6 Beginner-Friendly Yoga Poses to Stretch and Strengthen the Body

6 Beginner-Friendly Yoga Poses to Stretch and Strengthen the Body

Anyone can do these yoga poses. They will help improve flexibility in your muscles, which can shorten when they are not stretched regularly.

Source: Getty Images | Photo by Martine Doucet

Editor's note: This article was originally published on June 19, 2020. It has since been updated.

Yoga is not just about the advanced poses that make it seem like the person is made of rubber. Yoga literally means "Union." Union of the body with the mind, the creation with the creator. Yoga includes many aspects like meditation, contemplation, right diet, having pure thoughts, etc. In short, it is a way of life. Yoga "asanas" are the "poses" or "postures" that people practice. The benefits of asanas are multi-fold. They don't just improve the flexibility of muscles and joints but also help us improve sleep, posture, breathing, as well as, enable us to be more immune to a host of ailments like heart diseases, depression, stress, chronic pain, inflammation, etc., according to the studies reported by Health Line.


There are plenty of simple-to-do poses that stretch our bodies. Stretching is important since it keeps our muscles flexible, strong, and healthy. We also need to maintain flexibility for multiple movements in the joints, according to Harvard Health. Without stretching, our muscles shorten and become tight. So, when you try to use those muscles for performing activities, they may not perform the way you want them to. That can put you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage. 

If you still feel intimidated, imagine yourself getting out of bed and stretching your arms above your head. That's a yoga pose already. It can be that simple and with International Yoga Day taking place on June 21, you can join the many others who will be taking part. For performing yoga poses, you will require a mat that is easy on the skin. If you are not sure where to start, here are six poses for beginners: 


1. Garland pose (Mala-asana)


Yoga mats are usually rectangular in shape and are slightly broader than shoulder-width. You can begin this pose by standing with your feet on the edges of your mat. Then bend your knees to go into a squat as you turn your toes and knees outward.  You can go further down as well, as long as it is comfortable. If your heels don't touch the floor, put a rolled-up blanket under them. It might be easier for children to perform this than adults, but if we persevere, we'll be able to perform it eventually. It's good for the hips and it counteracts the effects of sitting for a long time. It is also useful to learn this pose if you like to garden, according to Verywellfit. Once you get comfortable, try to stay in this pose for 60 to 90 seconds. 


2. Staff pose (Dand-asana)



This one looks easy to do and it is quite easy to perform, too. Sit with your legs together stretched out in front of you so that they are touching the floor. Keep your spine upright an feel the arch of your back as you keep it long and straight. If you find your torso leaning back, it could be because your hamstrings (muscles at the back of your thigh) are tight. You can also sit with your back against a wall with your shoulders touching the wall for support, but ensure neither your lower back nor the back of the head is on the wall. Sit with your weight distributed on the front of the sitting bones. Don't harden your belly but firm your thighs and press them down against the floor. You can rotate them towards each other and flex your ankles. Keep the pose for as long as you can and with practice try to retain it for a minute or longer, according to yoga journal.


3. Happy baby pose (Ananda Bal-asana)


Named after the pose kids often go into, this can be very effective for adults, too.  For this, lie down on your back and hug your knees to your chest. Then separate your knees and bring each ankle over the respective knee so that your shins are perpendicular to the floor. Flex your feet and hold them from the outside as you pull your knee downwards. Then, roll side to side on your sacrum, which is a triangular bone in the lower back situated between the two hip bones of the pelvis. Do it only if you can for five breaths. To end the pose, stretch your legs out on the floor and rest. 


4. Cat pose 


Start with your knees and hands on the mat. Your knees should be set directly below your hips and your wrists, elbows, and shoulders should be in one line and perpendicular to the floor. Keep your head in a neutral position with eyes on the floor. Then as you exhale, draw your belly to your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. Drop your head toward the floor and felt the stretch. Then as you inhale, arch your back as you drop your belly toward the floor and bring your neck, butt, and shoulders towards the ceiling. Hold the pose and feel the stretch. Return to the neutral position before repeating this routine a couple of times. 


5. Intense side stretch pose (Parsvottan-asana)


Start by standing with feet together. Then while exhaling, step or lightly jump to bring your feet 3½ to 4 feet apart. Bring your hands to your hips, and turn both your feet to the left as you turn your hips as well. Your left foot should be turned to about 45 to 60 degrees and the right one should be completely 90 degrees turned. Your knees and toes should point in the same direction. Firm your thighs and turn your right thigh outward so knee and ankle are aligned. Exhale and rotate your torso to the right. Inhale, as you lengthen your spine and exhale as you fold forward from the hips. Don't let your back become round. Then, roll left thigh inwards and keep right hip back. Keep the pose for five to 10 deep breaths. Then repeat on the other side, according to Ekhartyoga.


6. Cobra pose (Bhujang-asana ) 


Lie down on your mat with your abdomen on the ground. Then stretch your legs back with the top of your feet on the floor. Rest your forehead comfortably on the floor and relax your shoulders. Then bend your elbows and place your forearms on the floor at shoulder width. Placement of your palm in the right spot on the floor is important. Keep your elbows close to your body and then lift your torso from the floor. Inhale as you do it. Raise yourself above the floor only as much as you can comfortably. Hold the pose for 4-5 seconds; the top of your feet, hips, and pubis should press down on the floor. Exhale as you lower your torso back to the floor.  After you get regular at it, try holding the pose for a longer time span. 







Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Martine Doucet

Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.