yoga

YOGA FOR BEGINNERS

BALASANA (Child's Pose)


This calming pose is a good default pause position. You can use child’s pose to rest and refocus before continuing to your next pose. It gently stretches your lower back, hips, thighs, knees and ankles and relaxes your spine, shoulders and neck.

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Do it


When you want to get a nice gentle stretch through your neck spine and hips.

Skip it


If you have knee injuries or ankle problems. Avoid also if you have high blood pressure or are pregnant

Modify


You can rest your head on a cushion or block. You can place a rolled towel under your ankles if they are uncomfortable

Be mindful


Focus on relaxing the muscles of the spine and lower back as you breathe.

STEPS 



  1. Kneel on your hands and knees, with your hands in front of your shoulders and your knees about hip width apart, or wider if that is more comfortable and your big toes touching.

  2. As you exhale, lower your buttocks toward your heels as your torso rests on your thighs, or between your thighs, and your head rests on the floor or a block or cushion.

  3. Rest your arms alongside the thighs, palms facing up.

  4. Release the muscles around the spine and hips and take several slow breaths.


Beginner's Tip


We usually don’t breathe consciously and fully into the back of the torso. Balasana provides us with an excellent opportunity to do just that. Imagine that each inhalation is “doming” the back torso toward the ceiling, lengthening and widening the spine. Then with each exhalation release the torso a little more deeply into the fold.

Benefits



  • Gently stretches the hips, thighs, and ankles

  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and fatigue

  • Relieves back and neck pain when done with head and torso supported


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Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward - Facing Dog)



  • Adho = Downward

  • Mukha = Face

  • Svana = Dog 


Downward-facing dog strengthens the arms, shoulders and back while stretching the hamstrings, calves and arches of your feet. It can also help relieve back pain.

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To help relieve back pain.

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This pose is not recommended if you have carpal tunnel syndrome or other wrist problems, have high blood pressure or are in the late stages of pregnancy.

Modify


You can do the pose with your elbows on the ground, which takes the weight off your wrists. You can also use blocks under your hands, which may feel more comfortable.

Be mindful


Focus on distributing the weight evenly through your palms and lifting your hips up and back, away from your shoulders. 

STEPS



  1. Start on your hands and knees, with your hands shoulder-distance apart and your knees under your hips, toes tucked.

  2. Inhale, press evenly into your palms and raise your knees off the ground.

  3. Lift your hips up and back, working to lengthen your spine. 

  4. Exhale as you begin to straighten your legs as much as possible, heels reaching toward the ground. If your legs are straight, lift the thigh muscles strongly up as you press into the ground with your feet.

  5. Exhale as you begin to straighten your legs as much as possible, heels reaching toward the ground. If your legs are straight, lift the thigh muscles strongly up as you press into the ground with your feet.

  6. Keep inhaling and exhaling evenly as you hold the pose.


Contraindications and Cautions



  • Carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • Diarrhea.


Pregnancy: Do not do this pose late-term.High blood pressure or headache: Support your head on a bolster or block, ears level between the arms.

Beginner's Tip


If you have difficulty releasing and opening your shoulders in this pose, raise your hands off the floor on a pair of blocks or the seat of a metal folding chair.

Benefits



  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression.

  • Energizes the body.

  • Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands.

  • Strengthens the arms and legs.

  • Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause.

  • Relieves menstrual discomfort when done with head supported.

  • Helps prevent osteoporosis

  • Improves digestion

  • Relieves headache, insomnia, back pain, and fatigue.

  • Therapeutic for high blood pressure, asthma, flat feet, sciatica, sinusitis.


KUMBHAKASANA (Plank Pose) 


A commonly seen exercise, plank helps build strength in the core, shoulders, arms and legs.

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Plank pose is good if you are looking to tone your abs and build strength in your upper body.

Skip it


Avoid plank pose if you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. It can be hard on your wrists. You might also skip it or modify if you have low back pain.

 Modify


You can modify it by placing your knees on the floor.

Be mindful


As you do a plank, imagine the back of your neck and spine lengthening.

STEPS



  1. Begin in Downward-Facing Dog pose.

  2. Inhale and shift forward until your body is in a straight line, shoulders stacked over your wrists and heels above the balls of the feet.

  3. Exhale as you press down through your forearms and hands, gazing at the floor in front of you. Imagine the back of your neck and spine lengthening.

  4. Keep breathing steadily as you hold the pose for as long as you can, engaging the core muscles by drawing your navel into the body and toward your spine. Keep your thighs lifted and your hips high, but don’t let your rear stick up too high.


Contraindications and Cautions


Carpal tunnel syndrome.

Beginner's Tip


To help strengthen the arms in this pose, loop and secure a strap around your upper arms, just above the elbows. Push the inner arms out against this strap. Release the outer arms from the shoulders to the floor, and lift the inner arms from the bases of the index fingers to the shoulders.

Benefits



  • Strengthens the arms, wrists, and spine.

  • Tones the abdomen.


CHATURANGA DANDASANA (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)



  • (chaht-tour-ANG-ah don-DAHS-anna)

  • chaturanga = four limbs (chatur = four anga = limb)

  • danda = staff (refers to the spine, the central “staff” or support of the body)


This push-up variation follows plank pose in a common yoga sequence known as the sun salutation. It is a good pose to learn if you want to eventually work on more advanced poses, such as arm balances or inversions.

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Like plank, this pose strengthens arms and wrists and tones the abdomen.

Skip it


If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, lower back pain, a shoulder injury or are pregnant.

Modify


It’s a good idea for beginners to modify the pose by keeping your knees on the floor.

Be mindful


Press your palms evenly into the floor and lift your shoulders away from the floor as you hold this pose.

STEPS



  1. From plank pose, inhale and shift forward, reaching your sternum forward until your shoulders are slightly forward of your wrists and you are on the balls of your feet. Flatten your shoulder blades on your back as you lift your thighs and front torso away from the floor. Draw the abdominal muscles up toward the spine.

  2. Exhale and bend the elbows straight back-not out to the sides-as you lower your body in a straight line until it is a few inches above the floor. Make sure your shoulders don’t dip below the level of your elbows. If you are a beginner, drop your knees to the mat before lowering.

  3. Hold the pose for a few breaths.  


Contraindications and Cautions:



  • Carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • Pregnancy.


Beginner's Tip


The completed form of Chaturanga Dandasana is quite difficult to perform at first, until your arms, back, and legs are strong enough to support you. From Plank Pose, begin by lowering your knees to the floor and then, with an exhalation, lower your sternum to within an inch or two above the floor.

Benefits



  • Strengthens the arms and wrists.

  • Tones the abdomen.


BHUJANGASANA (Cobra Pose)


This back-bending pose can help strengthen the back muscles, increase spinal flexibility and stretches the chest, shoulders and abdomen.

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This post is great for strengthening the back.

Skip it


If you have arthritis in your spine or neck, a low-back injury or carpal tunnel syndrome.

Modify


Just lift up a few inches, and don’t try to straighten your arms.

Be mindful


Try to keep your navel drawing up away from the floor as you hold this pose.

STEPS



  1. Lie flat on your belly with your forehead on your mat and your toenails pressing into the mat.

  2. Place your hands under your shoulders, keeping your elbows close to your torso. Draw your navel up away from the mat.

  3. Inhale  and press your feet and legs into the mat, releasing your tailbone down  toward your pubis as you begin to straighten the arms to lift your head  and chest forward and up off the floor. Exhale.

  4. Inhale as you widen the chest and hold here for another breath or two.

  5. On an exhale, lower your head, neck and chest onto the floor.


Contraindications and Cautions



  • Back injury.

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • Headache.

  • Pregnancy.


Beginner's Tip


Don’t overdo the backbend. To find the height at which you can work comfortably and avoid straining your back, take your hands off the floor for a moment, so that the height you find will be through extension.

Benefits



  • Strengthens the spine.

  • Stretches chest and lungs, shoulders, and abdomen.

  • Firms the buttocks.

  • Stimulates abdominal organs.

  • Helps relieve stress and fatigue.

  • Opens the heart and lungs.

  • Soothes sciatica.

  • Therapeutic for asthma.

  • Traditional texts say that Bhujangasana increases body heat, destroys disease, and awakens kundalini.