With Sanskrit names that sound more like spells you’d learn at Hogwarts, yoga poses can be intimidating to beginners. These beginner-level poses ease into backbends while strengthening the core, hips, calves, and shoulders.
1. Mountain Pose
Stand with feet together or hip-width apart. Keeping torso long, plant palms next to the hips and straighten arms. Pull shoulders down and away from ears, and gaze forward.
Side Angle Pose
Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose) is a deep and expansive side-bending yoga posture that challenges the balance of the body. It activates and strengthens the hips, shoulders and abdomen. It is a great energizing pose that helps to relieve backache. It can also improve the overall strength of the legs and core. It is a good pose to practice for beginners as it is easily modified to suit varying levels of flexibility.
It opens the chest and top shoulder, lengthens the ribcage and opens the heart and lung area. This posture is a great exercise for improving the breathing as it requires a lot of controlled breaths which makes it a great stress buster and an effective way to relax. It is also a great pose to practice if you want to get in shape and lose weight as it tones the muscles of the legs, arms, stomach and torso.
This yoga posture also improves the strength of the ankles, knees and hips. It can be challenging to beginners as it is important to make sure that the front knee does not drop inwards, and that the torso is not falling forward.
Beginners can do the pose by placing their hand on the floor next to the front foot, or they can use a block for support. Beginners can also try to rest their front fingertips on the bent thigh to add an additional stretch to the neck and upper torso.
Aim to keep the back leg flat on the mat, parallel to the back edge of the mat. It is important to have a strong and stable base for this pose as it involves twisting the torso and extending one arm over head. Beginners should work on getting the alignment of the feet and legs first, before trying to get into this pose.
Those who have a bad knee or hip should avoid this pose, as it can cause pain in the knee and lower back. If the pose is too challenging, it is better to take a break and try other poses that are easier on the joints. This pose can also cause problems for people who have a neck injury, high blood pressure or headaches.
How to Do Side Angle Pose
To begin with, you should stand in mountain pose with the feet together and then move into the extended side angle pose by bringing the left foot back and bending the right leg to come into the half bind. Then place the hand on the floor and extend the other arm over the head to create the full version of the pose. Beginners can start by putting the hand on the ground and then extending the other arm to see how they feel about this version of the pose.
Once you are comfortable with the alignment of the feet and leg, you can progress to the full version of this pose by moving into the pose while exhaling. This will help you to get more comfortable with the movement of the torso over the bent leg and then gradually you can increase the stretch by moving your hand towards the foot and then bringing it close to the outside of the foot.