Here's my latest feature in Boston Magazine's Hub Health: Five Yoga Poses for Beginners.
It may seem like you’re the last person in the world to try yoga. You’re
not (trust us!). Newbies are still trying yoga every day. Here are
five beginning poses that you can master at home from Stacey Allaire,
yoga instructor at Rasamaya yoga studio in Newburyport.
1. Downward Dog
This pose (pictured above) is so common, you probably know what it is
even without ever stepping foot in a yoga class. Once you fully
understand how your body should properly be aligned, this pose can be
quite relaxing. Set your knees directly below your hips and your hands
slightly forward of your shoulders. Spread your fingers wide. You should
have a long, straight spine with your tailbone reaching upwards.
2. Cat/Cow Pose
This is actually two poses, but are nearly always done
together. They are intended to give flexibility to the back, restoring
strength to the spine and helping prevent spinal injury. First, come
into table, with your hands under your shoulders, and knees under your
hips. Start with a smooth flat back with your gaze down at your hands
with fingers spread. First, to do cat pose, round your back, relax your
neck and gaze back towards your knees and upper thighs, while pushing
into the earth with your hands. This is all done as you exhale. To move
into cow pose, take a deep inhalation. Start from your tailbone and drop
your belly slowly, letting the curve reverse. Raise your head, looking
towards the sky. Move from cow pose to cat pose several times, making
sure the arching and releasing of the spine is smooth and slow.
3. Mountain Pose
When done properly, mountain pose engages muscles throughout your legs,
core, back, and shoulders. And, no you are not just standing still in
this posture. Mountain pose is a great way to learn proper posture,
alignment, and balance. To begin, root all four corners of your feet
into your mat. You can lift your ten toes and give them a wiggle to help
you root into your feet. Next, soften the bend in your knees as you
tuck your tailbone. Engage your core and release your shoulders down
your spine. Reach your crown of head towards the sky. Relax the muscles
in your face and gently close your eyes or fix your gaze a few feet
ahead of you.
4. Tree pose
This is a great balance posture to try out, especially if you’re new to
yoga. There are many modifications of this pose, so it’s great for
beginners. To begin, come into mountain pose. From there shift your
weight into one leg, moving the opposite foot to the inside of the
standing leg (it can be anywhere above or below the knee, depending on
where your balance level is that day). Once balanced, bring hands in
front of you in prayer position, palms together. You can lift arms up
overhead, opening arms wide, making a giant “V” with your arms. Breathe
slowly for a three to eight count and then release and switch legs.
5. Upward-facing dog
Another very common yoga pose, as this pose is included within
the popular Sun Salutation sequence. Begin on your stomach. Stretch your
legs back, with the tops of your feet on the floor. Place your hands
below your shoulders. Tuck your elbows in towards your body. As you
inhale, root your hands into the earth and begin to straighten your
arms. At the same time, your torso will lift, beaming your chest, heart
center, forward. Keep your thighs firm and slightly turned inward, the
arms firm and turned out so the elbow creases face forward.
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