No pain, much gain

An introduction to basic asanas for the yogic novice


Yogic asanas are exciting workouts but to the fresh practitioner they can be intimidating. It is an art form that challenges and takes the body to new heights. Complicated body postures may be our goals but the trick is to start slow and choose the right asanas for your body. The simplicity of the beginner’s asanas in yoga makes the practice all the more enjoyable. Though they are easy on the body and can be achieved quickly, the health benefits are bountiful. To gain so much through so little effort is a gift indeed and since new years are all about the gift of new experiences, start this year with the gift of health through yoga. Condition your body for this new practice through these subtle asanas. Practise them until they become a reflection of your body, and focus on achieving perfection in these postures. Dedicate that time to yourself and your body to be the best possible version of yourself this year.

A new year is a stage for new experiences. With yoga as your guide, it can be a year filled with health, happiness and positivity. Wishing you the best of luck as you take your very first steps on your yoga journey.

Akshar is founder, chairman and course director of Akshar Yoga, and founder and president of World Yoga Organisation.

(Happy pose)

■ Sit down with your legs stretched out forward

■ Fold your right leg and drop your right knee to the right

■ Fold the other leg and form a cross with your calf muscles

■ Straighten your back and place your palms on your knees facing upward


Reduces anxiety, stress and mental tiredness

Regular practice prevents knees from turning stiff

DANDASANA (Staff pose)

■ Begin with Sukhasana

■ Stretch your legs out in front of you, parallel to each other, and toes pointed upwards.

■ Tighten the muscles of your pelvis, thighs and calves

■ Align your head in such a way that the crown faces the ceiling and the focus of your gaze is forward

■ Place your palms beside your hips on the floor


It is known to cure sciatica and asthma

This asana helps to focus and calm the mind. When paired with proper breathing, it relieves stress and helps enhance concentration

(Seated forward bend)

■ Begin with Dandasana

■ Ensure that your knees are slightly bent while your legs are stretched out forward

■ Extend your arms upward and keep your spine erect

■ Exhale and empty your stomach of air, bend
forward at the hip and place your upper body on your lower body

■ Lower your arms and grip your big toes with your fingers

■ Try to touch your knees with your nose


Calms the mind

Good for constipation and digestive disorders

Balances the menstrual cycles

(Thunderbolt pose)

■ Begin by standing straight with your arms by the sides of your body

■ Lean forward and slowly drop your knees on your mat

■ Place your pelvis on your heels and point your toes outward

■ Here, your thighs should press your calf muscles

■ Keep your heels slightly apart from each other

■ Place your palms on your knees facing upward

■ Straighten your back and look forward


This asana aids digestion. This is the only asana which can be practised right after having food

The calf muscles are also sometimes known as the second heart of the body because our mobility is determined by the strength in the calf muscles. Vajrasana mobilises and massages the calf muscles

(Bound angle pose)

■ Begin with Dandasana

■ Fold your legs outwards and bring the soles of your feet together

■ Keep your feet close to the groin region

■ Try and rest your knees on the ground


It helps in stretching your groin and inner thighs

Opens up pelvic region

Especially beneficial in urinary disorders


■ Lie on your stomach

■ Place your palms under your shoulders and lift your upper body, pelvis and knees up

■ Grip the floor with toes and keep the knees straight

■ Ensure that your knees, pelvis and spine are aligned

■ Your wrists must be placed exactly below your shoulders with your arms kept straight

■ Hold the final posture for a while


Strengthens thigh, arms and shoulders

Makes spine and abdominal muscles robust

Builds the core muscles

ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA (Downward dog pose)

■ Keep both palms on the mat, fingers pointed ahead

■ Move both feet backwards, lift the hips up, straighten the knees and elbows, and form an inverted ‘V’ shape

■ Now keep the hands apart at shoulders width

■ Put pressure on your palms and open your shoulder blades

■ Try to push your heels to the floor

■ Hold the position for a few seconds. Keep your eye focused on your big toes


Helps in relieving back pain

Useful in relieving headache, fatigue and insomnia

Reduce anxiety and depression

(Eight-limbed salutation)

■ Begin with plank pose and drop your knees to the floor

■ Exhale, lower your chest down to the floor, bend your arms and land your shoulders right in-between your palms

■ Your feet, knees, palms and the chest must touch the floor

■ Ensure that your stomach is off the floor

■ Your pelvis stays high and your toes stay tucked inwards


It strengthens the muscles of the hands and the legs

Strengthens the back when held for long

NAUKASANA (Boat pose)

■ Lie down on your back

■ Bring your upper body 45 degrees off the floor

■ Pivot your body weight on your hips and lift your legs 45 degrees off the floor

■ Your toes must be aligned with your eye

■ Try to prevent a bend in the knees

■ Keep your arms parallel to the ground and pointing forward

■ Tighten your abdominal muscles

■ Straighten your back


Strengthens lower back, stomach and leg muscles

Removes gastrointestinal discomfort

Builds the abdominal muscles

Stimulates circulatory, nervous and hormonal systems

SAMASTHITHI (Balance state pose)

■ Stand with your feet together

■ Stretch your arms out beside your body and allow them to hover without making contact

■ Gently close eyes

■ Relax the body


It calms your mind

It improves the overall body posture

Creates self-awareness