Fitness

7 yoga poses for beginners

By: Kate Daley

Photography by Lauren Hayes Author: Canadian Living Credits: Photography by Lauren Hayes

Fitness

7 yoga poses for beginners

By: Kate Daley
Yoga is more than just a workout. Sure, it might help sculpt your arms and improve your race time, but that's not the point. Yoga is a mental, physical and spiritual belief system— getting fit is just a byproduct. Here's everything you need to know to make the most of your time on the mat.

3 benefits of yoga
1. Yoga can benefit your sex life
A study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found improvements in arousal, orgasm, satisfaction, desire and lubrication—as well as a decrease in pain—following 12 weeks of yoga.

2. Yoga can help with depression and anxiety
A series of controlled trials has shown that yoga can help moderate stress-response systems and, in turn, improve heart rate, respiration rate and blood pressure. Yoga has also been shown to help with post-traumatic stress disorder.

3. Yoga can make you smarter
Studies have shown that aspects of cognitive performance (such as accuracy and reaction time) are heightened more by practicing yoga than by engaging in other aerobic exercises.

Slideshow

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7 yoga poses for beginners

Cat and cow pose

Clockwise from upper left corner: Start in child’s pose with knees bent, arms outstretched in front of you and your head on the mat. Slowly rise on hands and knees into a tabletop position. Inhale, lift your chest and look skyward, curving your spine. Then exhale and arch your spine like a cat, dropping your head down and looking toward your navel. Do three to five repetitions, curving and arching your back, then return to child’s pose.

By: Kate Daley Source: Lauren Hayes Credits: Canadian Living

7 yoga poses for beginners

Upward dog

Clockwise from upper left corner: From child’s pose, rise onto your hands and knees into a tabletop position. Push your pelvis toward the floor, lifting your chest and supporting yourself with your arms, and extend your legs behind you. For a more advanced pose, lift your thighs off the floor by pressing your weight onto your feet for support. Look up to the ceiling and stay in this position for a few breaths. Return to all fours, then to child’s pose to rest.

By: Kate Daley Source: Lauren Hayes Credits: Canadian Living

7 yoga poses for beginners

Downward dog

Clockwise from upper left corner: From child’s pose, rise onto your hands and knees into a tabletop position. With arms locked, lift your hips toward the ceiling, keeping knees slightly bent, with your weight on the balls of your feet. For a more advanced pose, straighten your legs and stretch your heels toward the floor. Return to child’s pose.

By: Kate Daley Source: Lauren Hayes Credits: Canadian Living

7 yoga poses for beginners

Warrior 2 and reverse warrior

Clockwise from upper left corner: From the downward dog pose, step your right foot forward to meet your right hand in a deep lunge. Press your left heel on the floor to ground you. Windmill your arms up until you’re standing with your arms extended on either side, keeping your right leg bent. Take three to five breaths. Extend your left arm back toward your left leg while raising your right arm skyward. Hold for a few breaths, then slowly rise to standing. Repeat on the other side.

By: Kate Daley Source: Lauren Hayes Credits: Canadian Living

7 yoga poses for beginners

Triangle

Clockwise from upper left corner: From the reverse warrior pose, straighten your right leg. Bend toward your right leg, extending your right arm toward your right shin and lifting your left arm over your head. For more of a challenge, extend the fingertips of your right hand to the floor and turn your head skyward. Hold for a few breaths, then repeat on the other side.

By: Kate Daley Source: Lauren Hayes Credits: Canadian Living

7 yoga poses for beginners

Tree

Clockwise from upper left corner: Stand with your feet together, shoulders pulled back and abs engaged. With your right toes turned out to the side, take your right ankle in your right hand and rest your foot on your inner left thigh. (Do not rest your foot on the knee area.) Find your balance, then reach your arms straight up and hold for three to five breaths. Bringing your hands to prayer position, release your right foot, cross your right leg over the left just above the knee, and bend down into sitting position. For a more advanced pose, lower your abdomen until your elbows meet your right leg. Take a few breaths, then return to standing. Repeat on the other side.

By: Kate Daley Source: Lauren Hayes Credits: Canadian Living

7 yoga poses for beginners

Twisted lunge

Clockwise from upper left corner: Starting in a standing bend, with your legs straight and your head down at your knees, lift your head and step your right foot back into a lunge position, dropping your knee to the floor. Reach both arms straight up. Place your left hand on your left hip and twist your abdomen to rest your right elbow on the outside of your left knee. Bring your hands together in a prayer position. For more of a challenge, straighten your left leg, lifting the knee off the floor. Take a few breaths, then repeat on the other side. There are many different forms of yoga that benefit both your body and your mind. Find out which type of yoga is best for you.

By: Kate Daley Source: Lauren Hayes Credits: Canadian Living


Learn how therapeutic yoga can reduce stress and improve your mental health.
                                               
This story was originally titled "The Om Effect" in the September 2014 issue.
           
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