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Celebrate World Yoga Day with your very own flow

Published on 21 June 2018|
2 min read

It’s World Yoga Day today and we’re celebrating with a few basic poses anyone can use to create their very own yoga flow!

by Emily Mary Chin, Carrybeans

The poses below are a combination of mostly beginner poses with a small speckle of intermediate ones in there as well.  I wanted to give variations you can have fun with.  They are also adjustable according to your fitness and flexibility level, making them suitable for everyone.  I also included a notes section to give additional insight into the poses in question, as well as to add observations I’ve made about my session that day.  Please note that in yoga, observations are observations.  They’re not meant as criticism.

Together with Hustle Fitness, here are 10 simple poses that’ll help you start your yoga practice!

Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

Difficulty: Beginner

Strengthens: Upper body

Stretches: Chest and abdomen

How to do it right:

  1. Press your hands into the ground to lift your body up
  2. Press the top of your feet into the mat
  3. Open up your chest
  4. Keep your shoulders away from your ears
  5. Draw your shoulder blades down and towards one another
  6. Lift your knees off the mat

Note(s): This pose will be a regular feature in your yoga practice.  You will usually come back to this pose multiple times in one session.

Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Difficulty: Beginner

Strengthens: Legs and arms

Stretches: Upper body, hamstring, calves and shoulders

How to do it right:

  1. Press your hands and feet into the ground
  2. Set your arms in line with your ears
  3. Spread your palms out and your toes under
  4. Lift your knees away from the floor
  5. Lift your sitting bone towards the ceiling
  6. Push your top thighs back and stretch your heels onto the floor

Note(s): This pose looks simple enough but is actually more challenging than you think!  Similar to the Upward Facing Dog, this is a pose you will come back to multiple times in a session.  This combined with the Upward Facing Dog become your transition into every other pose.

Tree (Vrksasana)

Difficulty: Beginner

Strengthens: Spine, legs and ankles

Stretches: Thighs, groin and shoulders

How to do it right:

  1. Shift your weight onto one of your feet
  2. Fix your gaze on something in front of you
  3. Place the sole of the other foot above or below your knee (but never on your knee!)
  4. Externally rotate your thigh
  5. Extend your arms overhead and lengthen through the waist
  6. Relax your shoulders

Note(s): Looking at this photo, my thigh probably could have rotated outwards more.

Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)

Difficulty: Beginner

Strengthens: Legs, shoulders, back and arms

Stretches: Chest, navel, legs, groin, shoulders and neck

How to do it right:

  1. Step or lightly jump your feet a few feet apart, one in front of the other
  2. Extend your arms overhead, parallel to each other
  3. Turn your back foot out 90 degrees, aligning your heels
  4. Bend your front knee, aligning it with your ankle
  5. Make sure your hips are squared towards the front
  6. Reach strongly through your arms, lifting your ribcage

Note(s): My form is not the greatest here.  It would be better if my front ankle aligned better with my knee.  And by right, my back heel should also be pointed outwards and grounded onto the floor.  But if yoga teaches you anything, it’s that you’re going to have your off days.  You’re going to have days where you feel a little weaker or a little less in control.  It’s okay.  Let it flow.

Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)

Difficulty: Beginner

Strengthens: Ankles and legs

Stretches: Chest, groin, shoulders, and legs

How to do it right:

  1. Step or lightly jump your feet apart
  2. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees with your heels aligned
  3. Raise your arms to your sides up to shoulder height, palms facing down
  4. Bend your front knee, aligning it with your ankle
  5. Sink your hips low until your front thigh is parallel to the floor
  6. Press down through the outer edge of your back foot, keeping your back leg straight
  7. Broaden across your collarbone and keep your belly drawn in

Note(s): Like in the previous pose, I wish my ankles were slightly more forward and aligned with my knee.  But also like in the previous pose, I’m not going to beat myself up about it!  Your yoga practice is for observing, not judging.

Side Angle (Utthita Parsvakonasana)

Difficulty: Beginner

Strengthens: Knees, ankles and legs

Stretches: Chest, spine, abdomen, groin, shoulders and legs

How to do it right:

  1. Repeat the steps for Warrior II
  2. Rest your front elbow on your front leg with your back arm extended towards the ceiling
  3. You have the option of deepening this pose by reaching your front arm to the ground
  4. To go even deeper, reach your top arm towards your back and your front arm between your legs and hold hands (as in the featured image above)

Note(s): There are multiple variations to this pose, depending on how deep you’d like to go into it.  It’s a testament to how versatile yoga is and how easy it is to scale it to a level that suits you.

Half Prayer Twist (Ardha Namaskar Parsvakonasana)

Difficulty: Intermediate

Strengthens: Spine, legs and abdomen

Stretches: Arms, legs, shoulders and spine

How to do it right:

  1. Repeat the steps for Warrior II
  2. Hook your right arm to your left leg (or left arm to right leg, depending on which leg is in front)
  3. Place your palms together in front of your chest in prayer position
  4. Use your arms to press your top shoulder back, twisting your upper back
  5. Look straight ahead or up towards the ceiling

Note(s): My top shoulder could be pressed back a little more.  This would deepen the twist and maximize the effects of the pose.

Half Moon (Ardha Chandrasana)

Difficulty: Intermediate

Strengthens: Glutes, thighs, spine and abdomen

Stretches: Chest, spine, hamstrings, groin and shoulders

How to do it right:

  1. Extend one foot backwards and up while your upper body extends downwards
  2. Make sure your bottom leg is firm and engaging  your glutes and quadriceps
  3. Rotate your right hip back, aligning it with your left hip
  4. Reach your opposite arm towards the floor, the other towards the ceiling

Note(s):  For half moon pose, it’s advisable that you use a block to place your hand down on.  This will help you balance better in this pose.  I managed fine without the block that day but my legs were definitely a little shakier than if I’d had the block.

Half Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

Difficulty: Beginner

Strengthens: Spine

Stretches: Hips, shoulders and neck

How to do it right: 

Note(s): Twists are some of my favourite poses.  Not only do they aid in digestion and alleviate risks of back pain, they also make great de-stressors.  If you’re having a particularly bad day, just step on your mat and get twisting!

Resting (Savasana)

Difficulty: Beginner

How to do it right:

  1. Lie flat on your back
  2. Spread your heels as wide as your mat
  3. Widen your arms away from your body with your palms facing forward

Note(s): The final resting pose is widely considered the most important pose of your entire practice!  It is a restorative pose done right at the very end of a session.  Never skip out on your final rest as this is your chance to cool down and soften any strain you might have accumulated in your practice.

Happy World Yoga Day!  Always remember that it’s not about how deep you get into any specific pose.  As long as you’re feeling a stretch, you’re doing an amazing job!

We celebrated Dragon Boat Festival earlier this week too!  Click here to read about the legend of its origins.

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