I've already talked about how I downright meandered into yoga. In the beginning, there were few things as daunting as a full hour-long class at a yoga studio. Yesterday, I came back from a "Master Your Practice" class, which is a once-a-month, two-hour-long class that all yoga teacher training students need to take in order to graduate. It's hard to believe that just three or so years ago, I was sweating buckets over a 30-minute class. It's even harder to believe that, before that, I was in agony over completing a 10-minute yoga session from an app on my phone.
Yoga unfortunately can be incredibly intimidating at first. Which is why I made a list of five (relatively) simple poses that will change your life. These are the poses that I always have when constructing my own sequences -- and the poses I pray other teachers will have in their class as well:
1. Standing Half-Moon.
source: Bikram Yoga River North (click the link for another description of the pose)
You can stay in this pose for a few moments, or follow your breath as you inhale your body back up into a standing position and exhale to one or the other side. This pose can be done at any time -- even as you sit at your desk (hey, you're just stretching; tell your co-workers to quit it with the side-eye).
2. Standing Forward Bend with Elbows Clasped.
Plus, a simple (quasi) toe-touch is actually a great way to calm an overworked mind. Great thing to do with a hyperactive child as well!
3. Seated Twist
Source: Simple Nourished Living
But try it: sit on the floor (or a chair), inhale and imagine someone is lifting you up by the base of your neck, and, on an exhale, slowly twist to the left or right. Maybe even lift up your hands at first to avoid that temptation. Stay here for as long as it feels right before returning to center, inhaling for length again, and repeating the process on the other side.
And, much like the standing forward bend, this is a great pose to calm your mind.
5. Child's Pose.
Source: Kim Fisch Yoga
And, again, much like anything in yoga, don't do whatever doesn't feel right. It's okay to be challenged, but anything that brings pain is not worth it. There are so many different poses that, if these don't work for you, there are others that will (some runner's up for me included: cat/cow pose, triangle pose, supine twist, and so on, but your list will always be a little different). Never feel like there's anything you "have" to do in yoga. That's a good way to burn out and turn your back on such a great (but misunderstood) practice.
Remember: yoga is exactly what you make of it, and exactly what you need it to be.