For many people, practicing yoga is like learning a foreign language. Not only are the names of poses usually in Sanskrit (chataranga, utkatasana, say what?), they can be extremely complex, from twists to inversions to backbends. It’s enough to send a new yogi running away from the mat.
But thanks to Daily Burn’s new Yoga Fundamentals program, now you can namaste with your phone, laptop or TV under friendly guidance in a judgment-free zone.
Ariel Kiley, certified yoga instructor and lead trainer of the Yoga Fundamentals program, says, “Many yoga instructors expect students to come into the full shape of a pose quickly. But we’ll break down the poses into bite-sized pieces so your body and mind understand what it’s supposed to be doing.”
Here’s a closer look at what the four-week program has to offer.
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Yoga Fundamentals: The Yoga Practice for Everyone
Forget what you’ve seen scrolling through Instagram or on the pages of glossy magazines. Every body is a ‘yoga body‘ — and the Yoga Fundamentals program celebrates that.
All eight workouts are designed for different shapes, sizes and fitness levels. “There are many yoga programs that claim to be for beginners, but they’re actually best suited for a narrow range of body types,” Kiley says.
Instead, Kiley scales the poses in the program to take a variety of shapes into consideration. People with muscular and skeletal issues can benefit, too. “This program will help bring balance to people with wrist issues, low-back pain, neck pain and tight hamstrings and hip flexors,” she says.
Kiley’s approachable teaching style and careful instruction will make any beginner yogi feel more comfortable on the mat. “There isn’t any Sanskrit. I use playful names for everything, like crouching puppy and unicorn. Understanding the spirit of the pose is just as important as the movement of it!” she says.
The Building Blocks of Beginner Yoga
Throughout Yoga Fundamentals you’ll master beginner yoga poses that build the foundation for better mobility, strength and balance. But instead of changing your body to “fit” the yoga poses, Kiley encourages you to let the poses meet you where your body is. “Use this practice to truly serve the things you love to do. Instead of getting into the aesthetic of the practice, focus on having fun and being silly,” Kiley says.
Since balance is the essence of yoga, it’s the first workout you’ll tackle. Expect to perfect mountain pose (the basic standing posture) before progressing to lunges, triangle pose and tree pose. “Sometimes you have to regress a movement to truly understand the complex ones,” Kiley explains. “You need balance in your body to have balance in your life.”
During the program, you’ll also work on flexibility and mobility. “The hip openers workout will help you increase your range of motion if you’ve got tight hip flexors from sitting all day. The shoulder mobility workout addresses chronic elevation, which leads to neck and upper-back pain,” Kiley says.
And no yoga program is complete without abs. “The backbending routine includes a lot of core work because lack of core strength leads to overusing our low backs,” Kiley explains. The gentle twists and side bend routines also stretch and open the rib cage to help you breathe easier and decompress the spine.
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3 Yoga Poses for First-Time Yogis
Want a sneak peak of what you can expect on the mat? Try these three beginner yoga poses taken straight from the Yoga Fundamentals program. After a brief warm-up, aim to hold each pose for three to five breaths.
1. Downward Facing Dog (Variation: Puppy Dog)
How to: Start on your hands and knees with your fingers gently spread out (a). Tuck your toes under and lift your hips up towards the ceiling behind you, moving towards an inverted “V” shape (b). Press down the base of your knuckles to take the pressure out of your wrists and drive your hips way up behind you (d). Spread your shoulder blades apart, rolling your outer upper arms towards the floor to stabilize your shoulder girdle (e). Keep your knees slightly bent to maintain a long smooth spine. (f).
2. Up Dog (Variation: Cobra)
How to: Lie on your stomach with your hands beside your low ribs, leg straight and feet pointed (a). Draw your shoulder blades down your back as you peel your shoulders and chest away from the floor, keeping your elbows tucked in (b). Stay in this position with your hips on the floor and elbows bent in Cobra, or try pushing your arms straight while lifting your hips and knees to hover above the mat. Be sure to engage your abdominal muscles to stabilize your lower back (c). Press down firmly with your hands so your shoulders drop away from your ears and gaze straight ahead at the horizon. (d).
3. Child’s Pose
How to: Get into a tabletop position with both knees and hands on the mat (a). Separate your knees a bit wider than your hips, and bring your big toes to touch (b). Sink your hips back towards your feet as you press your hands forward, stretching your side body (b). Rest your forehead on the mat (or block) and belly on your thighs (c).
Whether you’re newbie or a self-proclaimed yogi, the Yoga Fundamentals program can help you deepen your understanding for the practice. “I love and appreciate yoga, but don’t take it too seriously,” Kiley says. “There’s a level of play and irreverence that makes this program really welcoming, and it talks to people, whether or not they want to make yoga a big part of their life.”
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