It all starts with shapes…
Walking into a yoga class with no idea of what’s about to come can either be exhilarating, highly stressful – or both! To ease the process, we list here a few of the most common asanas / shapes that you’ll be stretching and flowing with in any of our classes.
Some of these postures could look a little daunting (others deceivingly simple), so let’s break them down step-by-step.
1.Tadasana – Mountain Pose
Tadasana can be considered the mother of all asanas, as many poses emerge from this one. This simple yet powerful pose will strengthen the legs and feet, improve our posture and can even relieve sciatica.
- Begin by standing with your big toes touching and heels slightly apart. Next, actively press through all four edges of your feet.
- Firmly engage the leg muscles and lengthen your tailbone downward to draw the pubic bone up toward your navel, finding a neutral pelvis.
- Lengthen the side waist, lift the sternum, and widen the collarbones expanding across your chest.
- Relax your shoulders and lengthen your fingertips toward the floor with arms beside you.
- Reach the crown of your head upward lengthening through the back of the neck.
- Soften your eyes.
2.Uttanasana – Standing Forward Bend
Fold yourself into yourself, with Uttanasana. This asana will wake up your hamstrings, release spinal pressure, and soothe your mind.
- Begin in Tadasana. Inhale and reach your arms overhead.
- Exhale, bend your knees and fold forward – hinging from the hip creases.
- Place your hands/fingertips on the floor, or catch opposite elbows.
- Keep your hips stacked over your heels, as you press your feet into the floor, and gently lift your sit bones up.
- Relax your shoulders and back of the neck.
- To release, inhale and roll back up to Tadasana.
3.Plankasana | Plank Pose
This pose is a key part of a strong yoga practice. Holding this asana can improve endurance and muscle tone, helping develop the strength required for more complex poses later down the road.
- Begin in a four-point kneeling position and step the balls of your feet to the back of your mat and straighten your legs.
- Lengthen the tailbone towards your heels so the shoulders, torso and hips are in a straight line.
- Reach the crown of the head forward, broaden the collarbones and press the heels back, activating the core.
- Actively press the finger pads and knuckles down into the floor, firm the upper arms in towards each other and slide your shoulders blades down the spine.
- To release, exhale and bring the knees to the floor – returning to a kneeling position.
4.Urdhva Mukha Svanasana – Upward Facing Dog
(OORD-vah MOO-kah shvon-AHS-anna)
A classic yoga asana, Urdhva Mukha Svanasana opens the heart, invigorating your whole being.
- Begin lying on your stomach with your feet pressing firmly hip width apart and your palms flat alongside your ribs.
- Inhale, press down firmly with your hands and straighten your arms to lift your torso and pelvis away from the floor, while drawing your navel towards the spine.
- Exhale, roll your shoulder heads back to widen across your chest and soften your shoulder blades down the back.
- Gaze forward, keeping your legs active and core engaged.
- To release, either bend your elbows to slowly lower or roll over your toes to transition into Downward Facing Dog.
5.Adho Mukha Svanasana | Downward Facing Dog
(AH-doh MOO-kah shvah-NAHS-anna)
An asana that is equal parts strengthening and opening, Downward Facing Dog helps to create improved balance and flexibility throughout the whole body.
- Begin in Table-Top kneeling position with your palms under shoulder and knees under hips.
- Walk your palms slightly in front of your shoulders and with your middle finger pointing forward, spread your fingers evenly and press actively through the knuckles.
- Inhale, draw navel to spine and exhale, tuck the toes under and slowly lift your hips up to the sky.
- Keep pressing into your palms evenly, shoulder-width distance apart, and externally rotate the shoulders by wrapping the triceps back.
- Step the feet to hip-width distance and shine the sit bones up to the sky so you are in an upside-down V shape.
- If the hamstrings are tight and the lower back rounds, bend the knees to help tilt the sit bones up.
- Firm the shoulder blades against your back and keep the head between your upper arms while relaxing the neck.
- To release, exhale the knees back to the floor returning to Table-Top or Childs Pose.