When you start practicing yoga it can lead you in many different directions, as it is a vast wealth of knowledge and opportunity for fitness growth. If you are new to yoga and new to fitness, you may find it beneficial at first to join a class, where the instructor can guide you with feedback as you try the poses for the first time.
How to Do Yoga at Home
So you've had a few yoga classes and you are now confident enough to practice on your own. Great! The quiet and harmonious atmosphere of your own home can aid in focusing on the spiritual and mental aspects of yoga. Make sure you have a specific space set up with care. Take pride in your practice of yoga, even if you have a busy life.
"Take pride in your practice of yoga, even if you have a busy life."
The word “yoga” means “union with the divine” and the spiritual component of yoga should not be forgotten amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life stress. Find a sturdy mat with a design you like, place your shoes neatly when you remove them and wear clothes that allow you to move freely. It helps to take the practice seriously and promote focus/awareness; this is your personal time for peace and wellness.
If you are already at a high level of fitness, and are looking for a good low impact activity to supplement your other aerobic and anaerobic endeavors, yoga can be modified for extra focus on muscles and movements that help you improve in your specific sport of choice. Regardless of your level or fitness goals, there are fundamental starting poses (explained below) that can be modified later on, as you develop more skills.
It helps to take the practice seriously and promote focus/awareness; this is your personal time for peace and wellness.
Practice: Here are 6 beginner poses explained and listed in order of difficulty. These are taught in most beginner yoga classes and serve as foundations for review after you have practiced them with an instructor. All poses should be held for about 30 seconds unless otherwise mentioned.
Child's Pose (Balasana)
This is a resting pose. Hold anywhere from 30 seconds to several minutes. Start in a kneeling position, with your big toes touching and your heels nestled beneath your sit bones. Next, separate your knees so they are hip width apart.
Exhale and lower your torso down to the floor between your thighs. Rest your forehead gently on your mat. Remember to focus on good posture by lengthening your tailbone away from your back as you simultaneously lift the base of your skull away from the back of your neck.
Position your hands on the floor next to your toes with palms facing up and release the front of your shoulders towards the floor to feel the sensation of relaxing spread across your upper back.
To come up: Lift the torso. Then inhale, and lift from the tailbone.
Modifications: If you have difficulty sitting on your heels, a thickly folded blanket can be placed between the backs of your thighs and your calves for added support.
Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This is a transitional pose and a resting pose. In preparation for this pose, come to your hands and knees with hands under your shoulders and knees under hips. Spread the fingers wide and keep the spine straight, elongated and relaxed. Exhale and push your hips towards the ceiling as you let your knees rise from the floor.
Hands are open, pressing thumb and pointer finger into the mat. Pull your belly button in towards your spine to engage the core and focus on breathing as you let your head hang. Straighten your legs and arms. Engage your quads to focus the bodyweight on your legs and take the bodyweight off of your arms.
To come out of this pose relax back sitting on your heels into child’s pose.
Upward Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svana)
This is one of the poses in a traditional sun salutation, but can also be practiced individually. Lie with your belly and the tops of your feet on the mat. Bend your elbows and place your palms with spread fingers next to your waist with fingers pointing forward. Keep your forearms perpendicular to the floor.
Inhale and press your hands firmly down as you straighten your arms and lift torso with shoulders above your wrists. Keep the top of your feet on the floor. Do not come up on to your toes, but lift your legs a few inches from the floor. Keep your elbow creases facing forward. Do not clench your buttocks but press your tailbone forward. Look forward and slightly towards the ceiling.
To come out of this pose, you can release into a downward dog. Lift the hips and roll over the toes to press the bottoms of your feet into the mat in downward dog.
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
Stand with your feet together and hinge at the hips. Let the head hang and place palms flat on the floor near the feet if you can.
Modification: Sitting Forward Bend( Paschimottanaasana): Sit on the floor with legs flat on the mat. Bend from the hips to bring your torso parallel to the legs.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Stand with the feet together and the hands at the sides of the body. Focus on distributing the weight evenly between both feet and throught the foot through three points: the heel, the base of the big toe and the base of the little toe. Do not put weight on the inside of the foot as this negatively affects posture. Shoulders should be rolled back and stand tall with a broad chest. Gaze is forward. Hips, buttocks and upper thighs are contracted.
Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana)
Start from mountain pose. Stretch your arms up with palms touching. Inhale and spread legs sideways to create a gap of 2/3 body height. Exhale and rotate the trunk to the left while rotating the left foot 90 degrees so it faces forward and the right foot rotates so it points slightly to the right.
Bend the left knee until the thigh is parallel to the floor. Stretch the right leg with the knee locked. Make sure the chest head and left knee are in line with the left foot and pointing forward. The head should gaze upwards through the outstretched hands. Exhale and rotate to the other side.
To come out of warrior one pose, step back with legs together and hands by your side in mountain pose.