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5 Beginner Yoga Poses Even Advanced Yogis Do Wrong

  • Fredy Soberanis

    Downward Facing Dog: DON'T

    Down dog is a resting pose. If it doesn't feel that way, you have some adjusting to do. Typically, people are bearing too much weight in their arms, and not pressing their hips back enough. Also, people tend to get "trapped in their traps" by squeezing their shoulders up to their ears.

  • Fredy Soberanis

    Downward Facing Dog: DO

    Begin on all fours. Tuck toes and lift hips high, reaching sitz bones toward the ceiling. Reach heels back toward the mat. Drop head so that neck is long. Wrist creases stay parallel to the front edge of the mat. Press into the knuckles of forefingers and thumbs to alleviate pressure from wrists. While you are here, shrug shoulders all the way up to ears. That's where you don't want to be. Release them down, as far away from ears as possible. To take this a step further, see if you can widen through your armpits by rotating your upper arms slightly inward while keeping your shoulders down your back. This will create space in your shoulders throughout your yoga practice, and condition them to stay in their place!

    Every time you are in down dog, reach your heels toward the ground; they don't need to touch, but you don't want to be too far forward on the balls of your feet. Reaching your heels toward the mat will allow you to distribute your weight more evenly and take some pressure off your shoulders.

  • Fredy Soberanis

    Upward Facing Dog: DON'T

    In upward facing dog, only the tops of your feet and your hands should be touching the ground. Most people shrug their shoulders all the way up to their ears and crank their neck back in this pose. I can't imagine how that would feel good!

  • Fredy Soberanis

    Upward Facing Dog: DO

    Lie facedown on the ground with tops of feet on the ground. Place hands on either side of chest, bending elbows and allowing them to brush the sides of the ribcage. Pressing into palms, pull chest forward through shoulders and press into feet to lift thighs and knees off the ground so only hands and the tops of the feet are on the ground. Keep as much space as you can in between your ears and your shoulders. Allow your neck to be an extension of the spine.

  • Fredy Soberanis

    Ankle to Knee: DON'T

    If your ankle is sickled, so is your knee. Flexing your feet in hip openers like ankle to knee pose or reclined pigeon will protect your knees. While the visual on this is subtle, the effect on your joints is not.

  • Fredy Soberanis

    Ankle to Knee: DO

    Start seated with your legs wide out to either side. Bend your right knee and place your right shin on the ground in front of you, parallel to the front edge of your mat. Then, take your left shin and stack it on top of your right shin, so that your left ankle is on top of your right knee and your right ankle is on top of your left knee. Flex both of your feet to provide static stability to protect your knees. Place your hands on the ground in front of your shins. Inhale your navel to your spine, and use your exhale to lengthen forward. Allow your head to relax. Breathe before repeating on the other side.

  • Fredy Soberanis

    Warrior II: DON'T

    In warrior II, the tendencies are:

    1. To stick your butt out, which disengages your core
    2. To reach way more forward than back, which takes you off-center
    3. To take a stance so short that your front knee is well beyond (and certainly not in line with) your front ankle, which is dangerous for the front knee in the pose.

    Most people, women especially, underestimate how long their legs are, and take too short a stance in warrior II, as well as in many other poses.

  • Fredy Soberanis

    Warrior II: DO

    Begin in down dog. Round your right knee toward your nose, and step your right foot in between your hands. Spin your left heel down with your foot slightly angled out. Windmill your arms open. Your left arm reaches toward the back of the mat and your right arm reaches to the front of the mat, evenly, palms facing down. Keep your right knee at a 90-degree angle, in line with your right ankle. Drop your shoulders away from your ears, tuck your tailbone, and knit your front ribs in. Gaze is over the middle finger of the front hand. Breathe here and then repeat on other side.

  • Fredy Soberanis

    Tree Pose: DON'T

    It is SO bad for your knees to place your non-standing foot in tree pose onto your standing knee. It puts too much pressure on the joint in a harmful way. Yet, unfortunately 99 times out of a hundred, when a "model" is pictured doing a tree pose, he or she is doing just that. Don't fall prey to fake advertising yoga mistakes! Save your knees.

  • Fredy Soberanis

    Tree Pose: DO

    Stand with soft knees. Bend your left knee and open from your hip out to the left. Keeping your hip open, place your left foot inside your right thigh or shin. (You can also place the ball of your left foot on the ground with your heel on the inside of your right calf—just don't place it on your knee joint.) Join your hands together at your heart center. Breathe here and then repeat on the other side.


Heidi Kristoffer

Heidi Kristoffer is the creator and producer of Microsoft Bing Fitness Yoga & MSN Yoga, creator of CrossFlowX, wellness expert for multiple online platforms, and mama to baby twin girls.  More →

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