Poses to Know
No matter the style of yoga you choose — hatha, vinyasa, or hot yoga — nearly all of them include a few key moves. To stay safe, your best bet is to work with a trained instructor who can show you the right way to do each position. If you’ve had neck, back, or joint pain or flexibility problems, talk to your doctor before you start a yoga routine. Most of all, don’t push yourself to do anything that hurts. You can tailor most poses to work for your body.
This move seems simple, but doing it right helps with posture and balance. Stand with your big toes touching, heels slightly apart (or wider if that’s more comfortable), arms by your sides. Imagine lifting through your inner feet and ankles. Pull your shoulder blades down, and widen your collarbones. Keep your head in line with your shoulders (not pulled back or forward), your chin parallel to the floor. Your pelvis and lower back should be neutral, not tucked or arched. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Downward Facing Dog
This pose works the upper body and stretches your arms, chest, legs, and back muscles. Get on all fours, toes turned under, knees below hips, and hands a bit in front of your shoulders. Exhale and start to straighten your legs, letting your heels pop up from the floor. Lift your sitting bones to the sky, and push your heels toward the floor. Lightly press your palms into your mat and slowly straighten your arms as you draw your shoulder blades down. Relax your head, and try to keep it between your upper arms. Hold 1-3 minutes.
From downward facing dog, lower your torso forward with straight arms until they are perpendicular to the floor, your palms right under your shoulders. Widen your collarbones, pull your shoulder blades down, and look straight down at the floor. Hold 30 seconds to 1 minute. The plank pose will help you build stronger arms, wrists, and core muscles.
Upward Facing Dog
This is a great pose for your upper body. Lie on your stomach, legs straight and the tops of your feet on the floor. Bend your elbows and place your palms on the floor next to your waist. Press from your hands to lift your torso and the top of your legs off the ground. Pull your belly button in toward your spine to tighten your abs. Pull your shoulder blades down your back, and lift your chest softly toward the ceiling without tensing your neck. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
Warrior poses work lower body muscles and build stamina and balance. From mountain pose, spread your legs out 3-4 feet. Lift your arms overhead, palms facing each other. Slide your shoulder blades down your back. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees, and your left foot 45 degrees to the right. Twist your torso right, aiming your pelvis toward the right foot. Bend your right knee — it should be over your ankle. Gently arch your upper back, but don’t let your head fall back. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then switch sides.
Like warrior one, spread your legs out 3-4 feet. Raise your arms out to the sides, palms down. Turn your left foot out 90 degrees and your right foot slightly to the right. Bend your left leg 90 degrees, knee over ankle. Press the outside of your right heel to the floor and stretch your arms away, keeping your torso centered. Turn your head to the left and look past your fingers. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then switch sides.