flat, use your exhalations to help you draw your forehead towards your knees, as you relax the muscles of your neck.
- Breathe into this position.
Benefits: Another basic asana, this is incorporated in Surya Namaskar (Salute To The Sun) and can be used to move in and out of many other asanas. It stretches your hamstrings and wrists, massages your digestive system and calms your mind by soothing your nervous system.
Contraindications: To be avoided by people with hypertension, back injuries, hamstring injuries or heart conditions.
Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)
- Starting from Padahastasana, place your hands on the ground alongside your feet.
- Step back with your left leg, stretching it out behind you and resting on your knee and toes.
- Arch your back, lifting your chin slightly, and look upwards, creating a curve from your neck down the length of your spine to your leg.
- Try to lower down through your hips, to ground yourself and increase the stretch here.
Breathe into this posture. Before reversing and repeating on the opposite side.
Benefits: Another asana that is incorporated in Surya Namaskar, this practice encourages flexibility in the hips, tones the legs and abdominal organs and also improves focus and balance.
Contraindications: To be avoided, or practised with caution if you have a knee injury.
Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
- Start by lying prone on your front, with your elbows bent and your hands pressed palms down at either side of your shoulders.
- Engage through your body, pressing the tops of your feet, thighs and pubis towards your mat.
- On your next inhalation, begin to straighten your arms as you push your shoulder and upper torso up and back. Make sure your pubic bone remains in contact with the mat.
- Lift through your sternum and flatten your shoulder blades against your back whilst looking forward. Tilt your chin slightly upwards so you distribute the backbend evenly through your spine.
- Hold this position for several breaths, before lowering back down.
Benefits: Another pose in Surya Namaskar, this is a fairly gentle backwards bend that works to strengthen the spine, soothe sciatica, and stimulate the digestive organs.
Contraindications: To be avoided if you have a back injury, carpal tunnel syndrome or you are pregnant.
Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)
- Sitting on your mat with your legs together, stretched out in front of you.
- Imagine a string pulling from the top of your head, lifting your neck and torso upright, whilst allowing your shoulders to relax down.
- Place your hands’ palms-down alongside your hips. This is the starting position.
- Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, keep your torso engaged as you bend forward from your hip joint. Leaning down as far as is comfortable, and if possible, grasping hold of your feet.
- Take a few slow, deep breaths in this position, and each time you exhale, see if you can relax deeper into the stretch.
Benefits: Stretches your hamstrings, spine and shoulders. Improves digestion and helps ease the symptoms of menopause and menstruation discomfort.
Contraindications: Practice with caution if you have asthma or back injury.
Vrikshasana (Tree Pose)
- Start in Tadasana, and focus on an unmoving spot in front of you, to gaze at to help you keep balance.
- Bending your right knee, lift and place your foot on the side of your left ankle, calve or thigh (you can use your hands to position your foot), whilst keeping your head, neck and torso upright.
- Bend your elbows and bring your palms together in front of your sternum.
- Breathing in, raise your palms up above your head, stretching upwards. You can keep your palms together, or separate your hands.
- Hold this position for an extended period of time before repeating on the opposite side.
Benefits: A beautiful balancing asana, this practice strengthens your core, promotes focus and concentration whilst calming the mind.
Contraindications: Practice with caution if you have complaints of the knee, hip or ankle, using modifications if needed.
Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
- Lay prone on your back.
- Keep your legs together, but not touching, and allow your feet to fall naturally out to the sides.
- Position your arms alongside you, but not touching, with your palms turned upwards or in towards your body.
- Lift your head up, look down the length of your body to ensure that your legs, torso and neck are aligned and if needed lift and adjust your hips, before relaxing your head back down.
- Breathe into this posture, allowing your whole body to relax.
Benefits: This is the base position for all laying asana, however, it is also considered the final asana and is encouraged to be practised at the end of a yoga session to allow your body to adjust and settle. It works to relax both your body and mind and can help lower blood pressure.
Contraindications: Practice with caution, or using modifications, if you are pregnant or have serious back conditions.
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