Whether you’ve already attended a few yoga classes and want to deepen your knowledge, or want to know what to expect when you first step onto the mat, these beginner friendly yoga poses will help you ease into your practice with the confidence of a seasoned Yogi.
1. Downward Facing Dog
Adho mukha svanasana
Benefits: Improves flexibility, stretches calves and heels; encourages better circulation.
How To: Although you will have heard of this pose, it can be tricky to master. Start on all fours, with your hands and knees shoulder and hip width apart. Spread fingers wide and walk your hands forward, press your hips upwards, knees slightly bent if you need. Believe it or not, this pose will eventually become a resting posture, and your best friend. Stretch it out!
2. Mountain Pose
Benefits: Great for alignment, improving posture and sense of center. Helps aid relaxation, mental awareness and can be used as during breathing exercises.
How To: This pose is pure simplicity. Stand with your feet hip width apart and your weight spread evenly. Arms can be at your sides; some people take a prayer pose or reach up to the sky. It is important to be aware of the breath in this pose- breathe deeply and evenly. You can analyze your posture in a mirror, and try to keep yourself in a straight line, from the top of your head to the tip of your toes!
3. Tree Pose
Benefits: Improves balance and flexibility, strengthens spine and thighs.
How To: Begin by taking mountain pose, but then shifting your weight onto your right leg. Place the sole of your left foot on your left thigh- don’t worry if you wobble! Keep your hips facing forward and take a prayer position with your hands. If you’re feeling lucky, reach your arms upwards. Repeat this pose on the other side- right foot on left thigh.
4. Warrior Pose
Benefits: Stretches legs and ankles, improves lower body strength.
How To: Start with your legs a few feet apart, then turn out your left foot 90 degrees. Shoulders down, arms extended to the sides, lunge into your left knee 90 degrees. The idea is to keep your knee in line with your foot, not letting it go past your toes. Aim to get your front thigh parallel to the floor. Gaze out front over your hand and feel the burn! Be sure to repeat the pose on both sides of the body.
5. Triangle Pose
Benefits: Great for people with back pain, and during pregnancy. Stretches the whole body and strengthens ankles, knees and thighs.
How To: Take warrior pose on either side but don’t lunge. Instead try to touch the inside of your foot with the outside of your hand- don’t stress if you can’t manage to do this at first. Reach up to the sky with your other hand, and turn your gaze upwards to stretch out your back. For beginners, you can modify this pose by using a yoga block to support the bottom hand, or rest your hand higher up on your leg. As always, don’t forget to repeat the pose on the other side of the body!
6. Cat-Cow Pose
Benefits: Great for spinal health and those with back pain.
How To: On all fours, make sure your hands are below shoulders and knees below hips. Spread your fingers wide, and make sure you distribute weight evenly between hands. Take a deep breath in and arch your back upward, lowering your chin to your chest. Exhale and lower your back as you lift your head. Tilt the head back but try not to strain the neck. Repeat a few times and feel the stretch from your neck to your lower back.
Benefits: Stretches chest, lungs and abdomen. Helps to relieve stress, opens the heart and lungs. Great for those with asthma!
How To: Lie face down on your mat, with your legs stretched back. Spread your hands out on the floor, making sure they are directly under your shoulders. Press your lower body into the floor, inhale and straighten your arms so your chest is lifted off the floor. Find a height you are comfortable with, don’t over stretch your back. If you’re feeling brave, take your hands off the floor for a moment!
8. Seated Twist
Benefits: Gives your entire body an amazing stretch, perfect if you sit at a desk for long hours. Increases circulation and tones the abdomen.
How To: Sit on your mat with legs extended. Cross your right foot over the outside of your left thigh, bend your left knee but keep the right knee pointed toward the ceiling. Keep your right hand behind you on the floor- this will help you to stay stable. Place your left elbow on the outside of your right knee and twist to the right, as far as feels comfortable. Switch sides and repeat!
9. Pigeon Pose
Eka pada rajakapotasana
Benefits: Improves hip flexibility, stretches the quads.
How To: Palms under shoulders, begin in a push up position. Place your left knee on the floor, with your left heel near your right hip. Press hands to the floor, lift your chest and sit back- don’t over stretch in this pose at first. For more of a stretch, try lowering your chest to the floor. Don’t forget to repeat on the other side!
10. Childs Pose
Benefits: Relaxation, stretches the thighs and hips, allows you to rest between more challenging poses.
How To: Sit up comfortably on your heels; bring your upper body forward, with your forehead resting on the mat in front of you. Then either extend your arms in front of you, or rest your head on your hands if this is more comfortable. Lower your chest to your knees as close as you can. This pose may be the most important one you learn as a beginner. Use it in order to take a break during a yoga class- simply move into child’s pose and continue with the class when ready.