Yoga For Complete Beginners – Start practicing with these basic poses


As a new yoga student, you might feel overwhelmed by the number of poses and their odd-sounding names. But yoga doesn’t have to be complicated. If you got up this morning and stretched your arms over your head, you’ve already performed a yoga pose. Remember, yoga practice is a lifelong pursuit – give yourself plenty of time to learn dozens of poses.

Much basic yoga poses feel very familiar because our bodies naturally bend and fold into poses. With awareness and conscious breathing, start by learning beginner yoga poses. It’s a good idea to keep it simple when you’re just starting out. The beginner yoga poses outlined here are valuable enough to keep you busy for a long time. Then, as you build up your practice, you can take on more challenging poses.

Remember, you don’t have to learn all the poses listed below. They are just options for you to choose and learn at your will and at your leisure without any pressure to perfect them. Read on for more information on each pose.

type of pose

Yoga has many types of poses, depending on how you move your body to perform them. Below are the basic types of yoga poses.

  • Standing poses: Standing poses are often done first in yoga classes to “build the heat” and warm you up. In flow yoga/flow yoga, standing poses are strung together into long sequences.
  • Balance Poses: Beginners’ balance is an important way to build the core strength needed for many of yoga’s more advanced poses. While balancing may seem difficult at first, you’ll find that it improves significantly with regular practice.
  • Backbends: As a beginner, you’ll typically start with gentle spinal flexion and extension, eventually moving to deeper bends. Since you rarely move like this in your daily life, backbends are critical to spinal health and longevity.
  • Seated: Seated stretches typically focus on stretching the glutes and hamstrings and are usually performed at the end of a yoga class after the body has warmed up. Placing folded blankets or blocks under the seat is a great way to make yourself more comfortable in these positions.
  • Resting or Supine Positions: Knowing your resting positions is crucial, especially a child’s position, and you are encouraged to do so when you need a break during your yoga session. These resting poses continue the glute and hamstring work of sitting and offer gentle back bends, twists, and inversions.

Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Posture Type: Standing

Downward dog goes hand in hand with yoga, but just because you’ve heard of the pose doesn’t mean it’s easy to do.

Beginners often lean too far forward in this pose, making it more of a plank. Instead, remember to place your weight primarily on your legs and reach high at your hips, with your heels extending toward the floor (they don’t need to touch the floor).

If your hamstrings are tight, bend your knees slightly to allow for easier movement. Keep your feet parallel.

Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Posture Type: Standing

Mountain Pose may not be as famous as Downward Dog, but it’s just as important. This is an excellent time to talk about alignment, which is the ideal arrangement of your body parts in each pose.

Mountain pose alignment draws a straight line from the crown of the head to the heels, with the shoulders and pelvis stacked along the line. Everyone’s body is different, so focus on rooting down with your feet and lengthening your spine.

A yoga teacher can tell you about this in class, reminding you to slide your shoulders off and put your weight on your heels.

Warrior I (Vera Bhadrasana I)

Posture Type: Standing

The key thing to remember in Warrior I is the hips facing forward. Think of your hip points as headlights — they should be roughly parallel to the front of the mat. This may require you to take a broader stance.

Warrior II (Villabad Rasana II)

Posture Type: Standing

Unlike Warrior I, in Warrior II the hips face the side of the mat. Hips and shoulders open to the side as you move from Warrior I to Warrior II.

You’ll also rotate the back foot, tilting the toes about 45 degrees. In Warrior’s Two Pose, aim to keep your front knee stacked over your ankle. Your front toes point forward.

Extended Side Angle (Utthita Parvakonasana)

Posture Type: Standing

A modification of the extended side angle pose is to place the forearms on the thighs instead of the hands on the floor. It should rest lightly on your thigh without taking too much weight. This modification enables you to keep your shoulders open. You can also place your hands on the blocks.

If you reach for the floor before you’re ready, you risk compromising your torso position by turning your chest toward the floor instead of the ceiling.

Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)

Posture Type: Standing

The triangle can be modified by extending the side angles, and if you’re not used to extending your arms to the floor, you can use a yoga block as your lower hand. You can also place your hands on your legs (shins or thighs), but avoid placing them directly on your knees.

If the position feels uncomfortable, don’t hesitate to bend your knees slightly. This doesn’t look or feel like an obvious bend, but it’s enough of a movement to release the knees and relieve tension in the hamstrings.

The triangle has many benefits: strength (legs), flexibility (groins, hamstrings, and glutes, and open chest and shoulders), and balance.

Standing Forward Bend (Uthanasana)

To stand forward, bend, exhale, and fold your legs. If your hamstrings feel tight at first, bend your knees so you can release your spine. Let your head hang down heavily.

Keep your legs slightly bent and feet hip-width apart for better stability (you can straighten your legs, but it’s not necessary). You can clasp the opposite elbow with the other hand while gently rocking from side to side.

Reverse Warrior (Viparita Virabhadrasana)

Posture Type: Standing

The Reverse Warrior has a similar stance to Warrior I and incorporates a slight cardio-opening sideband or optional backbend.

To maintain postural stability, it is necessary to root to the sole of the front foot, anchor the outer edge of the rear foot, and engage the glutes and hamstrings.

Focus on your palms as they reach the top of your head. Keep your front knee tracking over your ankle while digging into your hip.

Garland Pose (Marasana)

Pose type: Standing

Squatting isn’t something familiar to most 21st-century humans. However, it’s an excellent stretch for the muscles around the pelvis, making it what is often called a “hip opener” in yoga.

Perhaps surprisingly, it’s also good for your feet, which are often neglected. If squatting is difficult for you, props can help: Try sitting on a block or rolling a towel or blanket under the heels. Keep pressing your heels down toward the floor.

Half Forward Bend (Arda Euthanasia)

Posture Type: Standing

This flat-back forward bend (you may also hear it called a “mid-lift”) is often done as part of a sun salutation sequence. As such, it’s often rushed, but it’s worth taking the time to tackle it independently. Figuring out when your back is flat is part of developing body awareness.

At first, looking in the mirror is helpful. You may find that you need to lift your hands off the floor and into your legs to get the height needed to keep your back flat. Gently bend your knees as needed.

Pyramid Pose (Parsvottanasana)

Posture Type: Standing

Standing forward bends like Pyramid Pose is an ideal time to break out yoga blocks to make the pose more accessible. Place a block on either side of your front foot to “raise the floor” to a level your hands can comfortably reach. Your hamstrings will still enjoy a nice stretch, and they’ll appreciate your consideration.

Raised Hands Pose (Urdhva Hastasana)

Posture Type: Standing

Urdhva Hasasana builds on mountain pose and requires you to keep your legs rooted to the ground while reaching out to the sky with your arms. The result is a full-body stretch, which is a great way to introduce body parts to a yoga session.

low lunge

Posture Type: Standing

The alignment of the lunge is very important. Try to stand at a right angle to your front leg so your knee is directly over your ankle and your thigh is parallel to the floor. At the same time, keep your hips level and energize your back legs.

Many people don’t go deep enough with the front legs and the back legs sag. Take a look in the mirror to make sure you’re doing it right.

To modify, place your hands on the blocks and/or place your hind legs on the mat (use a blanket or towel for cushioning as needed).

Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

Pose type: Standing/Balancing

Tree pose is a great introduction to balance poses. If you feel yourself starting to collapse, you can easily get out. Try not to create balance by extending your hip to the side of the standing leg.

Focus on one spot on the floor and try varying the position of your feet to see what works for you: heel on the ankle, on the block, or above or below the knee.

downward dog split

Posture Type: Standing/Balance

Introducing proper balancing poses can help build core strength. In “Don Dog Splitting,” it’s not about how high you can lift your legs. Instead, focus on rooting your hands and keeping the weight evenly distributed across your hands.

plank pose

Posture Type: Balance

It might seem odd to call the plank a balance pose because the risk of falling is so small, but it gets to the heart of the pose—core strength.

A strong core is essential for many yoga poses, including standing balance and arm balance, and planks are an excellent way to improve stability and stamina. The goal is to keep the hips and spine in a neutral position.

Cat and Cow Stretch (Chakravakasana)

Pose Type: Backbend

It’s the best of both worlds: spinal extension followed by spinal flexion. Moving back and forth awakens and warms the back, increases body awareness, and is an essential introduction to a flow yoga sequence by coordinating your movements to breathing.

Cat-cow is probably the most important pose to learn when you start yoga, especially if you have back pain. Even if you’ve never taken a few yoga classes, keep doing this stretch yourself.

Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

Pose Type: Backbend

Bridge pose is a gentle way to explore spinal extension, also known as backbends. It’s a good idea to start incorporating this type of exercise, as it improves spinal mobility and counteracts the effects of prolonged sitting.

If the bridge seems too drastic, try a braced bridge with blocks. Remember to root into your feet, which helps you use your leg muscles to support the pose.

Cobra Pose (Bujangasana)

Pose Type: Backbend

In flow yoga, the cobra is performed multiple times per class as part of the sequence of flow yoga poses. While a full cobra with one arm straight provides a deeper backbend, by doing a low cobra you can build back strength by lifting your chest without stressing your hands.

Rooted at the feet, elongated through the crown of the head, and widened through the collarbone as the sternum is lifted. It is also critical to anchor the pelvis to the floor before lifting.

Knees, Chest, and Chin (Ashtanga Namascara)

Pose Type: Backbend

Ashtanga Namaskara was once taught to all beginning yoga students as a substitute and preparation for Chaturanga Dandasana. In recent years, it has fallen out of favor.

As a result, some students were herded into Chaturanga before they were ready. It belongs to the series of sun salutations for beginners. Also, it’s a great warm-up for deeper backbends.

Take your time, slowly coming into the pose from the plank position. Start by lowering your knees to the mat with your toes tucked under.

Then keep your elbows pressed into your body while lowering your chest and chin to the floor. The shoulders should hover over your hands.

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