10 Basic Yoga Poses That Are Perfect for Beginners
Don’t be intimidated by all those crazy yoga poses you see on Instagram – there are plenty of basic yoga poses that anyone can do! This ancient activity is meant for all shapes, sizes, ages, and genders, so there’s no requirement of having to be super flexible or being able to stand on your hands.
If you’re new to yoga, start with these 10 basic yoga poses that any beginner can perform. They’ll help you become more comfortable standing on your feet and sitting on the mat. Plus, these poses can also help you learn how to breathe more deeply, which is just as important as the postures!
Follow along with the instructions and videos below, and you’ll feel more confident on your yoga mat in no time.
1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
How to do it:
- This is a classic standing yoga pose for beginners. Stand with your big toes touching and heels slightly apart. Let your arms hang down along side the torso, palms facing forward.
- Lift and spread your toes, then release them to the mat. Feel your weight balanced evenly between the front, back, and sides of the feet.
- Contract the thighs upward by lifting the kneecaps. Lengthen your tailbone down. Grow taller through the sides of the waist. Lift the chest toward the ceiling, as you soften the front ribs back. Draw the shoulder heads back and down. Align your ears over your shoulders. Balance the head directly over the pelvis and the pelvis directly over the ankles.
- Steadies your body.
- Invokes alertness.
- Shifts your mind to the present moment.
- Teaches correct alignment in many standing poses.
2. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
- Begin on your hands and knees on the mat.
- Un-tuck your toes and bring the feet together.
- Spread your knees out a bit further than hip distance apart and sit back on your heels.
- Extend your arms all the way out and lie your forehead on the mat. Hold for many breaths.
- Stretches thighs, ankles, hips, spine and arms.
- Encourages deeper breathing.
- Relaxes and calms the mind and body.relieves tension and anxiety.
3. Bound Ankle Pose (Baddha Konasana)
- Sit on your mat, pull the flesh away from the sits bones and sit tall with a straight spine. Bend the knees and bring the soles of your feet together.
- Separate the inside edge of your feet as if you are opening a book, which will help to splay your knees open.
- Grab hold of the ankles, lead with the sternum, and fold forward toward the feet.
- Keep the spine straight and the shoulders pulled back. Hold 8-10 breaths.
- Relaxes the inner thighs and groin.
- Helps strengthen abdominal muscles
- Helps focus on and improve posture.
4. Seated Spinal Twist (Bharadvajasana 1)
- Some basic yoga poses involve light twisting, like this one. Start by sitting cross-legged on your mat. Move the flesh away from your sit bones and sit up tall with a straight spine.
- Take your right hand to the left knee and rest the left hand behind you. Relax your shoulders, relax your stomach, and take your gaze over the left shoulder to stretch the neck.
- Hold for many breaths, then unwind to face forward.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
- Stretches the hips, waist, spine, chest, shoulders, and neck.
- May help to encourage proper digestion.
5. Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana)
- Begin seated on the mat with your legs together fully extended in front of you. Pull the flesh away from your sits bones so you are fully able to feel the floor beneath you.
- Tuck your toes in so the leg muscles engage and turn your inner thighs down toward the floor.
- Keep your spine straight, lifting your sternum toward the ceiling and walk the hands down the sides of your legs. Stop when you feel a stretch. Hold for many breaths.
- Stretches the hamstrings, back muscles, and shoulders.
- Helps promote lengthening of the spine.
- Creates inner calm through deep breath.
6. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
How to do it:
- Easy into backbends with this basic yoga pose. Lay on your stomach and untuck your toes so the tops of the feet are on the mat. Place your hands on the mat under your shoulders. Keep your legs straight, and press the tops of your feet into the mat.
- On an inhale, press into your palms and lift your chest off the floor using your arm and back muscles. (Only lift your chest to a height that avoids pinching your lower back.) Keep your elbows tucked in to your sides.
- Keep a slight bend in your elbows. Open your chest and press your shoulder blades down the back away from your ears. Don’t crunch your lower back – it should feel lengthened. Engage your leg muscles by keeping them straight and pressed into the floor.
- Stretches the front of the body, including the chest, shoulders, and abs, which allows you to breath more deeply.
- Strengthens the muscles along the spine which helps to promote good posture.
- Activates your leg muscles.
7. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
How to do it:
- Start in a table top position: hands and knees on the floor with your shoulders over hands hands and hips over your knees. Spread your fingers wide, placing more weight on your forefinger and thumb to protect your wrists.
- Curl your toes under to grip the mat. Take a deep breath, and on your exhale, pike your hips toward the ceiling.
- Press your heels toward the mat, keeping a soft bend in your knees. Straighten your arms, but soften your elbows and rotate the eyes of your elbows toward your ears to engage your biceps.
- Look at your toes.
- Engage your core muscles toward the spine and slightly tuck the tailbone to elongate the lower back.
- Creates length in the spine and lower body.
- Strengthens the arms, shoulders, and back.
- A gentle way to incorporate an inversion into your yoga practice.
8. Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
How to do it:
- Start at the top of your mat in mountain pose. Inhale, raise your arms straight up turning the triceps forward. Exhale, hinge at your hips and reach for the floor.
- Bend your knees slightly, fold your torso over your legs, and lengthen your spine the whole way down. Bring either your fingertips or palms to the floor, fingers in line with your toes. Look toward your legs.
- Shift your weight slightly forward on your feet so your hips align over your heels. If you can, begin to straighten your legs.
- Spiral your shoulders to the sides and away from your ears. Lift the arches of the feet Engage the legs by lifting the kneecaps. Lift your tailbone up toward the ceiling as you rotate your thighs inward.
- Stretches the hamstrings and calves.
- Strengthens the quadriceps.
- Can help to release back pain and spinal compression from sitting.
- May aid in digestion, may lessen menstrual cramps, and are known to be grounding for the yoga practitioner.
9. Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana 2)
How to do it:
- Start in mountain pose. Step your left foot back three to four feet and place it down at a 45-degree angle, so that your left arch is in line with your right heel.
- Bend your front knee to a 90-degree angle directly over the ankle, with your toes pointing forward. Don’t bend the knee past the ankle. Square your chest and hips to the left side.
- Press your left heel down firmly and engage your left thigh. Stand tall and engage your abs.
- On an inhale, reach your left arm back and your right arm forward, so that they are parallel to the mat in a “T” position with palms facing down.
- Look over your right fingertips. Stack your shoulders directly over your hips (so your ribs are centered — not shifted forward or back). Press your shoulder blades down.
- Stretches the ankles, legs, groin, and hips.
- Strengthens your legs, abdominals, arms, and shoulders.
- Builds stamina and focus.
10. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
- Lie down flat on your back. Spread your arms out away from the torso, turn the palms face up and relax your shoulders away from the ears. Separate the legs so the heels work their way to the inside corners of your mat.
- Close your eyes, relax your jaw, and slow your breath down. Relax, and let your body sink into the ground.
- Relaxes the body and mind.
- Slows heart rate.
- May help to relieve headaches, stress, and anxiety.