Starting your day with a simple yoga routine will help reduce stress, improve your physical fitness, increase your sense of well-being and just get your day started off right. Yoga asanas are exercises or poses. Hatha yoga is one of the six original yoga styles and is a basic yoga, which is great for beginners, providing variety and easy-to-learn asanas. Yoga movements require freedom of movement. Wear comfortable clothing made of a breathable fabric and use a yoga mat or rug.
Controlled breathing is key to performing yoga asanas correctly. One of the first basic asanas for beginners is Pranayama or the breathing pose. This movement will focus your attention on your breath and teaches rhythmic breathing. Sit cross-legged on your mat. Put your right hand on your rib cage and your left hand on your stomach. Inhale through your nose slowly filling your abdomen first and then your rib cage and chest area. Exhale by releasing the air from your stomach first and follow with the chest area. Focus your attention at the end of your exhale for a brief second. Next, move your arms so your forearms are resting on your knees and you are comfortable. Continue the breathing asana for two to five minutes.
One of the basic yoga asanas is Tadasana, or mountain pose. This is a standing pose that is the starting pose for many other yoga asanas and routines. Stand with your feet together, toes touching and your heels apart. Balance your weight evenly on your feet. Rock back and forth if necessary to find the center balance point of your body. Tighten your thigh muscles, lifting the kneecaps and turn your thighs inward every so slightly. Make sure your back is straight and press your shoulder blades backward, widening your chest area. Let your arms hang beside your body. Keep your head in alignment with your body and keep your tongue flat, not pressed up to the roof of your mouth. Stand and focus on breathing through your stomach. Slowly breathe in and out. Hold this pose for 30 seconds to one minute.
The plank pose is another basic asana for beginners. This pose builds core and arm strength and is one of the poses in the sun salutation routine. This movement is also the starting pose for other yoga routines. If you have a shoulder injury or other upper-body issues, consult with your doctor or health care provider before performing this pose. Start on your hands and knees with your back straight and your hands positioned under your shoulders. Bring your right foot back and tuck your toes under. Follow with your left foot. Your body should be straight and resemble a plank. Look down at the floor, keeping your body in a straight line and focus on breathing slowly in and out. Suck your stomach in, but do not raise your hips. Continue rhythmic breathing for 30 seconds. Slowly bend your knees down and return to a sitting position. This asana works your core muscles, which means toned abs.
Savansana, or corpse pose, is done at the end of your yoga routine and helps return your body to a relaxed state, slowing your heart rate and breathing. Sit on your mat with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Lean back onto your forearms and lift your pelvis off the floor slowly and then return it back to the floor. Inhale and extend your right leg in front of your body. Exhale and relax your leg. Inhale and extend your left leg in front of your body. Lower your back onto the mat without flattening your lower back. Place both hands on the back of your head and slowly lift your head, pushing the back of your neck gently toward the floor. Slowly bring your head back to a resting position. Next, reach toward the ceiling with your arms so they are perpendicular to the floor and rock side to side on your shoulder blades. Slowly lower your arms to the sides of your body and relax. Turn your hands so the palms are facing upward. Make sure your shoulder blades are relaxed and touching the floor. Soften your tongue and let it drop from the roof of your mouth. Soften the muscles in your face and eyes. Focus on rhythmic breathing for five minutes. You are refreshed and ready for the day.
Caroline Thompson is a professional photojournalist who has been working for print and online publications since 1999. Her work has appeared in the "Sacramento Bee," "People Magazine," "Newsweek" and other publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in photojournalism from California State University at Hayward and a personal trainer certification from the university's Health and Fitness Institute.