Yoga Instructions & Exercises

by Neville Smithson , Demand Media
    Upward-facing dog provides an intense back and neck stretch.

    Upward-facing dog provides an intense back and neck stretch.

    If you want to start practicing yoga regularly, beginning at home is a low-pressure alternative to a studio class. Three of the most basic poses, or asanas, in yoga are child's pose, downward-facing dog and upward-facing dog. These poses stretch your back, neck, arms and legs, making them ideal for early-morning practice. They're part of a series of poses called sun salutations, which are repeated several times in the course of a Vinyasa flow yoga class.

    Items you will need

    • Yoga mat

    Child's Pose

    Step 1

    Press the palms of your hands, knees and the tops of your feet against your yoga mat, as if you are about to crawl.

    Step 2

    Lower your hips so you are sitting on your heels. Keep the palms of your hands on the mat.

    Step 3

    Walk your hands out in front of you so that your arms are outstretched. At the same time, lower your forehead to the mat. You are now in child's pose.

    Step 4

    Rest in child's pose for a count of five breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly and deeply.

    Downward-Facing Dog

    Step 1

    Roll your feet over so that you are resting on the balls of your feet instead of the tops. Keep the palms of your hands on the mat.

    Step 2

    Push your hips up and back so they point toward the ceiling and your arms come off the floor. Your body should now be in the shape of an upside-down V.

    Step 3

    Let your head hang down between your arms and look at your knees.

    Step 4

    Roll your shoulders down and back. Imagine your shoulder blades touching, pulling your shoulders away from your ears and keeping your straightened arms strong.

    Step 5

    Pedal your legs, bending one knee at a time. Lower your heels as close to the floor as possible.

    Step 6

    Straighten your legs again and hold the pose for a count of five breaths.

    Upward-Facing Dog

    Step 1

    Push your upper body forward so your shoulders are in line with your wrists.

    Step 2

    Roll your feet over again so that you are resting on the tops rather than the balls.

    Step 3

    Lower your legs toward the floor, keeping them straight, until they are hovering just above the mat. Your arms should still be straight.

    Step 4

    Lift your torso and tilt your neck back to look at the ceiling.

    Step 5

    Hold for a count of five breaths, and then end the sequence by pushing back into child's pose.

    About the Author

    Neville Smithson did his undergraduate work at Hampshire College and earned an MFA in creative writing at the University of Cincinnati. Having had a change of heart about his passions, Smithson is now back in Massachusetts, where he enrolled in a combined MA/PhD physical therapy program.

    Photo Credits

    • PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images