I get a lot of my ideas from my students, meeting new and interesting people is one of the best parts of doing my job and listening to them tell their stories and journeys is always truly a pleasure. Quite often when new people attend my classes they tell me that because over the years yoga had become so massively popular, and there are many trainers online that post amazing poses standing on the tips of their finger nails over a large cliff, which in itself is amazing but also hugely intimidating for someone who has never done any kind of yoga practice before. It seems that people think that in order to even classify as someone who is allowed to do yoga, one must be flexible, skinny or something similar. This is not the case as yoga has such broad horizons where everyone can find their place under the sun. I think anyone can try and enjoy a yoga practice whether they want to train their body or free their spirit.
To welcome beginners into the yoga world I’ve compiled a simplistic practice to help new people and future yogis to not be scared of what the world has to offer but rather take it all in, step by step of course.
1. Child pose, kneel on the mat and sit back onto your heels, separate your knees so they are in line with your shoulders or a bit wider so that you can easily lean forwards straightening your arms in front of you. Separate your fingers and relax, try focus on what is within your body rather then outside from it, inhale deeply listening to the beat of your heart and on the exhale release the remaining tension from your body.
Hold this pose for several minutes. On the next breath…
2. Side stretch in Balasana. Without sitting up, by pulling your self slightly upwards and moving your hands, “walk” your body to your side and place the right side of your chest on your right knee, with your right hand grab your left wrist to ensure the stretch. In this position, focus on your breathing. Stay in this pose for 1 to 3 minutes and on the next breath; gently and slowly move through the center to your left, again without sitting up. Here grab your right wrist with your left hand and stretch. Stay here for the same amount of time.
After this gently come back to the center, from there inhale and push back so that you are on all fours. Inhale and Exhale. Now…
3. Cat/Cow Pose (Marjaryasana) Spread your fingers and push against the floor so that your back is straight and your head falls toward the ground. While inhaling start to raise you sitt bones by arching your spine and stretching the front of your body as well as lifting your chin up. As you exhale switch over the arch by pushing you’re tailbone under and in reverse pushing your head down. Repeat your movement for at least 10 breaths.
4. Tiger Pose (Vyaghrasana). From the last pose, you return to the natural position by straightening your back completely and stretching the top of your head forward and tightening you abdominal muscles. Fold your knees closer and on the inhale straighten your opposing arm and leg (so your right arm and your left leg first and then change) and keep your head in line with your raised arm and stimulate the energy from you inner body into different directions like your arm and leg. When you exhale bring your arm back and lower your leg. Inhale and raise the opposing arm and leg. Repeat this 10 times from each side.
5. Inhale again and stretch both your arm and leg forward, this time on the exhale, you will reach around and catch you ankle with your right hand. On the next inhale stretch forward through your chest by pushing it outwards and on exhale try pushing your ankle away from your buttocks and push the knee upwards you should straighten your arm and push your toes up, this should help open your chest further. 3 times inhale to straighten the spine more each time and then push up further when exhaling. On the forth breath come back to the natural position and repeat this for the other arm and the other leg.
6. Come back to Child Pose and take one to three minutes to rejuvenate by breathing deeply and focusing on your inner energy.
7. Down-facing dog. From the Child Pose inhale and come back to all fours, make sure to tuck your toes and with your exhale lift of your knee and put your body weight onto your legs as your arms remain on the ground with your fingers separated. Press your hands into the floor as you continually lengthen your arms. Keep you neck soft and make sure to lift your sitting bones higher and back away from your hands. Your spine should be straight. Stay in this pose for five breaths and on your last exhale come back to down to the Childs Pose. Rest in this pose for a few breaths and repeat again a couple of times at the end coming back to child pose.
Down-facing dog pose
8. Side stretch, from the child pose, raise your body so that you are in a sitting position of you heels. Move your pelvis to the right so that you are sitting to the left side of your feet. Straighten your spine and when inhaling raise your arms up and on the exhale bend through your side to the left towards your feet, place your arm after them and with the opposing one try to reach as far as possible by stretching your other side, if your stretching arm is too tense you can relax it at the back of your head and try pushing your self more towards your legs. Stay in this pose 1 to 3 minutes. Now transfer to the other side, don’t forget to sit on the other side of your feet and strengthen your spine when reaching for the other side.
9. Knee to the chest (Apanasana). From the last pose bring your hands to the floor next to your body. Extend your legs forward so that you are sitting down, from this position lie down on your back and bring you knees close to your chest. Wrap your arms around your legs to bring them even closer. Be sure that your head rest comfortably and stay in this position for 1 minute. Stay focused on your breathing.
10. Lying spinal twist. Letting go of your hands but keeping the legs where they are, cross you left leg over your right and twist both of the legs to the right side of your body. You can hold your legs closer to the floor by putting your right hand over your knee, you can also turn your head and using your left arm reach more to the side to bring the left shoulder blade closer the floor, this will ensure a full twist. Hold this pose for 1 to 3 minutes and then change the side by bringing your legs back on top of you, on the other side stay for an equal amount of time.
Lying Spinal Twist
11. Corpse Pose (Savasana) When returning back to the “knees to the chest” pose, extend you legs so that you are laying perfectly straight on your back with your hands against your body with the palms facing upwards and your chest open as your shoulder blades lie up against the floor. Move your head slowly from side to side to find the weight of it and make sure to move your legs apart enough to allow you to be fully relaxed. Do not move your body or your mind. In this pose you can allow your self to feel instead of think, focus on the vibrating sensations pulsating through your body as energy of different sorts, the mind should be at rest as the body rejuvenates and a flourishing action should be felt through the limbs as you lie back and find calmness.
Enjoy your practice!
Truly yours, Nathalie.