When we talk about yoga, we always think about something really hard, but yoga can actually be quite simple. Learn those simple yoga poses with these step-by-step, in-depth instructions. Start with an understanding of proper alignment to reduce your risk of injury and build a safe foundation for more advanced asanas to come.
Malasana (Garland Pose)
How to do it:
1. Come to stand with your feet about mat’s width apart.
2. Bend the knees and lower your butt toward the floor to come into a squat.
3. It’s natural for your toes to want to turn out and that’s ok, but don’t overdo it. Eventually, you’re working toward keeping the feet closer to parallel.
4. Take your upper arms inside your knees and bend the elbows to bring the palms together into anjali mudra (prayer position).
5. Try to bring your hands to your heart center with the forearms parallel to the floor, allowing the pressure of your elbows to open the knees slightly.
6. Keep your spine straight, your butt moving toward the floor, and your shoulders relaxed away from your ears.
8. Try repeating the pose three times to take full advantage of getting warmed up. If you are practicing at home, it’s fine to do some other poses in between your squats.
Opens the hips and groins, stretches and strengthens the feet and ankles.
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
How to do it:
1. Come to stand with your big toes touching.
2. Lift up all your toes and fan them out, then drop them back down to create a wide, solid base. You can separate your heels slightly if your ankles are knocking together uncomfortably.
3. Let your feet and calves root down into the floor.
4. Engage your quadriceps and draw them upward, causing your knee caps to rise.
5. Rotate both thighs inward, creating a widening of the sit bones.
7. Tone your belly, drawing it in slightly.
8. Widen your collar bones and check that your shoulders are stacked over your pelvis.
9. Shrug your shoulders up to your ears and then roll them back to release your shoulder blades down your back.
10. Let your arms hang naturally with the elbows slightly bent and the palms facing forward.
11. Your neck is long, your chin is neither tucked down nor lifted up, and the crown of your head rises toward the ceiling.
12. Once you have checked all your alignment points, take five to ten breaths while you hold yourself in this position.
Strengthens your legs, improves your posture and body awareness, establishes good alignment.
RELATED: Fast Yoga
How to do it:
1. From downward facing dog, bring your hips forward until your shoulders are over your wrists and your whole body is in one straight line from the top of your head to your heels. This is very similar to the position you would take if you were about to do a push-up.
2. Make sure your hips are neither drooping toward the floor nor hiked up toward the ceiling.
3. Spread your fingers and press the firmly down into your fingertips and palms.
4. Don’t lock your elbows. A little microbend is the way to go because it’s safer for your joints and strengthens all the little support muscles around them.
5. Press back through your heels.
6. Move your shoulders away from your ears.
7. Keep your neck in line with your spine (neither cracked up nor dropping down) and your gaze at the floor.
Strengthens the arms, back, and core. Prepares you for more advanced arm balances.
How to do it:
1. From downward facing dog, step your right foot up to inside your right hand on an inhalation. If your foot doesn’t make it all the way up to the top of your mat, move it into position with the right hand. It’s important that you build the pose from the ground up by setting up your feet at opposite ends of your mat. If you need more info, sSee our advice on adjusting your foot position manually
2. Bend your right knee so that it is directly over your right ankle with the right thigh parallel to the floor. Take particular care that your knee does not get in front of your ankle, since this places the knee in a vulnerable position. A little behind the ankle is ok if this is as deep as is comfortable.
3. Line your fingertips up with your toes.
4. Flatten your palms or tent your hands to come up onto the fingertips, whichever allows you to open your chest forward.
5. Roll your shoulder blades down your back, lengthen your spine, and bring your gaze to the horizon line.
6. Keep your back leg very straight and strong. Extend from your back heel up through the crown of your head. Stay on the ball of your back foot.
7. Hold up to five breaths, then return back to downward dog on an exhalation.
8. Repeat with the left leg forward.
Opens the hips and groins; stretches the calves, thighs, and hamstrings.
RELATED: 10-minutes everyday yoga routine
Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee Pose)
How to do it:
1. Begin sitting in staff pose – dandasana with both legs outstretched in front of you. Remove the flesh from under your seat so that your sit bones are firmly anchored. Bend your left knee and bring the sole of your left foot to your right inner thigh.
2. Square your torso over your extended right leg. Begin to bring your torso down to your leg by tipping your pelvis forward so that the forward bend initiates from your hips instead of your lower back.
3. Keep your right foot flexed while pressing the back of the right thigh down toward the floor.
4. In order to not collapse your back, keep your heart center lifted as long as possible as you come forward. Aim your chest at your thigh instead of your forehead at your knee.
5 When you reach your maximum forward bending limit, you have a choice. You can maintain your straight spine and long neck in an active position or you can relax your heart and head down toward the extended leg, allowing the spine to round. Do whichever one feels better.
6. If your hands reach your foot, hold your foot. If not, you may hold on to your ankle or calf or place your hands on the floor wherever they reach.
7. On each inhale, extend the spine long, and on each exhale, deepen the forward bend.
8. Stay five to ten breaths and then straighten both legs, shake them out, and repeat the pose on the other side.
Stretches the hamstrings, hips, and groins
Urdhva Hastasana (Raised Arms Pose)
How to do it:
1. From mountain pose – tadasana, inhale to bring your arms out to the sides and up toward the ceiling.
2. Keep your arms parallel or bring your palms together overhead only if you can do so without hunching up your shoulders. If your palms are apart, keep them facing each other. Your arms should be very straight and your hands active all the way through the fingertips. Take your gaze (drishti) up toward your thumbs.
4. If you feel like your ribs are jutting forward or pulling apart, knit them back together.
5. Keep your thigh muscles strongly engaged so that they draw the kneecaps up. Your legs should be straight but don’t lock your knees. Keeping a microbend in the knees is a safer position for your joints.
- Improves posture, strengthens the legs, full body stretch