Because of yoga’s plentiful benefits, a lot of people want to venture to yoga and yet hesitate to try an official class. Hence, here are some basic yoga poses and their benefits that you need to know as a beginner so that you don’t find yourself naïve and clueless on your first yoga class. It will help you have basic knowledge about some of the basic yoga poses and this way you can also relate to some of the terms and names of poses that your instructor will be using during the class. You can attain numerous mental and physical benefits of yoga by simply practising the following basic yoga poses.
1. Mountain Pose
Benefits: Improves posture, sense of center, mental clarity; solid breathing exercise.
How to: Simply stand—feet hip-width apart, weight spread evenly—with your arms at your sides. Then breathe slowly and deeply at an even pace, keeping your neck aligned with the rest of your spine. You can move your hands and arms as you focus; some people take a prayer position or reach up to the sky for a stretch.
2. Standing Forward Bend
Benefits: Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression, stimulates the liver and kidneys, stretches the hamstrings, calves, and hips, strengthens the thighs and knees, improves digestion, helps relieve the symptoms of menopause, reduces fatigue and anxiety, relieves headache and insomnia, therapeutic for asthma, high blood pressure, infertility, osteoporosis, and sinusitis.
How to: Exhale and bend forward from the hip joints, not from the waist. As you descend draw the front torso out of the groins and open the space between the pubis and top sternum. As in all the forward bends, the emphasis is on lengthening the front torso as you move more fully into the position.
If possible, with your knees straight, bring your palms or finger tips to the floor slightly in front of or beside your feet, or bring your palms to the backs of your ankles. If this isn’t possible, cross your forearms and hold your elbows. Press the heels firmly into the floor and lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling. Turn the top thighs slightly inward. Let your head hang from the root of the neck, which is deep in the upper back, between the shoulder blades.
Don’t roll the spine to come up. Instead bring your hands back onto your hips and reaffirm the length of the front torso. Then press your tailbone down and come up on an inhalation with a long front torso.
Benefits: Strengthens the arms, wrists, and spine, tones the abdomen.
How to: Inhale and draw your torso forward until the arms are perpendicular to the floor and the shoulders directly over the wrists, torso parallel to the floor.
Press your outer arms inward and firm the bases of your index fingers into the floor. Firm your shoulder blades against your back, then spread them away from the spine. Also spread your collarbones away from the sternum. Look straight down at the floor, keeping the throat and eyes soft.
Plank Pose is one of the positions in the traditional Sun Salutation sequence. You can also perform this pose by itself and stay anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute.
4. Cobra Pose
Benefits: Stretches and strengthens the spine, arms, and wrists.
How to: Lie facedown on the floor with your thumbs under shoulders, legs extended with the tops of your feet on the floor. Tuck your hips downward as you squeeze your glutes. Keeping your shoulders down, push up and lift your chest off the ground. Relax and repeat.
5. Dog Pose
Benefits: Encourages full-body circulation; a great stretch for calves and heels.
How to: Get on all fours with hands and knees shoulder-and-hips-width apart. Walk your hands forward and spread your fingers wide for stability. Curl your toes under and carefully press your hips upward so your body looks like an inverted V with your knees slightly bent. You can get a stronger stretch by keeping your heels on the floor; “walk your dog” by alternately pressing your heels down.
6. Child Pose
Benefits: lets you relax and breathe into your back; stretches the hips, thighs, and ankles; relieves back and neck pain.
How to: Sit upright comfortably on your heels. Roll your torso forward and bring your forehead to rest on the ground in front of you. Extending your arms forward, lower your chest to your knees as close as you comfortably can. Hold the pose and breathe into your torso. Exhale and release to get deeper into your fold.
7. Triangle Pose
Benefits: full body stretch; strengthens thighs, knees, and ankles; relieves backache; well-recommended for pregnant women.
How to: Take warrior pose on your right side without lunging into your knee. Then touch the inside of your right foot with the outside of your right hand. Reach up to the ceiling with your left hand. Turn your gaze toward and past your left hand to stretch your back. Don’t forget to repeat it on the other side.
8. Bridge Pose
Benefits: Strengthens your chest, neck, and spine; great warm-up for more intense backbends.
How to: Lie on the floor with your arms at your sides. With your knees bent, press your feet into the floor as you lift your hips. Then clasp your hands under your lower back and press your arms down for support. Lift your hips until they are parallel to the floor as you bring your chest to your chin. Rookie mode: try pillows under your head and/or hips.
9. Happy Child Pose
Benefits: Gently stretches the inner groins and the back spine, calms the brain and helps relieve stress and fatigue.
How to: lying on your back, the legs are raised into the sky. You should then catch the sole of your feet and then push them to the floor with the palm of your hands. Position each ankle directly over the knee, so your shins are perpendicular to the floor. Hold the pose steadily for 30 seconds to one minute. Then release the feet back to the floor with an exhale and rest for a few breaths.
10. Dead Pose
Benefits: Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression, relaxes the body, reduces headache, fatigue, and insomnia, helps to lower blood pressure.
How to: In this pose, you should lie on your back and then spread your legs and arms in their most comfortable position. Remember to relax all your muscles breathe deeply as you can so that the air can reach every muscle of your body. Stay in this pose for 5 minutes for every 30 minutes of practice. To exit, first roll gently with an exhalation onto one side, preferably the right. Take 2 or 3 breaths. With another exhalation press your hands against the floor and lift your torso, dragging your head slowly after. The head should always come up last.
With the right positive attitude and enough knowledge on your basic yoga poses, you are now ready to enjoy your first yoga class and attain the benefits of yoga.