When it comes to yoga, EVERYONE has to start sometime and somewhere. There is always a first time! Yep, even us instructors had a first time. Maybe this is you. Maybe it’s your friend or a loved one.
Shoot, not to long ago, I had a conversation with a coworker who told me that he (yep, a guy) had never been to yoga but was really curious about it. He expressed concern that he wanted to do yoga because of all the good things he hears about it, but didn’t want to come across as someone who didn’t know what he was doing and look stupid. He was also worried about being a guy in what is often perceived as a women’s class and was afraid that if he didn’t know basics that the ladies would assume he was a player. (I thought I’d mention this conversation because maybe some of you guys might feel this way). So if this is you then this blog posting is just for you!
Regardless of who you or they are (guy or girl), I decided to compose a list of what I consider baseline poses. I’m calling these baseline poses because you’ll see these in just about any active yoga class or yoga video and it might be nice to know about them before you go to class. I thought so. Maybe take a little intimidation out of the class and put you more in your comfort zone.
I decided to write about this because I remember, the first time I went to a yoga class and heard the instructor call out various poses where I personally didn’t know what to do. To figure out what I was supposed to do I’d sneak a peak at my mat neighbors following their leads. It was even worse when they spoke Sanskrit (that weird language you don’t know and are stressing out out because you don’t know what the hell they are saying). As a regular practitioner and instructor, I see new people sneaking those peaks to figure out what they are supposed to do especially if cued in Sanskrit. (People this is mainly why someone is looking at you during class).
HERE’S THE LIST in English too:
1. Downward Facing Dog – (Adho mukha śvānāsana) is a regular and often recurring pose in any yoga class. It is often the starting/ending point in numerous flows. It additionally is very transitional as many poses can evolve from it. For instance, one can step into the Warrior poses, do a lunge, flip over, settle into pigeon, hop or step into forward fold, leap into a crow, or even kick up into handstand. See what I mean! Also, believe it or not, it is actually considered a resting pose. (Now as a beginner, you may not consider it a “resting” pose).
2. Forward Fold/Forward Bend (Uttanasana) – another really popular pose. You’ll see this pose a lot with any class that has Sun Salutations. Additionally, this pose, especially the standing version, is visited frequently at the beginning of class. The nice thing about thispose is that there are a lot of variations of it with and without props.
3. Savasana – this is often most everyone’s favorite pose. Notice, I said “most” everyone’s. I point this out because, some people find it very difficult to lay still for relaxation. Often, this pose, is saved for the last part of class. However, sometimes, class is started with it.
4. Child’s Pose (Balasana) – this is a great pose to know about also. It can be visited at anytime, one needs it…maybe due to fatigue, you need a short break, you’re confused about the pose sequence the instructor cued, you know for sure you can’t do the “crazy pose” just cued, you’re sweaty and hot, you need to catch your breath… Also, know that an instructor may never cue this pose and if this is the case, keep in mind that you can give yourself permission to go into it whenever you need it.
5. Hero’s Pose (Virasana) – This is a seated pose. You are kneeling with your knees folded under you (maybe sitting directing on your legs or propped up on a block). This is a pose that may or may not be sequenced into the class. I added it because new people often go into this pose (not knowing it is a real pose) a lot to towel off, get a drink, or to watch what’s next. In yoga, poses are called “Asanas” in Sanskrit. So it could be your “Watchasana,” right!
So there you have it, five important baseline poses to know about before you take a yoga class. I put down five because, you’ll likely Google to learn about a small number verses a huge number of poses. Plus, five is an easy number to remember.
Do know that there are 100’s of poses out there and of those there are tons of variations. When you go to class or follow along in the video, you’ll pursue these poses and so much more. You’ll learn and become familiar with the poses or asanas. The nice thing is eventually, you’ll start to understand where the instructor might take you next.
Remember it is a journey but you have to get started. Poses do not get easier, you get stronger!