By Donovan Baldwin
Yoga can be daunting for the newbie. Yoga poses, as shown in books or demonstrated in videos can seem impossible, but, with the proper attitude and regular practice they can be used, or adapted by, any yoga beginner.
You trot down to the local library or Barnes & Noble, and pick up a book on the subject, and you see people twisting themselves into positions you never thought the human body capable of.
Even when you do find a book that supposedly has yoga poses for beginners, all the pictures look absolutely impossible!
Especially for you.
You try one or two, and you cannot even get close to what's shown in the pictures... or... even worse... you feel a sharp, stabbing pain that tells you that you have gone too far.
I am here to tell you that most of the time, anybody putting out a yoga book is going to try to look as good as possible... from a yoga standpoint, at least. They are going to show themselves in the final, perfect position, forgetting about what it was like for them to fall over while trying Warrior II position for the first time.
So, the first thing I want to tell you about yoga poses for beginners... or overweight people, or old people, or people with specific problems, such as arthritis, is, don't try to be perfect from the start.
Secondly, apply some common sense.
Just because a position such as the half-spinal twist, or Ardha-matsyendrasana (Learning the Sanskrit names for the various poses is a challenge in itself.) is, at some point in your practice, going to have benefits, just looking at a picture of it should tell you that you might not quite be ready for it!
Even an experienced yogin is probably going to do some sort of warm-up, in the form of easier poses and movements, before slipping casually into THAT position.
Finally, start with some of the more simple, and easier to perform, yoga poses.
Believe it or not, there are many benefits of simply doing such apparently easy asanas as Corpse Pose (Shavasana), or Child's Pose (Balasana). In fact, some experienced in the practice consider Corpse Pose, where you lay flat on your back on the floor and breathe, as actually being MORE difficult than some others that may look more impressive... or scary!
While eventually, you will want to string some poses together to make a yoga routine, and your personal, satisfactory, fulfilling, and worthwhile routine may be different from every one else's, it's not a problem to start simply by learning and practicing a few yoga poses for beginners as separate "exercises" before you eventually string them together into a complete routine.
As you improve with the easy poses, you can head back to Barnes & Nobles and pick up a copy of that book that seemed so scary... or insane... a few weeks earlier.
Here's a few easy yoga poses for beginners.
Four final points:
- Corpse Pose or Shavasana
- Easy Pose or Sukhasana
- Seated Forward Bend or Paschimottanasana
- Locust Pose or Salabhasana
- Mountain Pose or Tadasana
- Power Chair or Utkatasana
- Warrior II or Virabhadrasana II
- Lotus Pose or Padmasana
You can control this to some extent, by creating your own yoga routine, your own private space, and setting your own atmosphere for each session with the aid of sights, scents (aromatherapy), and sounds.
- Do not begin any exercise program, including yoga, without checking with your health care provider first.
- Do not throw yourself into these poses. Just go until you feel resistance and then stop at that point. In fact, many poses, such as Lotus pose, have alternate positions. You can find examples in many books about yoga, or, you can work out your own.
In Lotus Pose, for example, you are supposed to wrap your legs around each other. Once, I could do that fairly easily, but, now, at age 70, I have arthritis and simply rest ankle on calf, calf on ankle.
- Breathe! Believe it or not, one of the most important exercises in yoga is breathing! Learn how to breathe, and, as a rule of thumb, you should be able to breathe properly during each movement or pose. In fact, the movements are generally made to the rhythm of the breath.
- While I am not going to tell you to have fun, I will say that, if you are not enjoying what you are doing, then why are you doing it? Yes, yoga is good for you, and there are many benefits of yoga. But, if you have to force your way to go to, and perform, each session, then you probably will not stay with it, and you will never achieve the many good results which are possible.
I hope this small dissertation on yoga poses for beginners has helped.
Donovan Baldwin is 77 years old poet who practices yoga as part of his own exercise routine several days a week. He is retired from the U.S. Army after 21 years of service and is a University of West Florida alumnus (BA Accounting 1973). He has studied yoga, weight lifting, health, and fitness for 40 years and has been writing on these subjects for the last decade. Find out more about the benefits of yoga at www.nodiet4me.com/yoga.