Are you one of the many who vow to embrace the zen and infuse your stressful life with a sense of calmness? We're all guilty of it. The amount of times we've heard people say: "I really want to get into yoga", but the reality is schedules become swiftly packed and you find yourself hard-pushed to even book in for a starter session (holds head in shame as one of said guilty parties).
Starting yoga from scratch can be a little overwhelming, especially if you're not blessed in the balance department. It's strenuous, requires a lot of concentration and there's that sinking feeling you'll fall flat on your face as you start to master thedownward dog. Yoga for beginners can be a bit of a minefield.
But the whole point of yoga is to let go of negative energy, release tension and build up your core strength. It's uplifting, de-stressing and will make you as supple and strong as an ox. Need more convincing? We know it's difficult to master a strenuous pose on your first attempt, so here's a little helping hand to get you started. Our beginners' guide to the most common yoga poses will help you swot up before your first session, and nail your warrior pose like a pro.
1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
This pose works to improve posture, clears the mind of busy thoughts and encourages healthy breathing by opening up the chest.How to nail it:
Stand tall with your spine straight and your feet hip-width apart. With your arms at your side, breathe deeply and slowly lift them into the air expanding your spine and tilting your head towards the sky.
2. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
The chair pose is fairly simple to master and will strengthen the upper thighs, as well as elongating the back and toning up your abs.
Bend your knees over your ankles, keeping the thighs parallel to the floor. Move the feet closer together and take a deep breath as you raise your hands into the air.
3. Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
As well as strengthening the calves and heels, this stretch will boost the body's overall circulation.
How to nail it:
Put your hands and feet on the floor with your knees shoulder-width apart. Slowly and carefully to keep your balance, walk your hands forward and spread your fingers wide – this will help with balance. Squeeze your hips together and carefully lift the bottom of your back towards to the sky. Your body should look like an inverted 'V'. Keep your eyes looking between the legs or toward the stomach. Breathe gently and pull your tummy in.
4. Warrior Pose (Virabhadrasana)
A strong pose that will stretch and toughen up the legs and ankles, as well as filling the mind with positive thoughts.
How to nail it:
Stand with your legs roughly two feet apart. Turn out your right foot at a 90 degree angle, turning your left foot inwards very slightly. Keep your shoulders down and slowly extend your arms to either side of your body, keeping your palms faced down towards the floor. Keeping your weight on your right leg lunge into your right knee, until your knee is directly above your foot. Look ahead and focus on your right hand. Switch sides to strengthen the opposite leg.
5. Tree Pose (Vriksasana)
This multi-tasking stretch will work to boost your balance and strengthen the thighs, calves, ankles and spine.
Start with the mountain pose (as detailed above). Shift your weight onto your left leg, position your hips to face forward then place the sole of your right foot inside your left upper thigh. Take it slowly to find your balance, as this one can be tricky first time! When you feel stable, place your hands together in a prayer position and hold. Repeat the position on the opposite leg.
6. Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
This whole body stretch strengthens the thighs, knees and ankles as well as providing instant relief for back problems.
Stand with your feet wide apart (as if you are stepping into the warrior pose). Turn one foot by about 90 degrees and the other slightly inwards. Stretch out the arms in line with your shoulders then on an exhale breath, rotate the torso toward the outward-facing foot. With one arm, place your fingers on the shin, with the other arm reaching up towards the ceiling. Keep your eyes focused on the raised hand, keeping your neck long and away from the shoulders. The shoulders and arms should form one straight line to make the most of this powerful stretch.
7. Forward Fold ( Uttanasana)
Opening up the back of the legs and the spine, this pose helps to circulate a healthy blood flow from the heart into the head.
Start off in mountain pose with your spine straight. Slowly drop from the hips and fold the top of your body forward, keeping the spine straight with the head hanging heavy just below the knees. Your hands should either grip the backs of your calves or be placed onto the floor.
8. Seated Twist (Marichyasana)
The seated twist helps to neutralise the spine, banishing any hint of back pain. It's a great stretch that also works the shoulders, hips and neck.How to nail it:
Sit on the floor with both legs parallel in front of you. Extend your left leg out in front of you whilst flexing your foot. Bend your right knee and cross your right foot over the extended left leg. Your left elbow needs to push against the outside of the right knee with your right hand placed on the floor behind your spine, to help you keep your balance. You can tuck your left leg underneath your bottom or keep it extended. Turn your head and look over your right shoulder as far as your neck can manage. Switch sides to make the most of the stretch.
9. Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
Another spine-strengthening pose that also works the arms and wrists.
Lie facedown on the floor in a plank position, with your feet hip-width apart and your hands on the floor with your thumbs underneath your shoulders. Tuck in your hips towards the floor and squeeze your bottom. Keep your shoulders down then slowly and gently (take this at your own speed) use your hands to push your chest off the floor. Angle your head so you are looking up towards the ceiling to strengthen the pose.
10. Child's Pose (Balasana)
This relaxing pose allows you to relax and breathe into your back. It's a pose of surrender that works to stretch the hips, thighs and ankles. It's also great pose for back pain. This is the perfect stretch to try at the end of your yoga session.
Sit upright on your knees with your toes touching and knees shoulder-width apart. Draw your hips down and extend both arms over your head and onto the floor so you can really feel the stretch. Creep your fingers forward if you can to enhance the stretch. Close your eyes, let your head rest on the floor and take in slow, deep breaths.