If you are new to yoga and are looking to join a class but have no idea where to start, you've come to the right place. We're here to breakdown all the information you need to know before booking that first practice session.
It starts with why you want to do yoga. People practice yoga for the various mental and health benefits that come with consistent practice. To name a few, yoga increases flexibility, tones muscles, strengthens the core, improves balance, builds endurance, and helps relieve the mind from stress. Many practice yoga as their regular form of workout while others, for instance, weightlifters and athletes do yoga as a supplement to their existing training. It is practiced as a supplement to gain strength and flexibility in certain parts of the body to support and enhance overall performance.
So, it is worthwhile knowing what you want to achieve from practicing yoga. You can refer to our blog on the "8 Most Popular Types of Yoga" to get a sense of the benefits that come with each style. In a nutshell, we recommend Hatha yoga for an initial introduction to yoga poses, progress on to Vinyasa yoga for a faster pace, challenge yourself more with Ashtanga, sweat it out with Bikram, experience gravity with Aerial yoga, or relax with Yin yoga.
The fundamental yoga poses for each style, also known as asanas, can be classified as follow:
- Seated poses
- Standing poses
- Balancing poses
There are said to be over 84 different variations of asanas, all having their own names. But, let's not overwhelm you for now and only get into the basic yoga poses that beginners are most likely to encounter.
This is a seated pose where you first place your hands, knees, and top side of your feet on the mat. Widen your knees outwards to the edges of your mat while maintaining your feet together. Lean your belly forward between your knees, let your forehead touch the mat and extend your hands towards the top of your mat. The benefit of this pose is to stretch your thighs, ankles, hips, and back.
To do this standing pose, place your feet together, so your big toes touch while your heels are apart. Raise your toes upwards and spread them out before putting them back down to plant your feet into the mat. Firm up the arches of your feet, flex your upper thigh quadriceps, which raises your knee caps. Have your inner thighs turn slightly inwards, pull your lower belly toward your naval, lift your chest upwards and have your shoulder blades rolled backward and down towards the back. Have your arms toward your side and your head positioned with your chin parallel to the ground. This pose strengthens your legs, abdominal area, and overall posture.
This balancing pose has two variations. The high plank requires your body to be in a standard push-up position, while the low plank gets you on your elbows and forearm. For the high plank, ensure that your shoulders are directly over your wrists and your arms are perpendicular to the floor. Firm up your shoulder blades and spread them away from the spine. Flex your legs and abdominal muscles, and make sure your head is leveled with your eyes looking down at the mat.
For the low plank, lower your body from high plank, so your elbows touch the ground and are right below your shoulders. Your hands and forearms should plant firmly on your mat. These plank poses will strengthen your legs, arms, wrists, and core.
Warrior 1 & 2 Pose
In a standing pose such as the Warrior 1, stand in a mountain pose toward the front of your mat. With your left leg, stretch your heel towards the back of the mat. Your foot should face outward at a 45-degree angle, and you can adjust for better stability. Point your hip to the front, then raise your hands up above your head with your palms touching each other. Stretch your arms upwards, depending on the mobility of your shoulders, and you can do a slight backbend.
From Warrior 1, transition into Warrior 2 pose by lowering your right arm to the front and left arm to the back while stretching them out in opposite directions. Your hips will naturally face toward the left. Bend your right knee over your right ankle, engage your quad by sinking your hips deeper. These warrior poses are meant to stretch and strengthen the arms, shoulders, back, and legs.
Downward Facing Dog Pose
For an inversion pose like this, first, place your hands and knees onto the mat. Your shoulders directly above your wrists and your knees positioned directly below your hips. Next, curl your toes onto the mat then proceed to lift your hips higher by pushing through your hands and straightening your legs. This will make your body form a triangle with the mat. As you plant your hands, push through your shoulders. Then engage your quadriceps to take some of the pressure off your upper body. Try to sink your heels toward the ground. This pose will increase blood circulation to the brain and help you gain strength in your arms, legs, and abdominal muscles.
From a plank pose, press your heels back and point the top of your head forward. Engage your core, legs, and arms as you move your plank forward with your shoulders moving past your wrists. Next, maintain your elbows at the side of your body as you bend your arms to lower yourself into the Chaturanga pose. Lower your arms until your upper arms are parallel to the ground. Hold in this position until you transition into an upward-facing dog. This pose will strengthen your wrists, arms, back, and abs.
Now, these basic poses may all seem a little technical at this point, but not to worry as it'll all come naturally through practice. Most yoga sessions, especially those for beginners, are taught by yoga instructors who will guide you through each pose. All you need to do is know the right equipment to bring along.
You might be wondering what to look out for in yoga equipment. So, we've put together a blog on "How to choose the best workout mat in 2020?" for your reference. It will help you understand the difference between materials, dimensions, distinct features, and the use of alignment lines.
Remember, everyone who practices yoga was a beginner at one point. All you need to do is follow your instructor, know the limits of your body, and practice, practice, practice!
Team Asana Singapore