Try These Simple Poses to Get Started With Yoga

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Is taking a yoga class on your to-do list, but you haven't gotten there yet?

Be sure to take the time to find the right class. There are yoga classes of all kinds – not just the “hot" athletic kind, but restorative ones in which you hold poses for longer periods of time. Take the time to find which kind – and which teacher -- resonates the best with you.

In the meantime, or instead of a class, many of us can benefit by doing a few classic yoga poses regularly, says Sheila Easa, ERYT 500, a yoga instructor with UH Connor Integrative Health Network.

The Importance of Breath

Yoga is much more than poses, Ms. Easa says. It's important to understand the importance and role of breathing in yoga.

Without deep breathing, yoga is just a movement, she says. Breathing elevates yoga and makes it effective.

 “Connecting with your breath is both calming and energizing," Ms. Easa says.

In fact, if you are in a place where you can't do poses, taking slow deep breaths in and out through the nose also can give you energy.

3 Energizing Yoga Poses

Here are some of Ms. Easa's favorite energizing poses.

  1. Cat-cow: “It warms up the spine, gets the breath flowing and activates the nervous system."
  2. Downward facing dog: “This stretches nearly all of your body, so it's quite rejuvenating."
  3. Goddess pose (high or low squat): “This pose energizes and strengthens you, and helps build confidence. It opens the hips and builds strength in the legs."
  4. Mountain pose: “It's simple and powerful, and the easiest to do – even in a cubicle."

During the day, these poses can give you energy. In the evening, Mountain pose can help calm you as you prepare for sleep. To see how these poses look, go to YogaJournal.com and click on the POSES tab.

One Easy Inversion Pose

When you are home in the evening and want to wind down, nothing works better than an inversion pose, in which the heart is raised higher than the head. But you don’t have to do a headstand to achieve an inversion.

Instead, try the Legs Up the Wall pose. With your back pressed flat against the floor, stretch your legs up against a wall to create an L shape. Hold this pose for several minutes. Put a bolster or pillow under your back to make the pose more comfortable.

This pose is excellent for your circulation, Ms. Easa says, since we spend most of our days upright and on our feet.

Related links

The practice of yoga can offer many health benefits, such as reduced stress, increased fitness and management of chronic conditions. Learn more about customized yoga therapy consultations offered at University Hospitals Connor Integrative Health Network.

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