Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

Free Yoga Friday: Yoga for Beginners — Foundation & Flexibility

By Anytimeyoga @anytimeyoga

The Practice: Yoga for Beginners — Foundation & Flexibility at Yoga with Adriene.

Physical/Instructional Parameters: Physically, the practice spends a fair amount of time in postures that use the hands and knees as bases (tabletop, cat/cow, low lunge variations, etc.). It may not be the best for folks with acute knee or wrist issues. That said, for lower level wrist stuff, Adriene spends a fair amount of time explaining how to support and strengthen the wrists in the poses (though I could see where someone who wasn’t used to this would want to know that breaks in child’s pose are always an option). In terms of instruction, there is a lot of it — as one might expect from a practice aimed at beginners. That said, there’s also a good deal of alignment cuing that many students miss the first time around, so it may also be a good choice for continuing students wanting to have another look at foundations.

Props: The instructor mentions sitting on a folded blanket at the beginning of the practice; the same blanket can later be used for extra padding under sensitive knees. Additionally — though she doesn’t mention this until we’re actually in the pose — there’s a place during some low lunge twists where one might want a block.

Length: 40 minutes

I’m so glad I like this practice.

Before I got sick and busy with the end of the school year, I’d tried a different video from this same instructor. I really liked her explanations and conversational style, but the practice I’d picked was so very wrong for me. (Not unsafe or bad in general, just not right for me.) So I’d been waffling on the review of it… and then I found myself with no time or energy to write. When I was ready to come back to blogging, I had a look around her YouTube channel and picked this practice out instead. I infer a lot about an instructor from the way they teach a beginner’s class, and I’m happy to say I hope to review more of Adriene’s practice videos in the future.

The practice starts with a nice seated centering. It’s a little longer than I’ve seen in some other practices, and it’s nice to have some time to actually notice my breath rather than just listening to the instructor tell me to notice my breath. Then Adriene moves into some seated stretches, followed by some work through poses with tabletop as a base (i.e., cat/cow, hovering cat) and some low lunge options. Following that, she gradually moves to standing and through a modified C-series sun salute. Finally, there’s some cool down work that involves — possibly among other postures — child’s pose, a seated twist, bridge pose, and savasana.

This may not sound super exciting — and it’s true, none of it is really flashy — but the quality of instruction makes this a very rewarding practice for me. The pace is slow enough that folks unfamiliar with any given pose should have time to get sorted out and set up in it. However, a lot of the alignment and energy points take place once the instructor as cued the pose — which meant that, as someone who’s already familiar with the pose, I could spend that time refining my alignment and engagement. In other words, I wasn’t just left alone in the pose — either to passively wait for her to finish or to take it upon myself to keep working — but the instruction continued to be relevant to me.

Which created no small amount of physical work. As the title of the practice suggests, there’s a lot of emphasis on creating a strong and stable foundation in each asana. For me, this translated into more physical work in my biceps, thighs, and abdominals than I’d really expected for something labeled as a “beginner” practice. Not that I couldn’t do it or even found it particularly difficult — just surprising.

And that, I think, is what I liked best about this practice. It encouraged me to pay attention again, maybe to details I’d started to accept as automatic — or to take for granted — over the years. It’s nice to be reminded.

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