Kino MacGregor says there’s no need for beginners to be intimidated by all of the advanced asanas and transitions they see. The key is being humble enough to dedicate yourself to mastering the basics. Start here.
Seeing all of the powerful yoga poses and transitions on Instagram and YouTube can be intimidating for new yoga students. When I first started practicing, it felt like people who were strong were just born that way and I didn’t have a chance. But if I can build physical strength so can you. Before yoga, I wasn’t a dancer or a gymnast or an athlete, but with consistent practice over many years I have more physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual strength than I ever thought possible.
The key is being humble enough to begin with the basics and put in the work every day.
Yoga is a process of inner discovery. Strong asanas are never ends in and of themselves. They are vehicles for a deep experience of the true Self within and can be the means to the real spiritual strength that comes from a calm and equanimous mind.
This sequence is designed for yoga students—especially beginners—who want to build strength. By focusing on the key elements of a strong stable shoulder girdle, a firm core, and a balanced mind you will feel the magical lift of strength starting to take shape.
5 Yoga Poses to Build Strength
Come to a comfortable seated position. Close the eyes and focus on the breath, counting the breaths in and out to steady the mind. Hold this position for at least one minute in silent quiet reflection. Each time the mind wanders gently ask it to come back. Remain equanimous and free from judgment. Start and end this sequence with at least one full minute in silent reflection on the breath to create a calm and steady mind.
Externally rotate the shoulders, spreading the shoulder blades and straightening the arms. Press into the hands to lift up. Tuck the chin under and gaze toward your navel. Engage your quadriceps and press down into the bases of your big toes. Suck your lower belly in and draw the pelvic floor upward. Hold this pose for 5 deep breaths.
From Adho Mukha Svanasana or from your hands and knees, place your elbows directly under your shoulders and spread your shoulder blades. Press down into the ground from the shoulders though the elbows while keeping the collarbones broad. Draw the lower ribs in and firm the lower abs. Tuck the tailbone while lifting the pelvic floor along the spinal axis. Engage the quadriceps and draw the legs toward eachother. Hold this pose for 5 breaths. Repeat 3 times.
From your back, roll over onto your right side, stacking your side body directly on top of your right arm. This pose tests your alignment and core control. It looks easy but is a powerful teacher of strength and will build all the core strength necessary for a full lifted Side Plank Pose (Vasisthasana). Carefully avoid any tendency to arch or flex the spine. Instead draw the torso in toward the central axis of the spine by firming the lower abs, tucking the tailbone, and hugging the lower ribs in. If you feel comfortable extend the left arm up and look toward the left fingers. Hold this pose for 5 breaths. Repeat on the left side.
From Adho Muka Svanasana, transfer your weight into your right hand. Bring your right shoulder forward to a little less than a hand’s distance behind the center of your palm. Stack your body to the side, aligning the central axis of your body. Carefully avoid any tendency to arch or flex the spine. Instead draw the torso in toward the spinal axis by firming the lower abs, tucking the tailbone and hugging the lower ribs together. Stabilize the shoulders and press firmly with the right arm. If you feel comfortable extend the left arm and look toward the left fingers. Hold this pose for 5 breaths. Repeat on the left side.
Join Kino MacGregor’s December Beginner Yoga challenge and practice this sequence as a full-length practice session on www.yogachallenge.com
Kino MacGregor is a self-professed Handstand lover (just check out herInstagrams). She’s also a Pattabhi Jois-certified Ashtanga Yoga teacher who travels worldwide, author of three books, featured in six Ashtanga Yoga DVDs, and YogaVibes, and co-founder of Miami Life Center, where she and her husband Tim Feldmann are based. Learn more on http://www.kinoyoga.com/