You’ve undoubtedly heard people talk about all of the amazing benefits of yoga, but you may still be a little skeptical… Common perception is that yoga is a slow and boring form of exercise and lacks the intensity and the overall cardiovascular and muscle training that other forms of exercise offer. That in fact, is furthest from reality! This ancient form of fitness with roots in India, focuses on developing balance, strength and flexibility – ALL 3 key benefits and byproducts of most popular and commonly practiced forms of exercise the world over.
Getting started as a beginner isn’t easy, as every pose (asana) challenges the physical endurance, flexibility and balance of the practitioner. Each pose can be held for 3 to 5 long breaths. We have compiled a list of 10 basic Asanas for Beginners, that will help you build the strength, stamina and flexibility:
- Tadasana – The Mountain Pose
It might look like you’re simply standing with your arms at your side, but it involves all the major muscle groups and improves focus and concentration. This pose teaches one to stand with majestic steadiness like a mountain. ‘Tada’ is the Sanskrit word for ‘Mountain’, and is the ideal starting point for all the other asanas to follow.
- You simply stand with your heels slightly apart and hang your arms besides the torso.
- Gently lift and spread your toes and the balls of your feet, then lay them softly down on the floor.
- Balance your body weight on your feet. Lift your ankles and firm your thigh muscles while rotating them inwards.
- As you inhale, elongate your torso and when you exhale release your shoulder blades away from your head. Broaden your collarbone and elongate your neck.
- Your ears, shoulders, hips and ankles should all be in one line. You can check your alignment by standing against the wall initially.
- You can even raise your hands and stretch them.
- And most importantly – Breathe Easy.
Benefits: It corrects bad posture and improves the alignment of the body. One of the best yoga poses to increase height. Increases blood circulation, reduce tension, stimulates nervous system and helps feel refreshed. Regulates the menstrual cycle in women. Tones the glutes and abdomen. Strengthens the ankles, knees, thighs, arms, and legs. Improves the function of the respiratory and digestive system.
- Vrikshasana – The Tree Pose
This pose gives you a sense of grounding. It improves your balance and strengthens your legs and back. It replicates the steady stance of a tree.
- Place your right foot high up on your left thigh. The sole of the foot should be flat and placed firmly.
- Keep your left leg straight and find your balance.
- While inhaling, raise your arms over your head and bring your palms together.
- Ensure that your spine is straight and take a few deep breaths.
- Slowly exhale, bring your hands down and release your right leg.
- Back in the standing position repeat the same with the other leg.
Benefits: Helps improve body balance and posture. Strengthens the legs, thighs, spine, shoulders, and arms. Tones arm and leg muscles. Strengthen ligaments in the ankles and feet. Known to give relief from sciatica and reduce the condition of flat feet.
- Adho Mukho Svanasana – The Downward Facing Dog Pose
This pose has wide-reaching health benefits and involves stretching hamstrings, chest and lengthening the spine, providing additional blood flow to the head. It is will leave you feeling energized.
- Sit on your heels, stretch your arms forward on the mat and lower your head.
- Form a table, like pushing your hands, strengthening your legs and slowly raising your hips.
- Press your heels down, let your head hand freely and tighten your waist.
Benefits: Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches and hands. Reduces stiffness in the shoulder region, tones the legs, builds stronger hands and wrists and relieves lower back pain. It also helps reduce symptoms of menstruation and menopause as well as helping prevent osteoporosis. Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression. Helps prevent osteoporosis. Improves digestion. Relieves headache, insomnia, back pain, and fatigue. Therapeutic for high blood pressure, asthma, flat feet, sciatica, sinusitis.
- Trikonasana – The Triangle Pose
It stretches the legs and torso, mobilizes the hips and promotes deep breathing, leaving one feeling invigorated.
- Stand with your feet wide apart.
- Stretch your right foot out (90 degrees) while keeping the leg closer to the torso.
- Keep your feet pressed against the ground and balance your weight equally on both feet.
- Inhale and as you exhale bend your right arm and make it touch the ground while your left arm goes up.
- Keep your waist straight.
- Ensure that your body is bent sideways and not forward or backwards.
- Stretch as much as you can while taking long, deep breaths.
- Repeat on the other side.
Benefits: Ensures the mobility of hip joints and neck strengthens the muscles in the thighs, hips, and back. Stretches the spine and improves its flexibility and relieves backache. Relieves gastritis, indigestion and acidity. This asana is good to burn fat and helps address conditions of obesity. Recommended for growing children to increase their height and strengthens the legs, knees, and ankles. It may be used for stress management. It provides stamina, balance, energy and develops focus.
- Utkatasana – The Chair Pose
An intensely powerful pose, this one strengthens the muscles of the legs, glutes and arms. It builds your willpower and has an energizing effect on the body and mind.
- Stand straight with your feet slightly apart.
- Stretch your arms but don’t bend your elbow.
- Inhale and bend your knees, pushing your pelvis down like you are sitting on chair.
- Keep your hands parallel to the ground and back straight.
- Take deep breaths.
- Bend gradually but make sure your knees don’t go beyond your toes.
Benefits: Strengthens and stabilize the ankles, thighs, calves, spine, abdominal, lower back muscles and glutes. Stimulates the abdominal organs, diaphragm, and heart. Improve function of respiratory, digestive and circulatory systems. Opens and stretches the chest and shoulders. Improves confidence, sense of balance and focus. Therapeutic for flat feet.
- Naukasana – The Boat Pose
It tightens the abdominal muscles and strengthens shoulders and upper back. It leaves the practitioner with a sense of stability.
- Lie back on the mat with your feet together and hands by your side.
- Take a deep breath and while exhaling gently lift your chest and feet off the ground.
- Stretch your hands in the direction of your feet. Your eyes, fingers and toes should be in one line.
- Hold till you feel some tension in your navel area as your abdominal muscles begin to contract.
- As you exhale, come back to the ground and relax.
Benefits: Strengthens the abdominal and lower back muscles which help rectify back problems. Improves functioning of liver and kidneys, enhances blood circulation and promotes healthy weight loss. Treats navel displacement. De-stresses the body and mind and balances hormonal system.
- Bhujangasana – The Cobra Pose
This pose has wide-ranging health benefits and will strengthen the lower back muscles while cushioning the spine, triceps and opens the chest to promote the inhalations. It also makes the spine flexible and tones the glutes.
- Lie on your stomach with your feet together and toes flat.
- Place your hands downwards below your shoulders on the mat, lift your waist and raise your head while inhaling in.
- Pull your torso back with the support of your hands.
- Keep your elbows straight and make sure you put equal pressure on both palms.
- Tilt your head back and make sure your shoulders are away from your ears.
- Exhale while coming back to the ground.
Benefits: Stretches muscles in the shoulders, chest and abdominals and strengthens the arms, shoulders and the spine. Decreases stiffness of the lower back, firms and tones the glutes and increases flexibility. Improves menstrual irregularities. Elevates mood, relieves stress and fatigue. Stimulates organs in the abdomen, like the kidneys. Invigorates the heart, opens the chest and helps to clear the passages of the heart and lungs. Improves circulation of blood and oxygen, especially throughout the spinal and pelvic regions. Improves digestion. Soothes sciatica. Helps to ease symptoms of asthma. Reduces belly fat.
- Paschimottanasana – The Seated Forward Bend
This asana helps in improving the flexibility of the hamstrings and hips and lengthens the spine.
- Sit up with your back straight and toes pointing outwards.
- Breathe in and raise your hands over your head and stretch.
- Now, while breathing out bring your hands down and bend then forward to touch your legs.
- Place your hands wherever they reach, hold your toes if you can but don’t force yourself.
- Breathe in and elongate your spine.
- While breathing out, keep your navel close to your knees.
Benefits: Stretches the spine, shoulders, hamstrings. Improves digestion and soothes the adrenal glands, activates a sluggish liver, stimulates the ovaries and uterus. Tones the abdominal organs and helps detox the body. Induces relaxation, relieves stress and lifts mood. Stretches the spine, shoulders, lower back, ovaries, uterus and hamstrings. Helps relieve symptoms of menstrual discomfort. Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression. Soothes headache and anxiety and reduces fatigue. Therapeutic for high blood pressure, infertility, insomnia, and sinusitis.
- Balasana – The Child’s Pose
This restful posture helps let go and surrender. It revitalizes us and rejuvenates our physical, mental and emotional zones. It is best done in between challenging asanas, and practice with closed eyes, listening to the sound of your breath.
- Bend your knees and sit on your heels.
- Keep your hips on your heels.
- Lower your head on the mat and bring your hands forward by your side.
- Press your thighs against your chest and breathe lightly.
Benefits: Lengthens and strengthens the lower back, opens up the hips and posterior, stretches the shoulders and ankles and strengthens the ligaments in the knees. Therapeutic for digestion and enhances blood circulation. Great for releasing fatigue, it energizes the body. Effectively calms the mind and even helps fight insomnia.
- Sukhasana – The Comfort / Easy Pose
Sukhasana is a comfortable variation of the Padmasana and meant for Pranayama and relaxed meditation. It gives the practitioner a centering effect. All the other asanas are done to eventually make the body feel comfortable to be able to sit in this position for meditation. This asana takes the yoga practice beyond its physical dimension and helps you get in touch with your spiritual side.
- Sit comfortably on the mat with crossed legs (left leg tugged inside the right thigh and right leg tugged inside the left thigh).
- Keep spine straight.
- Place your hands on your knees.
- You can use the Jnana mudra or Chin mudra.
- Relax your body and breathe gently.
Benefits: Helps to stretch your spinal cord and even helps to elongate the spinal cord as well as broaden the chest and the collarbone. It helps to keep the make the muscles of back strong and improves the posture of the body. Performing this asana helps to keep you physically and mentally balanced. It gives good stretch and brings flexibility to the ankle, knee and hip joints. Helps to reduce fatigue and tiredness helps to stretch the back and neck and improve body alignment.
Your yoga practice can do much more than lend muscle power and reduce stress. A study conducted at the University of Illinois indicates that even a short 20-minute session of yoga, enhances your focus, energizes the functioning of the brain and revitalizes the body as well as the mind.
Every asana provides different benefits – some of them are energizing like back bends while forward bends have a calming effect. Standing asanas build stamina and balancing asanas cultivate concentration. Twists will help you detoxify the body and release tension.
Divinity World recommends that even if you’re new to yoga, start with these basic asanas and reap the health benefits for your body, mind and soul.