There are two types of people in the world: those who find that their minds relax and their bodies soften at the thought of a yoga class, and those who cannot understand how relaxing it can be, into one Triangle pose to come. If you are the latter and you stiffen and stress during the stretching class, you are not alone. Many people find yoga practices overwhelming, especially when they involve difficult balances and fast paced processes.

“It is so important to master the basics of your practice if you want to achieve some of the really cool postures without injury, but also manage physical or mental ailments and get the most out of your practice,” says yoga teacher Angie Tiwari.

Below are the five basic elements of your yoga that will help you get the physical and mental benefits of the practice. You can simply familiarize yourself with the movements before the class, choose one of each section for your own quick route after work, or walk through some of the positions for a longer session.


Starting with some gentle poses will be a good preparation for the rest of your session and the rest of your day. Not only because it helps lubricate the spine, but also, “Twists help produce stagnant energy, which is why it’s good for the digestive system and a very energizing posture,” says Annie Clarke, yoga teacher with the Strong Women’s Collective.

The best turns in yoga

  • Reclined rotation
  • Turned lunge
  • Rotated triangle pose
  • Half ruler of the fish


“Inversions in yoga are anything where your heart is above your head, but for beginners, you can get the same benefits if you instead raise your legs,” says Annie. If you’re not ready to dive into a handstand, legs against the wall can provoke the same reactions in your body. “The poses reverse the influence of gravity on our blood flow so that they can support healthy blood flow and calm the nervous system.”

For Angie, inversions also have a huge impact on mental health. “So many people are understandably afraid of standing on their head. But once you start practicing and learning how to properly fall out of the poses, you build so much confidence, ”she says.

The best inversions in yoga

  • Downward facing dog
  • Headstand
  • Handstands
  • Stand up the wall
  • Rag doll

Yoga teacher Angie demonstrates a headstand, a key-n reversalYoga: Inversions are an essential part of your yoga session, says Angie

Heart opener

“From a physical point of view, this is very helpful for the spine, especially if you spend a lot of time at a desk and everything at the front of your body is locked,” says Annie. “But it is very important for us to connect to our energetic or spiritual heart space in yoga, as it contains an enormous amount of energy. When we deal with it, we connect with our feelings of compassion and joy. “

The best heart openers in yoga

  • cobra
  • Dog facing up
  • cow
  • wheel

Hip opener

In general, most people have problems with tight hips and hamstrings, Angie says. “We have tight hips when we run, lift weights, and sit all day – the frustrating thing is that both activity and inactivity can lead to tightness,” says Angie. If your motivation for yoga is to improve your performance in other sports, opening your hips is important.

But hip openers have other advantages besides the physical. “We have a tremendous amount of residual tension in our bodies, but for most people a lot of it is in the hips,” agrees Annie. “Every time we’ve suppressed emotion or stress, very often it’s in places like the hips and jaw. Hip-opening postures promote the healthy release of retained emotional energy. ”

The best hip openers in yoga

  • Pigeon keeping
  • Butterfly attitude
  • Malasana (Yogi Squat)
  • Pawanmuktasana (knee to chest)

The yoga teacher demonstrates the butterfly pose, a hip opening stretch in yoga

Yoga: Annie demonstrates butterfly pose


It’s the part that so many people forget (or purposely ignore). However, linking the asana – the physical movements in yoga – with the meditative element is crucial for a holistic practice that benefits you. “Conscious breathing throughout yoga practice is the magical ticket between an ancient practice and something that connects the nervous system, mind and body,” says Annie.

However, it takes time for all of these elements to be connected together. Therefore, meditative elements should not only take place during your poses, but should be part of your own practice. “In a 60-minute lesson, we should really allow about 15 minutes to breathe. Moving fast is a very western thing, but in yoga we have to deal with the slower elements of the practice and work harder to connect. ”

This means spending some time on your mat before you start practicing and always ending up in Shavasana (or corpse pose). “On a deeper level, so much is happening through the various elements of this practice that we have to spend a few minutes setting it all up,” says Annie.

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Pictures: Annie Clarke / Duffy

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