As my students’ first begin their yoga practice I always tell them that the way they treat themselves on the mat is a manifestation of how they feel about themselves. Do they allow themselves patience and kindness or are they fighting to go harder, more, deeper–constantly competing with themselves and others.
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People often want to jump right into poses, as deep and advanced as possible, ignoring the fact that yoga is a practice and called such for a reason! They become frustrated with their tight hamstrings or closed shoulders.
Desikichar says “the yoga practice always meets us where we are” and when you allow yourself to remember this, you will find both you and your muscles opening up in incredible ways.
Yoga poses ask us to remove judgment of ourselves and release expectation. It is in this way we learn to flow freely and easily both on the mat and in life.
I have listed some juicy and productive beginners poses so that you may advance your practice at the perfect pace for you. Keep compassion for yourself and your body, knowing you are preparing yourself for an advanced physical (and most importantly, spiritual!) practice.
Yoga Move 1. Reclined Goddess
Our hips not only work extremely hard as the largest joint in our bodies, they also store a plethora of emotional information and past wounding + trauma. Opening this place is not just a matter of the muscles, but also the feelings that immediately come up.
Through reclined goddess you can rest fully on your back, supported by ground and earth beneath you, while you learn to breathe deeply, slowly and evenly–allowing your hips to begin to release physically and emotionally in a safe and held position. Soon enough you’ll advance to crescent moon and warrior 1.
Yoga Move 2. Wide-Knee Child’s Pose
Many teachers will call this a resting pose, but when we are first beginning the practice it can feel like anything but. Still, grounded down on the floor, supported and held, your hips will open here too as you also elongate and stretch you spine (a very important aspect of the physical practice!) as well as release your shoulder blades (which hold an extreme amount of tension).
This pose teaches you to stay calm in discomfort and helps you to become more and more aware of your body in space, lessons that will serve you well as you advance your practice.
Yoga Move 3. Supine Twist
My teacher, Sri Dharma Mittra, LOVES a twist and for good reason! They strengthen the spine, detoxify and send fresh blood to your hard-working organs, and in my opinion offer a great opportunity to release energetic blocks.
Supine twist is a gentle way to begin working into the spine, allowing you to deepen by moving your knees closer to your chest. It is very relaxing and tunes you into the flow of your breath, learning what it feels like to fully expand open in the rib cage.
Yoga Move 4. Downward Facing Dog
Many people think that having straight legs is imperative here, constantly trying to get their feet flat on the floor. In fact this pose is meant to elongate your spine and most importantly open your shoulders.
When in this pose allow your knees to bend gently and press your chest toward your thighs as though you could kiss the mat, soon you’ll be able to straighten the legs more and more while retaining the most important aspects and benefits of this posture.
Every pose prepares us for the next and as you advance you practice you’ll need open shoulders for back bends, binds and more. Plus this pose is excellent for burning up stuck energy in the lower chakras (energy centers) just remember to breathe with nice long exhales.
Yoga Move 5. Seated Forward Fold
Onto those hamstrings I mentioned! In this pose be sure to bend your knees and press your chest to your thighs; with hands on the outside edges of the feet begin to straighten your legs, keeping your chest pressed!
People LOVE to try and fly into the fullest expression of this, but there are no shortcuts and what they end up doing instead is simply touching their toes without stretching their backs or hamstrings, wasting time!
The slower you move, the faster you progress. The poses are more than a physical practice but a way to calm ourselves, watch our thoughts and change habits that cause us suffering. We often make decisions in haste, not allowing ourselves time to think and find clarity–see how this is mimicked in the poses. Be patient and let yourself open.
Yoga is a practice of deep love, a journey into your soul and the heavens. The practice asks us to be patient and to listen to what the poses have to tell us, receiving more knowledge the more we practice.
My students often hear me say before you can get to 2nd grade you must get through 1st–remember this when you practice, be kind to yourself, and know that if this girl who once almost failed high school because of multiple F’s in gym class can do it, you can too!
Little by Little, Step-by-Step, It Happens.