10 Yoga Poses For Beginners

10 Yoga Poses For Beginners

Maybe you’ve heard about the benefits of yoga. Maybe you know that yoga is good for both your body and your brain. You might even know the difference between yin yoga and vinyasa yoga. No matter where you are in your yogic knowledge, you can always benefit from the practice. And if you’re unsure where to begin, don’t worry. We’ve rounded up the best yoga poses for beginners, no experience necessary.

And remember, even the most seasoned yogi started from the beginning. “I try to remind people that yoga is a lifelong journey,” says Yoga52 instructor, Brent Laffoon. “It’s not about getting to a specific place so much as it is about simply continuing to show up over and over with an open mind and with as much enthusiasm as possible. Making a commitment with yourself to stay with it is probably the most important thing a beginner can do to ensure progress.”

For yoga classes to get you started stretching try out Openfit’s Yoga 52 program for free today! 

What Are the Best Beginners Yoga Poses?

These basic yoga poses for beginners offer a sampler of moves to get you started with your practice. We’ll walk you through each pose step-by-step, with expert tips to help you along the way.

And if you want even more after these 12, check out these yoga videos for beginners, as well as some standing yoga poses for beginners.

 

child's pose balasana Yoga52 Marie Grujicic Delage

1. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

How to Do Child’s Pose (Balasana)

  • Start on all fours, with your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees hip width or wider. Bring your big toes together.
  • Exhale and sink your hips back toward your heels. Rest your belly between your thighs and your forehead on your mat.
  • Extend your arms out in front of you (palms down, to stretch the whole back) or along your sides (palms up, to stretch between the shoulders).
  • Stay for a few breaths up to a few minutes.

Tips: “Let yourself adjust however you need to in order to be able to relax,” says Laffoon. “If you want to go deeper, you can stretch the arms forward more and press into the hands a little to push the hips back and stretch into the lower back a little more.”

 

cat cow pose yoga yoga52 odette hughes

2. Cat-Cow Pose (Bitilasana and Marjaryasana)

How to Do Cat-Cow Pose (Bitilasana and Marjaryasana)

Inhale: Cow pose

  • Get down on all fours, with your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Keep your back flat, your gaze toward the floor, and your neck long.
  • As you inhale, lift your tailbone and chest toward the ceiling while dropping your belly toward the mat.
  • Keep your shoulders away from your ears, shoulder blades broad across your back, and your head in line with your torso.
  • Exhale into cat pose.

Exhale: Cat pose

  • Start in cow pose.
  • As you exhale, round your back, tuck your tailbone, and curl your chin toward your chest.
  • Keep your shoulders and knees in place.
  • Inhale into cow pose.
  • Repeat this flow for up to 10 breaths, or longer if desired.

Tips: “Move slowly and really concentrate on linking the breath with the movement,” advises Laffoon. “The more you can move with your breath, the more you will be able to feel the pose working.”

 

cobra pose bhujangasana yoga52 david regelin

3. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

How to Do Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

  • Start in a high plank position: arms straight, shoulders stacked over your wrists, body straight from head to heels.
  • Keeping your core tight, bend your arms to slowly lower down to the floor, keeping your elbows close to your body. (Drop to your knees if needed.) When you reach the floor, untuck your toes so the tops of your feet are on the mat.
  • With your hands on the mat under your shoulders, press into your palms and lift your chest off the floor using your arms and back muscles. Keep your elbows close to your sides, with a slight bend. Keep your legs straight, and press the tops of your feet into the mat.
  • Open your chest and press your shoulder blades down your back away from your ears. Don’t crunch your lower back (it should feel lengthened). Engage your legs by keeping them straight and pressed into the floor.
  • Hold for at least 5 breaths.

Tips: Don’t force it, says Laffoon: “All you’re trying to do in Cobra pose is feel the spine’s ability to arch. The arms should be working to lift the chest as the hands press down into the floor, and there should also be some energy given toward pulling the chest forward as the shoulders roll back.”

 

upward facing dog Yoga52 Brent Laffoon

4. Upward Facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

How to Do Upward Facing Dog in Yoga (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

  • Start in a high plank position: arms straight, shoulders stacked over your wrists, body straight from head to heels.
  • Keeping your core tight, bend your arms to slowly lower down to the floor, keeping your elbows close to your body. (Drop to your knees if needed.) When you reach the floor, untuck your toes so the tops of your feet are on the mat.
  • With your hands on the mat under your shoulders, press into your palms, straighten your arms, and lift your chest up. Keep your elbows close to your sides, with a slight bend. Keep your legs straight, and press the tops of your feet into the mat.
  • Stack your shoulders directly over your wrists. Open your chest and press your shoulder blades down the back to lift your chest higher. Look straight ahead.
  • Hold for at least 5 breaths.

Tips: “This pose is similar to Cobra, only it involves a lot more energy through the whole length of the body,” explains Laffoon. “For beginners, it’s important to pay attention to the legs. They should be active, from the calves through the quads. The legs create the base of support, out of which the spine extends in this pose. The more you can feel that, the more safely you’ll be able to practice this pose and the more deeply you’ll be able to feel it.”

 

cow face pose gomukasana - odette hughes - yoga52

5. Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana)

How to Do Cow Face Pose in Yoga (Gomukhasana)

  • Start on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees below your hips.
  • Lift your right leg to cross your right knee over your left knee, and sit your hips back onto the floor. The sides of your feet should touch the floor on either side of your hips.
  • Reach your left arm out to the side and rotate it so your palm faces behind you. Bend your left arm, and reach your left hand up your back. Point your left fingers up toward your neck, with your palm still facing behind you. Keep your shoulders level.
  • Reach your right arm up toward the ceiling. Bend your right arm and reach down your back toward your left hand, keeping your biceps close to your ear, palm facing your back. Clasp your hands together if possible (or hold onto a yoga strap).
  • Hold for 1 minute, then switch sides.

Tips: “This can be a tricky pose, since it involves fairly deep stretching of both the hips and shoulders,” says Laffoon. “Be patient, and use a strap if necessary. There’s no need to force anything. As always, you want to be able to breathe slowly and deeply.”

 

downward facing dog micki duran yoga52

6. Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

How to Do Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

  • Start on all fours, with your knees directly below your hips, and wrists a few inches forward of your shoulders. Point your fingertip forward and spread your fingers wide.
  • On an exhale, tuck your toes, press into your hands, straighten your arms and legs, and lift your hips up toward the ceiling. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart and feet are hips-width apart.
  • Rotate your shoulders outward to avoid scrunching them. Keep your arms straight, and engage your biceps to keep your elbows from locking out. Look back at your toes and keep your ears in line with your arms.
  • Hold the pose for 1 minute.

Tips: “No matter how long you practice yoga, there will always be new intricacies to explore in Downward Dog,” says Laffoon. “For beginners, the most important thing is to get the spacing right between the hands and the feet. To do this, start in a plank pose, with the shoulders directly over the wrists and the feet about hip distance apart, then gently press the hips up and back while maintaining a very slight bend in the knees. This will take you into the basic shape, and you can begin to refine the pose from there.”

 

7. Warrior 1 and 2 Poses (Virabhadrasana 1 and 2)

How to Do Warrior 1 and Warrior 2 Pose (Virabhadrasana 1 and 2)

  • For Warrior 1, start by standing at the front of your mat with your feet hips distance apart.
  • Step your left foot back three to four feet, and place it at a 45-degree angle.
  • Keep your chest and hips facing the front of the mat. Bend your front knee to a 90-degree angle, so it aligns directly over your ankle. Your right toes should be pointing forward.
  • On an inhale, lift your arms forward and up alongside your ears, with your palms facing each other. Look forward or up at your hands. Engage your core.
  • Hold for at least 5 breaths.
  • To move into Warrior 2, reach your left arm straight back and reach your right arm straight forward, forming a “T” position. Your arms should be parallel to the ground, palms facing down.
  • Turn your hips and shoulders slightly so they face the left side. Keep your shoulders directly over your hips and keep them away from your ears. Look forward over your right fingertips
  • Hold for at least 5 breaths.
  • Repeat Warrior 1 and Warrior 2 on the other side.

Tips: “In Warrior 1, I often recommend off-setting the feet slightly, which makes it a little easier to square the hips and shoulders with the front of the mat,” advises Laffoon. “In Warrior 2, it’s important to make sure the feet are in a line. The front heel lines up with the back arch. From there, let the front knee bend until you feel a stretch in the inner groins. Then, engage the core and lift through the chest as you sink the hips slowly.”

 

happy baby pose micki duran yoga52

8. Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)

How to Do Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)

  • Start by lying down on your back on your mat. Bend your legs to place your feet flat on the mat.
  • Hug your knees to your chest, reach for the backs of your thighs, and slowly move your knees apart, as you lift the soles of your feet toward the ceiling.
  • Reach your arms between your legs, and grab the pinky-toe edges of your feet. Press into your feet as if you were standing on the ceiling.
  • Pull your knees toward you as you lower your head, shoulders, and the backs of your arms toward the mat.
  • Stay for up to 1 minute, then slowly bring your knees back together, and lower your feet back to the mat.

Tips: “The goal is to be able to lie back comfortably while holding the outside edges of the feet with the knees bent,” explains Laffoon. “From there, you can start to rock gently side to side and/or straighten out the legs a little to feel a bit more deeply into the hamstrings and inner groins. Try to feel the whole length of the spine pressing down into the floor.”

 

mountain pose - yoga52 - odette hughes

9. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

How to Do Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

  • Start by standing with your big toes touching and heels slightly apart. Your arms should rest by your sides, palms facing forward.
  • Lift and spread your toes, then press them into your mat. Balance your body weight evenly among all sides of your feet. Lift your inner arches.
  • Engage your thighs, and rotate your inner thighs back. Lengthen your tailbone down to create a long spine. Engage your core.
  • With each inhale, feel the sides of your waist get taller. Lift your chest up and draw your shoulder blades back and down. Keep your ears over your shoulders, your head over your pelvis, and your pelvis over your ankles.
  • Stay for up to 1 minute.

Tips: “This is a deceptively challenging pose,” Laffoon says. “To most beginners, it seems like simply standing tall, which it is. But it’s also an opportunity to notice any unconscious postural challenges you may have. Start from the ground up, noticing the weight distribution through the feet, and following the line of energy all the way up through the spine. The goal is to feel how your bones align with each other, and make whatever subtle adjustments need to be made in order to create your ideal posture. It takes patience and deep awareness, so take your time!”

 

savasana corpse pose | yoga52 odette hughes

10. Corpse Pose (Savasana or final rest)

  • Lie down on your back on your mat.
  • Let your arms rest slightly away from your torso, with the palms facing up. Relax your shoulders away from your ears.
  • Separate your legs until your heels reach the corners of your mat.
  • Close your eyes, and relax your entire body as you slow your breathing and rest for at least 5 minutes, preferably 10 or more.

Tips: Laffoon’s best advice for this pose? “Don’t skip it! There’s a tendency sometimes to think this pose isn’t important, since ‘all you’re doing is laying there.’ But what you’re really doing is giving your nervous system a moment to balance itself. This may not seem so important to someone who’s primary interest is in getting a good workout, but in terms of relieving stress and keeping your mind and immune system functioning optimally, Savasana is a must!”

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Stepfanie Romine

About

Stepfanie Romine is a yoga teacher (RYT 500), ACE-certified health coach and fitness nutrition specialist who writes about natural health, plant-based cooking and yoga. A runner and hiker based in Asheville, N.C., her books include The No Meat Athlete Cookbook and Cooking with Healing Mushrooms. Follow her on Twitter.

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