Instructions for Yoga Poses

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Yoga poses, also known in Sanskrit as asanas, may look daunting to newcomers. Familiarizing yourself with how to move safely into poses will take away some of the anxiety. Even if you have never attended a yoga class, chances are you’ve practiced a few classic yoga poses without even realizing it -- Sukhasana, comfortable seated pose or Paschimottanasana, forward bend. Some simple instructions on the basics of all yoga poses will have you practicing this healthy and rewarding exercise practice safely in your own home.

Preparation

  • There are key elements inherent in all yoga poses whether they are performed from a seated, standing or lying down position. Remember that the motto for yoga is not “no pain; no gain,” but rather “no pain; no pain.” You should wear comfortable clothes and try not to eat right before yoga. Always listen to what you are feeling in your body; if you feel any pain, come out of the pose and rest. Help Guide recommends that beginners check with a doctor before beginning a yoga practice and start with a class to learn the basics.

Seated

  • Yoga classes usually begin with students in a comfortable seated position known as Sukhasana or easy pose, which allows you to focus on the breath and enter into a quieter frame of mind. Children frequently and naturally sit in this cross-legged pose on the floor. Yoga Journal explains that this simple looking pose has the power to help you draw inward before you begin your practice. Important structural ideas to keep in mind include relaxing your legs, releasing your shoulders down your back, floating the crown of your head toward the ceiling and keeping your chest open.

Standing

  • All standing poses, whether they be strength builders or balancing practices, begin from the basic standing pose Tadasana or mountain pose, but Yoga Journal emphasizes it is also a good pose to practice all on its own. You begin standing with your feet an inch or two apart. Look down at your toes, lift them up off the floor, separate them and then lay them down. Choose a point to focus on about eye-level and shift your focus to your posture: imagine your spine lengthening, shoulders back and relaxed and tail bone dropping down like an anchor toward the floor. Feel a flow of energy streaming in through your feet, moving up through your legs and torso.

Lying Down

  • Many yoga poses are performed from a lying down position on the floor. Backward bending poses begin on your back and are energetic and opening poses. Forward bends follow backward bends in a practice, often begin from a seated position and are inward-turning poses meant for reflection. Twist poses, which may be seated or prone, follow forward bends and then a yoga practice often ends in Savasana or corpse pose; you lie down on your back with your arms and legs a comfortable distance apart from the body and allow the entire body to relax. Once you learn these fundamentals of yoga, you will discover that many of the structural instructions can be applied to all yoga poses, regardless of whether they are performed seated, standing or lying down.

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