It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in a yoga class if you’re a beginner. The moves seem confusing and, let’s admit it, kind of painful.
Practitioners say the spiritual practice of yoga can provide physical as well as mental well-being. “Yoga isn’t actually something you can ‘do,’” says Pari Bradlee, a yoga instructor at Tranquil Space near Dupont Circle. “The word ‘yoga’ means ‘union’ or ‘the natural state,’ which is happiness. What we do are the actual yoga poses.”
Yoga poses help reveal where you are resisting your state of happiness, she says. Pain or discomfort in the body is seen as an outgrowth of inner resistance. “Yoga makes you aware of these areas of resistance,” says Bradlee. “You can leave the practice as a more aware, enlightened, and joyful being.”
If you want to try yoga but aren’t sure where to begin, check out our video and practice the six poses below. When doing these yoga exercises, perform one right after another in fluid motions. The key is to go at your own pace. Doing these exercises on your own time, at least three times a week, will be enough for you to feel better both physically and mentally, Bradlee says.
Pose one: Sun Salutation
Stand with your feet together and hands in a prayer position in front of your chest. Reach for the sun by extending your arms up. Exhale and bend down, reaching for your toes. Inhale, lifting your spine so it is flat, creating a space between your hips and rib cage.
Pose two: Downward Facing Dog
Exhale, stepping back so your body forms a triangle position with the floor. Your palms should be flat on the floor. Hold this position for three breaths.
Pose three: Chaturanga Dandasana
Exhale, dropping your knees to the floor and bending your arms so your shoulders and elbows are in a straight line. Keep your arms close to your sides and spine parallel to the floor. If you can kiss the floor, you’re down too far, Bradlee says.
Pose four: Cobra
Lower your body to the floor so your chest is facing down. Using your arms as support, lift your chest from the floor. Then bring your body back into downward facing dog position and hold for three breaths. Walk your feet forward, lift your spine, and return to sun salutation position.
Pose four: Tree Pose
Stand on your right foot and press the left into your right leg’s inner thigh. Squeeze your gluts. Bring your hands to prayer position, and set your gaze at one point to maintain balance. Reach for the sun by extending your arms up.
Pose six: Pigeon Pose
Start in the downward facing dog position. Then, bring your right knee to the front so it’s in line with your right hip. Your left leg should be extended behind the rest of your body. Lift your chest up, then exhale as you bend forward. Keep your elbows on the floor.
“This is a lunar pose,” Bradlee says. “After working hard to bring heat to the body with the sun salutation poses, your muscles are ready to be in an intense type of stretch or pose.”