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Yoga for Beginners:

“Is there such a thing as Yoga for beginners? It seems like you already have to be flexible to start Yoga” --

Looking at all those flexible people who look like they are in great shape can be intimidating. For people who want to start Yoga but feel like there is no Yoga for beginners, this is a great way to start getting in shape to be able to walk into a beginning Yoga class and not feel unprepared. This will help to loosen your hips, hamstrings and create a healthy spine.

5 Easy Poses for Beginners to Do:

1. Lay on your back on your Yoga mat. Take a few deep breaths in and out of your nose, aligning your awareness with your breathing. On an exhale, pull your right knee into your chest and hug it in deep. You can gently move your knee slightly toward the mid line of your body a couple of inches and then a couple of inches toward your right shoulder just to release the hip hinge. Eventually, settle in the middle and with every exhale hug your knee in deeper, making sure that your left leg is straight and firmly pressing into the floor with your left foot flexed toward the ceiling for grounding. Stay here for 5 deep breaths, shoulders away from your ears, neck and face relaxed.

1. Start to extend your right foot toward the ceiling, reaching through your heel. Your right leg should be straight up and down; perpendicular to the floor, if your hamstring is tight it may not be perpendicular. Reach around to the back of your right leg and gently start to draw it toward you. As you draw the leg toward your, gently move the top of your outer right hip and thigh away from you, creating a “tug of war” feeling. This aids in creating space in the hip joint. If you can’t reach the back of your right leg, no worries, just bend your left knee and place your left foot on the floor, this will allow the right hamstring to release enough for you to wrap your hands behind your straight right leg. Or use a strap behind your leg so that your back stays on the floor with both legs straight. Vigorously extend your right heel of the ceiling keeping your pelvis on the floor. 5 Breaths here. Shoulders and face relaxed.

2. With your right hand grab the outside of your right foot and pull your knee toward your armpit until your right leg is at a right angle. Your arm should be on the outside of your right leg with the elbow bent for leverage. (Half- happy baby) if you can’t get your leg to a right angle, again, bend your left knee and place your foot on the floor. Keep your left knee straight up and down-as there is a tendency to let it flop to the side. 5 Breaths here. Breathe into what you are feeling.

3. Now take your right ankle and place it on top of your left bent knee. “Thread the needle” of the space between your legs with your right hand and clasp a hold of your left shin. Keep your back and head on the floor, gently using your right elbow to press your right knee away from you as you draw your left knee toward you. This gentle tug of war will start to activate the periformis muscle deep in the hip. Breathe into what you are feeling, watching instead of reacting to the sensation. Releasing tension here will unlock stores of feeling as well as release any tightness in the low back. 5 Deep breaths or more. Then Release.

4. Cross your right knee over your left. Hug your knees as close to your chest as possible and placing your arms on the floor “in a cross” position, allow your legs to fall to the left on an exhale. Turn your face and look toward your right hand, anchoring your right should to the floor. If a good portion of your back is not on the floor and this twist seems too extreme for your low back, simply bring your knees together instead of crossing them and look to the right hand. If this still doesn’t provide relief, let your legs rest on a bolster or pillow on the side so that your back can release. 5 deep breaths, inhaling into your chest, and exhaling drawing the belly toward your spine, giving your organs an internal massage.

5. On an inhale, bring your knees up, hugging your knees to your chest. Anchor your tailbone to the floor. Then gently stir your knees in a circle, massaging the sacral-plexus at the base of your spine on the floor, change directions to circle your knees the other way, and then change sides. Left knee comes to your chest, right leg straight. Notice the difference between the sides, breathe and repeat the previous 5 steps now on your left side. This whole routine should take around 15 minutes and can be done in the morning after rising and/or at the end of a long day or post exercise.