January 24th 2018
Yoga is for everyBODY
Whenever I say that I do yoga or that I am planning to teach yoga, I get the same responses from most people:
“I wish I was flexible enough to do yoga.”
“I’d be so bad at yoga, I can’t even touch my toes!”
“I’m too nervous to go to a yoga class…”
And tons more comments about this and that excuse and rationale as to why someone believes that yoga is not accessible to them. Well, since I used to be that “I’d be so bad at yoga” person and now I just finished my yoga teacher training, I thought it would be a good time to show you skeptics out there that there are some fun and easy poses to get you started with yoga in the hopes that one day, you may feel comfortable checking out a class yourself!
1- Child’s Pose
Child’s pose is a resting asana. Not only is this pose a perfect counter pose for a wide array of stretches, it is also a great pose to take if you feel you are struggling and want to take a break. Child’s pose is not only good for physical rest but also helps with anxiety. Doing a child’s pose before bed can even help you if you have insomnia. Overall, child’s pose is a nice pose to keep in your back pocket at any yoga class.
2- Downward Dog
Downward dog is another resting pose (Arguably. Teachers say it all the time but in an intense class, there is no resting poses). All jokes aside, this is one of my favorite poses because it engages all parts of your body. There is grounding through the feet and hands while lifting up through the pelvis while softening the gaze and keeping the neck in line with the spine and engaging your core and so on and so on. This pose is a full body worker.
However, despite having so much going on, it is a relatively accessible pose to everyone. The key things to remember are to keep the hips square, feet hips width apart, and ground down through all corners of the hands and feet. Overall, a very beneficial pose.
3- Cobbler’s Pose
Another personal favorite of mine, Cobbler’s pose. Also referred to as Baddha Konasana in Sanskrit, this pose is an amazing hip opener that can be done in many variations. Taking twists, circles, bends, etc are all great ways to use this pose. It is also a great warm up for a class that has a peak pose of lizard or pigeon (which I hope to show in a later post).
4- Legs up the Wall or Shoulder Stand
These are two great inversions for beginners. To start out with the image on the left, that is legs up the wall. You can either do it how I’m doing it here or be very literal with the name and put your legs up the wall. I could honestly fall asleep with my legs on the wall, but I am still getting all the same benefits I’d get in a headstand or shoulder stand.
Inversions help with blood flow, stress, anxiety, and insomnia. I try to invert once a day. My usual preference is headstand but I love a good few minutes of legs up the wall whenever I get a chance.
If you’re feeling comfortable and want to try shoulder stand, you want to keep in mind that your hands should be on your low back, hips lifted, and legs straight up. You don’t want the legs tilted towards the face or the hands on the butt. Only do this if you know you are capable and can do so safely. Either way both inversions offer the same benefits so don’t feel pressured to go to places that you are not able to yet.
5- Tree Pose
Tree pose is a balance pose. Balance poses are great for core engagement and tree pose is great for those who suffer from sciatica. Tree offers a stretch in the hip, engagement in the core, and balance of the left and right side. This pose can be varied in a number of ways to encompass different parts of the body as well as different mudras/hand positions.
If you can’t get your foot to your thigh you can leave the toes on the floor as you lean the weight into the side that you are balancing on or you can take the foot to the shin. Be sure to avoid your knee in this posture. It is incredibly dangerous to rest the foot near the kneecap.
Mountain pose is a great grounding posture. Although it looks like just standing, it actually requires a lot of focus and engagement. You want to keep the shoulders relaxed while keeping the core and legs engaged. You are grounding down through the feet and legs and lifting up through the torso to create space and proper alignment of the spine.
7- Cat Cow
Cat and Cow are great poses for the spine. I like to incorporate them into my warm up because they are a great way to wake up the body. The pose on the left is cat where the spine is arched, feet are flat, and chin is dropped in towards the chest. The pose on the right is cow where the chest is pushed forward, toes are curled, and chin is lifted. You perform cat on the exhale and cow on the inhale. You move between each motion to your natural breath, taking your time as you move to feel the sensations in the body.
8- Warrior I
Warrior 1 is a strong standing pose. With the feet apart, square the hips to the front of the mat, bend into the front knee, keeping the back foot flat on the mat at a 45 degree angle. Keep length in the chest as you bring the arms up overhead, facing the palms inward. The key thing to remember in this pose is square hips. It is a strengthening pose and super accessible to beginners.
9- Warrior 2
Warrior 2 looks a lot like Warrior 1, but there are a couple differences. For one, the hips are open in this pose. This outward rotation of the hips makes it possible for you to move into poses like extended side angle or half moon. Another difference is that the arms are out to the side instead of overhead. You keep the arms out to a T in order to keep the chest open to the side.
However, the gazing point for this pose is over the fingertip. It is a great power pose (made clear by the name)
10- Forward Fold
Forward fold is another pose I try to do at least once a day. It is a nice release for the hamstrings which, in turn, helps the lower back. The goal of forward folds is to melt the chest towards the tops of the thighs, not to reach the tops of the thighs. You don’t have to be flexible at all to enjoy the benefits of a forward fold. You can fold and rest your hands to blocks, shins, or even thighs. Again, just avoid the knee.
I really enjoyed making this post and I hope it helped some of you out there find a starting place with yoga. I am looking forward to putting more yoga content on my blog in the future and if you have any requests then let me know!