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Simple yoga poses for beginners

Last updated on: February 28, 2013 16:11 IST

Simple yoga poses for beginners

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Shameem Akthar, yogacharya trained with the international Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, shows you basic poses to ease your entry into the practice of yoga.

Most people are intimidated by yoga, seeing exotic twists and leaps. Actually, there are several styles of yoga and all of them, including the so-called difficult ones, start with developing flexibility and balance first.

Age or lack of health or flexibility are not criteria that decides how you progress, but the regularity of practice. So, you can enter the stream of yoga practice at any point in your life and decide to devote time to it, daily. This should propel your progress so well, that you will be amazed how fast your flexibility and balance develop. After that you may move into styles that suit your personality and commitment. It takes barely six weeks for results to show -- from extreme stiffness to commendable flexibility.

Initially when you start, you may be required to do the poses dynamically and hold it for a shorter duration. With progress, you will find that holding a pose longer becomes easier. Using the breath while doing this, will hasten your progress powerfully.

The sequence of breathing in yoga, though initially intimidating, follows just a few rules (though each school has a particular sequence and a scientific reason why it follows that): you inhale when body parts move upwards and exhale, when you lower it.

Similarly, when you twist you exhale.

Focusing on the exhalation will help you relax the body in a tough pose. Also, as a beginner when you try a new pose you may hold your breath, as we are wont to, when doing something that requires concentration. However, if you become aware of this, and continue with breathing, then the pose will become easier.

Shameem Akthar, yogacharya trained with the international Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, shows you basic poses to ease your entry into the practice of yoga.



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Simple yoga poses for beginners

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Utkatasana (Squat pose)

Stand with feet apart, toes pointed ahead. Inhale, going up on your toes. Simultaneously stretch out hands in front, at shoulder level.

Exhale, squatting so your hips reach down, to rest on your raised heels. You must remain on your toes.

Look straight ahead and focus to maintain your balance. Then bring knees gently together. Hold for ten seconds or so. Continue normal breathing. Then inhale, and slowly stand up.

Exhale, to drop heels back on ground. Repeat thrice. Later just do once, but hold for longer.

Important

Avoid, if you have knee problem. Ensure you are not tilting forward.

Benefits

Builds mental and physical stamina. Makes you flexible. Strengthens ankles and shin. Tones the entire body. Prevents and heals spinal problems, especially the lower back. Helps lose weight. Is preventive and therapeutic in diabetes and blood pressure also.


Image: Utkatasana (Squat pose)

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Vrkasana (Tree pose, simple version)

Stand up straight. Place palms together in a namaste gesture at chest. Bend right leg at knee. Place sole on the inside of left thigh. Ensure the right knee is not jutting in front, but flared to the right.

To hold the pose longer, focus on a spot in front of you. Breathe normally throughout. Release right foot back to ground. Rest.

Repeat sequence for left side.

Benefits

It develops mental poise, focus and mind skills such as memory and emotional management. Balancers like this are used to fight anger, shyness and anxiety. It strengthens limbs.


Image: Vrkasana (Tree pose, simple version)

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Ardhamatysendrasana (Half spinal twist)

Sit with both legs out in front. Bend your right leg at the knee, passing the right foot over the left knee as shown. Place your right hand at the waist as shown. Inhale and then exhaling, twist to the right, looking over your right shoulder.

Continue normal breathing, pushing gently into the pose, continuing to deepen the twist. Hold for a few seconds initially, with normal breathing. Release, repeat on the other side.

Benefits

Squeezes and massages the biggest detox gland -- the liver, toning it. Tones the spine, firms up the nervous system. The entire body enjoys a thorough workout. The organs stacked along the spine are squeezed and released, cleaning them up and toning them.


Image: Ardhamatysendrasana (Half spinal twist)

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Supta pawan muktasana (Lying energy release pose)

Lie on your back. Inhale. Fold your right leg at the knee. Exhale, hug it closer to the chest or stomach. Hold it firmly, breathing naturally. Release, repeat thrice. Then do the other leg.

Benefits

Tones the entire spine. Removes digestive mess-up, soothing the stomach. Used to relieve flatulence. Helps with all major digestive disorders. It's soothing and removes tension.


Image: Supta pawan muktasana (Lying energy release pose)

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Gomukhasana (Cow pose)

Sit on the ground, folding your legs at the knees. Pass your right leg over the left, and adjust your knees so that the right knee is directly over the left one.

Now inhale, passing your right hand behind to grasp your left behind your back. Hold the pose, as you look ahead. Breath normally. Relax back to starting position, and repeat the sequence for the opposite side.

Points to note

The legs may not fold up one over another for beginners who need to do it regularly to achieve sufficient flexibility. Some people will also find that holding the hands behind the back is often difficult, particularly the left side for right-handers. But that too is achieved after a few weeks of regular practice.

Attempt the pose up to the level you can, gradually builing up over few weeks.

Benefits

It is a complete body work-out, used as therapy in many ailments. It boosts breathing capacity, ups the mood, releases emotional tension.


Image: Gomukhasana (Cow pose)

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