You may find yourself researching the best yoga poses for beginners. When you do, look to integrate various schools of fitness into a holistic routine. Explore all the options to achieve a workout best suited for your own goals and lifestyle.
Best Basic Yoga Poses for Beginners
As a true beginner, you have never experienced a yoga class or even knowingly held a yoga pose. There is no need to feel intimidated when approaching the practice of well-being that is yoga.
Yoga has become its own holistic practice of mind-body awareness. It is adaptable to any body type, fitness routine, and lifestyle. Yoga poses for beginners will help practitioners get the most out of their workout and themselves, on and off the mat.
The benefits of yoga are many and different. Its practice can change to support any other workout. And help anyone achieve their own personal best. Find a starting point for your own exploration toward finding what works for you.
We’ll touch on three major schools of yoga. Check their unique qualities, and cover a few prominent poses to help get you started. Then, it’s off to the mat with you!
The school of Hatha has fantastic yoga poses for beginners. Thanks to the collection of asanas most utilized. Also for the slow pacing and the gentle integration of yogic breathing. These help to establish a solid foundational awareness. Try these before you move on to more challenging or fast-paced schools of yoga.
The style of Hatha shares many if not all its poses with other styles. It is unique in its focus on sustaining each pose. You fully release into it and experience the breath moving throughout the body.
As a beginner, starting with a Hatha practice allows the time needed to explore each pose. Fine-tune its subtleties and learn how to align your body to get the most out of the routine.
Your body relaxes into the practice and reaps the full benefit. Because of the gradual flow from pose to pose and the length of time each asana is held. You do not become overwhelmed or intimidated.
One of the most basic, introductory flows is Sun Salutation. Made up of a slow gliding flow from Mountain Pose, Standing Forward Bend, and Downward Facing Dog. It has a lot of room for growth and exploration. It is a perfect example of yoga poses for beginners. Sun Salutation can be a very simple transition between the three poses mentioned. All moves synced between the inhale and exhale. Or it can include more asanas and variations. Once you start feeling more comfortable with the entire flow. Feel the grounding force in Mountain. Dive into the spinal release of the Forward Bend. Work out that tension in Down-Dog.
Vinyasa may be the school for you. When you need your workout to be a little more fast-paced. Or you think you’re not exercising until you break a sweat.
Vinyasa yoga poses for beginners are more challenging than the slow flow of Hatha. It can get the blood pumping without overexerting the body. You’ll be learning how to synchronize your breath with your movement but at a more dynamic, constant pace.
A lot of Vinyasa flows have you shifting on your feet through sequences of standing poses. It leaves the seated poses and forward bends for the cool down part of the practice.
A great standing flow involves combining your choice of Warrior I or II with the Triangle pose. Working up a smooth, rhythmic integration of movement and breath.
Shift between Warrior to Triangle again to balance the other side. Invigorate your inner strength. Learn to feel the stabilization of your base because of the repetitive flow.
Vinyasa flows to strengthen the legs, feet, and glutes and also stretches the spine. It opens up the sides to increase flexibility. Gives a better distribution of breath throughout the body.
It is a type of Restorative fitness. Yin Yoga needs a couple of simple seated asanas held for several minutes. It has perfect yoga poses for beginners.
The sustained nature of each pose is like that practiced in Hatha. But, instead of incorporating a slow flow of many asanas, Yin Yoga puts its focus on individual poses.
You don’t need to do a whole flow to get what you need. Relax into a few of your favorite stretch poses and let long-deep breathing do the work for you.
Once you’ve made it to the floor, stretch your legs out in front of you and lie on your back. Put your arms loosely by your sides, palms facing upward, and your feet hip-distance apart. Flatten your shoulder blades under you so you feel a gentle opening through the chest. Release into the floor.
Savasana, or corpse pose, is everyone’s favorite. The last pose of any yoga session and some would argue the most important. Let your body go. Celebrate the workout you finished. Stay here as long as you like. Breathe and let your body restore itself.
The yogic practice caters to every skill level. It has such diversity to support whatever goals you may have. Your mind, body, lifestyle, or all the above. Experiment with these yoga poses for beginners. You’ll be setting yourself up for success if you choose to continue your yoga practice.
Even if you stop here and are happy. Integrate a few simple poses into your daily stretches, warm-ups, or cool-downs. The benefits you receive will be felt. We learn to breathe in harmony with action. We become capable of breathing new life into the action of our everyday lives.
10 Basic Yet Important Yoga Poses For Beginners
1. Mountain Pose
Mountain Pose is the base for all standing poses. It gives you a sense of how to ground your feet and feel the earth below you. Mountain pose may seem like “simply standing,” but there is a ton going on.
- Stand with the bases of your big toes touching, heels apart (so that your second toes are parallel). Lift and spread your toes and the balls of your feet, then lay them down on the floor. Rock back and forth and side to side. Reduce this swaying to a standstill, with your weight balanced evenly on the feet.
- Firm your thigh muscles and lift the knee caps, without hardening your lower belly. Lift the inner ankles to strengthen the inner arches. Then imagine a line of energy all the way up along your inner thighs to your groins. And from there through the core of your torso, neck, and head, and out through the crown of your head. Turn the upper thighs inward. Lengthen your tailbone toward the floor and lift the pubis toward the navel.
- Press your shoulder blades into your back, then widen them across and release them down your back. Lift the top of your sternum straight toward the ceiling. Without pushing your lower front ribs forward. Widen your collarbones. Hang your arms beside the torso.
- Balance the crown of your head over the center of your pelvis and the underside of your chin parallel to the floor. Keep your throat soft, and the tongue wide and flat on the floor of your mouth. Soften your eyes.
- Tadasana is usually the starting position for all the standing poses. But it’s useful to practice Tadasana as a pose in itself. Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, breathing easily.
2. Downward Facing Dog
Downward Dog is in most yoga practices and yoga classes. It stretches and strengthens the entire body.
- Begin on your hands and knees. Align your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. The fold of your wrists should be parallel with the top edge of your mat. Point your middle fingers to the top edge of your mat. Stretch your elbows and relax your upper back.
- Spread your fingers wide and press through your palms and knuckles. Distribute your weight across your hands.
- Exhale as you tuck your toes and lift your knees off the floor. Reach your pelvis up toward the ceiling, then draw your sit bones toward the wall behind you. Begin to straighten your legs, but do not lock your knees. Bring your body into the shape of an “A.” Imagine your hips and thighs pulling back from the top of your thighs. Do not walk your feet closer to your hands and keep the extension of your whole body.
- Press the floor away from you as you lift through your pelvis. As you lengthen your spine, lift your sit bones up toward the ceiling. Now press down equally through your heels and the palms of your hands.
Upper Body Placement
- Firm the outer muscles of your arms and press your index fingers into the floor. Lift from the inner muscles of your arms to the top of both shoulders. Draw your shoulder blades into your upper back ribs and toward your tailbone. Broaden across your collarbones.
- Rotate your arms externally so your elbow creases face your thumbs.
- Draw your chest toward your thighs as you continue to press the mat away from you. Lengthen and decompress your spine.
- Engage your quadriceps. Rotate your thighs inward as you continue to lift your sit bones high. Sink your heels toward the floor. Align your ears with your upper arms. Relax your head, but do not let it dangle. Gaze between your legs or toward your navel.
Plank teaches us how to balance on our hands while using the entire body to support us. It is a great way to strengthen the abdominals and learn to use the breath to help us stay in a challenging pose.
- Start in Adho Mukha Svanasana. Then inhale and draw your torso forward until the arms are perpendicular to the floor. The shoulders over the wrists, torso parallel to the floor.
- Press your outer arms inward and firm the bases of your index fingers into the floor. Firm your shoulder blades against your back then spread them away from the spine. Also, spread your collarbones away from the sternum.
- Press your front thighs up toward the ceiling. But resist your tailbone toward the floor as you lengthen it toward the heels. Lift the base of the skull away from the back of the neck. Look straight down at the floor, keeping the throat and eyes soft.
Triangle is a wonderful standing posture. Stretch the sides of the waist, open up the lungs, strengthen the legs and tone the entire body.
- Begin standing at the top of your mat with your feet hip-distance apart and your arms at your sides. Begin to pay attention to your breath. Let go of distractions. Deep breaths. Take a moment to tune into your body and draw your awareness inward.
- Step your feet wide apart, about 4 to 5 feet. Check to ensure that your heels align with each other.
- Turn your right foot out 90 degrees so your toes are pointing to the top of the mat. The center of your right knee cap should align with the center of your right ankle.
- Pivot your left foot inwards. Your back toes should be at a 45-degree angle.
- Lift through the arches of your feet, while rooting down through your ankles.
Upper Body Placement
- Raise your arms to the side to shoulder height, so they’re parallel to the floor. Your arms should align over your legs. With your palms facing down, reach actively from fingertip to fingertip.
- On an exhalation, reach through your right hand in the same direction as your right foot points. Shift your left hip back so your tailbone and pelvis tilt toward the wall or space behind your left foot. Fold at your right hip. Keep your right ear, shoulder, and knee on the same plane not letting your torso drop forward. Turn your left palm forward, with your fingertips reaching toward the sky.
- Rest your right hand on your outer shin or ankle. If you are more flexible, place your right fingertips or palm on the floor to the outside of your right shin. You can also place your hand on a block. Align your shoulders so your left shoulder is above your right shoulder.
- Gently turn your head to gaze at your right thumb.
- Drawdown through the outer edge of your back foot. Extend equally through both sides of your waist. Lengthen your tailbone toward your back heel. Keep your left arm in line with your shoulders.
Tree Pose is an awesome standing balance for beginners to work on. Gain focus and clarity, and learn to breathe while standing and keeping the body balanced on one foot.
- Start with your feet together and place your right foot on your inner left upper thigh.
Press your hands in prayer and find a spot in front of you that you can hold in a steady gaze.
- Hold and breathe for 8-10 breaths then switch sides.
- Make sure you don’t lean into the standing leg and keep your abdominals engaged and shoulders relaxed.
6. Warrior 1
Warrior poses are essential for building strength and stamina in yoga practice. They give us confidence and stretch the hips and thighs. While building strength in the entire lower body and core.
Warrior 1 is a gentle backbend. A great pose for stretching open the front body (quads, hip flexors, psoas). Strengthening the legs, hips, buttocks, core and upper body.
- Begin in Mountain Pose (Tadasana). Standing with your feet hip-distance apart and your arms at your sides. Let your thoughts settle. Focus on the present moment. Breathe deeply and evenly, calming your mind. Draw your awareness inward. Turn to the left.
- Exhale as you step your feet wide apart, about 4 to 5 feet.
- Turn your right foot out 90 degrees, so your toes are pointing to the top of the mat.
- Pivot your left foot inwards at a 45-degree angle.
- Align your front heel with the arch of your back foot. Keep your pelvis turned toward the front of your mat.
- Press your weight through your left heel. Then, exhale as you bend your right knee over your right ankle. Your shin should be perpendicular to the floor. Lift through the arches of your feet, while rooting down through your ankles.
Upper Body Placement
- Reach up through your arms. Broaden across your belly, lengthen the sides of your waist, and lift through your chest. 8 Keep your palms and fingers active and reaching.
- You can keep your arms parallel, or press your palms together.
- Tilt your head back and gaze up at your thumbs. Keep your shoulders dropped away from your ears. Feel your shoulder blades pressing inward.
- Press down through the outer edge of your back foot, keeping your back leg straight.
7. Warrior 2
Warrior 2 is an external hip opener and opens up the inner thighs and groin. It’s a good starting point for many side postures. Including triangle, extended angle and half moon balance.
- Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). With an exhalation, step or jump your feet 3 1/2 to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor. Reach them out to the sides, shoulder blades wide, palms down.
- Turn your right foot to the right and your left foot out to the left 90 degrees. Align the left heel with the right heel. Firm your thighs. Turn your left thigh outward so that the center of the left knee cap is in line with the center of the left ankle.
- Exhale and bend your left knee over the left ankle, so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor. If possible, bring the left thigh parallel to the floor. Anchor this movement of the left knee by strengthening the right leg. Press the outer right heel to the floor.
- Stretch the arms away from the space between the shoulder blades, parallel to the floor. Don’t lean the torso over the left thigh. Keep the sides of the torso equally long and the shoulders over the pelvis. Press the tailbone toward the pubis. Turn the head to the left and look out over the fingers.
- Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Inhale to come up. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left.
8. Seated Forward Bend
It’s important to incorporate a forward bend in yoga practice. It’s used to stretch the hamstrings, lower back, upper back, and sides. Seated forward bend is the perfect fold for everyone to start to open up the body. Learn to breathe through uncomfortable positions.
If you feel any sharp pain, you need to back off. Feel the tension when you fold forward and continue to breathe. You will slowly start to loosen up and let go. You can also keep your knees bent in the pose as long as the feet stay flexed and together.
- From Staff pose, inhale the arms up over the head and lift and lengthen up through the fingers and crown of the head.
- Exhale and hinge at the hips, slowly lower the torso towards the legs. Reach the hands to the toes, feet or ankles.
- To deepen the stretch: A) Use the arms to gently pull the head and torso closer to the legs. B) Press out through the heels and draw the toes towards you.
- Breathe and hold for 3-8 breaths.
- To release: A) Slowly roll up the spine back into Staff pose. B) Inhale the arms back over your head as you lift the torso back into Staff pose.
9. Bridge Pose
A counter pose to a forward bend is a backbend. The Bridge is a good beginner’s backbend that stretches the front body and strengthens the back body.
- Lying on your back, bend both knees and place the feet flat on the floor hip-width apart. Slide the arms alongside the body with the palms facing down. The fingertips should be touching the heels.
- Press the feet into the floor, inhale and lift the hips up, rolling the spine off the floor. Lightly squeeze the knees together to keep the knees hip-width apart.
- Press down into the arms and shoulders to lift the chest up. Engage the legs, buttocks and mula bandha to lift the hips higher.
- Breathe and hold for 4-8 breaths.
- To release: exhale and slowly roll the spine back to the floor.
10. Child’s Pose
Everyone needs a good resting pose and Child’s pose is an awesome one. This is not only one of the yoga poses for beginners but also for yoga practitioners of all levels.
It’s good to learn child’s pose to use when you’re fatigued in Down Dog. Also before bed at night to work out the kinks, or anytime you need a mental break and stress/tension relief.
- Kneel on the floor. Touch your big toes together and sit on your heels, then separate your knees about as wide as your hips.
- Exhale and lay your torso down between your thighs. Broaden your sacrum across the back of your pelvis and narrow your hip points toward the navel. This is so that they nestle down onto the inner thighs. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of the pelvis. Lift the base of your skull away from the back of your neck.
- Lay your hands on the floor alongside your torso, palms up. Release the fronts of your shoulders toward the floor. Feel how the weight of the front shoulders pulls the shoulder blades wide across your back.
- Balasana is a resting pose. Stay anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes. Beginners can also use Balasana to get a taste of a deep forward bend, where the torso rests on the thighs. Stay in the pose from 1 to 3 minutes.
- To come up, first, lengthen the front torso. Then with an inhalation lift from the tailbone as it presses down and into the pelvis.
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