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What Every Beginner Yogi Should Know

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1. Talking with your hands will become second nature.

If you've been to a yoga class, you've seen Anjali Mudra, also called "Salutation Seal," "Prayer Position," or even "Namaste" (after the greeting that often accompanies it).

2. THIS is a yoga pose.

If you can find a way to sit comfortably, you can do yoga. Sukhasana, or Easy Pose, (shown here) is the go-to. Channel your inner kindergartener and try this familiar shape from childhood. Notice how it simultaneously cultivates a feeling of groundedness and vitality, making it the perfect place to set an intention for your practice or to turn inward for a few moments of meditation.

3. The Sun Salutation is indispensable.

If you practice yoga, you've no doubt done a Sun Salutation. And this sequence of poses is ubiquitous for good reason: it stretches, tones, and warms the whole body, making it perfect preparation for the rest of an asana practice.

4. Advanced asana starts with Plank Pose.

In yoga, we talk about "foundational poses," or key asanas to know inside and out and return to regularly -- no matter your level or experience. These poses help you build and maintain the strength and alignment to practice the more complex postures with integrity. If any pose is key, it's this one.


5. Chaturanga is a pose, not a transition. Make every single one count.

Instead of thinking of Chaturanga as a race from Plank to the floor, know that it is a fierce pose in its own right. Done slowly and with awareness, it will build the strength in your arms, core, and legs to support you through arm balances, backbends, and inversions.

6. Doing everything more mindfully makes it more manageable.

You may have first tried yoga because you'd heard all the buzz about mindfulness. But if you're wondering where the Buddhist concept fits into this Indian tradition, writer Nora Isaacs breaks down how bringing mindfulness onto the yoga mat can make muscling through your 30th Sun Salutation feel less like torture.