Unfortunately, stress is something that affects every single one of us. However, how you handle stress can make a world of difference.
One of the best ways to work through a stressful time is exercise. And one of the most calming forms of exercise for millions of people is yoga, a practice that combines breathwork, movement and mindfulness.
However, like all forms of exercise, yoga comes with a learning curve. For the completely inexperienced, it can take a few classes before you feel like you have the hang of things. This by no means should prevent you from embarking on your yoga journey. However, we want our readers who may need some stress relief to get the most possible out of their very first yoga class. That’s why we teamed up with the owner of Haute Yogis, fitness and yoga expert Krystle Kvidt, to create a list of 11 yoga poses to know before your first yoga class.
Learn this list, and you’ll be able to spend a little more time focusing on your breathing during your first class and a little less time trying to copy what the person next to you is doing.
*There are variations for every one of these poses. Can’t get your butt to your heels in Child’s Pose? No problem! The most important thing is to keep breathing. Do not force yourself into a shape.
1. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Tips: Kneel on the floor with your big toes touching. Knees should be about as wide as your hips. Fold forward with torso between your thighs, reaching forward with your arms and reaching back with your tailbone to your heels.
2. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Tips: Hands should be shoulder distance apart and feet should be about hip distance apart. Press through your hands and externally rotate your upper arms. Draw your navel in towards the spine. Bend your knees as much as needed and send your tailbone up and back.
3. Three-Legged Dog (Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Tips: This is the same as downward facing dog but with one leg extended in the air. Careful not to crash all of your weight into one side of the body. This pose is often used to transition from downward facing dog to a number of other poses.
4. Crescent Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
Tips: Make sure your front foot is flat on the floor with your knee directly over your ankle. Keep hips square. Stack your back ankle over the ball of your foot and keep your back leg straight. Extend your arms upward alongside your ears.
5. Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana I)
Tips: Similar to the crescent lunge but with your back heel turned in at about 45 degrees. Again, ensure that your hips stay square to the front of the room.
6. Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana II)
Tips: Back foot should be turned 90 degrees and leg should be straight. Bend the front knee with your knee staying over your ankle. Extend arms horizontally keeping shoulders back and the weight evenly between both feet. Careful not to dump too much weight to the front. Gaze past your front fingertips.
7. Warrior 3 (Virabhadrasana III)
Tips: Lean forward with your back leg extended straight and even with your hips. Keep your back leg flexed as if you’re pressing into an imaginary wall. Gaze can be downward with your hands either at your heart in a prayer position or extended forward.
8. High Plank
Tips: Keep your hands underneath your shoulders, your back straight, your core engaged and your legs active. Also, don’t forget to keep your breath!
9. Low Plank (Chaturanga Dandasana)
Tips: From high plank, bend your elbows, keeping them tight along your rib cage. Don’t go past 90 degrees.
10. Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
Tips: Most of the time, you’ll transition to this pose from the low plank position. Straighten your arms and lift your chest. Keep your legs off of the floor and ground through your feet.
11. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Tips: This is your final pose to close your practice. Lie flat on your back with your arms at your sides. Let your toes fall out. Relax and center yourself. Let thoughts pass without judgment.