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Essential Tips for 11 Yoga Poses

March 18, 2015

huffington post yoga

We can sometimes get so excited about new and advanced poses (as we should), but that doesn’t mean we should get the subtle details of beginner poses that support the core of our time on the mat. In this post (below), Huffington Post breaks down 11 beginner poses and suggests what to focus on next time you get to your mat. Of course, listen to your body and remember that every day on the mat will be a little different, and that’s not just okay… it’s great.


Remember when you resolved to do more yoga? And then you sat at the back of a yoga class as the teacher said ridiculous things like “juice your spine” and you wondered what the heck you were doing?

Yeah, we’re here to help.

Yoga doesn’t need to be shrouded in mystery. This week, we caught up with Lisa Sochocki, owner of Yoga Loft Hawaii on the island of Oahu, to talk plainly about how to achieve each basic yoga pose with perfection.

Sochocki has spent the last 16 years practicing yoga around the world and the last 10 teaching it. She has helped hundreds of aspiring yogis turn their awkwardly stiff downward dogs into seamless standing splits, and she knows every mistake a rookie yogi will make on the mat.

“A lot of people think that in order to start doing yoga, you have to be super flexible. But the reality is that everyone has to start somewhere,” Sochocki told The Huffington Post. “And it all usually starts with the first breath. If you remember to breathe, then everything else will fall into place.”

So take a breath, relax and let this blissful yogini walk you through all the beginner’s yoga poses you need to know to master your practice. Your computer-hunched spine will thank you.

Hold each pose for three to five deep and slow breaths, in and out of your nostrils.

1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Stand tall, spine straight with feet parallel and big toes touching. Look straight ahead.

Common mistakes: The ribs and butt should not stick out too far. Try to keep your spine, from the top of your head to your tailbone, in one straight line.

Sochocki says: “Unlike regular standing, here you stand with a purpose, feeling the four corners of your feet, lifting up the knee caps, engaging the legs, drawing the the tailbone down and lifting the belly button in and up. Soften the shoulders down the back and turn the palms to face forward, imagine you have heavy rocks in your hands. Look straight ahead and feel the power of the Mountain!”

2. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
Knees bent over the ankles, thighs as parallel to the floor as possible. Torso should form a right angle over your thighs. Move the feet closer together for a more advanced pose. Inhale as you raise your hands up.

Common mistakes: Knees should not go past the toes.

Sochocki says: “Place more weight over the heels to pull the knees away from hovering over the toes.”

3. Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
(Top photo is for beginners, bottom photo is for advanced students.)

fold adv
This pose opens up the back of the legs, allows the spine to decompress and lets fresh blood move from the heart and into the head.

Start in mountain pose. Hinge from the hips on an exhale and fold over forward, keeping the spine as straight as possible. Let the head hang heavy, and relax the jaw. Keep feet hip-width apart for beginners or touching for intermediate/advanced students.

Common mistakes: A straight spine is more important than having straight legs. Bend your knees as much as needed to keep a straight spine with your chest touching your thighs.

Sochocki says: “Consistency in yoga is important and over time, the back of the legs will open in forward fold. Keep the knees soft, and don’t lock them.”

4. Downward-facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
(Top photo is for beginners, bottom photo is for advanced students.)

This inversion opens the entire body. From plank position, with your feet hip-width apart and hands shoulder-width apart, lift your hips toward the ceiling on an exhale until your body makes an inverted “V.” Eyes are looking between the legs or toward the belly. Pull the belly and ribs in.

Common mistakes: People with tight hamstrings and calves tend to form boxy poses. To correct this, bend the knees more, and draw the chest toward the tops of the thighs, pressing your hands firmly against the floor to pull the hips back.

Sochocki says: “It is more important to keep your back straight and less important to keep the legs straight.” You shouldn’t be afraid to bend the knees or lift the heels if needed. “Imagine that you are a fish and you’ve been hooked at the tailbone and are being pulled back to the boat. This will help lift the hips back and up.”

Continue reading original article here.

Carla Herreria

Carla Herreria is a Hawaii-based associate editor for The Huffington Post. She prefers the simple life in her beachside cave tucked away on Oahu's North Shore where she surfs and pretends to be a professional beach bum.