A Beginner’s Guide to Yoga

Learning about all the potential benefits of yoga for your life's overall quality can be enough motivation to take out those yoga mats. However, learning about yoga's potential dangers as a beginner can put a damper on that motivation. 

It is no doubt that yoga can bring you peace of mind and help you deal with life's issues a little better. The primary purpose of yoga is to connect with your mind and body through breath and movement. Some people use yoga to release tension and anxiety. Some view it as a more spiritual journey to oneself, while others treat it purely physical exercise. 

No matter your reason or goal for participating in yoga, it is crucial that you follow the proper technique to avoid any unwanted injuries or accidents. 

Yoga for Beginners

That being said, it isn't that difficult to perform yoga as a beginner. While the complicated moves and poses should only be performed under the supervision of a licensed yoga instructor, there are some easier moves that you can do in the comfort of your own home. As long as you follow the instructions correctly, these don't pose any risk for injury. And the benefits of performing these simple moves are immense, especially if you've never participated in yoga practices before. 

Child's Pose Yoga

Child's Pose

This is the most basic pose of yoga and is the perfect place to start as a beginner. It is also relatively much easier to perform, and you don't need any prior experience in yoga to do it. 

- Start by kneeling on the floor with your knees hip-width apart and your toes together. 

- Rest your palms on your thighs.

- Take a deep breath, and as you exhale, low your torso between your knees. 

- Simultaneously extend your arms alongside your torso as your palms are facing downwards. 

- Relax your shoulders as much as you can near the ground. 

- Rest in this pose for as long as need and make sure to continue taking deep breaths. 

This is a great pose to get a nice gentle stretch in your neck, spine, and hip area and help you relax almost instantly. 

Risks: This pose may possess certain risks for people who have ankle problems, knee injuries, and high blood pressure or women who are pregnant. 

Cobra Pose

Another easy yoga pose that almost anyone can perform is the cobra pose or "Upward Facing Dog". While many yoga poses stretch the muscles on the backside of your body, Cobra Pose balances this out by stretching the front muscles. Regularly performing the cobra pose – 4 to 5 times a week – can help with poor posture, rounded shoulders, or weak upper back muscles. 

- Start by lying face down on the mat with your head slightly lifted and place your hands directly under your shoulders. 

- Point your toes out so that the tops of your feet touch the mat. But don't push it if it isn't easy to do so; just point outward as much as you comfortably can. 

- Take a deep breath, and as you exhale, push yourself up by pressing through your hands. Keep going until your arms are straight. 

- Keep your neck relaxed as you look upwards. 

- Inhale as you get into the original position. 

- Repeat 5 to 10 times. 

This pose stretches the chest, shoulders, and abdominals while strengthening the arms, glutes, and upper back. 

Risks: The cobra pose isn't safe for people who have arthritis in their spine or neck, carpal tunnel syndrome, or are recovering from a lower-back injury. 

Tree Pose Yoga

Tree Pose

Let's take things up a notch as we stand up. Also known as Vrksasana, the tree pose is one of the most well-known asana (Sanskrit for "yoga pose") in a Western Yogi playbook. The aim of this pose is to improve balance, concentration, and relaxation. It is a great way for beginners to get into slightly more advanced poses without posing any risk of injury and is also the perfect way to start or end any yoga routine. 

- Start by standing straight with your back tall and long and your feet aligned and touching each other. 

- Keep your arms straight along both sides of your body. 

- Take a few deep breaths as you find a place or object in front of you to focus your attention on. 

- Once you have your eyes on something, exhale as you slowly shift your weight to your left leg and begin to raise your right foot off the floor. 

- Place your right leg on the inside of your left thigh, making the sole is aligned with it. 

- Your toes should be pointing downwards while your pelvis is entirely straight. 

- Stretch your arms up towards the ceiling and press your palms against each other as you form an inverted V with your arms. 

- Hold the position for at least 20 seconds or as long as you can take deep breaths comfortably. 

- Repeat with the other leg. 

This pose stretches your hips, chest, spine, shoulders, groin, calves, and hamstrings, and it a great way to improve your balance. It can also build strength and endurance, especially in the legs. 

Risks: If you suffer from headaches or low blood pressure, it is better to avoid this pose. 

Yoga Class

With these three poses, you can quickly get yourself into the habit of yoga. However, if you want to perform more advanced poses and movements, it is recommended that you join a yoga class. If performing yoga in front of a bunch of strangers makes you feel anxious, relax. Most yoga classes are pretty warm and welcoming, and no one will judge you for your sloppy poses. In fact, most of those people started off where you are now. 

So take out those yoga pants and mats, and start practising now!