Be Ready. Be Covered. Be Sure.

Yoga can be used to increase flexibility, health and focus.  Although as a beginner, yoga practiced incorrectly can cause harm to your body and pain.  Yoga poses can either heal you or hurt you, depending on your approach.

1. Modify poses.

Yoga positions can be adjusted to accommodate your limitations and experience level.  As a beginner, if you're ever in pain, or cannot achieve the pose as instructed, work on a more appropriate variation.

Be honest with yourself. No matter how advanced you become at yoga, you will find that it may become necessary to modify poses.  Know your limitations and when to work on a more accessible posture for you.

2. Use props.

Avoid pain during yoga using props. When you practice yoga, it's helpful to have two blocks, a strap and a blanket or towel. These props will help you avoid injuries and advance more effectively.

Blocks, for example, are generally used for balancing poses, standing stretches and some seated postures. Blocks will help you stay balanced, protect your back and joints and open your body.

3. Align your lower-body proper.

When in a mountain pose, make sure your feet point straight forward and your weight is distributed evenly throughout all sides of your feet. Point your knees in the same direction as your feet.

When performing lunges and warrior poses, place your front foot and knee straight ahead. In seated poses, anchor your legs and hips down evenly to create an even lift out of your pelvis in your low back.

Remain aware of your breath at all times and you will have a healthy yoga session.

4. Keep your upper body Aligned.

With every inhale, lengthen the sides of your torso until your shoulders are even with the base of your neck. As you exhale, maintain that lift and place your arm bones back into their shoulder sockets without slouching.

When you place your hands on the mat in poses make sure your wrists are straight across and even with your shoulders.

5. Pay attention to your breath.

Pain-free yoga is based on you staying attuned with your breath. Monitoring your breath will guide you and help you avoid pushing yourself beyond your limits. Breathe deeply in and out through your nose the entire time. If you're breathing loudly, in a choppy way, are panting or are short of breath, you need to take a step back and take control again.  Remain aware of your breath at all times and you will have a healthy yoga session.