Starting the yogic journey is exciting and going to group classes or having a 1:1 private lesson provide many benefits including guidance, adjustments, and modifications. It is just as important to develop a home practice remembering that it doesn’t have to be a 60-minute long session. The act of rolling out the mat, connecting with the breath and being present can be just as powerful as going to a led class.
These are The Private Yogi’s top 5 asanas for beginner yogis.
Tadasana (Mountain pose) allows you to connect powerfully with the ground using the four corners of the foot. Lifting all toes and placing each one down mindfully, play with balance moving weight from the heel to the toes and finding centre to distribute the weight evenly throughout the foot which will help root down. Engage the quadriceps without locking the knees bringing energy upward through the body lengthening through the spine and drawing the shoulder blades down and back away from the ears. Breathing mindfully draw in the ribs in and feel the energy through the fingers. Tadasana steadies breathing, improves posture and creates strength in the legs.
Bālāsana (Child’s pose) is offered as a resting pose in guided classes it is also an asana that encourages breathing into the back of the torso which is often neglected. With knees on the mat, big toes touching and knees separated to allow room for the torso fold forward from the waist bring the torso between the thighs, arms can be stretched in front of the body with palms on the mat for an active pose or arms by the torso palms up which is more restorative. Consciously breathe into the back ribs creating space, this asana stretches the back and releases compression within the lower back.
Adho mukha śvānāsana (Downward facing dog) can be transitioned into from Bālāsana (Child’s pose) with the arms stretched out in front palms facing down and fingers spread out, tuck the toes under sending the heels towards the mat and hips towards the sky to form an upside down ‘V’. This asana forms part of the traditional Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) and strengthens the arms and legs, stretches the hamstrings, calves and brings length to the spine.
Mārjāryāsana / Bitilasana (Cat / Cow) increases flexibility in the spine by stretching and strengthening. From Adho mukha śvānāsana (Downward facing dog) bend the knees and come to a table top position knees and feet hip distance apart, hands shoulder distance and wrists, elbows and shoulders in one line – alignment is an important thing to focus on as a beginner. Exhale to tuck the tailbone, round the back, draw the navel towards the spine and chin towards the chest. Inhale raising the gaze upwards, lifting the tailbone and dropping the belly.
Vriksasana (Tree pose) is one of the most recognised Yoga poses. From Tadasana (Mountain pose) find a good foundation grounding into all four corners of the feet, place hands on the hips feeling that they are square. Bring the weight into the left leg, slowly lift the right foot off the ground and bend the knee. Mindfully move the right knee towards the right maintaining the squareness of the hips, place the sole of the right foot on the ankle/calf / inner left thigh (whichever is accessible to your practice) and bring palms to the heart centre. This asana is great for introducing the importance of Drishti (gaze). Pick a point in front of you to focus on and it will help maintain the balance – if you are skeptical, try the asana with the eyes closed and see what effect this has on balance.