Why You Should Try Essential Yoga + One Classic Pose

Sometimes the best way to learn something is to jump right in.

We’re not saying that you should head right out and run a marathon or join a hip hop dance crew without doing some prep work first, but we do believe that the hardest step in starting something new is often the first one—summoning the courage to get started.

That’s why we wanted to share some thoughts about getting started with yoga from Sarah Herrington’s book Essential Yoga.

We love her “just give it a shot” attitude that encourages people to get started without disregarding their safety or their comfort level.

Why Essential Yoga?

The spirit of Essential Yoga can be summed up in a word “now.” In Sanskrit, this is translated as atha, which happens to be the very first word in the Yoga Sutras.

There is no reason to wait to learn about yoga breathing, meditation, and concentrations, and yoga poses that will help your body grow strong and healthy and flexible. There is no reason to wait for inspiration!

If you are nervous about starting yoga or it is totally new to you, don’t worry. In fact, you can bring your nervousness and skepticism to the mat. Yoga is never about denying what you feel, but getting to know what you feel.

You will learn where your body is tight (in your hips, or hamstrings). You will learn where you are nervous (maybe arm balances make you sweat). You will learn what you love (the ultra-relaxing Corpse Pose might be your favorite thing ever). The point is that you can act with full awareness of your feelings and bring them along with you.

Armed with the information in Essential Yoga, nothing should stop you from doing yoga. You don’t need to be flexible, nor must you be physically strong. You don’t have to have a lot of free time to practice each day, or the inclination to read about the history of the practice.

While the tradition of yoga is vast, deep and wide, the point of entry is always found in the word “now.” A small but profound example of this lies in the breath. If you get distracted in a yoga pose, or in life, you can tune into the inhale or exhale happening now. This will bring you back to the present moment, where the tradition of yoga is very much alive. So let’s get started!

Full Lotus Pose | Padmasana

Full Lotus Pose is a classic yoga position many are familiar with. There are many steps and variations of this pose. Remember that no two bodies are alike and due not just to body type but bone structure, some parts of Lotus pose may be easier for some yogis than for others.

Full Lotus pose naturally positions the body so the hips are above the knees. You can also find this base position by sitting cross-legged with a folded blanket or pillow under your sit bones. With the hips elevated above the knees, the spine stays more naturally straight for seated meditation.

Half Lotus Pose
Half Lotus Pose
  1. Sit upright, with your arms down by your sides, palms on the floor. Your legs should be extended in front of you.
  2. Bend your right knee and open it up to the side. Lower your right thigh to the floor as your right hip begins to open.
  3. Bend your left knee and bring it toward your body. Crisscross your legs so you are now sitting upright with legs crossed. Bring your hands to rest on your knees, palms facing up. Your hips should now be open. Gaze forward.
  4. Using your hands if desired, bring your right foot on top of your left thigh, positioning it so that the top of the foot rests on the thigh and the sole of the foot faces the ceiling. This is Half Lotus.
  5. Bring your left foot to rest on top of the right thigh. Hold for five to eight breaths, or longer if you are meditating. Release, and then repeat on the other leg if desired.
Full Lotus Pose
Full Lotus Pose

EXTRA CREDIT: Yogis believe that the ability to sit and mediate is a reward to be gleaned from yoga practice. Whether you sit with your breath and your thoughts for three breaths, allow your time in this Full Lotus Pose to serve as your reward.

Give yourself two minutes to explore the steps to Full Lotus Pose—on both sides. Take 15 minutes to move through all of the twists in this lesson, performing them on both sides where appropriate. At the end, linger in Full Lotus, breathing meditatively as you let the twisting you have just performed resonate through your body and mind.


Essential Yoga

Essential Yoga” is perfect for the beginning student who wants to begin practicing yoga—and getting the benefits—immediately. Covering all of the essential skills, poses, and postures, this essential guide breaks down the practice into 24 one-hour lessons that readers can take at their own pace whether they want to do several lessons in a row or one lesson per day, week, or month. Step-by-step photos, captioning, timing instructions, and tip/caution sidebars take the guesswork out of learning and get readers up to speed in no time.

Sarah Herrington is a writer and yoga specialist living in New York City. She has been featured in the Oprah magazine O and the New York Daily News. An expert contributor for wellness site Mindbodygreen (http://www.mindbodygreen.com), Sarah has also written about yoga and mindfulness for NY Yoga magazine and Yoga City NYC. She is a yoga teacher trainer at Yoga to the People.