Yoga is one of our go-to workouts because it stretches and strengthens the muscles, all while calming the mind and helping us let go of the stress of the day. The only negative is that we sometimes feel like we just don’t know what we’re doing. Yoga can be intimidating for newbies, but it definitely doesn’t have to be.
We’ve enlisted the help of one of our favorite yogis, Bethany Smith, to describe some essential poses to include in your practice. Bethany is a yoga teacher, wife and mother, and healthy living enthusiast. While the following poses are great for beginners, they are also challenging enough to create one great workout.
Warrior II: As the name suggests, this is a powerful pose. This pose opens the hips, stretches and strengthens the legs and ankles and increases stamina. Keep your front knee stacked over the ankle and pointed in the same direction as your toes. You should be able to see your big toe if you look down at your foot, that will ensure your knee is not falling in. Go ahead try it. see if you don’t feel like a warrior!
Downward Facing Dog: Everyone should do this pose at least once a day. It calms the mind and energizes the body. This pose stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches of the feet and hands as well as strengthens the the arms and legs. If you have tight hamstrings, bend your knees. If you’re trying to figure out how far apart your hands and feet should be, come out into plank pose with your shoulders stacked over your wrist and then press back into down dog. You should not have to adjust your stance too much. Remember your heels do NOT have to touch the mat.
Side Plank or (Or Vasisthasana): The full version of this pose is with the top leg lifted and perpendicular to the floor. This variation is rather challenging so keep the leg down or even drop the bottom knee to the floor as you build strength, balance and stamina. This pose works the core and obliques, but also stretches and strengths the wrist as well as strengthens the legs and increases balance.
Upward Facing Dog: This invigorating backbend opens up the chest and shoulders, strengthens the arms, wrists and legs. Press the tops of your feet into the mat and engage your quads. The only thing on the mat are your hands and the tops of your feet. Press into your hands and lift up out of your shoulders.
Chair pose: This is the first pose of Surya Namaskar B. You must have a strong foundation so the spine and chest can lengthen and open. This pose strengthens your ankles, thighs and calves. Keep the chest open as the upper arms reach back and sit back into your heels.
Whether you’re new to yoga or have been practicing for years, Bethany encourages everyone to get up and get active. Follow her on Instagram for more poses and daily inspiration.