Watching an experienced practitioner assume the Crane pose with perfect balance can make yoga seem intimidating, but the practice actually has many poses that are suitable for beginners. Even novice poses will realign your body and mind, increase flexibility and help you build strength so you can grow your practice.
The Downward Dog
This beginner pose stretches the hamstrings, calves, shoulders, hands and arches and can relieve headaches, back pain, insomnia and fatigue. Kneel on the floor and bend at the waist so your hands and feet are both touching the ground. Walk your hands forward a few inches and press your palms into the floor as your spread your fingers wide. Slowly press your hips up toward the ceiling as you bring your body into an inverted V shape. Keep your head in alignment with your neck. Keep your feet on the ground and the knees slightly bent for support, and hold the pose for three deep breaths.
This full-body pose stretches the shoulders, neck, chest, lungs, belly and groin. Stand with your legs stretched about four feet apart with your left foot turned in slightly and your right foot facing out at a 90-degree angle. Relax your shoulders as you stretch your arms straight-out to the sides with the palms facing the floor. While keeping the knee over the ankle, bend the right knee 90 degrees ideally until your leg is perpendicular with the ground. Straighten your back leg, pressing your back foot firmly into the floor for support. Hold the pose for one minute before repeating on the opposite side.
With a focus on strengthening the ankles, thighs, spine and calves, the Tree pose also improves balance and stretches the groin. While standing with your arms at your sides, shift your weight onto the right leg and rest the left sole inside the right thigh. If you can not reach the inside of your thigh, rest the sole of your foot on the inside of your calf. Keep your hips facing forward as you extend your arms straight up over the shoulders with the palms separated but facing each other. Hold the pose for 30 seconds and then repeat using the opposite leg.
The Bridge Pose
This beginner's pose is great for stretching the neck, spine and chest, rejuvenating tired legs and alleviating stress. Lie with your back on the floor and the knees bent over the heels. Rest your arms at your sides with the palms flat on the floor. Press your feet into the floor and lift your hips as you exhale. Next, press your arms down and clasp your hands under your lower back. Lift your hips toward the ceiling until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Hold the pose for one minute.
Poppy Carpenter graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. In addition to teaching journalism to junior high students, she also covers health and fitness for "PUSH Monthly" and Angie's List.