The full form of most yoga poses require quite a lot a flexibility. The good news is that all poses are easily modifiable for many different levels of flexibility, body types, and injuries. Listening to your body and working within a range that is challenging, but not painful, will help you to increase your flexibility and progress into more complex variations of the poses.
Yoga doesn’t just increase flexibility – holding the poses helps to build strength as well! Isometric muscle contractions (like the static contractions you perform while holding a Warrior II) are a great way to start increasing strength, as they don’t require you to move at the same time as you load your muscles. Don’t worry though, performing a static contraction (or several) can work you just hard as performing an isotonic contraction (think bicep curl) if you hold it for long enough.
While most yoga poses involve some degree of balance, practicing specific balancing poses (like Tree Pose) offers you the opportunity to challenge your body’s stability just a little bit more. If you’re worried that you can’t balance perfectly on one leg, don’t stress! Like all yoga poses, balancing poses can be modified for many ability levels – you might start with both feet on the ground, or use blocks or a chair to help you stabilise as your body learns to balance.
Yoga classes aren’t just about physical movement – an essential component of all poses is learning to lengthen, deepen, and control your breath. By learning to breathe deeply and to slow down, you can help your body and mind to relax. Even simply being aware of your breath and taking time to notice what you’re feeling in your body can help you to ground and relax.