oga has enjoyed a large hike in its popularity over recent years. Whereas before it was a practice reserved for those of Ancient India, now it is practiced in cultures worldwide. It is viewed as a great health and relaxation technique and many people find the experience very spiritual. For a novice, yoga can be very intimidating as you see members contorting their bodies into different positions but fear not, everyone has to start somewhere and most local groups are very welcoming and understanding of new members. Even so, some people would rather not attend a group without at least knowing how to strike a couple of the poses so I have put together a short informational list to help get you started.
Don’t be intimidated by yoga, your practice on each day is going to be different. Some days you will be able to perform in ways that you can’t the very next day – but that is ok, because on that day, at the time, your practice was perfect for what you needed; that is yoga.
1. The Mountain
If you look at this pose, it may seem like just standing around, however just because it looks simple does not mean it is. To correctly form this pose you need to stand upright with your back straight with heels rooted firmly to the floor and your leg muscles tensed, shoulders need to be in line with the hips with your head help up high. Take in some nice deep breaths while holding this pose and you have your first yoga position down.
2. Hands Held High
This pose is very similar to the mountain and has also been compared to our morning stretch. Stand exactly as you did in the mountain pose but hold your arms outstretched above your head and pay special attention to keeping the soles of your feet glued to the ground and your hips in alignment with your shoulders. You might wonder why you are practicing a pose that you instinctively pull every day. However, this not only aligns your body but it also relaxes your mind and gives you the confidence to try further moves.
3. Folding Over
This may seem a little scary in the beginning but basically this move involves standing up and while keeping legs straight bend over and touch the ground with your palms flat and head hanging. If you are having difficulty performing this move or feel some strain on your hamstring muscles then bend the knees. You can slowly try to straighten your legs again if you so wish but be careful not to put too much pressure on your spine. If this move is performed correctly it should look almost as if you are folded in half.
It might sound easy but this is not your average squat position. Legs must be out on the edges of the mat and heels should be flat on the floor. If you find it easier you can turn your toes so that they face outwards. This move is often found to be difficult by many beginners. It was something we could do as children but grow out of as we age. If you are having problems there are many modifications you can make to the pose to help you perform it more easily.
5. Leg Lunge
The leg lunge is a position many athletes (particularly runners) use to warm up before a big event. Step forward on one leg and bend your knee as far down as possible with your other leg stretched out behind you. Try to make it so that your knee is completely in line with your knee and touch the mat with your hands at either side of your feet. Once you have held this for five seconds on one leg swap and do exactly the same with the other leg.
6. The Plank
Planking has seen a rise in popularity recently with it being used in other exercise areas aside from yoga. It involves lying face down on your mat with legs outstretched behind you making sure that your toes are touching the mat so the back of your ankle is facing upwards. Then, keeping your legs straight, lift yourself up first onto your elbows and if you feel you are able to transfer the weight move up onto your hands. This position can be very difficult to hold for long but the more you practice the longer you will find you are able to hold it for.
7. Sitting Up
Once you have completed the plank, move your legs around so that you are seated with legs facing forward and stretched out in front of you. This position is really the same as the mountain aside from it being a sit down pose. You need to concentrate on the alignment again making sure that your hips line up with the shoulders again, the back straight and the head held high. It is also important to keep your leg muscles tensed and arms should be held firmly down by the sides either straight or slightly bent.
These are just a few moves you can practice to begin with to avoid any embarrassment if you do decide to take a proper yoga class. These can be easily practiced at home or even in the office during your lunch break. Why not try to get the rest of the family involved also? You might be surprised at how much they enjoy it too.