Are you feeling ready to hop on the mat after my posts last week? After answering some beginner’s questions on Yoga, today I want to offer some practical advice on the most common poses and how you can get them looking (and feeling) amazing.
Yoga can feel a little intimidating to beginners. It’s easy to think ‘there is no way my body can do that’ and dismiss it altogether. But it offers a fabulous, total-body workout that is great for improving flexibility and muscle tone. It doesn’t have to be all chanting and opening your third eye either. If you want it to be, yoga can simply be an amazing workout. The trick for yoga newbies is to start slow and steady, as pushing yourself too far and too fast is almost certain to end in injury. So, give these poses a try and don’t be afraid to modify and adapt to your existing fitness and flexibility levels. Let’s get down and bendy with some practical yoga tips!
This deceptively simple looking pose is a great way to learn to align your body correctly. Essentially, it’s a foundation move for most of the standing poses and it’s a great place to start your yoga journey. Stand tall on your mat with your big toes touching and heels slightly apart. Your arms should be by your sides with your palms facing towards your hips. Engage your core and keep your body straight, lengthening your spine and drawing your shoulders back. Keep your feet firmly planted and engage your thigh muscles to stand proud, just like a mountain.
This is a great move to release tension from your back (and your mind). Try to practice it before bed to get rid of any stress and tightness from a busy day. The trick here is to move your back like a cat does, stretching out from the tailbone to neck. Start on your hands and knees. You want to align your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your knees. First comes the cow, so drop your belly towards the mat, lengthen your neck and gaze up to the ceiling. Breathe in deeply and as you exhale into cat pose, moving your spine up towards the ceiling, rounding your back and moving your chin down towards the floor. Repeat as many times as you need to feel all stretched out.
Downward dog is probably the most famous pose there is and it’s one where beginners often dive in without stopping to assess their limits. If you have never done yoga before, you probably won’t be able to do this movement fully or perfectly the first time. That’s ok. Just take your time and get the basics down. Begin on your hands and knees, wrists slightly in front of the shoulders and knees under hips. Tuck your toes under, engage your core and push up through your hands to create the classic triangle shape. Don’t worry if your heels aren’t flat on the floor or your knees are slightly bent. It can take some time to loosen the hamstrings. Stay where is comfortable to you and make sure you are well warmed up before you try this pose.
This is a rejuvenating floor pose that is great for taking a break from your practice and getting all stretched out. Again, you should start on your hands and knees, but for this pose, you want to spread your knees apart while leaving your big toes touching. Now extend your upper body, bow forward and place your head on the mat with your hands stretched out in front of you. You will feel this stretch in your spine and should hold the pose for as long as you need.
Even if you’re a complete yoga newbie, you have probably seen the bridge pop up in other workouts. It’s a great move for building core strength and is often included in strength workouts. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Have your arms by your side with your palms facing upwards and push through your heel and core to raise your body away from the ground. You can interlock your fingers underneath your back for an added stretch.
Remember these moves aren’t just for yoga class. Use them to stretch out before bed or find your flow in the morning. Use them wherever and whenever you need a little boost. This week, I have been fighting the heat and it can be easy to let the warm weather sway you into unhealthy eating habits. How many ice creams do you really need? So, next time I will be looking at healthy snacks to cool you down when summer hits hard. Until then, stay awesome you lovely people.
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