If you are looking to begin your yoga journey, yet are nervous to try a class because you don't know any poses--don't fret! I've got you covered. So that you do not feel overwhelmed, I have broken down 6 basic yoga poses that are popular in yoga sequences. You can follow my short videos to solidify your knowledge on these poses. Happy learning!
Standing mountain pose (tadasana) is the mother of all yoga poses. Once you can feel comfortable in this pose, you are well on your way to learning more poses.
Standing mountain pose (tadasana) is a great pose to center yourself and feel more grounded. This pose can help deeply align your energy and help connect you to your heart center.
For standing mountain pose, start at the top of your mat with your big toes to touch and your heels slightly out--creating a pizza or pie slice (you get to choose your favorite kind!).
Press down all four corners of your feet and with strong, sturdy ankles, stand up tall. Pretend like there is a piece of string pulling you up to the sky.
Engage your thighs and your core. Release your glute muscles. Roll your shoulders up and back, and with your hands down by your sides pivot your palms so that they face forward. Chin can lift slightly as your gaze is directly forward.
Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana I) is a basic yoga pose that is incorporated in numerous yoga sequences. This pose is a base for many other poses, so once you get comfortable in this pose, you will gain more confidence in the core of your yoga practice.
Warrior 1 is a pose that stretches and strengthens your leg muscles along with invigorating your shoulders and back muscles. This pose releases an overall feeling of self worth and inner strength and helps increase self esteem.
For warrior 1, stand at the top of your mat. Plant one foot into the ground and step back with your other foot into a high crescent lunge. In this high crescent lunge, your toes are pressing into the mat and your heel is off the ground.
To get into warrior one, you will spin your back foot down at a 45 degree angle. Your front heel and your back heel will create one line on your mat. Engage your back thigh to lift your knee cap and protect it from locking. Keep your front knee bent at a 90 degree angle with your knee over your ankle.
Both hips should be parallel to the front of the mat. As you lift your arms up over your head, make sure your shoulders stay relaxed and do not scrunch up by your ears. You may grab your hands and stick out your thumb and pointer finger, or you may simply keep your hands separate overhead. Feel all of your inner strength in this warrior 1 pose.
Warrior 2 is one of the most popular poses in a basic yoga flow sequence. That is because it is simple to get into and can be modified many ways. It also is a base to get into other poses like Triangle Pose and Extended Side Angle Pose.
Warrior 2 strengthens and stretches your leg muscles while stimulating your abdominals. It builds confidence and increases your stamina. It’s a great pose to look inward at your inner warrior and strength.
For warrior 2, you can start in the middle of your mat and hop out your feet a little wider than hip width distance. Pivot your front foot toward the top of the mat and make sure your front heel is in line with your back foot’s middle arch. Bend into your front knee and make sure it is over your ankle. Your knee should not go over your toes.
Now, your hips should be parallel to the long edge of the mat. This is different than warrior 1 where your hips were facing forward. It is important that you do not jut your hips or glutes out. You want to remain standing tall in one singular plane. Pretend that there are two walls coming in toward you from in front of your hips and behind you. This imagery helps to keep your glutes underneath your shoulders in one straight line. Bring your arms out to the sides in line with your shoulders. Keep your shoulders relaxed, and resist the urge to scrunch them up by your ears. Your gaze can come out to your front middle finger. As you work your leg muscles, connect to your breath and feel your inner strength rise within you.
Warrior 3 may be a bit harder of the three warrior poses. This pose is a nice foundation to transition your practice into learning more intermediate and advanced poses like standing splits and half moon.
This is a very invigorating pose that engages your core muscles while strengthening your standing leg muscles. It’s a great pose to increase your balance and maintain a good posture.
Warrior 3 is an invigorating pose that takes balance and concentration. Start at the top of your mat and ground down into one foot. Step the other foot back into a high lunge-- toes pressed into the mat and your heel off of the ground. Hands can come to your heart center. Put all of your weight into your front foot as you slowly lift your back foot off of the mat. Make sure your thigh on your standing leg is engaged and has a microbend in it so that you are not locking out your knee. Energize your back leg so that it is not hanging limply.
One of the most important parts of this pose is to ensure that your hips are parallel to the ground instead of opening them up. It doesn’t matter how high your back leg is as long as you are squaring your hips to the floor. You may even press your back foot up against a wall or use blocks underneath your hand to prop you up.
You can keep your hands at heart center or slowly bring your hands out in front of you.
Chair pose is a staple pose that engages the quads, hamstrings and core. It’s a powerful, fierce pose that enhances a yoga practice. It is also part of sun salutation B, which is a series that warms up the whole body. You may hear or practice this series in some of my classes.
Utkatasana, or Chair pose, stimulates the core and strengthens the leg muscles. I love incorporating this pose into my practice for its revitalizing element engaging the whole body.
Starting in tadasana, or standing mountain pose, press your weight back into your heels so much so that you can wiggle your toes. Bend your knees coming into a squat position with your knees over your toes if that feels comfortable to you. Instead of sticking your glutes and chest out, imagine dropping your tailbone so that it is pointing toward the floor. Actively engage your abdominal muscles. You can bring your hands to heart center or you can lift your arms above your head, palms facing each other while your shoulder remain relaxed. You may feel slight shaking since you are intensely working your muscles in this pose. It’s a good thing! Take notice of this, and with consistent practice, you will see progress over time.
Downward Facing Dog is a home base. It is part of Sun Salutation A and B, which helps warm up the body and prepare you for movement during class. A part of the sun salutation is commonly referred to as “taking your flow,” which includes, chaturanga, upward facing dog (or cobra) and downward facing dog. Typically, you spend a few breath cycles in a downward facing dog. Even though it is typically a pose to rest and restore, it is still a demanding pose because you are engaging your quadriceps, calves, hamstrings, ankles, shoulders, hands and wrists. Oftentimes, beginner yogis may feel that their wrists are sore in this pose. If this is the case, there are many modifications.
Downward facing dog is a common pose for a reason. It strengthens the arms, wrists and legs while stretching the hamstrings and shoulders. Since it is technicallly an inversion--where your heart is above your head--it has many calming properties that can relieve stress.
From a table top position with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your glutes, spread your fingertips out wide. Then, press into your fingertips and the area between your pointer finger and thumb while you push your glutes to the sky. Your heels can be lifted. Imagine trying to bring your shoulder blades together toward your spine as you roll your elbows out and down. You can peddle out your feet to get a stretch in your calves. To ensure you aren’t putting too much weight into your wrists, try to lift your wrists off of the mat to test that the weight is evenly distributed in your fingers and hands. This pose takes practice. Feel free to drop your knees and push back into child’s pose for some rest.