Yoga does not only mean twisting your body in unimaginable ways and doing impossible-looking asanas. Even stretching your body as you step out of bed in the morning, is an asana. Doing these exercises as a part of yoga means doing them with a sense of mindfulness, bringing awareness to how the body responds to each movement and paying attention to your breath.

Here are a few basic exercises that even a beginner can do at home.

The Mountain Pose – Tadasana

Whilst you do the Mountain Pose or Tadasana, an onlooker might easily be misled into believing that all you’re doing is standing straight. In reality, what you’re actively doing is getting into ‘alignment’ (the correct pose of the body) and forming the basis of all standing asanas. Begin with your feet shoulder width apart. Lift your toes so that it allows you to firmly set the rest of your feet on the ground, and then spread your toes and bring them down to firmly touch the ground. Draw your quadriceps upwards so that your knee caps to rise a bit. Draw your stomach in slightly, and pull your shoulders back and down. This will allow your tail-bone to point down and your spine to get straighter. Look up straight and let the crown of your head stretch towards the ceiling. This completes the Tadasana. Beginners may also stand up straight against the wall to aid their spine getting into alignment.

Raised Hands Pose – Urdhva Hastasana

Urdhva Hastasana takes off from where Tadasana ends. After standing up straight, with the spine gently but firmly straight, feet firmly planted on the ground and shoulders back and downwards, bring your arms out to the side and take them up as you inhale. Press your palms together as they meet above your head as you raise your eyes to see the joining of the palms. Focus on your breath and the alignment of your back.

Standing Forward Bend – Uttanasana

Continuing from Tadasana and Urdhva Hastasana, bring your hands down and to the side of your body. Bend down from the hips and allow the palms to drop to the side of your feet, which should be together. The fingertips should be in line with the toes and the palms should press flat against the ground. Beginners might have trouble because their hamstring muscles might not be flexible enough; they are allowed to bend the knees to be able to get into the necessary position and then stretch their hamstrings so that they gain the necessary flexibility over a period of time. Next, whilst allowing the head to just drop, incline your weight forward so that the hips remain forward and directly above the level of the ankles. This concludes Uttanasana.

Downward Facing Dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana

One of the classic yoga asanas, this pose is usually done as a transitional pose between two different asanas. Hence, it is also one of the most often used poses in yoga. To begin, get on to all fours with your hands underneath the shoulders and the knees underneath the hips. Next, curl your toes and push back with your hands so as to raise your hips and straighten the legs. Push the hips back so that your feet are eventually completely flat against the floor. Direct your gaze either to a point between the feet or to the back of your wall. This pose stretches the entire back and may help relieve you of any lower back pain that you might have been carrying.

Lunge Pose – Anjaneyasana

Taking things ahead from the Downward Facing Dog pose, bring your right foot up and in line with your fingertips. This should be done in such a way so that your thighs are parallel to the ground and the knee is right above the ankle but not ahead of it. Support yourself on your fingertips and gently stretch your back and bring your gaze straight ahead in front of you. Hold this position for up to five breaths before taking the right leg back and then repeating with your left leg.

Doing these poses are a great way to begin the day and indeed, to begin your yoga practice. Once you are reasonably comfortable with the alignment of the body in these poses, you will be able to move on to the advanced asanas with little difficulty.

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