Now that you know a little more about yoga let’s get down to the nitty gritty. It’s time to learn some basic positions. Grab your mat and let’s get started. If needed, have your yoga block, straps or any other accessories handy. (Don’t forget that you can improvise using these handy tips!)
As you move through each position, try to do so in a smooth, flowing manner. Remember to keep breathing as you work through the poses and if you feel yourself tensing up, try to relax starting with your shoulders and working your way down to your toes. You can repeat the sequence several times for optimal results.
Stand with your feet together and bring your hands together in a prayer like position in front of your chest. Take deep breaths. Raise your hands, keeping them together, as high as you can over your head until your arms are straight inhaling as you go. Lower your hands, still keeping them together and inhale as your bring them down. Don’t worry if you can’t get your hands all the way over your head or straight. Remember these are modified moves. You’ll get there.
This one will help improve the flexibility of your back as well as help strengthen it. Keep balance in mind when you do this exercise and don’t push yourself into falling over. Just feel the stretch. Inhale and raise the arms above the head. Extend the spine backwards arching the back from the waist and moving the hips forward. Let the eyes follow the hands while relaxing your neck and shoulders. Don’t forget to breath.
Hand to Foot Pose
For this one we’re going to use one of our tools from last week. If you can reach down and touch your toes that’s great but if you’re not quite there yet use a book, foot stool, chair, or coffee table to help steady yourself. Each time you move into this position feel the stretch up the back of your legs and in your back. Think of all the oxygen you are bringing to those muscles. Doesn’t it feel good? Don’t forget to breath!
Similar to a lunge, this position will help strengthen and stretch your hamstrings, quads, strengthen your back, and improve balance. While inhaling, put your weight on your hands. Stretch your right leg behind with your knee bent. Transfer your weight evenly between your left foot and hands. Arch your spine back while lifting your head and look up. If you have a difficult time getting into this pose just do what you can and use your tools to help you if you are not able to reach the floor.
Exhale and bring your left foot back in line with the right. Lift your hips up high like a mountain. Use your props for added balance and support. Push your heels and head down and look at your toes. Your head should be between yours arms if possible. Feel the stretch down the back of your legs and spine. Breath. Relax and allow your spine to extend toward the floor.
With your feet together, put your knees down first and then bring your chest down to the floor. The goal is for eight parts of the body to touch the floor including two feet, two knees, two hands, the chest and the chin or forehead. Be sure your hips are slightly raised above the ground if possible. Inhale and exhale in this position.
Lower your pelvis to the floor. Inhale and stretch as you raise your head slowly up, arch your spine and neck and look up as high as you can. Keep your shoulders relaxed and down. It’s ok for your arms to be slightly bent. Feel the stretch through your abdomen and neck. Breath.
Now we’re going to work backwards. You’re going to repeat each move until you’re back in the first position.
From Cobra lower yourself back to Lie Down Pose. Inhale and exhale. Now raise your hips and walk your hands in until you are in Mountain pose. Breath. Move into Equestrian pose only this time switch feet. Next, raise your hips into Hand to Foot position again using your props for balance. Breath. Straighten up into Raised Arm and feel the stretch as you breath and relax. Finally, end back in Salutation position. Take a few deep breaths. Relax. Shake out your arms.
Remember as you move through the poses, always take your time and hold each pose for a moment or two. Allow your body to stretch, strengthen, and balance. Relax and enjoy! Yoga is a great way to release the stress from the day and to refocus your energy.
TIP: If you are new to yoga (or any new exercising) remember to check with your doctor before starting any exercise routine.