Welcome to the wonderful world of yoga! Here is a short routine for beginners that can be incorporated into your day. It should take about 15-20 minutes to complete all of the poses. Since you're still new to yoga, it's important to note some general guidelines before you begin.
- Move slowly in and out of the poses. There is no need to rush through your yoga practice. The transitions between poses are as important as the poses themselves.
- Keep your breath smooth and even throughout the practice. Your breath is the foundation of your practice. If it becomes strained or shallow, ease up until you can breathe smoothly again.
- Practice with an empty stomach. Have a small snack an hour before practicing, but no solid food right before.
- Don't strain or force yourself. Work within your own range of limits and abilities.
- Keep the order of this sequence. Do not change the arrangement of the poses. It has been organized to bring you the most benefits.
- Do not skip Corpse Pose (Savasana) at the end of the practice. This pose restores and energizes your body.
- Remember: Yoga is not a competition. It's a practice that is unique to every person. Be patient, practice regularly, and you'll gain all of the benefits of yoga.
This sequence is designed to help increase flexibility, strength, and balance, while calming your mind and relieving stress. It includes foundational poses that will help you learn the basics of alignment, posture, and body awareness. Remember to check with your doctor before practicing yoga if you have any injuries, health issues, or concerns. Take it easy, and have fun!
Also known as One-Legged Knee-to-Chest Pose, this moving posture (Pavanamuktasana) gently massages the abdominal organs, stimulating digestion, and releasing tension in the belly area. It also helps to release tension in the lower back, hips, and thighs.
- Begin by lying on your back, legs and arms extended.
- As you exhale, draw your knees to your chest. Clasp around them with your hands.
- Release your left leg and extend it along the floor, while still holding your right knee.
- Draw your left knee back in, then release and extend your right leg along the floor.
- Finally, draw both knees to your chest. With an exhalation, release and extend both legs along the floor and rest.
2. Cat-Cow Pose
Cat Pose is often paired with Cow Pose for a gentle warm-up sequence. Practiced together, the poses bring flexibility to the spine, stretch the back torso and neck, and softly stimulate the abdominal organs.
- Start on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly under your shoulders, and your knees directly under your hips. Point your fingertips to the top of your mat. Place your shins and knees hip-distance apart, center your head in a neutral position, and soften your gaze downward.
- Inhale as you drop your belly towards the mat, lift your chin and chest, and gaze up toward the ceiling. This is Cow Pose.
- As you exhale, draw your belly to your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. The pose should look like a cat stretching its back. Release the crown of your head toward the floor, but don't force your chin to your chest.
- Inhale, coming back into Cow Pose, then exhale as you return to Cat Pose.
- Repeat 5-20 times, then rest in Child's Pose (explained next).
3. Child's Pose
Often used as a resting position, Child's Pose (Balasana) helps to stretch the hips, thighs, and ankles while reducing stress and fatigue.
- Start on your hands and knees, then spread your knees wide while keeping your big toes touching.
- Exhale as you bow forward, letting your torso drape between your thighs.
- Keep your arms long and extended. Place your forehead on the floor. Then bring your arms to rest alongside your thighs, with your palms facing up.
- Come into Child's Pose whenever you need a break in your practice. Hold it for up to a minute or longer, breathing softly.
If your forehead doesn't touch the floor in Child's Pose, bend your elbows and stack your hands or fists, providing support for your head. Let go of any neck tension.
It might look like you're just standing there, but Mountain Pose (Tadasana) is an active pose that helps to improve posture, balance, and calm focus.
- Stand with your feet together, and your arms at your sides. Press your weight evenly across the balls and the arches of your feet. Breathe steadily and rhythmically. If you have trouble balancing, step your feet six inches apart (or wider).
- Straighten your legs, draw down through your heels, and ground your feet firmly into the earth. Draw the top of your thighs up and back.
- Tuck your tailbone slightly, but don't round your lower back. Keep your hips even with the center line of your body.
- As you inhale, elongate through your torso. Exhale and release your shoulder blades away from your head, toward the back of your waist.
- Broaden across your collarbone, keeping your shoulders in line with the sides of your body.
- Firm your shoulder blades toward the back ribs, but don't squeeze them together. Keep your arms straight, fingers extending, and triceps firm.
- Elongate your neck. Keep your breath smooth and even. Relax your gaze. Hold for up to one minute, then release into Uttanasana (explained next).
Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana) combines the benefits of forward folds and inversions. Dropping your head below your heart calms your brain. This relieves stress, headaches, anxiety, fatigue, mild depression, and insomnia. Uttanasana also deeply stretches your hamstrings and calves.
- From Mountain Pose, exhale as you bend at the hips, lengthening the front of your torso.
- Clasp your elbows with your arms bent. Let the crown of your head hang down. Press your heels into the floor and lift your sit bones toward the ceiling. Turn the tops of your thighs slightly inward. Do not lock your knees.
- Lift and lengthen with each inhalation. Release deeper into the pose with each exhalation. Hold for up to one minute.
- To release, draw down through your tailbone as you inhale and come up to standing. Return to Tadasana. Repeat 5-10 times.
Students with back injuries can perform Uttanasana with bent knees or with the palms of your hands along a wall.
Twists are a great way to decompress. They squeeze out the anxiety and frustrations of your day like wringing out a sponge. They also stimulate and detoxify the organs of your torso.
- To begin, lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat. You can rest your head on a pillow or blanket if your neck hurts. Extend your arms to the side, with your shoulder blades on the floor.
- As you exhale, drop your knees to the left as you gently turn your head to the right. Soften your gaze as you keep your shoulder blades pressing towards the floor and away from your ears. Allow the force of gravity to drop your knees even closer to the floor.
- Hold the pose for several breaths. Then on an inhalation, slowly bring your knees back to your chest. Exhale, and release your legs to the right.
- When you're finished with the pose, hug your knees to your chest for a few breaths, then slowly exhale as you extend your legs along the floor.
7. Corpse Pose
The final relaxation pose, Corpse Pose (Savasana) takes your yoga practice to a place where you can completely let go. Sometimes used to begin a practice, the pose is more commonly used to end practice to allow your body to fully relax and restore itself. Let lingering thoughts and worries fade away. From the depth and darkness of Savasana, you can be rejuvenated, refreshed, and reborn.
- Lie on your back and close your eyes. You may want to cover your body with a blanket.
- Allow your body to feel heavy on the ground. Let your legs and arms drop open.
- Working from the soles of your feet up to the crown of your head, release each body part, every organ, and every cell. Let your eyes close heavily. Invite deep peace and silence into your mind, body, and soul.
- Stay in Savasana for 5-15 minutes. Then deepen your breath, bringing gentle movement and awareness back to your body. Roll to your right side. With an inhalation, gently press yourself into a comfortable seated position. Take this peace you've created with you throughout the rest of your day.