Yoga is for everyone - no matter your age or exercise ability
Many of us in the UAE are familiar with Yoga – we’ve all heard how beneficial it can be for the health of body and mind but considering there are so many Yoga poses how do you decide which are the best ones for a beginner?
1. Yoga is more popular than ever in the UAE and considering how beneficial Yoga can be for mind and body it’s not hard to see why. For anyone new to Yoga in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah the myriad of Yoga types and poses can be a bit overwhelming and often confusing. As an Abu Dhabi Yoga Class Instructor and Yoga Personal Trainer with experience in various types of Yoga what would you say are the top 10 ‘Beginner’ Yoga poses and what health benefits does each provide to someone completely new to Yoga?
As a beginner to Yoga, it is important firstly not to focus too much on your flexibility. Yoga asana practice enables flexibility.
Breath focus, this is very important to bring our awareness inside ourselves and using our breath correctly also enables our body to move freely as we feel more relaxed and less tense. Start with some grounding poses.
Tadasana (mountain) standing in Tadasana tall and upright with the four corners of our feet firmly cemented into the ground, feeling the strength rise from the ground up opening the chest, relaxing our shoulders, broadening our collarbone and elongating our neck and lifting the crown of our head. In a world of technology where we are bent over a computer or mobile, this pose helps us to focus on our posture. It is also the starting position for other poses.
Balasana (child’s pose) calming and relaxing a pose to come to when you need a rest, during your practice, but also stretches the hips and shoulders and lengthens the spine. Knees placed either side of our mat in a v. Big toes touching, sitting back on our heels and folding forward, arms stretched in front or down by our sides.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog) Stretches the backs of your heels, your hamstrings, chest and lengthens your spine. Strengthens your shoulders, arms, wrists, and abdominals. Starting with hands and knees on the floor, inhale curling your toes under walk your feet back, exhale as you push heels to or towards the floor, can be done with knees bent and heels lifted if hamstrings are tight, be mindful not to lock the knees. Stretch arms forward, creating a V shape relaxing your shoulders avoiding rounding in your back and shoulders.
Bhujangasana (Cobra) Strengthens and relieves stiffness in the lower back muscles. Strengthens arms and shoulders. Stretches shoulders, chest and abdominals. Assists in relieving stress and fatigue. Lying on your stomach, chin touching the ground. Place your hands close to your body next to your chest just at the top of your ribcage, palms touching the ground. Keep your legs straight and press your palms firmly against the floor. As you inhale, straighten your arms and lift up your chest, following your upper back. Take 5 deep breaths in and out and relax.
Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle) Stretches and strengthens thighs, knees, ankles, hips and groin, hamstrings, calves, shoulders chest, back, upper side internal and lower side external obliques and stimulating abdominal muscles and organs. Stand with your feet wide apart. Stretch your right foot out (90 degrees) while keeping the leg closer to the torso. Keep your feet pressed against the ground and balance your weight equally on both feet. Inhale and as you exhale bend your right arm and make it touch the ground, shin or inside of right ankle while your left arm goes up. Keep your waist straight. Ensure that your body is bent sideways and not forward or backward. Stretch as much as you can while taking long, deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Vrksasana (Tree pose) gives us a sense of grounding improves balances, aids concentration and helps us to focus. Standing with the left foot firmly secured and pushing into the ground, lift the left kneecap engaging quadriceps. Inhale and lift the right leg, bending at the knee rotate hips outwards towards the right keeping the knee joint bent and closed off place the right foot into the upper thigh of the left leg, if this is too high foot can be placed on the side of the left shin, avoid placing foot on knee. Exhale hand come together in prayer pose in front of your chest lifted towards the sky. Strengthens standing leg and opens the hips. Repeat another side.
Utkatasana (Chair pose) A powerful pose that strengthens the muscles of the legs and arms. It builds your willpower and has an energizing effect on the body and mind. Stand straight with your feet slightly apart. Stretch your arms but don’t bend your elbow. Inhale and bend your knees, pushing your pelvis down like you are sitting on a chair. Keep your hands parallel to the ground and back straight. Take deep breaths. Bend gradually but make sure your knees don’t go beyond your toes.
Navasana (boat pose) Tightens the abdominal muscles and strengthens shoulders and upper back. Helps with balance and stability. Lie back on the mat with your feet together and hands by your side. Inhale lift your legs off the floor legs can be straight or bent at the knees. Be careful to stay on your sitting bones and not tilt back onto your sacrum or coccyx. Stretch your hands in the direction of your feet. You should feel the abdominal muscles begin to contract. As you exhale, bring your feet back to the ground.
Savasana (Corpse) Traditionally Savasana is the last pose in any Yoga asana sequence, it is a pose for deep relaxation to allow our body to be still and our mind to quieten. Savasana rejuvenates our body, mind, and spirit, helping to relieve stress and tension and one of the most important asanas’.Lying on your back, the head is central. Arms and legs drop open, arms a short distance from your body, palms facing upwards. Allow the body to become completely still and relax every part of the body from the crown down to your toes. You should stay in Savasana for at least 8 minutes.
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