7 Beginner Yoga Poses to Practice for Life

Updated: 6 days ago


As exciting as it is to explore a pose that's labelled "advanced," remember that the poses that built you up to where you are today are ones you can do for the rest of your life!


When we first start our yoga practice, so much of our mind is focused on understanding where our arms and legs are supposed to go. As we deepen our practice, we explore more nuanced engagements.



With this added awareness, these "beginner" poses become more challenging than they appear. Each of these yoga poses can be practiced for life, and help to support us as we age.


  1. Cat Pose

Directions: From all 4s, with the exhale, press into hands and round the spine, looking towards the belly. Keep legs and feet active, whether they're tucked under or pointed.


Variations:

- Add more movement and make this dynamic, rocking your hips back towards your heels and swaying from side to side.


- Take a load off...have wrist pain? Try this on your forearms. Have knee pain? Pull in a chair and do this standing with your hands on the chair seat facing you.


Benefits: Stretches muscles along the back of the body, engages the muscles along the front, and builds bone density in the arms/hands.



2. Cow Pose

Directions: From all 4s, with the inhale press into hands and legs, let the belly and chest release to the ground, look forward gently without reaching the chin


Variations:

- Make this dynamic, curling and looking over your one shoulder at a time to spot your foot behind you.


- Take a load off...have wrist pain? Try this on your forearms. Have knee pain? Pull in a chair and do this standing with your hands on the chair seat facing you.


Benefits: Stretches muscles along the back of the body, engages the muscles along the front, and builds bone density in the arms/hands.


3. Tabletop Balance

Directions: From all 4s, extend the right leg to the back of the mat and over it at hip height. Be careful not to lift higher or you'll be in a backbend. Shift weight into the right hand and open the left arm wide or alongside the ear.


Variations:

- Make this dynamic, curling and looking over your one shoulder at a time to spot your foot behind you.


- Uncomfortable on hands and knees? You can try this on your forearms or pull in a chair and do this standing with your hands on the chair seat facing you.


Benefits: Strengthens abdominal and stabilizing muscles that help build balance. Also a great way to build bone density in the arms/hands.


4. Plank Pose

Directions: From all 4s, extend both legs straight to the back of the mat keeping hips about hip height or at an angle to the shoulders. Be careful not to drop the pelvis or you'll be in a backbend. Hold for 3-5 breaths.



Variations:

- Make this dynamic, curling and looking over your one shoulder at a time to spot your foot behind you.


- Find plank pose challenging and want to build up to it? Give a bent knee plank a try, simply rest both knees on the ground and maintain the same support in the abdomen.


Benefits: Strengthens abdominal muscles that help support the spine. Builds awareness in the stabilizing muscles that help build balance. Also a great way to build bone density in the arms/hands.


5. Down Dog

Directions: From plank, bend the knees softly and lift the hips high to the ceiling as you transfer your weight towards you feet and your arms come alongside your ears.


Variations:

- Broaden the hands and legs as wide as the mat if you feel restricted in your shoulders or hips.

- Feel rounded? Keep your knees bent and focus on how high your hips are to lengthen your spine.


Benefits: Beyond helping to stretch the hamstrings and building strength in the arms, Down Dog is an inversion that helps to calm the nervous system as the heart starts to slow the beat.


6. Lunge Pose

Directions: From a forward fold step one leg back, until the front shin is vertical and the back thigh is at an angle.


Variations:

- Lower the back knee to the ground for a low lunge if you feel any pain in your low back.


Benefits: Lunge works to stretch the front of the back hip and thigh, while strengthening the hip and thigh in the front leg. This helps build stability and suppleness in the hips.


7. Revolved Low Lunge

Directions: From lunge, lower the back knee to the ground. Plant your hand as wide as your mat and twist towards your front leg. Bring your hand to your hip or slide it around to your low back, if comfortable bring your hand behind your head and lean gently back.


Benefits: As you twist you massage the discs that cushion the spine, bringing essential nutrients into them and helping maintain their health. You'll also stretch the side of the body, which tends to tighten as we sit for long period.

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