Ever come to a yoga class, heard every cue the instructor gave and thought, “How am I supposed to remember all those things, and breathe?!” We’ve got you covered. Read along to get some easy tips on how to feel more confident with your yoga moves.
Every yoga pose, or ‘asana’ in the ancient yogi language Sanskrit, has the same basic principles for alignment. First and most important is your foundation. Then work from the ground up and try to find a balance between stability and ease. Still sound confusing? Let’s break it down in the most basic of standing poses: Mountain Pose, or as the yogis say, ‘Tadasana.’
In Tadasana you basically are just standing at the top of your mat and breathing, but secretly all the alignment cues you need are found here. First, press your feet into the ground. As you push down, you feel the leg muscles turning on, so now you have a solid foundation—step one complete! Next let the energy from the legs move up the body, and start to focus on your abdomen. Your strength in almost any pose comes from having a tight, strong core, so pull the bellybutton in and up to feel the abs engage. Pressing into the earth and pulling the core in will help you get really strong and stable in every pose.
Now you’ve got the basics down, let’s refine it and find balance. In every pose, there must be an element of ease. Most of the time that means relaxing your shoulders (no matter what your arms are doing!). Try it in your mountain pose: pull your shoulders up then let them relax, with the shoulder blades sliding down the back so the neck is long and easy. That’s pretty easy, right? Try reaching the arms out at shoulder height. Reach through the fingers so your arms are active, then let the space between the shoulder blades relax.
So let’s recap: press into the mat, pull in the core, relax the shoulders. After you do all those things, try to get out of your thinking mind and just relax. Bring your attention to the breath and the feeling of balance. No matter what your body is doing, the real goal in our yoga practice is to have time to connect with body and mind, so don’t worry if every pose doesn’t look picture-perfect. Whatever you do, just breathe and enjoy the flow.