It’s time to roll out your yoga routines for beginners mat and discover the combination of physical and mental exercises that for thousands of years have hooked yoga practitioners around the globe. The beauty of yoga is that you don’t have to be a yogi or yogini to reap the benefits. Whether you are young or old, overweight or fit, yoga has the power to calm the mind and strengthen the body. Don’t be intimidated by yoga terminology, fancy yoga studios and complicated poses. Yoga is for everyone.
These 10 poses are a complete yoga workout.
Move slowly through each pose, remembering to breathe as you move. Pause after any pose you find challenging, especially if you are short of breath, and start again when your breathing returns to normal. The idea is to hold each pose for a few, slow breaths before moving on to the next one.
This calming pose is a good default pause position. You can use child’s pose to rest and refocus before continuing to your next pose. It gently stretches your lower back, hips, thighs, knees and ankles and relaxes your spine, shoulders and neck.
Do it: When you want to get a nice gentle stretch through your neck spine and hips.
Skip it: If you have knee injuries or ankle problems. Avoid also if you have high blood pressure or are pregnant.
Modify: You can rest your head on a cushion or block. You can place a rolled towel under your ankles if they are uncomfortable.
Be mindful: Focus on relaxing the muscles of the spine and lower back as you breathe.
Yoga routines for beginners: Downward-Facing Dog
Downward-facing dog strengthens the arms, shoulders and back while stretching the hamstrings, calves and arches of your feet. It can also help relieve back pain.
Do it: To help relieve back pain.
Skip it: This pose is not recommended if you have carpal tunnel syndrome or other wrist problems, have high blood pressure or are in the late stages of pregnancy.
Modify: You can do the pose with your elbows on the ground, which takes the weight off your wrists. You can also use blocks under your hands, which may feel more comfortable.
Be mindful: Focus on distributing the weight evenly through your palms and lifting your hips up and back, away from your shoulders.
Yoga routines for beginners:Plank Pose
A commonly seen exercise, plank helps build strength in the core, shoulders, arms and legs.
Do it: Plank pose is good if you are looking to tone your abs and build strength in your upper body.
Skip it: Avoid plank pose if you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. It can be hard on your wrists. You might also skip it or modify if you have low back pain.
Modify: You can modify it by placing your knees on the floor.
Be mindful: As you do a plank, imagine the back of your neck and spine lengthening.
Yoga routines for beginners:Four-Limbed Staff Pose
This push-up variation follows plank pose in a common yoga sequence known as the sun salutation. It is a good pose to learn if you want to eventually work on more advanced poses, such as arm balances or inversions.
Do it: Like plank, this pose strengthens arms and wrists and tones the abdomen.
Skip it: If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, lower back pain, a shoulder injury or are pregnant.
Modify: It’s a good idea for beginners to modify the pose by keeping your knees on the floor.
Be mindful: Press your palms evenly into the floor and lift your shoulders away from the floor as you hold this pose.
Yoga routines for beginners:Cobra Pose
This back-bending pose can help strengthen the back muscles, increase spinal flexibility and stretches the chest, shoulders and abdomen.
Do it: This post is great for strengthening the back.
Skip it: If you have arthritis in your spine or neck, a low-back injury or carpal tunnel syndrome.
Modify: Just lift up a few inches, and don’t try to straighten your arms.
Be mindful: Try to keep your navel drawing up away from the floor as you hold this pose.
Yoga routines for beginners:Tree Pose
Beyond helping improve your balance, it can also strengthen your core, ankles, calves, thighs and spine.
Do it: Great for working on your balance and posture.
Skip it: You many want to skip this pose if you have low blood pressure or any medical conditions that affect your balance.
Modify: Place one of your hands on a wall for support.
Be mindful: Focus on your breath in and out as you hold this pose.
Yoga routines for beginner:Triangle Pose
Triangle, which is a part of many yoga sequences helps build strength in the legs and stretches the hips, spine, chest, shoulders, groins, hamstrings and calves. It can also help increase mobility in the hips and neck.
Do it: This pose is great for building strength and endurance.
Skip it: Avoid this pose if you have a headache or low blood pressure.
Modify: If you have high blood pressure, turn your head to gaze downward in the final pose. If you have neck problems, don’t turn your head to look upward; look straight ahead and keep both sides of the neck long.
Be mindful: Keep lifting your raised arm toward the ceiling. It helps keep the pose buoyant.
Yoga routines for beginners:Seated Half-Spinal Twist Pose
This twisting pose can increase the flexibility in your back, while stretching the shoulders, hips and chest. It can also help relieve tension in the middle of your back.
Do it: To release tight muscles around the shoulders and upper and lower back.
Skip it: If you have a back injury.
Modify: If bending your right knee is uncomfortable, keep it straight out in front of you.
Be mindful: Lift your torso with each inhale, and twist as you exhale.
Yoga routines for beginners:Bridge Pose
This is a back-bending pose that stretches the muscles of the chest, back and neck. It also builds strength in the back and hamstring muscles.
Do it: If you sit most of the day, this pose will help you open your upper chest.
Skip it: Avoid this pose if you have a neck injury.
Modify: Place a block between your thighs to help keep the legs and feet in proper alignment. Or you can place a block under your pelvis if your lower back is bothering you.
Be mindful: While holding this pose, try to keep your chest lifted and your sternum toward your chin.
Like life, yoga classes typically end with this pose. It allows for a moment of relaxation, but some people find it difficult to stay still in this pose. However, the more you try this pose, the easier it is to sink into a relaxing, meditative state.
Do it: Always!
Skip it: If you don’t want to have a moment’s peace.
Modify: Place a blanket under your head, if that feels more comfortable. You can also roll up a blanket and place that under your knees, if your lower back is sensitive or bothering you.
yoga routines for beginners Be mindful: Feel the weight of your body sinking into your mat one part at a time.
A set of specific exercises, called poses, combined with specific breathing techniques and meditation principles are the building blocks of a yoga class. If a pose causes pain or proves too difficult, there are variations and modifications that can be made to help students. Props like blocks, blankets and straps — even chairs — can be used to help you get the most benefit from the poses. Yoga is not one-size-fits-all: The best yoga workout for you will depend on your individual needs and goals.
The benefits of a regular yoga practice are wide-ranging. In general, a complete yoga workout can help keep your back and joints healthy, improve your overall posture, stretch and strengthen muscles and improve your balance, says Roger Cole, Ph.D., a psychobiologist and certified Iyengar yoga teacher. Yoga also has “a restorative side that is deeply relaxing and rejuvenating,” Dr. Cole says. “Relaxation is built into every yoga session.”
In addition, yoga’s focus on the breath can calm you and help you learn to be more mindful of your body, says Dr. Timothy McCall, the author of “Yoga as Medicine,” and that can help you to move with greater ease.
In recent years, more and more research is demonstrating the wide-ranging health benefits of yoga.
Studies show that yoga can help:
Reduce back pain: Weekly yoga classes relieve symptoms of low back pain about as well as intense, regular stretching sessions.
Strengthen bones: In one small study, yoga practitioners were shown to have increased bone density in their spine and hips, compared to people in a control group.
Improve balance: Male athletes in one study displayed better balance after 10 weeks of yoga classes than a control group of athletes who did not change their routines.
Stave off mental decline: In one study, participants who did a combination of yoga and meditation as opposed to a brain-training exercise performed much better on a test of visuospatial memory, a type of remembering that is important for balance, depth perception and the ability to recognize objects and navigate the world.
Reduce stress: A study of 72 women found that Iyengar yoga helped reduce mental distress and the related psychological and physical symptoms of stress.
Relieve depression: In a study of coal miners with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or C.O.P.D., yoga was shown to alleviate depression and anxiety.
Ancient, But Not Foreign
Yoga is tied to ancient Indian philosophy, so yoga poses have both Sanskrit and English names — adho mukha svanasana is more commonly known as downward-facing dog, for example — and you may hear both in a class.
But even if you have never tried a yoga class, you may already be familiar with some yoga poses. Ever tried a plank? You’ve done yoga.
Trainers and fitness classes around the world, not to mention college and professional sports teams, are including yoga into more traditional workouts as a potent form of mind-body conditioning, helping athletes to breathe better and increase their focus.
The Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Clippers, for example, practice yoga in a team setting, and many top sports professionals, including the basketball star LeBron James and the tennis champion Novak Djokovic have incorporated yoga into their training programs.
“The attention-focusing and alignment-honing potential of a yoga practice is a solid complement to more athletic, explosive and calisthenic endeavors,” says Derek Cook, a former personal trainer who teaches yoga.
Mindfulness with Yoga
In a yoga class, as you learn to do yoga poses, you will be instructed to notice your breath and the way your body moves during the exercises. The is the foundation of a mind-body connection.
A well-balanced series of yoga exercises gives you the opportunity to scan your entire body, noting how you feel as you move through the poses. You may begin to realize, for example, that one side of your body feels different than the other during a stretch, or that it’s easier to balance on your right leg, or that certain poses helps ease tension in your neck.
This is how yoga turns physical exercises into tools to help students become more mindful and even learn to meditate.
Stephen Cope, who teaches yoga and mindfulness at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Massachusetts has written that learning to focus in this way can help us outside of yoga class, too. “As we train our attention, we’ll begin to notice our postures throughout the day, not just on the yoga mat,” Mr.Cope writes in his book “Yoga and the Quest for the True Self.”
Learning to be aware of your posture at your desk or when you walk, for example, can be the first step to making improvements that will make you move more easily and feel better all the time.
Breathing techniques are an essential part of yoga — not only do they help you to stay focused while practicing yoga, they can also help reduce stress and relax the nervous system and calm the mind.
Yoga breathing techniques also offer a “ way into meditation,” says Elena Brower, a yoga and meditation teacher and the author of “Art of Attention.” Ms. Brower says that more people who have in recent years focused on the physical aspects of yoga are moving toward meditation, as they find “they have an increasing need to have time to reflect, release and recalibrate.”
Here are a few types of breathing techniques that may be included in a yoga class:
Abdominal Breathing: Also called diaphragmatic or belly breathing, this is the most common breathing technique you’ll find in basic yoga. It helps foster healthy, efficient breathing in general.
Inflate your abdomen as you inhale.
Exhale, trying to empty your abdomen of as much air as you can.
Ujjayi or “victorious” breath: This type of deep breathing allows you to slow and smooth the flow of breath. It is often used in flow classes to help students regulate their breathing as they move through the poses.
Constrict the muscles in the back of your throat and breathe in and out with your mouth closed.
Some say this breathing technique sounds like Darth Vader; others say it sounds like the ocean. In any case, the sound should be audible to you only; your neighbor doesn’t necessarily need to hear it.