By Natalie Peterson
CMT, 200RYT, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Lifestyle Doula
Vitality Yoga – Red Bluff
The way to begin a yoga practice is to just begin. As with most things in our busy lives it is better to keep it simple. Move your body and your breath. It doesn’t have to be difficult, look a certain way, or require designer yoga pants. What it should do, however, is help you feel better, sleep better, breathe better, and handle stress better. The key to a yoga practice for me, is how it applies to the rest of your life. Functional movement is key. A yoga practice should support you being able to stand, sit, bend, stretch, twist, and reach with more ease.
These are a few of my favorite beginning poses, and they can be easily modified to fit your needs. When beginning your practice work towards strength, flexibility, and balance and pay attention to how the poses feel in your body, not how they look. With just these few poses, you can activate your entire body.
I give lots of physical cues when building the foundational poses, my hope is that you can take two or three as they make sense to you, and build out from there. Remember, keep it simple.
Begin standing with your feet hip width. Knees should be soft but not bent. Anchor the four corners of your feet (the outer edges of the ball of your foot and the outer edges of your heels), gently lift the arch, spreading the toes. Pelvis should be neutral. Ribs lift gently off the hips, collarbones widen, arms rotate out so that the palms face forward. Allow your neck to lengthen, and the crown of your head to lift towards the sky. Bring your awareness to your breath, in and out through your nose. Hold this pose for 5 full breaths.
Begin in Mountain Pose. Apply all those foundational alignment cues. Anchor your left foot firmly, rotate your right knee out to the side, placing the sole of the right foot either along your left ankle, calf, or above your left knee, depending on your stability. Have your hands at your heart in a prayer position. Feel free to use a wall at your back or one hand on the back of a chair to help support you if needed. Stay here for 5 full breaths. Switch sides.
Cat – Cow Pose
Begin on your hands and knees. Make sure your hips are over your knees, and your shoulders, elbows and wrists are stacked. Spread your hands wide for a stable base. Lengthen your spine. As you inhale, bring your belly toward the floor, widen your collarbones, bring your head and tail bone toward the sky, arching your back. As you exhale, round your back, tucking chin, belly and tailbone. Follow your breath for 5 cycles.
From hands and knees, reach your hands out in front of you on the mat, using the same stable hand positioning as cat-cow. Lift your knees off the mat, bringing your hips toward the sky. Keep knees soft, arms strong, wrists long, lengthen your spine, crown of the head reaching at an angle toward the ground, and widen the base of your pelvis. Hold here for your 5 full breaths. Gently release down to child’s pose.
Release your knees to the mat a little wider than your hips, push your hips back toward your heels. You can either stack your fists and rest your forehead on your hands, or allow your forehead to rest on the ground. Lengthen the spine and soften your hips. This pose is considered a resting pose so please find the modification that works for you. Breathe for 5 full cycles of breath.
This is just a drop in the ocean of 300 yoga poses. Enjoy!