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Top 5 yoga poses for beginners

by Arundhati Baitmangalkar
top 5 yoga poses for beginners

If you are looking to get started with a yoga practice, here are our top 5 beginner yoga poses to kick-start your practice. I recommend starting a group yoga class; it is always beneficial to have someone watch, correct, and help you. If you are unable to find a good local yoga teacher, this blog and online video will come in handy.

 

What you need…

  • Non-skid yoga mat
  • Yoga strap
  • 2 extra-firm yoga blocks
  • Blanket (if available)
  • Non-carpeted flat surface to roll out your mat
  • Comfortable workout clothes

 

When to practice yoga…

The best time to practice is in the morning before breakfast. This will start your day on a positive healthy note. Evenings before dinner are also a great option if it’s a better fit for your schedule. There is really no “wrong” time to do yoga, however, we recommend refraining from practicing right after a heavy meal

Let’s get started!

Marjariasana (Cat Pose)

Top 5 yoga poses for beginners

Marjari or cat pose

How to get into the pose:

Start on all fours with your feet and hands shoulder-width apart. Wrists should remain parallel with your shoulders and palms should be spread wide. Place knees directly below the hips and point toes to the back of the mat. The top of your feet should be pressing down into the mat

Technique

Part 1

Press hands and feet into the mat. Tuck the tail down to the mat and round your upper back. Aim to create height and space between the shoulder blades while dropping your head. Keep arms straight throughout this pose with equal weight on both hands.

Part 2 

Continue to press hands and feet into the mat and start to move in the opposite direction. Lift the tailbone up to the ceiling and open the chest. Shoulder blades will move slightly closer together. Gaze slightly forward without pressing the back of the neck. Continue into Part 1 for the next movement.

(Only the spine moves in part 1 and 2)

Breathing

Exhale during Part 1 of the pose, inhale during Part 2.

Repetitions

Do anywhere from 8 to 16 rounds per cycle. 2 cycles are recommended to warm up the spine.

Watch out for…

  • Elbows bending out to the sides
  • Legs together
  • Uneven pressure on the hands
  • Sinking in the shoulders
  • Dropping the abdomen and lower ribs to arch the back
  • Pinching the back of the neck in Part 2 by trying to raise the head too high
  • Swinging the body forward and back instead of moving in the spine

 

Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge Pose)

Top 5 yoga poses for beginners

Anjaneyasana or Low Lunge Pose

How to get into the pose: 

Start on all fours; keep blocks handy if you need them. Step one leg ahead, roughly a foot ahead of the hands and lift yourself up using your core. Use blocks to help you balance and find alignment initially.

Technique 

Once you enter the pose, start to lower your hips toward the front of your mat. Keep an eye on your front knee to prevent it from going over your toes. If you notice this becomes a problem, place the foot forward to keep the front knee and ankle stacked at all times. It is also important to prevent rolling the knee out away from your body. In this pose you should feel a slight sensation in your back leg – mainly the quadriceps and hip-flexor region while the back of the knee and shin are pressed into the mat. A blanket under the knee is suggested if your knees become sensitive. Gently return to all fours and repeat on your opposite side.

Watch out for…

  • Front knee overshooting the toes
  • Front knee falling out to the side
  • Back legs bending
  • Hips not descending
  • Upper back rounding
  • Too much weight on your hands

Breath 

Breathe comfortably throughout, especially if the stretching sensation becomes challenging.

Repetitions 

 Start with 2 rounds, right and left is considered 1 round. When new to the pose, hold for 10-15 seconds with more repetitions. As you become more comfortable with this yoga pose, you may increase the duration of time at which you hold the pose.

 

Adhomukha Swanasana (Downward Facing Dog)

Top 5 yoga poses for Beginners

Adhomukha Swanasana or Downward Facing Dog Pose

How to get into the pose… 

Start by lying on your belly. Place your palms at your mid-chest. Roll your shoulders back, lift off the floor and pull back towards your legs. You will look like an inverted V at this point.

Technique  

Press your palms into the mat – inner, outer corners, fingertips, center of the palm- all of it. Draw up through the arms and keep elbows straight. Shoulders are wide and shoulder blades reach up your back. Head drops, look to the back of your mat. Back of the neck is relaxed. Spine is long. Push thighs and hips to the back of the mat. Keep feet shoulder width apart, legs straight, and weight on the feet evenly. Heels may or may not touch but should attempt to descend.

Watch out for…

  • Weight falling forward
  • Elbows bending
  • Not shifting the weight to the legs
  • Feet together
  • Head looking up at the hands instead of the feet 

Breath 

Breathe comfortably.

Repetitions 

Hold for a few rounds of breath. Initially, this pose can be challenging as its weight-bearing. With adequate practice, this should become less difficult and feel more restful and easy. Be sure to use a non-skid mat to get the most from this pose.

Supta Padangushtasana (Supine Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose)

Top 5 beginner yoga poses

Supta Padangushtasana or Supine Hand to Big Toe Pose

Top 5 yoga poses for beginners

Supta Padangushtasana or Supine Hand to Big Toe Pose

How to get into the pose…

Lie on your back, bend the right knee to the chest and place the strap over ball mounds of the foot. Straighten the leg up towards the ceiling. Straighten the opposite leg on the mat.

Technique 

 Press the foot into the strap and spread the toes. Keep the leg as straight as possible. Avoid bending the knee to stretch the muscles at the back of the leg. Opposite leg is stretched to the front of the mat and active. Foot is comfortably flexed and leg is extending to the front of the mat. Though sensation is dominant on the raised leg, both legs are equally active.

Watch out for…

  • Too much tension on the strap
  • Pulling the leg too far in
  • Knee bending
  • Feet inactive
  • Not engaging with the strap
  • Arms bending while holding the strap
  • Non-working leg rolling out and passive

Breath

Breathe comfortably. Inhale as your press the foot into the strap, exhale as you extend the lower leg forward.

Repetitions  

One or two rounds are good to start with.

 

Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose)

Top 5 yoga poses for Beginners

Virabhadrasana 2 or Warrior 2

How to get into the pose

Stand facing the long end of your yoga mat. Step your feet apart and raise your arms out to the sides in line with your shoulders. Keep your feet as wide as your hands. Feet run parallel to the edges of your mat. Press feet firmly down onto the mat.

Technique 

Turn the right foot to the narrow side of your mat. Left foot turns in slightly or stays parallel. Bend the right knee and lower down into the hips. Press the outer edge of the straight leg onto the mat and ground both feet firmly. Roll the right knee toward the outer toe side of the foot. Maintain knee over ankle. Front thigh should be close to parallel. Hips and core stay open to the long end of the mat. Control the pose from the back leg and share the weight evenly on both feet. Arms reach away from the body with palms open. Gaze over your right fingertips.

Watch out for… 

  • Straight leg hip rolls in
  • Back foot position
  • Inactive feet
  • Lower back arching
  • Arms dropping

Breath

 Breathe comfortably. Inhale and reach your arms away in opposite directions, exhale to lower further into the hips.

Repetitions

Hold the pose for a duration of 3 to 5 rounds of breath, then switch sides. When first learning the pose, start with 2 to 3 rounds of breath.

There are more poses for a beginner, but these should help get you started the right way. Watch out for more yoga poses in our beginner series!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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