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Welcome to Yoga Sequences for Beginners! Both women and men will benefit from these basic standing yoga poses to gently increase your flexibility and start to re-align your body back to a healthy posture.
Please know that these sequences are designed for ANY level of flexibility. Feel free to use a chair to hold on to if it makes you feel safer. There is no prerequisite to be able to touch your toes or bend into a pretzel!
1. Wide leg forward fold – Prasarita Padottanasana
~Step your feet about 2-3 feet apart.
~Bend your knees gently, inhale to straighten up, exhale to fold forward halfway and start to massage the backs of your legs. Massage the sides, the fronts and insides. Move down to your knees and then as far down your lower legs as you can.
~When that feels complete, hang forward and relax your upper body like a rag doll.
~Let your head and neck relax, let your face soften and KEEP BREATHING. Maybe slowly nodding your head yes, shaking your head no, opening your mouth and letting your jaw wiggle side to side.
~After 3-5 full breaths, bring your hands to your thighs and come up to halfway. Take a couple breaths here and let your body re-balance before rounding your back and rolling up slowly to standing.
TO MODIFY: If reaching towards the floor is uncomfortable, use a chair and press into the seat of the chair instead.
Benefits: Massaging your legs before stretching brings fresh blood and oxygen to your muscles and warms them up. The forward fold stretches your calves and hamstrings, lower back and spine. After practicing this pose, you might notice a calmer mind and relief from neck and shoulder pain.
2. Empty Coat Sleeves
~Keep your feet between 2 and 3 feet apart with a slight bend in your knees.
~Relax your shoulders and arms, and soften your face.
~Imagine that you are wearing a jacket a couple sizes too big for you. Let your arms be limp and loose. Begin to turn your torso side to side letting your “Empty Coat Sleeves” flow with the momentum from your torso. Breathe steadily. maybe lifting your heels for a whole body movement. After 30-60 seconds, slowly decrease your momentum, allowing your body to slowly come back to center.
~Close your eyes and feel your energy moving around your body.
Benefits: Empty Coat Sleeves is a gentle continuous flowing twist that brings motion to the small muscles around the spine. (Remember, MOTION is LOTION!) This pose releases tension in your chest, shoulders and back. Twists are amazing for improving your digestive function as well!
3. Standing Side Bends
~Stand up straight with your feet hips distance apart. (If you’re not quite sure what this looks like, make fists with your hands, and they should both fit between your feet.) Make sure that your middle toes are pointing forward.
~Place your left hand on your hip and inhale the right arm up straight. Take note where your hips are and make sure they stay in the exact same place as you practice this pose. As you exhale, arc your body over towards the left, going only as far as you can and keep a steady breath. Stay here for 3-5 full breaths.
~You can connect your breath and movements by inhaling up just a little and on the exhale, seeing if you can relax more into the pose.
~Remember to practice this pose on the other side as well.
Benefits: Standing side bends help to stretch the muscles around your ribcage and open up the space around your organs for fresh blood and oxygen to flow through.
4. Mountain Pose – Tadasana
~Stand with your feet hips distance apart. (If you’re not quite sure what this looks like, make fists with your hands, and they should both fit between your feet.) Make sure that your middle toes are pointing forward.
~Close your eyes and feel both of your feet pressing into the floor.
~Start to engage your leg muscles enough to feel them tighten a little bit. (It’s important that you only engage a LITTLE bit! Please don’t clench your whole body where it becomes painful!)
~Engage your glutes and gently pull your belly button back towards your spine.
Relax your shoulders and let your shoulder blades come closer together on your back.
~Keep your chin parallel with the ground and imagine a string attached to the crown of your head, pulling your whole body up straight and tall.
~Soften your face – feel your forehead relax and let your jaw hang loose. If you feel any other tension, see if you can release it on an exhale.
~Stay here for 5 full breaths, focusing on how your body feels and how your breath feels moving through your body.
TO MODIFY: Stand with your back against the wall and notice what parts of you naturally touch the wall. Then, move through all the same steps listed above and feel the difference as you begin to straighten up.
Benefits: Mountain pose can improve your posture if you practice this every day, several times a day. Please see this post about Fixing Forward Head Posture.
5. Tree Pose – Vrksasana
~Bring your hands to heart center or onto your hips. Keep your right foot rooted down into the floor. Bring your left heel to your right ankle with your toes on the ground to help you balance.
~Focus on a spot on the floor about 6 feet in front of you that isn’t moving – this is called a drishti spot and focusing on this spot helps you balance.
~Now start to engage your right leg muscles, just like you did in mountain pose – engage your legs and glutes, pull in your belly and open your chest. Imagine that string pulling you up nice and straight again.
~Stay here for 3-5 full breaths, or for a more challenging balance pose, bring your left foot to the inside of your leg – just not pressing on your knee. Slowly release your foot down and shake out both legs.
~Practice this pose on the other side as well.
TO MODIFY: Hold onto a chair or hold onto the wall.
Benefits: Tree pose helps to tone the muscles in your legs, open your hips, and is a great pose for working on your balance. It’s so easy to modify this pose to your own level of comfort. Holding this pose for a couple breaths can bring your mind back to center.
I really hope you enjoy this yoga sequence for beginners. As you continue to practice these poses, you will start to see an increase in your flexibility.
Please feel free to comment below with your experience with this sequence. If you have any questions, please ask!