4. Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
There are tons of forward folds in yoga, and tons of inversion poses as well (going upside down). Standing Forward Fold combines the benefits of both! It is a great pose to release tension in your neck, shoulders, and lower back, and is a great way to improve the flexibility of your hamstrings.
Forward Fold Pose Instructions:
- Start in a standing pose, and place your hands on your hips. Make sure your back is straight.
- Exhale and slowly start to hinge forward, keeping a straight back and lengthen the front of your torso.
- When you get to as far as is comfortable for you, drop your hands and reach for the ground or your ankles. Blocks are very beneficial to use in this pose when first starting out to provide you support.
- Release tension in your neck by rocking in back and forth, then side to side.
- Every time you exhale sink deeper into the pose
- Hold the pose for 5 breaths.
- To get out of the pose bring your hands back on your hips and your elbows behind you. Slowly start to bring yourself back into starting position while maintaining a flat back. Repeat this process around 3 to 5 times for the full effect.
5. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Much Svanasana)
The all famous Downward Facing Dog. This is probably one of the most well known poses in the western world, and is one of the most used foundational poses in sequences. Getting this pose right is definitely essential.
It is a great strengthening pose for your arms and abs, and gives your hamstrings and shoulders a nice stretch. As a beginner you will quickly find out that downward facing dog is a lot harder than you expected. With enough practice this pose will soon feel like a rest pose. For my journey it took almost 3 months practicing 50 minutes a week to build up my strength.
Each of us are on a different path and the goal is to enjoy the journey. The more fun you have the more you will grow and gain more benefits than you ever imagined.
Downward Facing Dog Pose Instructions:
- Get on your hands and knees. Make sure your hands are slightly in front of your shoulders and your knees are aligned with your hips. Keep your fingers wide apart and your toes curled under.
- Exhale and life your knees off the ground and create a “V” shape with your body.
- Straighten your arms and roll the inner parts of your elbow forward.
- Keep your gaze in between your feet or at your naval.
- Press your heels toward the mat. Every time I first get into this pose I love to peddle out my feet. This helps me warm up my hamstrings and calves.
- If its more comfortable to keep your knees to be slightly bent and your heels off the ground hold that position. The goal is to feel sensation, not to cause pain.