Yoga is a great way to stay in shape and it’s easy to get started. Learning some basic yoga postures can seriously improve your health. Yoga stretches and strengthens your muscles, boosts your endurance, and creates deep relaxation for the mind.
These yoga basics posts outline key yoga postures that you can use on your own or as part of a beginner’s flow. The post provides images, step-by-step instructions, and tips for how to get started with each posture.
Items Needed to Get Started in Yoga
The first step is to get a yoga mat and other yoga gear. You can buy a yoga mat and some equipment at your local sporting goods store or online. Click here for our recommended yoga gear list.
Beginner Yoga Poses
Below are some basic, beginner yoga poses you can perform on your own or as part of a yoga flow. While intermediate and advanced yogis might find these poses to not be challenging, the beginner is likely to have no problem doing these yoga poses!
Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
One of the most common poses in yoga, the downward-facing dog pose is a great stretch for the entire body and is also known as an inversion. Your feet and hands are on the mat, with your hands spread wide and your feet hip-width apart. You then push your butt up as high as you can, so that you’re balancing on your toes and the back of your head/neck. If you’re having trouble balancing, place a blanket or pillow under your head/neck to allow for better balance on your arms/hands.
Crescent Lunge (Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasan)
The lunge is a great pose to stretch the inner and outer thighs. A typical lunge has your left leg forward and your right leg back. You then bend at the hips and place your hands on the mat beside the front foot. To get into the lunge, step your left foot back until both feet are flat on the mat, and then lean forward to bring both knees towards each other. Both arms should be extended as you do this for a deeper stretch.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
This is one of the most commonly practiced poses in all forms of yoga. Standing up straight, you can place your arms at your side with palms facing down. Or you can hold a “staff” if you like and raise your arms up and over the head for an even deeper stretch. The Mountain pose has many benefits, including strengthening the core and shoulder muscles, improving balance, and increasing body awareness.
Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
The warrior II (also known as virabhadrasana II) is a powerful yoga pose that stretches and strengthens the legs, hips, and back. The warrior II pose is actually a variation of the normal warrior pose, but with one leg stretched back alongside the body. You place your right foot forward with your right toes pressed on the mat and heel off the mat. Then extend your arms out to the side at shoulder height with palms facing down. Repeat on the other side to complete one rep.
Plank Pose (Kumbhakasana)
The plank pose is a very simple exercise that strengthens the muscles of the arms and core. You can do this pose with your hands together or on either side of the body, or even between your feet. To start, lie with your upper body on the floor and place your forearms under you. Your feet should be in line with your thighs and knees bent at 90 degrees (or straight if you’re doing it right!).
Low Plank (Chaturanga Dandasana)
The low plank pose is another simple, tough yoga pose that works the muscles of the upper body and core. Begin in a down dog position (see above) with your hands shoulder-width apart. Lift your knees off the mat and push your hips up to bring yourself into a low plank position. Keep your arms straight and elbows about shoulder width apart. Slowly lower back down to starting posture and repeat.
Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
One of the most popular yoga poses, the upward facing dog stretches and strengthens the legs, back, and chest. You start on your hands and knees with your wrists under your shoulders, palms on the mat, and toes tucked under. Then push up with your hands and feet so that you’re balancing on your toes (like in a downward dog pose) with only your forearms touching the floor.
The Tree pose is great for beginners as it is a common beginner yoga pose. It stretches the entire body and can be an excellent back stretch as well. The Tree pose can also be an excellent hamstring and quadricep stretch.
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This beginner yoga pose works on hips, especially the hip abductors, which are the muscles that allow for very good extension in the hips. This variation allows for an easier stretch of those muscles.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
The corpse pose is a great way to relax and concentrate on the breath. Sit on your floor with your legs crossed.
Close your eyes. Breathe in and out deeply through the nose and feel the breath going into your spine. Now, imagine that you are breathing in peace, calmness and relaxation.
Stay for around 20-30 minutes to savasana.
Points to Remember:
You can do these poses in any order, but always do them on an empty stomach—do not eat for a couple of hours before yoga.
Do each pose for about 30 seconds, and repeat a few times if you have time and energy.
Take a rest after class to recover.
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You might want to start slowly and build up your practice over time.
Do not force your body into the poses.
Do not push yourself to the point where you have pain—this is counterproductive to relaxing!
These beginner poses are a great starting point for anyone looking to undergo or simply try out yoga. The techniques and moves practiced in this program are fundamental poses that are essential in any form of yoga. Do you have other favorite beginner yoga poses? Tell us in the comments below!