5 beginner yoga poses: Series 1

Recently I've gotten many questions about good poses or asana's for beginners. I'd like to first say that I don't think there is any substitute for going to an honest to goodness beginner class. Finding a teacher who is in the same room with you, looking at what you are doing, making sure that you aren't doing something that could cause an injury is critical. A teacher who is being present with you, listening for your breath, sensing the energy of the room is worth their weight in gold. That said I know it's not always possible to get to a class. I'm going to do a series of posts in the next four weeks of my favorite beginner poses. Try them out. See how they feel in your skin, release self judgment, release the idea of thinking these postures need to look a certain way. I promise they don't need to look a certain way. It only matters how they feel in your body. If you can go find a class! Go find a good teacher, just use this as a supplement. You don't always need an hour to practice, try starting with 10 minutes a day right when you get up or right before you go to bed.  Listen to your body! If something hurts don't do it! Yoga should never ever hurt! Find your edge and don't push past it. You are the only one who knows how things feel in your body, honor that. Yoga is not a competition not even with yourself. These are just suggestions.  Get curious about what is going on in your body and in your mind.  Use this practice of yoga to start a love affair with yourself.  

Pose 1 Lotus
Pose 1 Lotus

1) Comfortable seated posture or Lotus: I could write you an entire blog post on just getting grounded in Lotus.  (you don't have to cross your feet like i did in the picture above) I spend a minimum of 5 minutes a day in a comfortable seated pose just listening to my breath.  Call it quiet time, call it reflection, call it mindfulness, call it meditation, whatever you want to call it, it's important.  In this culture of ours that demands multi-tasking and instant results it's important to get grounded, to get centered. You'll probably want to close your eyes, let go of anything that came before this moment and anything that needs to happen later. Take a moment to arrive on your mat. Set an intention for your practice, or chant an OM three times.  If it's difficult for you to sit still you need this pose more than you need the rest.  Try sitting for 5 minutes.  Try going into a bedroom or room with open space, close the door to the chores, animals, kids, turn your phone on airplane mode and set an alarm for 5 minutes.  Just focus on your breath, don't try to change it just watch what's going on.  Focus on the inhale and the exhale.  On your inhalation say to yourself I am breathing in, on your exhalation say to yourself I am breathing out.  If you lose focus and start getting caught up in other thoughts, when you notice you've gotten off track just gently bring yourself back to the breath.

Pose 2 Sweated Twist
Pose 2 Sweated Twist

2) Seated Twist:  Twisting is one of my favorite things of all time.  Nothing does your tummy as much good as twisting does.  In short you are massaging your internal organs.  It's like you are cleaning the dust and goop off of your internal organs.  Not to mention you are getting your spine moving around in all different directions.  You are using your spines full range of movement when twisting.  In this posture I suggest starting with a nice comfortable seat.  Lift your arms up over head and find a tall spine.  Twist to the right.  Take your left hand to your right knee and take your right hand behind you on the floor.  Lift up through the top of the head.  Get as long as you can then gaze over your shoulder.  Breath into this space for 5 big breaths.  (inhale and exhale is one breath).  Then repeat on the other side.  Warning! Do not over do this.  The twist is not coming from your low back or lumbar area.  The twist is more in the shoulder area of the spine.  This should only feel good it shouldn't hurt.  

Pose 3 Reclining Pigeon
Pose 3 Reclining Pigeon

3) Reclining Pigeon:  This one is a little harder than the rest to show you with a picture but I did my best.  Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor.  Then take your right ankle to your left knee.  Hold behind your left knee (on the thigh) and draw your knees in until you find your edge.  Not too hard, not too easy that place that feels just right.  Breath into this shape for 10 deep breaths.  Then repeat on the other side.  

Pose 6 Cat
Pose 6 Cat
Pose 4 Cow
Pose 4 Cow

4) Cat/Cow: These to poses flow together, in and out.  Start in a table top position with your shoulders over top of your wrist and your knees underneath your hips.  If your knees are bothering you try putting a folded towel or blanket underneath your knees.  On your inhalation drop the belly let it fill with air lift the head for cow pose.  On the exhalation pull the belly button up toward the ceiling in a cat tuck and drop the head down.  Repeat as many times as feels good in your body.  Feel your way in and out.  This is an exploration of you.  Get curious about how these movements feel in your body.  

Pose 7 Corpse
Pose 7 Corpse

5) corpse pose or savasana: Lay down on your back, let your feet fall open, hands down at the sides palms face up.  It's nice to put an eye pillow over the eyes if you have one.  If you get cold cover up with a blanket.  Try not to fall asleep.  This is final relaxation.  This is where you give your body time to process everything you just did.  It's the most important pose in all of yoga.  Some people find it the most difficult because your only job is to lie there.  Some people think it's the best because your only job is to just lie there.  If you're worried you'll fall asleep or lose track of time set an alarm.  If thoughts come into your mind, imagine them as big puffy clouds blowing across a clear blue sky, coming in and floating right back out.  

These are the first 5 poses I'd start with try them for a week.  Just a few minutes each day. I'll write you another post next week building on these.  Let me know how it goes.  let me know how these feel in your body.