Week 4: Basic Postures For Everyday Yoga

Now that you’ve gotten the foundations of yoga down, I wanted to share some easy, everyday poses with you. These simple postures are practical and can be used to begin your day or at times when you need a little pick-me-up (and a good stretch).

1. Forward Fold

  1. Place feet hip width apart and hinge forward from the hips. Fold forward toward the direction of your toes. Be conscious of keeping a straight spine. If you have lower back issues, place your hands on a block or chair in order modify the posture so that you’re not pushed passed your level of comfort.
  2. Extend your heels out and face your toes forward.
  3. Bend the knees, walking the hands up the body to complete standing and repeat.
  4. Inhale, walk downward, hold for five breaths, and then exhale while walking your hands up.

If your hamstrings are tight, simply create as much of a bend in the knees as you to need in order to fold forward.

Variation: You can incorporate a flow to this practice by taking the hands overhead, similar to if you’re diving into a pool of water (your hands should be wide, leading with your chest as you fold forward). After you fold forward, lift up to a flat back and fold forward again. This creates more of dance-like fluidity in the spine. Inhale when your hands go up, exhale when your hands are out wide. Repeat 5 times.

2. Downward-Facing Dog

  1. Come onto the floor on your hands and knees. Set your knees directly below your hips and your hands slightly forward of your shoulders. Spread your palms, index fingers parallel or slightly turned out, and turn your toes under you.
  2. Exhale and lift your knees away from the floor. At first, keep the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis and press it lightly toward the pubis.
  3. Against this resistance, lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling, and from your inner ankles draw the inner legs up into the groins.
  4. With an exhalation, push your top thighs back and stretch your heels onto or down toward the floor. Straighten your knees but be sure not to lock them. Firm the outer thighs and roll the upper thighs inward slightly. Narrow the front of the pelvis.
  5. Firm the outer arms and press the bases of the index fingers actively into the floor. From these two points, lift along your inner arms from the wrists to the tops of the shoulders.
  6. Firm your shoulder blades against your back, then widen them and draw them toward the tailbone. Keep the head between the upper arms; don’t let it hang. Stay here for 1-3 minutes for the ultimate stretch!

3. Legs Up the Wall

Lay on your back with your feet up in the air and rest them against a wall. You can bend your knees a bit if need be. Palms can be placed against the floor on either side of you. Keep your feet and knees in line with hips. This inversion allows specific core muscles to be activated and developed.

Hold for a count of 10 breaths and repeat 3 times.

4. Happy Baby Pose

  1. Lie on your back. Bring your knees towards your shoulders.
  2. Flex your feet toward the ceiling and bring your shinbones perpendicular to the floor. Grab the outside of the soles of your feet with your hands.
  3. Use your hands to gently press the feet energetically toward the floor.
  4. Your knees should be wide, underneath your arms. Lengthen the spine, by bringing your tailbone toward the earth. (The tendency is for it to curl up and off the floor, so avoid this). Feel your hips release and feel a deep stretch of the groin. You can rock gently side to side. Stay here for several breathes.

All of these postures are gentle but rehabilitative. They can help you stretch, build your flexibility, and circulate blood throughout your body.