Yoga Essentials Program Guide
Type ‘Yoga Poses’ into google and you’re bombarded with images of lycra-clad gymnasts folded up like paper clips. So, it’s hardly surprising that many beginners get scared off before they even begin. Which is such a tragedy, given that yoga is actually designed for ‘every body’.
Taking it back to basics
While any good teacher will be able to give you simple yoga pose instruction, getting to grips the basics can prove challenging in a dynamic class of 50 students. So, if you are new to yoga, it is well worth setting up the foundations for your practice.
At BodyMindLife, our Essentials classes are designed to teach you the key movements over a nine-week programme – each week has a different focus; from learning Sun Salutations to balancing poses, and make starting a yoga practice easy.
You begin at the very beginning, learning about the importance of the breath and how props can be used to make yoga poses easier. Then you work step-by-step through the most common beginners’ yoga poses, such as Tadasana (the mountain), Virabadrasana (warrior) and Trikonasana (triangle) before moving into easy backbends and twists and the simple yoga sequence Surya Namaskar (Salute to the Sun).
Classes are taught in workshop style, so there’s plenty of opportunity for demonstrations and questions and each yoga pose is broken down into easy, bite-sized chunks.
With this kind of introduction to yoga, you’ll quickly fall in love with the practice. And even as a beginner, you’ll soon find that you’ve mastered the basic yoga poses and are ready to start playing in an Open yoga class.
Presence: Breath, Dristi, Bandhas
Nothing holds up without structure or foundation. Building your asana on a rock means to first create a strong physical foundation: teach Tadasana alignment, even breath, focus (drishti) and providing stability through your central column.
Define Vinyasa, Embody Flow. Building strength + flexibility = Power
Linking movement to breath consistently draws your attention out of the head into the body and present moment. Energy (prana) is stirred, generating more (prana) through flow, and detoxifying the body. Focus on a moving meditation of mindfulness to ensure we practice in a safe, empowering way, while cultivating strength, agility, grace, and flexibility.
- Classical Sun A, Sun B
- Moon Salutes (stepping back/forward to lunge or low lunge)
Foundation, Building Heat & Drishti
Warrior poses bring dynamic energy + focus to the practice, builds heat and develops strength in the legs. Embody the alignment principles of stacking your joints, explore vayus, and bandhas. Furthering the journey inward from our thinking mind we dive deeper into our body, and establish connection all the way down to the feet and legs (pada bandha). Cultivate grace and balance between sthira (steadiness) & sukha (ease).
- Warrior 1
- Warrior 2
- Crescent Lunge
- Extended Side Angle
- Airplane (Variation of Warrior 3 – hands to hips, slightly bent bottom leg)
Centering. Finding your centre. Equanimity
Neutral spine, ujjayi and drishti are tools used to find your balance, helping to shift from chaos into stillness ~ calm in the eye of the hurricane. This brings the body into a balanced relationship with gravity, left and right hemispheres, and integrates all different parts of the body into the whole/continuum. Focus, concentration, and practicing equanimity are also valuable tools we can take off the mat to achieve our goals.
- Vrksasana (Tree)
- Garudasana (Eagle)
- Natarajasana (Dancer’s)
- Virabhadrasana 3 (Warrior 3)
- Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana with bent knee (Standing Big Toe)
- Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon)
- Standing Hanuman (Standing Split with hands to ground)
Grounding, Asking for space, Triangle Shapes
Breath, Mind, and Body – cultivate a beautiful balanced trifecta. Here we attune our awareness to our alignment by grounding (pada bandha), finding our centre and creating space in our joints. Triangle poses are standing postures which increase strength in legs, mobility through hips and create length through the spine. Triangle shapes occur in many asana poses (think tree pose).
- Trikonasana (Triangle)
- Parsvottanana (Pyramid)
- Parivritta Trikonasana (Twisted Triangle)
- Prasarita Padottanasana (Separate Leg Stretch)
- Parsvokanasana (Extended Side Angle)
- Utthita Hasta Padangustasana (Standing Big Toe) – Modify: holding knee (open hip variation with bent knee)
- Supine Utthita Hasta Padangustasana (Lying down – use strap to reach foot + open hip variation)
- Vrksasana (Tree)
Twisting is a powerful way to help eliminate tension from deep within your body as well as detoxifying your internal organs. Twists increase flexibility and spinal mobility. When combined with slow breathing, twists allow stress to leave the body and neutralise the spine. Twists can be both invigorating or restorative and help balance energy levels. It is important to stabilise the base of the twist (usually legs / hips) with the exception of supine twists.
- Pariviritta Anjaneyasana (Revolved Crescent Lunge)
- Parivritta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle)
- Parivritta Ardha Chandrasana (Revolved Half Moon) – use a block, bottom knee bent
- Parivritta Utkatasana (Revolved Chair)
- Parivritta Utthita Hasta Padangustasana (Standing Big Toe) – hand to knee
- Ardha Matsyendrasana (Seated half spinal twist)
- Jathara Parivrtti (Supine Twist)
- Twists – long spine, neutral pelvis, bandhas, countertwists, gaze (horizon, up, down)
Heart Opening, Invigorating
Extending the spine generates elasticity and suppleness in the spine, hips, opens the front of the body and creates strength in the entire back. Backbends require stability and activation from the floor upward. Encourage ‘root to rise’. Teach activation of the bandhas to create length and support of the entire spine. Backbending also requires the willingness to surrender into the unknown and unfamiliar territory of what’s behind us, dissolving heaviness of the heart and dullness in the mind. Opening to new possibilities.
- Bhujangasana (Cobra)
- Shalabasana (Locust) – any variations
- Salamba Bhujangasana (Sphinx)
- Dhanurasana (Bow)
- Ustrasana (Camel)
- Setu Bhandhasana (Bridge)
- Virasana (Hero)
- Supta Baddha Konasana (Heart Bench) – block under the spine
Abdominals and Inversions
Connect to power centre, courage and facing fears!
Core focus builds strength and fires up our power centre (3rd chakra)+ agni (digestive fire). Building strength and awareness of core is a pivotal point building a safe and stable practice. Inversions change our energy and perspective – they literally flip our world upside down! Bandhas and inversions help students to access their strength and cultivate lightness. Fire element.
- Navasana (Boat)
- Ardha Navasana (Half Boat)
- Pincharayamasana Preparation (Dolphin)
- Forearm Plank
- Vasisthasana (Side Plank)
- Bakasana (Crow)
- Ardha Salamba Sarvangasana (Half Shoulder Stand)
- Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)
- Halasana (Plow)
- Viparita Karani (Block or Legs up the wall)
Hip Openers and Forward Bends
Restoration. Seeking stillness within
The Essentials Flow so far has prepared our body and mind to go deeper into the other 8 Limbs of Yoga. We are ready for more inward awareness (pratyahara) and concentration (dharana). Hip opening postures encourage the space to go deeper, accept where you are right now, and experiencing transformation through surrender. Associated with water element, shifting and releasing blockages, resistances and stuck emotions. Forward bends combined with breath and drishti help the mind to relax, body to soften and balances the nervous system preparing for meditation (dhyana).
- Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Pigeon)
- Supine Pigeon (Laying Down)
- Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle)
- Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold)
- Upavistha Konasana (Wide Angle Seated Forward Fold)
- Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby)
- Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) – have straps handy to use if necessary