Yoga requires minimal equipment, provides stretching without stressing the joints, and can improve stress levels and posture, says Maureen K. Watkins, PT, DPT, assistant professor in the physical therapy department in the Bouve College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University, Mass. "Individuals new to yoga should begin slowly, ideally with an experienced instructor so poses and postures can be corrected and not lead to injuries."
Many yoga studios offer free classes to new students. Look for experienced, certified instructors.
Three good poses to master include:
Mountain Pose (Tadasana): Improve your body awareness, balance, and posture. "This pose is a place to start for many other advanced yoga poses," says Watkins. Changing your arm position, closing your eyes, or increasing the time can make this pose more challenging. How to do it: Stand with big toes touching. Lift up onto your toes and let them fan out, then drop back down, creating a solid base. Bring your weight evenly onto all parts of your feet. Tighten your quadriceps, allowing your knee caps to rise. Rotate both thighs inward, tucking in your tailbone. Tighten your belly; widen your collar bones, making sure shoulders are parallel to the pelvis. Keep your neck long, and your shoulder blades down and back.
Warrior I: This pose lengthens the front of our bodies, Watkins says. Much of our day is spent sitting; and by stretching the front thigh muscle it can improve our posture and can help with low back pain.
Bridge Pose: This pose address two areas where women want to improve: the buttocks and inner thigh, Watkins says.