5 Yoga Moves for Beginners

A certified yoga instructor demonstrates some core yoga poses.

ByNICOLINE VALKENBERG, Certified Yoga Instructor
February 6, 2009, 4:52 PM

Feb. 17, 2009 — -- My name is Nicoline Valkenberg. I'm a yoga teacher and we're going to show you today a few yoga moves for beginners, some simple poses that would be safe and easy for you to try if you're new to yoga.

So start by lying on your back. And Lynn's going to take her right knee in toward her chest. Hold on to that knee with both hands; you can interlace your fingers on the top of your knee. And begin to extend your left leg up into the air and reach it out along the floor. And as you press away through the straight leg, continue to hug the bent knee in toward your belly, toward your chest.

And from here, drawing both knees back in toward the chest, switching the grip to behind the knees and rock your way on up to seated.

Shift onto your hands and knees, finding a table top position. And Lynn's going to stack her knees right below her hips about hips' distant apart width-wise, the hands right below the shoulders, spreading the fingers out as wide as possible.

Use the breath to guide movement through the spine so the inhale will lift the tailbone upward, guiding the spine into a nice arched back, the shoulders pull back, the chest lifts through and with the exhale, curling the tail bone under, then navel draws in and the head can hang.

Do this a few times, breathing in to find the arched shape in the back, staying spread-wide through the palms and then breathing out to curl the tailbone and round the back.

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Continue to coordinate this movement with your breath, using the inhale to assist in opening the front of the ribs, the front of the chest and using the exhales to open the back of the body.

From here, we can shift into downward-facing dog pose by tucking the toes under.

The hands shift forward about 3 to 4 inches, and as the toes tuck under the knees lift up off the floor. The belly and the ribs push back toward the thighs and the head hangs between the arms.

The goal here isn't to get straight legs, it's more to get a long line from the fingertips to the sitting bones, so keep the knees as bent as you need to, the heels as high as you need to, to get that nice long yawn through the spine.

The next pose we'll work is Tadasana, or mountain pose. You just want to check that the feet are about hips' distance apart and that the feet are parallel to each other. From there begin to press down into the feet as the arms reach above the head, drawing the inner arms right back alongside the ears, getting a wide spread to the fingers.

Take about five breaths here, using the inhales to spread the upper ribs and lengthen the spine. Use the exhales to ground the feet and drop the tail.

From here, reach the arms out as you step the feet out about legs' distance apart, so the ankles will be right below the wrists. From there, start with the right leg -- turn the right foot out 90 degrees and the left foot in about 45 degrees.

Level the hips, lifting that right hip up in line with the left and begin to bend that right knee, taking it directly over the ankle. Breathe here, finding that mountain pose alignment through the spine by elongating the rib cage upward as the shoulders move down the back.

The gaze moves forward over the front middle finger, continue to breathe steadily -- about five breaths. And when you're ready to switch sides, use a breath in to straighten the legs, switch the feet and a breath out to sit down on the other side.

And the fronts of the shoulders move down the back, the gaze turns and the breath deepens. Take another five breaths here, feeling the feet, feeling the spine elongate.

When you're ready to come out, breathe in to straighten the legs. Breathe out to step the feet together and draw the palms together in front of the chest.

And those are our beginner's moves.

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