Yoga is one among the most recommended workout methods to keep your body and mind relaxed and healthy. It helps increase flexibility and strength of your body.
Many people start practicing yoga as a first step towards staying fit. Once you begin practicing yoga, it takes at least eight weeks to get visible results. However, it is essential to seek professional guidance from experienced and certified yoga practitioners while learning yoga.
Yoga poses are usually known as ‘Asanas’. The asanas hugely differ in their style and functionality. The benefit that every asana offers also differs greatly.
For beginners, the yoga poses that needs to be practiced varies from those who are practicing yoga for an extended period of time. Asanas are usually divided as standing poses, backbends, seated poses, and resting poses.
Standing Yoga Poses for Beginners
Standing poses are first among the yoga poses every beginner is taught about in a yoga class. These standing poses may sound easier but are actually the most strenuous ones for the beginners.
The notable benefits of standing poses include adding heat to the body, preparing the muscles for the prolonged stretch and keeping your mind ready for the longer yoga sessions.
1. Mountain pose
This asana is known as Tadasana. This pose serves either as a resting pose or a preparatory pose for other standing yoga.
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- Improves posture and alignment of the body.
- Creates a sense of awareness.
- Strengthens spinal nerves, feet and anklets.
How to do it?
Step 1 – Bring your feet close to each other and keep them within hip width.
Step 2 – Extend your heels outwards. Allow your weight to rest on your toes.
Step 3 – Your arms should be downwards and your palms should point towards your body.
Step 4 – Draw your ribs in the direction of your belly.
Step 5 – Inhale and exhale a few times while focusing at a spot straight ahead.
2. Downward facing dog
This pose is known as Adho Mukha Svanasana. This is the second most important asana in all yoga sessions.
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- Increases blood circulation in the body.
- Gives good stretch to the calf muscles.
- It eliminates back pain and stiffness.
How to do it?
Step 1 – Stand on a yoga mat. Keep your feet at hip distance and distribute your body weight evenly between both feet. Your arms should be at your sides.
Step 2 – Lean forward and put your palms on the floor. Your back should be straight and fingers should be spread apart. Bend your knees, if required.
Step 3 – Extend your feet backwards and keep your hands beneath the shoulders.
Step 4 – Raise your hips towards the ceiling so that your body makes a shape of inverted “V”.
Step 5 – Keeping your eyes on your toes, press your chest in the direction of your knees and your heels in the direction of the floor. Inhale deeply. Try to touch your heels on the floor as per your body’s flexibility.
3. Warrior pose
This asana is also known as Virabhadrasana. It is performed to build stamina and develop stability and balance in your body.
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- Strengthens your legs and ankles.
- Opens your lungs and chest.
- Provides energy to the tired limbs.
- Effective against osteoporosis, sciatica and flat feet.
How to do it?
Step 1 – Stand in Mountain Pose.
Step 2 – Raise your arms above your head while inhaling. Now bring your hands at your chest in prayer position.
Step 3 – Outstretch your arms in such a way that they are parallel to the floor with palms facing downwards.
Step 4 – While you exhale, bend your right knee to a 90° angle. Your left knee should be at 45 to 60° angle to the right one.
Step 5 – Stay in this position for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat the same on the other side.
Yoga Backbends and Balancing Poses for Beginners
Balancing asanas are ideal for a beginner. It offers strength and stretch to your entire body. Balancing poses are designed to build core strength of your body so that you can perform other poses with ease. Backbends are the first among the most-complicated yoga poses for beginners. It offers strength to your spine while increasing flexibility.
4. Tree pose
Vrksasana or Tree Pose is the basic balancing yoga pose for new practitioners.
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- Strengthens your thighs, core, shoulders, calves and groin.
- Improves your posture.
- Boost up your body awareness and calms your mind.
How to do it?
Step 1 – Start with mountain pose.
Step 2 – Slowly shift your body weight on your right leg. Bring your left foot’s sole inside your right thigh. The left foot’s toes should be pointing towards the floor.
Step 3 – Stretch your bellybutton in the direction of your spine.
Step 4- Bring your hands in prayer position towards your chest.
Step 5- Inhale and lift your arms overhead.
Step 6 –.Breathe easily and gaze at a fixed point. Remain in this position for 5 breaths.
Step 7 – Repeat the same procedure on the other side.
5. Bridge pose
This asana is known as Setu Bandhasana. This pose is usually done as a warm-up bending pose to strengthen your spine, neck, shoulders and chest. This pose may look very difficult but it can be done easily when you practice it by keeping the pillows under your hips for extended support.
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- Stretches your chest, neck, shoulders and spine.
- Strengthens hamstrings, buttocks and back.
- Stimulates the organs of the abdomen and aids in digestion.
- Relaxes central nervous system.
How to do it?
Step 1 – Keep your arms at your sides and lie on your back with knees bent. Your feet should be hip width apart and flat on the floor.
Step 2 – Press your feet into the floor. Raise your hips towards the ceiling while inhaling.
Step 3 – Interlock your fingers, pressing your forearms downwards.
Step 4 – Move your chest towards your chin.
Step 5 – Hold this pose for 4-8 breaths.
Step 6 – Slowly return to the original position while exhaling.
6. Triangle pose
This pose is called as Trikonasana. This pose is recommended for beginners as it offers full body strength. It also relieves you from backache. This triangle pose is a must for pregnant women practicing yoga for the first time.
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- Strengthens your thighs, knees and ankles.
- Aids in digestion.
- Alleviates anxiety and stress.
- Stimulates the abdominal organs.
How to do it?
Step 1- Begin with Mountain Pose.
Step 2 – Exhale and put your right foot three feet apart from your left foot.
Step 3 – Turn your left foot in by 15° and right foot at 90°.
Step 4 – The center of the arch of the left foot should be aligned with the center of right heel.
Step 5 – Balance your body weight equally on both the feet and press them against the ground.
Step 6 – Inhale deeply. Bend your body downwards from the hips towards right while exhaling. Keep your waist straight.
Step 7 – Your right hand should face towards the floor while left hand should be in the air. Ensure that both the arms form a straight line.
Step 8 – Put your right hand on the floor, ankle or shin.
Step 9 – Turn your head towards left. Fix your eyes on the left palm.
Step 10 – Make sure your chest and pelvis are wide open and body is bent sideways.
Step 11 – While inhaling, stretch your body as much as you can. Relax your body while you exhale.
Step 12 – Repeat the same procedure on the other side.
7. Cat – cow stretch
This yoga is a combo of Cow Pose (also known as Bitilasana) and Cat Pose (also called as Marjaisana).
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- Increases the flexibility of spines.
- Stretches lungs and chest, thereby, aids in breathing process.
- Relieves sciatica and lower back pain.
How to do it?
Step 1 – Kneel down keeping your wrists beneath the shoulders, and knees under the hips.
Step 2 – Lengthen your body from head to tailbone. Your fingers should be spread wide and body weight should be distributed evenly on knees and hands. Look at a spot.
Step 3 – Raise your spine towards the ceiling while inhaling. Your head should be towards the floor, and legs and arms should be perpendicular to the floor. This is the Cat Pose.
Step 4 – While exhaling, bring back your spine to the original position.
Step 5 – Inhale and curve your back downwards to the floor, lifting your tailbone and chest towards the ceiling. Elevate your head and fix your gaze. Keep your legs and hands perpendicular to the floor. This is the Cow Pose.
Step 6 – Exhale and bring back your spine to the initial position
Step 7 – With each inhale and exhale, alternate Cat and Cow Pose. Repeat it 15-20 times.
Sitting and Resting Yoga Poses for Beginners
Whenever you need a break during your yoga session, you can do simple resting poses. The resting poses include gentle bending and stretching.
They also increase the flexibility of your body to continue with other asanas. Sitting yoga poses are usually done towards the end of every yoga session.
Sitting poses stretches your hands and hamstrings while keeping your body warmed up. One can use a soft blanket or a pillow to add more support to the butt area.
8. Cobbler’s pose
This pose is also known as bound angle pose or butterfly pose. In Sanskrit, it is known as Baddha Konasana. This pose can open your hips and grains. Try padding the bones near your seat to stay comfortable while doing this pose.
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- This pose stretches knees, groins and inner thighs.
- Relieves sciatica pain.
- Stimulates bladder, prostate gland, ovary and abdominal organs.
- Eases childbirth in late pregnancy.
How to do it?
Step 1 – Sit straight while keeping your legs straight.
Step 2 – Slowly bring together the soles of your feet towards the pelvis.
Step 3 – Hold your ankles with your hands. In order to balance the pelvis, you can use cushions under the sit bones.
Step 4 – Exhale and stretch your spine. Also stretch your torso as far as you can.
Step 5 – Stay in this position for 3-5 minutes.
9. Seated spine twist
Ardha Matsyendrasana, also known as seated twist, is one among the most important yoga poses for beginners. It is a perfect exercise for those who sit and work for longer hours.
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- Reduces stress from the shoulders, knees, hips and neck area.
- Prevents slipped disc and maintains elasticity of the ligaments and intervertebral discs.
- Stretches the abdominal region and chest.
- Increases blood circulation towards kidneys, stomach, pancreas, spleen, liver, small and large intestines.
How to do it?
Step 1 – Sit on the floor, extending your legs in front of you
Step 2 – Bring your knees close to the chest while inhaling. Your both feet should be on the floor.
Step 3 – Put down your left leg. Rest the left foot against the right hip.
Step 4 – Raise your right leg and put it on your left leg. Your knee should be towards the ceiling. Keep your right ankle to the side of your left knee.
Step 5 – Draw your right leg towards your body, as per your comfort.
Step 6 – As you twist towards the right, extend the left elbow outwards the right knee while exhaling.
Step 7 – Keep this pose for 25-30 seconds. Then, repeat it on the other side.
10. Pigeon pose
Pigeon pose is also known as Eka Pada Rajakapotasana in Sanskrit.
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- Relieves back ache.
- Makes your hips flexible.
- Opens up the shoulder and chest.
- Stretches groins and thighs.
How to do it?
Step 1 – Kneel down on your hands and knees.
Step 2 – Bring the left knee in the forward direction, putting your left foot on the floor across.
Step 3 – Slide your right leg backwards. Your shin should be flat on the floor.
Step 4 – Fold your body downwards on the floor.
Step 5 – Inhale and push your body up with the help of your hands. Stretch your arms as much as you can in the forward direction, keeping your shoulders relaxed.
11. Child’s pose
This pose, which is also known as Balasana, is a must at the end of every yoga session. Even if you feel light headed or for pregnant women facing a lot of fatigue, this pose gives a good relief.
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- Stretches your hips, ankles, knees, thighs and back.
- Relaxes your neck, shoulders, and spine.
- Calms your mind and helps relieve tension and stress.
How to do it?
Step1 – Begin with kneeling on your knees and hands.
Step 2 – Separate your knees up to hip width, releasing toes on the floor.
Step 3 – While exhaling, lower down your buttocks to your heels.
Step 4 – Fold your torso between your thighs. Rest your forehead on the floor.
Step 5 – Lay your hands alongside the torso, on the floor. Your palms should be up. Release your shoulder’s front towards the floor.
Stay 6 – Stay in this position for 1-3 minutes.
Whether you want to lose weight, strengthen your body, or just improve your overall health, yoga is a great practice to get into. It is low impact and easy to adjust to all levels.
The beginner poses we've covered here are a great start to your yoga practice. However, we do recommend working with a professional to ensure you are doing the poses correctly and to get further assistance as you continue to get better.
Yoga is something almost anyone can do from children to the elderly, so don't let anything hold you back. Start right now by using this guide.
We are sure you will soon be very happy with the results you see and feel once you incorporate yoga into your regular routine. Share your thoughts on yoga in the comments, including any tips you have for those just starting out.
Alice grew up in Los Angeles and currently lives in California, though she likes to visit home frequently. She graduated from a marketing specialist degree and worked at the core of outreach teams for more than 5 years.