Beginner
Living Yoga Upper Body/Abs/Lower Body Videos
with Rodney Yee and Suzanne Deason (Gaiam, 1998, 1999).
Each video presents a 30-minute beginner workout.

Yoga Journal’s Yoga Basics
by Mara Carrico and the editors of Yoga Journal (Henry Holt and Company, 1997).
This book offers complete coverage of types of yoga, practice guidelines, and sample poses.

Yoga with Richard Freeman:
Ashtanga Yoga: The Primary Series
(Delphi Productions, 1993).
An in-depth two-hour video with demonstrations of alignment and technique.

Intermediate to advanced
Power Yoga: The Practice
video or DVD (Image Entertainment, 2002) and book (Fireside, 1995) both by Beryl Bender Birch.
Each includes a 75-minute workout.

Something different
Om at Home by Cyndi Lee
(Chronicle Books, 2003). This journal highlights a different practice for each season of the year.

—V.F.

For your routine, select poses from different categories, such as standing, seated, and twisting. For example, a sequence for a half-hour session might begin with Sun Salutations, then progress to standing poses, arm balances, forward bends, twisting poses, and finish with restorative poses. Always consult a yoga book, videotape, or instructor for detailed direction on specific poses and sequences within these categories. Hold each pose for three to five complete breaths. The finale is traditionally Savasana, held for at least five minutes.

“[Beginners should] avoid inversions, like the Plough, as well as headstands, shoulder stands, and backbends,” says Bender Birch. “Those are safer in a supervised setting.” Also, don’t force yourself into a posture, and be sure to go at a pace that allows your breathing to stay deep and full. “You’ve got plenty of time to grow into the postures,” says Freeman. “The main thing is to stay open and mindful.”

If you have questions about alignment, Freeman recommends checking in with an instructor. In fact, he says, “it’s probably a good idea to check in with an instructor at least two or three times a year anyway.” Practicing in front of mirrors is acceptable, too, but use them sparingly, once or twice a week. Too much time in front of a mirror can encourage you to focus on superficial or external factors, says Freeman. “An obsession with self-image can be a cause of torment. It’s very important that the practice of yoga not become an enhancement of narcissism,” he says.

Step Four: Find a tranquil finish