If you’re a yoga beginner, the two most important poses to learn are corpse pose and standing forward bend. Although these postures are easy, you need to master them to gain the greatest benefits. Even if you don’t know how to do these poses perfectly, just practice them for a while, and you will get used to it. Once you do it a few times, the results will show. To really master it, practice several times per day!
How to Do Corpse Pose
Corpse pose, Shavasana in Sanskrit, is one of the easiest and most fundamental Hatha yoga poses for beginners to master. In a classical Hatha yoga class, this is the first and last pose of every practice. Seriously, as you walk into a Hatha yoga class you may find a sea of people in corpse pose and you are assumed to follow along without making noise, commotion, or throwing anxiety energy around. Your instructor will give you guidance throughout the class, but not normally for the first Shavasana. The purpose of the corpse pose is to relax and quiet the mind.
Gently put your mat down, step to the front of your mat, and quietly lay down on your back. Separate your feet about shoulder-width apart to a distance comfortable to you, and let your feet splay out to the sides. Place your arms about 6 inches away from your body with your palms up, according to the book Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha. Breathe normally, relax all your muscles, and keep your body and mind as still as possible.
How to do a Standing Forward Bend
In a Hatha yoga class, you perform a series of standing forward bends after you complete the Sun Salutation sequence. The basic forward bend is called padahastasana, a.k.a. hand to foot pose. Benefits of Padahastasana for yoga beginners, and experts, including stretching your back muscles and hamstrings as well as alleviating gas, constipation, and indigestion, according to the book Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha. Contraindications for Padahastasana include heart disease, high blood pressure, and abdominal hernias.
There are a number of ways to get into padahastasana and yoga beginners should start with the easiest one – here it is…
- Step your feet hip-distance apart and parallel.
- Relax your arms by your sides and inhale.
- Exhale and relax your chin to your chest.
- Slowly move the crown of your head towards the mat vertebrae by vertebrae until your body tells you to stop – this depends on your level of flexibility.
- Let your arms hang, relax your neck, and take 4 to 6 deep breaths.
- To get out of the pose start at the bottom of your spine and roll up to standing one vertebra at a time.
Beginners Tip: When rolling up to standing, keep your chin to your chest for two breaths before lifting your head to avoid feeling dizzy after forward bends.
Yoga Class Tips
Start with a beginner level class if you are out of shape. This way you can enjoy yourself and avoid injury. You will need a few basics supplies to practice. Start slowly. The first practice is the most important. Do it a few times, and then think about it, while you are maintaining the posture, and focus your attention on your breathing.
When you enjoy your first yoga class, you are more likely to try a second class and get on your way to improving your health and fitness. If you look around the class and compare yourself to the other yoga students – which your yoga instructor already probably told you not to do but it’s just human nature and everyone does it sometimes – you will notice a wide range of flexibility in your beginner’s yoga class. The fact is, some people are blessed with natural flexibility while others need months or years of yoga classes to touch their palms to the floor. Pay attention to your own body during yoga class and you will probably find your body easily gets into some yoga poses, while others around you are having trouble. I hope you enjoy your first Hatha yoga class!