8 Standing Yoga Poses for Beginners

8 Standing Yoga Poses for Beginners

There are myriad reasons to practice yoga, including increased flexibility and strength, as well as less muscle tightness and stress. And you don’t have to be a seasoned yogi to derive these benefits. Enjoy the many advantages that a consistent yoga practice offers with the following standing yoga poses for beginners.

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1. Mountain pose (tadasana)

It doesn’t look like much, but mountain pose is a very important pose since its alignment is the blueprint for many other poses in yoga.

  • Stand with your big toes touching and your heels slightly apart, or feet parallel and hip-width apart.
  • Flex your quadriceps and rotate them inward.
  • Engage your abs and expand your chest, pulling your shoulders back and down.
  • Bring your chin parallel to the floor.


2. Standing forward bend (uttanasana)

Standing forward bend is a natural transition from mountain pose and stretches the entire back of the body — from the calves and hamstrings to the lower and upper back.

  • Begin with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Keeping your spine straight, hinge forward at your hips and bring your torso toward your legs.
  • Bend your knees slightly so that your stomach touches your thighs.
  • Reach your hands toward the floor, and let your head hang.
  • Slowly try to straighten your knees while keeping your stomach on your thighs.
  • With your hands on the floor or your ankles, hold the pose and take five full breaths.


3. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)

Warrior II strengthens and stretches the body at the same time, giving you the feeling of a strong, fierce warrior. This pose strengthens your ankles, legs, glutes, core, back, and shoulders.

  • Stand with your feet 3-4 feet apart with your front foot pointing straight ahead, and your back foot pointed outward at 45 degrees or parallel to the back edge of the mat. Align the heel of your front foot with the arch of your back foot.
  • Keeping your back leg straight, bend your front knee so that it’s directly above the ankle and forms a 90-degree angle at the knee.
  • Engage your abs, align your shoulders over your hips, and reach your arms out, so they’re parallel to the floor.
  • Draw your shoulders down and back away from your ears, lengthen your neck and look out over your front hand.
  • Hold for five breaths, then repeat on the other side.


4. Tree pose (Vrksasana)

Tree pose is the perfect beginner yoga pose for balancing — once you’ve mastered it, you can move on to more complicated balancing postures. Tree pose strengthens the muscles of the standing leg, ankle, and foot.

  • Start in mountain pose with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Keeping your hands at your hips, slowly press the sole of one foot into the standing ankle, calf muscle, or inner thigh (NOT the knee).
  • To help with balance, press your foot into your leg and your leg into your foot.
  • Focus your gaze on a non-moving spot on the ground.
  • Once you feel stable, press your hands together in front of your chest or raise them above your head.
  • Hold for five full breaths, then repeat on the other side.


5. Reverse Warrior (Viparita Virabhadrasana)

This pose is similar to Warrior II, except there’s an added stretch for the side of the body.

  • Start in warrior II pose.
  • Engage your abs and place your back hand on your back thigh as you reach your front arm up and over your head without bending your elbow.
  • Hold for five full breaths, then repeat on the other side.


6. Extended Side Angle (Utthita Parsvakonasana)

Extended side angle is a good pose to perform right after reverse warrior since it stretches the opposite side of the body. This pose strengthens the calves, quads, hamstrings, and groin while stretching the muscles of the legs, hips, waist, shoulders, and arms.

  • Start in reverse warrior or warrior II pose.
  • Place your front elbow on your front thigh, palm facing up.
  • Engage your abs, and reach your back arm directly over your head without bending your elbow, keeping your bicep close to your ear.
  • Draw your shoulders down and back to create space between your shoulders and ears.
  • Create a straight line from the outer edge of your back foot to the fingertips of your top hand.
  • Hold for five full breaths, then repeat on the other side.


7. Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)

Triangle pose may look easy, but if you have tight hamstrings or hips, you may find it challenging. That doesn’t mean it’s not for beginners; it just may take some time for your body to open up to it.

  • Stand with your feet roughly three feet apart (or in a slightly shorter stance than warrior II). Point your front foot straight ahead and your back foot outward at 45 degrees or parallel to the back edge of the mat. Align the heel of your front foot with the arch of your back foot.
  • Reach your arms straight out in a “T” formation and straighten both legs.
  • Shift your rib cage forward, extending your front arm as far as you can reach in front of you.
  • Tilt sideways from your waist, bringing your front fingertips toward your front ankle and your back arm up toward the ceiling.
  • Rotate your chest open to stack your shoulders and bring your arms into a straight line.
  • You can place your front hand on your shin, ankle, or a block, or against your calf.
  • Turn your head to look at your top hand.
  • Hold for five full breaths, then repeat on the other side.


8. Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

This classic beginner yoga pose is one of the first poses that new yogis learn. Down dog is part of the warm-up for most yoga classes, and provides a great stretch for your back and legs, while building strength in your shoulders and arms.

  • Start on your hands and knees, with your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees.
  • Press into your hands and lift your hips up and back. Keep a slight bend in the knees.
  • Spread your fingers, straighten your arms, rotate your shoulders outward and away from your ears, engage your core, and lift your hips high.
  • Rotate your upper thighs inward, straighten your legs, and lower your heels toward the floor.
  • Relax your neck and let your head hang. Hold for five full breaths.
Sarah Stevenson


Sarah Stevenson , a.k.a., The Tini Yogini, is a Certified Yoga Instructor in Southern California. She has a degree in Behavioral Psychology and teaches not only yoga classes but also life affirming workshops.