Joseph Simek has designed a gentle yoga sequence for absolute beginners. There are no standing poses, so there is nothing to worry about. Once you are on your yoga mat on the floor, that is where you stay all the way through.
Every posture is thoroughly described with suggested modifications. Mel Scott has further described all poses with more modifications in audio and text formats, located below.
You will need a quality yoga mat for comfort and safety.
You may need a pillow or two for support.
If you have wondered about yoga, this is the place to start. This is a gentle, no nonsense introduction. If yoga is familiar to you, this sequence will sooth your mind, body, and spirit.
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1 - Introduction
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Text Description: This is Gentle Yoga for Beginners. Joe has done a good job with the descriptions of each pose, which is part of the actual workout. Even so, it is recommended that you read through these descriptions or listen to the audio at least once. You can always check back in with the descriptions in the future. This yoga practice is done completely on the floor, on a yoga mat. There are no standing poses, so it is very gentle. Mel Scott designed this particular flow because she wanted people to be able to find yoga inviting and not intimidating. It is a very gentle practice, and the idea is to tone, to strengthen, to breathe and relax. If you need additional help, you can contact us at support@BlindAlive.com . Enjoy the yoga flow!
2 - The Yoga Mat
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Text Description: The most important accessory is the yoga mat itself. A yoga mat is essential because you need that nonskid surface. It can also help with orientation. The mat recommended by Mel is the Jade Yoga Mat, which you can find on the website. Mel has experience with numerous mats, and calls this one "The best of the best." The quality of other brands varies widely, so be aware of this if you choose to buy your mat locally. You may also need a small pillow or folded blanket.
3 - Classic Seated Yoga Pose
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Text Description: This is a classic pose used for yoga and meditation, and is also referred to as the lotus pose. Sit in the center of your mat with your legs out in front of you. If you are more comfortable, you can sit on a pillow, folded blanket, cushion, or a yoga block. There is no shame in making a modification to any of the poses that will increase comfort and minimize pain. Bring either foot in toward your body so that your heel is pointed in toward your groin. Bring your other foot in as well, crossing your legs at the ankles. Both knees should naturally fall out toward each side. If you need to support your knees, you may want to use yoga blocks, cushions, or similar items for this purpose. If you are not comfortable crossing your knees at the ankles, just allow the outer sides of each foot to rest on the floor, one in front of the other. Sit tall, with your hands on your thighs. Your hands should be facing palms up, which is an open and receptive position that also helps with breathing. Your spine should be straight, and your shoulders back and down. Your ears, shoulders, and hips should all be aligned.
4 - Conqueror Breath
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Text Description: This is begun while seated in the lotus pose (described above). Breathing is very important, and we will breathe this way throughout the entire yoga flow. The idea is to have a long, strong spine so you can fully fill your lungs with breath. This can be a loud-sounding breath, although you can make it softer if you like. The important thing is to be aware and to feel yourself breathing as the air moves in and out of your lungs. To perform this breath, slowly draw air in through your nose, and breathe out through your mouth. You can also close your mouth and breathe out through your nose as well.
5 - Neck Rotations
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Text Description: Sit tall in the lotus position, with your shoulders back, down, and relaxed. Start by inhaling as you drop your chin to your chest. Then, gently bring your right ear toward your right shoulder. Then, tilt your head back while continuing to inhale. As you start to slowly exhale, bring your left ear toward your shoulder, then drop your chin back down to your chest. Be sure that when you tilt your head back, you do not do this to the point of discomfort. If you have pain when tilting your head back at all, simply modify the exercise so you are essentially doing a half circle made by dropping your right ear toward your right shoulder, dropping your chin to your chest, and then dropping your left ear toward your left shoulder. Do this rotation three times, and then reverse. When your mind wanders, which it will, bring your focused attention back to your breath.
6 - Wrist Rotations
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Text Description: You are still seated in the lotus position. Raise your arms in front of you at shoulder height. Make loose fists, and gently rotate your hands at the wrists in opposite directions. This will loosen the joints and bring them the needed fluid to function properly. Always be conscious of your breath and posture.
7 - Shoulder Rotations
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Text Description: While seated in the lotus pose, with shoulders back, down, and relaxed. Place your right hand on your right shoulder, and your left hand on your left shoulder. Your elbows should be sticking out on either side of your body. Make large circles with both elbows, first in one direction, and then in the other. This will bring needed synovial fluid to the shoulder joints, which will help them to function properly.
8 - Ankle Rotations
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Text Description: Sit with both legs out straight. If you need to put a rolled towel or yoga block under your knees so you are not uncomfortable, this is fine. Your hands should be on your thighs, palms up. Rotate your ankles in opposite directions, pulling your mind back to your ankles and to your conqueror breath when your thoughts stray.
9 - Knee Bends
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Text Description: Your Legs are extended in front of you as described in the previous exercise, and your shoulders are back and down. Use both hands to lift your right leg off the floor a few inches as you inhale. While you exhale, place your hands below your knee, and bend your knee in toward your chest. Follow the instructions in the audio workout to know when to do the same thing on the left side.
10 - Tabletop
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Text Description: This is a foundational pose because many postures arise out of it. You will be on all fours; in other words, on your hands and knees. The object is to keep your back flat, forming the top of the table. It is important to keep your neck in a neutral position with your nose pointing toward the ground. Your head should not be looking up at all. Your wrists should be directly under your shoulders. You can ensure that both hands are properly aligned by coming to the top of your mat so that the middle finger on each hand is at the top of the mat. It is important to keep a tiny bend in your elbows so you do not allow them to lock. If you have difficulty with your wrist, try rolling up the top of your mat and resting your wrists on it with your fingers touching the floor. If you need to walk your hands out a bit farther front than your shoulders, you can do this, but it is preferable, if you are able, to keep your wrists in line with your shoulders. Your knees are slightly apart so they are below your hip joints. When in this position, the tops of your feet should rest on the mat if you are able. Keep your stomach tucked up and in, and remember to be aware of your breath. Many postures use this pose, so if you find you need to take a break, do so, and then come back into the pose.
11 - Cat Cow
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Text Description: This is actually two poses in one, and the aim is to flow from one into the other. While in the tabletop position described above, inhale while doing the cow pose. In this position, you are looking up slightly, while your abdomen drops toward the ground. There is also a slight curve in the center of your spine while in this position. Exhale while tucking your chin toward your chest, bringing your abdomen up and in, and arching your spine.
12 - Knee and Hip Warmups
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Text Description: Begin from the tabletop pose. This is a variation of the cat cow pose described above. As you inhale, extend your right leg behind you. Your leg should be parallel with the floor so that a straight line is formed by your ankle, knee, hip, and shoulder. Engage all of the muscles, and be sure your abdomen is tucked in. in this case, your stomach and spine do not droop toward the ground as they do in the cow pose. As you exhale, bring your right knee in toward your chest, arching your spine, and dropping your chin to your chest. Exhale while extending your leg again to repeat.
13 - Wrist Counter-Stretch
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Text Description: You have been on all fours for a good while, and we will go back to that. This is a good time to take a break and do a counter-stretch for your wrists. If you'd also like to get off your knees, you can sit with your legs straight out in front of you, or just sit back on your heels. The focus of this exercise is to stretch your wrists. For the previous exercises, your wrists have been pointed toward the front of the mat. Now with your hands at your sides, turn so that your hands are facing up and slightly behind you. While in this position, gently rotate your wrists, which will allow the ligaments to relax and stretch.
14 - Sunbird
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Text Description: We are now beginning some strengthening poses. You are back in tabletop position, so your hips and knees are aligned, as are your shoulders and wrists. Keep your neck in a neutral position, and your abdomen tucked up and in. Lift your right leg out behind you, flexing your foot so your toes are pointed toward the floor. Think about engaging the muscles all along your leg and back. Bring your left, alternate, arm up so that it is also parallel to the floor. If you need to modify this pose, you can either start by holding it for short periods of time and increasing as you are able, or you might need to work each arm and leg separately, but try to push yourself a little bit each time. Remember to concentrate on your breathing throughout. Then repeat with your left leg and right arm.
15 - Downlward Facing Dog
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Text Description: This is a classic strengthening pose, which becomes a restful pose the more you advance. The idea is to form a triangle with your body with your buttocks at the highest position. Start on all fours in tabletop position, and make sure your hands are at the top of your mat. Curl your toes under so that the balls of your feet are on the mat. As you do this, inhale and lift your knees up off the mat, pulling your heels toward the mat. Most people are not flexible enough to get both entire feet flat on the mat, but do the best you can. It is important to be aware of holding the weight on your feet and hands. Your neck and head are relaxed. Over time, you will be able to hold this position for longer and longer periods of time. Try to stay in this position just a little longer each time.
16 - Cobra
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Text Description: This is another classic but powerful pose. Lie on your stomach with the tops of your feet on the mat. Bend your elbows, keeping them close to your sides, and place your palms on the mat. Your nose should be pointed down toward the mat. Make sure your shoulders are back with your shoulder blades pulled together. The aim of this pose is to help open your chest and extend your back. This will help to counter the effects of sitting while slumped forward. Some people become a llittle light-headed while doing this pose, because they are not used to the feeling of their lungs inflating so fully. As you inhale, lift your chest up and off the mat, pressing into your palms. Engage your abdominal muscles and tuck in your tailbone to strengthen and protect your lower back. If this is comfortable, you can straighten your arms, raising your chest even higher. Remember to be aware of the feeling in your lower back while breathing throughout. Slowly lower back to the mat. This will help with posture, breathing, arm strength, and low back flexibility, and will help to counter the effects of sitting while slumped forward.
17 - Child Pose
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Text Description: This is a resting pose, and is a counter stretch to the back extension of the cobra pose. Push up slowly from your stomach into the tabletop pose. Then, lower your hips to your heels and your chest to your thighs. You are basically assuming a fetal position. Your forehead should be touching the ground, and your arms are at your sides with hands facing palms up. You may need to put a cushion between your hips and legs, or you may need to rest on a pillow. You can also try opening your knees a little wider, or putting a pillow under your forehead. It is important to get into a position where you can relax and which, when you inhale, will allow you to feel a gentle stretch in your back. This is a resting pose, so it is important to be moderately comfortable. It is a moderate stretch, and in time, you will be able to come farther into the position.
18 - Forward Fold
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Text Description: Come out of child pose by bringing your hips to the mat and stretching your legs out in front of you. Keep your legs out straight, and your back straight and strong. Be sure to engage your abdominal muscles and keep your shoulders in the relaxed back and down position. Lift your arms straight over your head with your palms facing each other. Inhale. As you exhale, keep your back straight, but hinge forward at the hip joints. This pose is not about touching your hands to your toes or to the floor. It is about feeling the stretch the entire length of your straight back. Increase the stretch by flexing your toes so they are pointed toward you. Keeping your back straight and focusing on your breathing, bring your arms to your sides, then slowly return to an erect sitting position.
19 - Seated Twist
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Text Description: This is another chest opening and back strengthening exercise. With both legs extended straight in front of you, bend your right knee and place your right foot on the floor next to your left knee. While keeping your back straight, wrap your left arm around your right knee so the knee is in the crook of your left elbow. Inhale and twist to the right as you exhale. Your ultimate goal is to be able to place your right hand behind you on the mat. Twist your erect back a little more to the right if you can. Return to center by bringing your right arm to your side. Look forward as you straighten your knee and return your left arm to the side. Repeat the twist on the other side by bending your knee and turning so your bent left knee is in the crook of your right elbow. Remember to sit up tall while aiming to rest your left palm on the floor behind you, opening your chest as you look over your left shoulder. This pose is very beneficial for your internal organs. Remember to keep breathing and sit up tall as you come out of the twist and relax into that newly found energy.
20 - Bound Angle Pose
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Text Description: Some people also call this a butterfly pose because of the position of your knees. Start with your feet out in front of you. Remember to sit tall as you bring the soles of your feet together so they are touching and your knees open out to the sides. If this is too difficult, rest your knees on yoga blocks or cushions until you can do this with more ease. Try increasing the stretch while hinging forward at the hips and breathing into the stretch.
21 - Bridge Pose
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Text Description: This is a counter position to the bound angle pose you just did. Lie on your back with knees bent and hip distance apart. Your heels should be a few inches away from your buttocks while in this position. Keep your shoulders down and relaxed, and tighten your abdominals while pressing your lower spine into the mat. Your hands should be at your sides with your palms facing down. Raise your hips by using your hamstrings, abdominals, and glutes. Remember to keep your knees in a straight line and not let them come out to the sides. There will also be some weight in your hands. Lower down slowly, one vertebrae at a time.
22 - Reclining Pigeon
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Text Description: Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your right ankle on top of your left knee, but slightly closer to your head than your feet. Your right knee is pointed out to the side, and you should feel a nice stretch in your right leg and glutes. Your right leg is basically forming a triangle with a hole in the center. Take your right hand, and bring it through that opening, going from top to bottom. At this point, you have two options. In the first one, you would lace the fingers of both hands behind your left knee. In the second option, you can lace them in front of the left knee, about an inch or two below the joint. Once you are in that position, pull your left knee into your chest. Be sure to keep your head on the ground. Breathe in as you relax into the stretch. Pull your left knee as close to your chest as is reasonable. If you need to support your right knee, do not lock your fingers together, but support it with your right hand. Slowly bring both feet back down to the mat. This time, begin by placing your left ankle on your right knee and bringing the right knee in toward your chest.
23 - Reclining Twist
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Text Description: Lie full length on your back with the backs of your heels touching the mat. Bring both knees into your chest. Straighten your left leg out in front of you, digging the heel into the mat and flexing your left foot. Stretch your right arm out at shoulder height, and turn your head to the right. Use your left hand to pull your right knee toward the floor on the left side. Keep your shoulders down and as flat to the ground as possible. You should feel the twist all along your right side. Gradually release your arms and legs, returning to a relaxed position. Repeat by pulling your left leg to your chest, looking to your left, and pulling your left knee to the right with your right hand. Keep both shoulders on the ground as much as possible, while exhaling into the stretch. Finally, return slowly to the starting position.
24 - Relaxation Pose
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Text Description: Lie full length on your back, making sure you are comfortable so you can relax into the mat. If this is not a comfortable position, bend your knees and bring your feet apart so that each foot is at the edge of the mat. Let your knees come into the center, leaning on one another. Relax and enjoy the music and Joe's instructions.
25 - Final Thoughts
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Text Description: Yoga is about breathing, strengthening, stretching, and relaxing. It is about allowing our breath to carry us to the edge of what we think is our ability to stretch or our muscles to hold us in a pose. If we allow our breath to quiet our minds, we can push those boundaries a little more. We can strengthen and stretch our bodies over time. It is about balance, energy flow, awareness, and consciousness. It is not about religion or a belief system. It is an excellent way to calm our minds, strengthen and relax our bodies, and to give them the time and attention they need and deserve. We hope you have enjoyed this yoga flow and that you will return to the BlindAlive Eyes-Free Fitness workouts. Enjoy, and come back!