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Once you've started to get a taste for doing yoga poses it can be helpful to have some guidelines for how to actually operate your body while doing yoga poses. This page ideally helps you with everything you might need to know about yoga poses so that you can do them safely and effectively. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Yoga Basics for Beginners

Some basics for beginners doing yoga poses

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Basics for beginners

As you get a taste for doing yoga poses it can be helpful to have some guidelines for how to actually operate your body while doing yoga poses. This page ideally helps you with everything you might need to know about yoga poses so that you can do them safely and effectively.

Basics for beginners Index

Beginners

As a beginner one of the best things you can do is to simply get started. And one way to start is with this Beginners Yoga Workout.

If you want a bit more agency in how to start a yoga practice, or perhaps the above routine is to hard (or too easy) then the ideas in Beginning a Yoga Practice might help.

For more articles on yoga for beginners, including tips on modifying yoga poses, preventing injury and more, check out the links below.

Beginners Yoga Workout
A sequence of yoga poses for beginners

Beginner Yoga Poses
Building awareness by moving slowly and smoothly

Beginning a Yoga Practice
As a beginner, figuring out where to start

Feel Your Body
Noticing relationships within and without

Preventing injury when starting yoga
What causes injuries, what you can do to prevent them

Modifying Yoga Poses
for Beginners and the Less Flexible

Why Do Yoga?
Some Benefits of Doing Yoga with a focus on Muscle Control

Starting a Yoga Home Practice
What You Need to Know

Beginners Yoga Routine for
More Flexible Hamstrings

Learn your body

One reason for doing yoga is to learn your body. One reason for learning your body is so that you can use it with awareness (and if you like, finesse) in anything that you do. For an overview of what can be involved (using a first principles approach) check out: Learning Your Body.

For more articles on learning your body, in particular, learning to feel it and control it, scroll sideways in the list below.

Learning Your Body
(And Noticing What is Happening Now)

Adding Bigness to Your Yoga Poses
Basic Principles for Yoga

Using Yoga Poses to Learn Your Body
Learning a yoga pose as the sum of its parts

Yoga Pose Brush Strokes
Tips for Breaking Yoga Poses down into Meaningful Elements

Improving Control and Proprioception
by Creating Space and Stability

Making Your Yoga Poses Sensational
Basic Principles for Yoga

Creating stability and grounding

Perhaps one of the most basic actions you can do in any yoga pose is to create stability. A related idea is that of grounding. Here's a overview of grounding: Grounding your yoga pose.

You can read about stability in stability in yoga poses.

Connecting to your body

You can use yoga poses to learn your body. This is as opposed to just doing yoga poses. Find out how in Using yoga poses to learn your body.

For more on learning your body while getting into the flow at the same time check out Yoga pose brush strokes.

For some reasons on why you should do yoga (or for some of the benefits) check out Why do yoga?.

As for getting started with a yoga practice, here are some ideas for starting one at home: yoga home practice. In addition, you might also like to check out these beginner yoga poses.

If you still aren't sure why you should do yoga or what you should focus on, then check out beginning a yoga practice to help you get a clearer idea.

Improving proprioception

While stability and grounding are both important when doing yoga, in terms of feeling your body, there is one other thing that you can focus on to make feeling your body easier. It's covered in Improving proprioception and control.

You can read another take on this same idea, influenced by lessons from partner dancing, in Making your Yoga Pose Sensational.

Adding bigness

Something that you can do in nearly any yoga poses to make it easier to connect to your body is to add bigness. The simple reason is that it creates space in your body and that in turn adds tension to connective tissue which in turn makes it easier to feel your body.

When you work at making your body big, expansive, stability can happen as a by-product.

You can read more about adding bigness in Adding bigness to your yoga poses.

Once you are used to creating bigness, you can go about adjusting the amount of bigness, or tuning it.

Creating tensegrity in yoga poses is akin to tuning the connective tissue elements of the body so that we can sense the moment there is a change in forces acting on it and so that we can respond the moment that change is detected.

How should you sequence yoga poses?

For suggestions for sequencing yoga poses take a look at sequencing yoga poses and sequencing yoga poses 2.

Should you rest in between doing yoga poses?

Resting is generally included at the end of a yoga class. However, it can be a good idea to rest in between poses. This doesn't mean looking at your phone though. It means simply being still whether standing or sitting or lying prone on your belly.

In these cases resting can be a chance to observe the effects of the pose that you've just done. It can also be a chance to think about things you can change if you repeat the pose.

Resting between poses or between repetitions of a pose or stretch can also simply be a chance to realize that the pose actually wasn't that bad.

   

Counteposes

If you are designing your own yoga pose routine, something to be aware of is how to balance actions. For more details check out counterposes.

How do you modify yoga poses?

Another important idea is learning how to modify yoga poses. That can be as simple as using a wall, yoga blocks, a chair or yoga strap for support. More detailed suggestions are covered in modifying yoga poses.

How important is alignment when doing yoga poses?

Some yoga teachers like to focus on alignment. Others like to focus on breathing. Some like to focus on a little bit of both.

I think proper yoga alignment isn't so much about aligning one part of your body with another, though that can be a good starting point. Instead, it is learning to feel when you are aligned. That means tuning in to tension and muscle activation sensation.

Put another way, alignment is like tuning into a radio station. You turn the dial to whatever station you want. However, if the reception is staticky, then you have to turn the knob a little left or right, sometimes repeatedly till you get clear reception.

So while alignment is a good starting point, I'd suggest that tuning your positioning (or "adjusting it") is even more important.

Preventing injury when doing yoga poses

How do you prevent injury while doing your yoga practice? There are a few simple reasons that people injure themselves while doing yoga, particularly when just beginning. Those reasons and what you can do to lessen the chance of injury are covered in preventing injury when starting yoga.

Preventing injury can be more difficult in a class setting. And so one of the ways that you can prevent injury is to get a better feel for your body outside of class.

Joint health

Perhaps one of the more important things you can do for long term joint health is learn how to control your muscles to keep your joints lubricated. For more on that check out the joints and muscles page.

Dealing with fear in difficult yoga poses

One problem that can come up with difficult yoga poses, particularly those where there is the real (or imaginary) possibility of falling is dealing with fear. One way that yoga can be useful is that it can provide the opportunity for practicing dealing with situations where we might be fearful. Another approach is to figure out how we've dealt with fear in other situations and apply it do doing the yoga poses that scare us. For myself, I've done a bit of both. You can read how in dealing with fear and also in overcoming fear in yoga.

A yoga routine for beginners

If you are just beginning a yoga practice, a good place to start would be with Beginners Yoga Routine.

For a beginners routine that is a little more challenging, take a look at Beginners Yoga.

What are the bandhas

I first learned a bit about the bandhas when practicing Ashtanga yoga.

One way to look at the three bandhas is as philosophical constructs. Mula bandha or the root bandha corresponds to the idea of foundation. Uddayana bandha, flying up, corresponds to the idea of creating space, even that of expressing whatever it is that you are doing. Meanwhile, jalandhara bandha is a way of tying the previous two together. You could think of it as the bandha that unifies. (I talk about similiar ideas in my ebook Know to flow which is also linked to at the bottom of this page!)

In more physical terms, mula bandha can correspond to engaging the pelvic floor muscles, and that's how I talk about it in Mula bandha.

Meanwhile, uddiyana bandha can correspond to the activation of the transverse abdominis (at least that's one way of looking at it). Read more in Uddiyana bandha.

You can also read an overview of the three bandhas in Bandhas

Yoga videos

For some simple video routines on youtube to help you connect to your body check out Yoga routine and mini-routine videos. For more focused yoga videos check out this page: yoga videos.

These videos are all presented by me (i.e. I do and teach all of the exercises) and they are all designed to help you better feel and control your body while doing yoga.

Published: 2021 01 24
Updated: 2021 02 09

Neil Keleher

Neil Keleher is a Systems Design Engineer with a bachelor's degree from the University of Waterloo.

He has taught yoga for over 22 years. He specializes in anatomy related to proprioception and movement.
He illustrates his own anatomy articles.

His classes focus on improving body awareness while at the same time building strength, stability and flexibility.

Clearly defined poses, exercises and stretches for improving stability, body awareness and flexibility.

Ebooks and video courses by Neil Keleher

Balance Basics ebook. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Ebook

Yoga Basics 1 ebook. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Ebook

Yoga Basics 2 ebook. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Ebook

Yoga for shoulders ebook. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Ebook

Hip control Guide ebook. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Ebook

Working towards wheel pose ebook. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Ebook

Dance of Shiva ebook. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Ebook

know to flow ebook. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Ebook

ebook bundle including: the dance of shiva, balance basics, yoga for your shoulders, yoga basics 1, yoga basics 2, the hip control guide, working towards wheel pose, know to flow.

Ebook bundle: 8 books

take out the slack. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Video Membership

5 Sensational yoga routines for beginners. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Video routine and workshop

Frictional muscle control. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Video routine and workshop

Extreme stability, Foot and Ankle Stability for Better Hip Control. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Video routine and workshop

Mindful muscle control and proprioception. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Video routine and workshop

Ribcage mobility video course. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Video workshop

Muscle control for your Spine video course. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Video workshop

Hip flexor control video course. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Video workshop

Hamstring control video course. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Video workshop

Thigh muscle control video course. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Video workshop

Long thigh muscle control video course. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Video workshop

Deep hip muscle control video course. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Video workshop

SI joints, hips and spine control video course. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Video workshop

Shoulder control video course. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Video workshop

Arm strength for push ups video course. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Video workshop

Better hip joint control. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Video workshop

Leg anatomy video course. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Video workshop

take out the slack. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Video Membership

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