Four easy yoga poses for everyone

February 8, 2010 3:21:44 PM PST
Four easy yoga poses for everyone. Find out how yoga can improve your health, your confidence, and even help you get a job.

All of these poses incorporate core strength training to target belly bloat. You will immediately feel the powerful benefits of relaxation, improved mental focus, confidence and well-being. Stress, irritability, insomnia, nervousness and depression can be lessened or even disappear. With consistent practice, you will notice more benefits.

For all of these poses, breathe in and out through your nose, taking 3-5 long breaths (count one breath as a 4-count inhale and 4-count exhale). To challenge yourself, repeat each pose three times. Remember, the breath is the most important part of the pose. It's always better to take long, full breaths than to struggle and breathe shallowly.

These poses can be done alone or with another fitness regimen.

Chair Pose
Stand with feet together. Take a deep breath in and as you exhale; bend your knees and bring your hands to prayer position. Roll your shoulders back and take 3-5 long breaths. As you feel stronger, stretch your arms overhead.
Target area: Quads, buttocks and core

Hand/Knee Balance
Get on all fours on the floor, lining up shoulders and wrists; hips and knees. Raise your right arm to shoulder level while raising your left leg to hip level. Be sure to cushion your knee for comfort.

Take 5 long breaths, keeping your hips even and your belly gently drawing in towards your spine. For an extra challenge, repeat 3 times on each side.
Target area: Hamstrings, buttocks, core, arms

Plank Pose w/Push-up option
Get in a traditional push-up position, with shoulders over wrists. Draw shoulders back and keep your spine long. Take 3-5 breaths. Want more? Bend your elbows about an inch or so and then straighten.

Repeat 3-5 times. Over time, you will build enough strength to bend your arms to 90?. Want less? Do the pose with one knee down or both knees down.
Target area: Biceps, triceps, core, legs

Boat Pose
Sit on the floor. Bend your knees and lift your feet off of the ground until your calves are parallel to the floor. Hug the knees and feet together. Use your fingertips on the floor to help with balance. Over times you will become able to lift your arms until they're parallel with your calves.


Yulling Tsai, Age: 40

"Yoga has changed my life by improving my health. I was born with a very mild form of congenital scoliosis, which progressively worsened as an adult.

By combining Ashtanga yoga with the use of western medical treatments, I can manage my scoliosis more effectively than just using only western medical treatments. Practicing Ashtanga/Mysore consistently over time has reduced the curvature in my lower back, balanced my hips and shoulders.

The practice of yoga has also taught me how my body works and I notice when my body is not in balance. This knowledge of how my body works and behaves helps me work with my doctor to manage my scoliosis and prevent pain. Yoga has given me a way to prevent my scoliosis from getting progressively worse and has freed me from the pain associated with it.

Yoga has changed my body so much that my running has improved dramatically. Yoga poses help stretch the body, build endurance, aids in recovering from injuries and prevent injuries. Having better posture and balance reduces the chance of injury. The breathing learned from practicing yoga can be applied to other fitness routines.

I run on weekly basis in addition to practicing Ashtanga yoga. My running has improved dramatically because I've learned to breath and the yoga keeps my body stretched, flexible and balanced. It took me 3 years to build up to 7 miles.

Once I started my Ashtanga/Mysore practice, I was able to increase my run to 10 miles in one month. Adding several miles to my run in a few months is pretty dramatic versus spending a year building up the additional miles.

Yoga improves emotional and mental clarity. My Ashtanga/Mysore practice has helped me reduce stress in my daily life and taught me how to focus better. I deal with unexpected events in my life much more calmly then I have in the past. I'm able to focus on the key issues in my work life and personal life, so I'm always moving in a positive direction."

Yulling Comments Regarding Unemployment:

"Practicing yoga everyday improved my mental state and enhanced my self-confidence. I was unemployed for 5 months in 2009 before I found short-term contract work at Morrison & Foerster.

For the unemployed, this recession did crush people's confidence and self-worth. It added fear into the mix of emotions many Americans are dealing with today. Instead of feeling all the negative emotions and losing my confidence, I experienced just the opposite. My focus was still sharp and I now had a new goal, find work to get me through the recession.

I researched how today's job search has changed and made some adjustments to my resume and where I would normally look for work. Put together a systematic way of searching for jobs every day, which resulted in at least 4 phone interviews a month and produced at least 1 face to face interview.

During the whole process I was learning from my mistakes or most cases documenting the reasons why I was not offered the job. Some of the reasons had nothing to do with my qualifications or any mistake I might have made during the process.

The last company I interviewed with in 2009 landed me work. I interviewed at Morrison & Foerster for a Sr. Financial Analyst position, but was not offered the job. During the interview process another manager took notice of my confidence and qualifications, this manager knew her department would need help to get through the holidays and New Year.

Once she found out I was passed over for the senior analyst position, Morrison & Foerster called me up right away to offer me a short-term contract position with this manager.

I was very fortunante to find work so quickly, I am very blessed that I found ashtanga yoga or just yoga in general. Practicing everyday transformed me physically and mentally, I was able to maintain a daily morning yoga routine even though I was working.

I don't want to stay a contractor in 2010, so I am still actively looking for a permanent home and getting back on my career path in Finance. I recently interviewed with several different companies over the past 2 weeks.

I had feedback from the most recent company I interviewed with this week and they were impressed with my attitude and qualifications, basically I would fit in well with their Finance team. Confirmation that my yoga practice is paying big dividends for me and will continue to do so."

Jane Pavis, Age: 36

"I was diagnosed with the chronic neurological, autoimmune disease, Relapse Remitting Multiple Sclerosis, eight years ago and am presently symptom free. I have an incredible team of teachers, Erika Trice, YogaWorks, Didi Otterson, reiki and Lobsang Dhondup, traditional Tibetan physician.

It is the combination of all three that has kept me so strong over the years and brought me to this point of wellness and strength today. Every day I practice all three disciplines together which all complement each other and can all be called 'Yoga'.

I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when my daughter was one year old and was treated with high doses of steroid treatment, which reduced my symptoms dramatically (spasticity in my right hand, numb right arm, tingling in the spine).

However, the side-effects of the steroids were so awful, that I promised myself, unless it was absolutely necessary, I would never do them or western medicine for the disease again.

Soon after the diagnosis, I became pregnant with my son. During the pregnancy I felt fantastic, which is very common in MS, due to the hormones while pregnant, but as soon as he was born my legs became very weak, I lost the use of my right arm again, had tightness in my torso and bowel and bladder incontinence.

Steroids were recommended, but instead, I connected with a traditional Tibetan physician. He gave me herbs, a strict diet and recommended 'gentle' yoga. 'Gentle' yoga didn't really appeal to me because prior to getting pregnant and sick, I had been practicing Chinese style kickboxing with a traditional teacher from the Sunset in SF.

But, I immediately trusted this gentle Tibetan man, who told me that if I did as he said, I could beat the progression of the disease. (What joy to hear that, instead of "in 20 years you'll be in a wheel chair."), so I enrolled in a four week intro series with Erika Trice.

During that first four weeks, I spent every class crying: crying about the diagnosis (a chronic disease at age 28, with a future mapped out in a wheel chair, and a two week waiting period where the doctors were unable to diagnosis MS or inoperable brain tumor), crying about the invasive and scary diagnosis tools (spinal tap, multiple brain and spine MRIs in which I was not allowed to swallow for up to six minutes at a time, eye tests) and crying from the quietness in the studio that made me face my symptoms (tingling, numbness, tightness and incontinence).

After six months of regular yoga and Tibetan herbs I visited the same OB/GYN who couldn't believe the fact that I was completely healed with no sign of relapse! I have continued studying with Erika ever since.

I spent years studying regularly with her in her public classes, and now see her privately. I chose to do this because my personal practice needed to be tailored for my condition and requirements.

It is important for me to have a strong practice, but not over heat and be very careful not to twist my neck, or do certain poses that can stimulate the CNS as well as having a good balance between yin and yang. I became so aware that I was becoming my own teacher, that in 2008 I enrolled in the 200hr YogaWorks Teacher Training.

The training changed my life more beautifully and perfectly than I can ever express."

About yoga instructor Lisa Maria:

Author and yoga teacher Lisa Maria is passionate about the power of yoga to reveal the vibrant life force that lives within us all. As the Northern California Workshop Director for YogaWorks, she creates events for people of all backgrounds to explore the many flavors of yoga.

She has appeared in several segments on ABC's View from the Bay, and has graced the cover of Tataasthu magazine. A yoga ambassador for Lululemon Athletica, Lisa has modeled for Lululemon, Getty Images and City Lights Clothing.

Previously the San Francisco editor of YogiTimes, Lisa has written for Yoga Journal, Fit Yoga, Yoga Magazine UK, and YogiTimes. Her biography of Oprah Winfrey for children was published in January 2010. Lisa teaches in Marin for YogaWorks.

For more information, visit

About YogaWorks:

YogaWorks is a school for the rest of your life. When you walk through our doors you will not only find all styles and levels of yoga, but also a wonderfully diverse, warm and welcoming community of students, staff and teachers.

Our goal is to guide students to greater self-awareness, focus, and health through our full spectrum of yoga programs. We do this with love, compassion, a sense of adventure, and a reverence for what each individual can accomplish throughout their lives.

For more information, visit

Free coupon offer for View from the Bay viewers:

Contact any of our Northern California studios and mention that "Yoga is for Everybody" and you will receive a free one-week membership.

Yoga Benefit for Yele' Haiti Earthquake Charity
February 20th
3 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
Yoga Works
2207 Larkspur Landing Circle
Larkspur, CA

Donations start $10 & anything above that is graciously accepted. Proceeds will go to the same charity Yele' Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund.

If anyone has any questions about the benefit, please contact Toni at