by Lori Bartez
(Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
Most yoga poses can be practiced by people at any level, so yoga positions for beginners are not really so different from any other yoga poses. What you will find if you go to a beginners class is that there will be much more explanation of each pose and where all the parts of your body should be every time.
The yoga teacher will also spend more time explaining the principles of yoga and making sure that you know how to practice safely.
In a beginner yoga class the instructor will also tell you the English name for each position (e.g. Downward Facing Dog) and not just the Indian name (Adho Mukha Svanasana).
This is especially important if you are joining a power yoga class where students move quickly from one pose to another.
In an advanced class the instructor may only say the Indian names and you could be completely lost!
If you are beginning yoga at home without an instructor, it is best to buy a beginners yoga DVD or video and watch it closely all through the first time before starting to practice along with it.
Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskara)
The sun salutation is a series of positions that flow well in a sequence and give your body some well balanced stretches.
Many yoga students perform sun salutations each morning and evening.
This is a shortened version which forms a very basic series of yoga poses for beginners.
It is very important to go through the series in time with your breathing. Breathing should be slow and relaxed. Do not stretch so much that your breathing becomes strained.
1. Tadasana – Standing Pose
Begin standing with the outer edges of your feet parallel and big toes together. Hands by your sides.
Back straight, neck long, head well back on the shoulders. Practice by a mirror or against a wall at first to be sure you are straight.
2. Inhale – Urdhva Hastasana – Raised Hands Pose
Bring the arms straight out to the sides with palms up, sweeping up until they meet above your head and slightly forward.
Look up at your thumbs but keep the back straight. Keep the shoulders down – do not stretch the arms up too high.
3. Exhale – Uttanasana – Forward Bend
Sweep the hands out and down, hinge at the hips keeping the head and back straight as you go forward in a swan dive. At the end of your dive, let the head hang and the back bend so that you flop forward.
Touch the floor either side of your feet, bending slightly at the knees if you need to. Place hands flat on the floor if you can do this easily. Relax into this pose. The head should be completely relaxed.
4. Inhale – Flat Back
Roll the spine up to come up to a flat back at right angles to your legs, chin up looking forward, fingertips touching the floor or just above it. Make sure the back is not hollow or bent.
5. Exhale – Return to Uttanansana – Forward Bend
6. Inhale – Return to Urdhva Hastasana – Raised Hands Pose
Reverse the swan dive of #3: roll the spine up to a flat back with arms out to the sides and continuing on up with a flat back, hingeing at the hips, to stand straight with the hands meeting above your head in the Raised Hands Pose.
7. Exhale – Return to Tadasana – Standing Pose
These yoga positions for beginners can be the first step in your yoga practice.