Posts Tagged beginners

The Downward Dork’s Guide to Beginner Courses

On Wednesday I had my first true beginner’s yoga class. I have been taking the intermediate class at my studio for a few weeks and really enjoy it, but I wanted a stronger foundation for my poses. Beginner’s classes are a great way to learn more about the yoga style of breathing (this is one of my weaknesses – I tend to hold my breath without realizing it!) and proper alignment even if you are already familiar with the basics.

If you have been practicing yoga for a little while, you may find a beginner’s course too slow for you. Poses are taught stage by stage, and then the stages are combined. Poses are repeated multiple times so that the students can ‘get’ it while focusing on correct breathing and position.

Some simple yoga poses like the cow pose and the cat pose are good for beginners.(Picture Source)

Poses you might encounter in your first class are cow or dog pose and cat pose, pictured above, downward dog, Warrior I & II, tree pose, mountain pose, forward fold, and corpse pose, pictured below.

These courses are for those with no experience (as the term ‘beginner’ tends to suggest), and hopefully your class will be small enough that the instructor will be able to provide one-on-one support to each student. This aims to provide a fun and supportive atmosphere for new yogis. Beginner’s courses are also great for going back to the basics if you are a bit more experienced or getting back into yoga after a long break.

You will probably also encounter people from every age group. The amazing woman next to me was 70 years old and had never tried yoga before in her life. If she can do it, we certainly can! She was a real trooper and truly shows that you can start practicing yoga at any age and for any reason.

Corpse Pose(Picture Source)

Each class will likely conclude with savasana, also known as corpse pose. The class itself may be a bit fragmented as everyone picks things up at their own speed and the instructor comes around to assist individuals, but everyone comes together at the end for a bit of relaxation prior to leaving the studio.

All courses are different, as are all instructors, so you may find your experience is not quite the same as mine. If you have been considering yoga, a beginner’s course is a great place to start. You could always jump right into a class with a faster pace, but it is better to learn the correct alignment and positioning. You don’t want to accidentally pick up any bad habits! They are also extremely helpful if you decide to practice at home between classes.

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Pose Post – Downward Dog

Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

I thought it would be best to start off with the pose that inspired this blog’s name, and also a great pose for beginners. Downward Dog is an easy pose and has several variations for those just learning yoga – you can slightly bend your legs, or alternate bending your legs (first one, then the other, then back to the first one, and so on) as you relax into the pose. I find this especially helpful if you are doing your first downward dog of the day. If your heels don’t touch the floor, don’t worry too much – this may come with time or perhaps your muscles just don’t stretch that way.

If you need to use two blocks under your hands, go for it. It may make the pose more comfortable or easier for you.

Concentrate on straightening and lengthening your spine. Attempt to rest on your palms instead of your wrists. This can be tricky at first. Also focus on bringing your shoulders back, down, and away from your ears. Press down through your heels as much as you can (don’t stand up on your toes) and push your seat bones back towards the wall behind you. Bring your chest towards your thighs and relax your neck.

According to one of my instructors, downward dog is one of the most, if not the most, common poses in yoga. It is considered a resting pose, but trust me, as a beginner, it is far from restful!

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