Basic Yoga Poses: An Overview
From calming your senses to increasing the flexibility of your spine, the Childs pose is one of the best 12 basic yoga poses. Furthermore, it stretches your hips and lower back muscles. Practicing the Childs pose balances out the rounding of your spine. Also, sitting on your knees massages them along with removing fatigue from your legs.
The Cobra pose stretches your chest, shoulders, arms, and lower back muscles. Moreover, this is a perfect pose to strengthen your shoulder joints. Further, the Cobra pose improves the strength of your ankles and feet. Since you balance your body weight on your arms, it makes them strong.
One of the greatest basic yoga poses, the Headstand improves the blood circulation to your brain and other vital body organs. Moreover, it flushes out toxins from your legs that improve your overall performance. It helps in nourishing your brain and scalp. Practicing the Headstand pose increases your neck strength as well.
To keep your lower back in perfect shape, you should practice the Bridge pose. Furthermore, it engages core muscles that ensure to protect your spine. The Bridge pose also makes your hip muscle strong to back your lower back for long sitting hours. Raising your spine in the air while practicing the Bridge pose makes your core strong.
Standing Forward Bend
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Cow Face Pose / Gomukhasana
Stretches the ankles, hips and thighs, opens the upper back, chest and shoulders, and works the triceps. If the version in the photo is uncomfortable for your legs or hips try stretching the lower leg out in front of you.
Tip: Try to avoid turning the pose into a backbend just so you can get your fingers to reach. Its better to use a strap or scarf between your hands. Draw the lower ribs slightly in and focus instead on lengthening the elbows away from one another.
How Should I Breathe While Practicing Yoga
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Youll encounter different breathing techniques in your future practicing yoga. In beginner yoga, the only one you need to think about is Oceanic Breathing, or Ujjai Breath. Allow the breath to flow in and out smoothly like an oceans wave. If you want you can even count to 3 or 4 for each inhale and again for each exhale. Yoga-teacher-to-the-stars, Kristin McGee, shares helpful tips on how you can breathe properly while practicing yoga.
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Standing Forward Fold Or Rag Doll
Standing Forward Fold is a great stretch for the hamstrings and calves.
Come to a standing position. Exhale and bend forward at the hips and reach your hands to the ground as much as possible while keeping the back lengthened.
If your back is rounding, bend your legs and come into Rag Doll instead, holding opposite elbows together.
Think Of Yoga Poses As Pieces
As a yoga teacher, I look at a yoga pose as both a shape and a collection of pieces.
Take tadasana, mountain pose, I see a standing posture AND legs straightening, spine telescoping, and feet rooting.
Its helpful as a new yoga practitioner to think about it that way, too. For each of those pieces is an opportunity to develop strength, balance, and flexibility.
That takes the pressure off because we can focus on one action instead of all of them. Ill say that again. Instead of focusing on entire poses, you can focus on individual movements.
Yes, over time, well put them together, but not at first. Its like a baseball player who focuses on hitting separately from throwing and catching.
This piece-by-piece method Im describing is not commonly taught, but its something to be aware of because it will help you learn the yoga postures.
How do you apply this? When youre practicing yoga, whether online or in person, listen to the cue the teacher offers. If she says straighten your leg, can you actually straighten your leg? If not, where does it seem to stop? That will tell you where to focus your attention.
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Practice Tips For Yoga Beginners
Even though this list of poses for beginners is small, it is still a lot of information to digest at once. We highly recommend that you begin to explore these poses slowly and carefully to not be overwhelmed. Our How to Start a Yoga Practiceguide will give you the four basic steps to starting a yoga practice. Our General Practice Guidelines covers all of the dos and donts to starting a successful yoga practice. Once you have looked through these two articles, continue reading our Yoga for Beginners section for further tips and advice.
The Difference Between Beginner And Advanced Yoga Poses
The next question becomes, what is the difference between a beginner and an advanced yoga pose? The answer may shock you because its not what pose you are doing, its how you are doing it.
Darren Rhodes and Jason Crandell are both well-known and well-regarded yoga teachers. They both chose to depict themselves in Warrior 2 on the cover of manuals meant for teachers and advanced practitioners. This is important because Darren can do all 200 poses and created a beautiful poster that documents his multi-year journey to do them.
Jason is no slouch either when it comes to poses, and when I asked him about why Warrior 2, he said something along the lines of recognizing the skill it is done with. In other words, do the simple beautifully.
Yoga is not about the yoga poses. We use yoga poses to do yoga, but they are not yoga.
Yoga is about paying attention. Its learning to listen to your body and feel what youre feeling. As we progress in yoga we become more empathetic and there is a qualitative difference in our relationships.
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Mountain Pose Tadasana To Improve Your Posture
Stand still, with your chest open and broad and your hands at your sides, and feel your feet on the floor and the sensations in your legs and back. Then analyze your posture in front of a mirror. Lawrence makes her athletes hold long pencils in each hand as they stand. “I tell them to look down at the pencils and, like a compass, see how they point. Are they the same? Does one point straight and the other point to three on the clock?”
This pose will show if you have any imbalances in your shoulders and give you clues about what you need to work on. If one pencil is very turned in, so is your shoulder.
Why You Should Start With Yoga Poses For Beginners
For many newfound yogis, it can be tempting to try out inversions, arm balances, and other tricky poses you see on social media right from the get-go. But those postures require some serious strength and balance training, which is why Ashley Rideaux, a YogaWorks-certified teacher trainer in Los Angeles, recommends newbies stick with a handful of basic sitting and standing postures. “The bread and butter of a beginner’s practice are your standing poses,” she says. “They build strength through a lot of the larger muscles of the body. They’re accessible to a lot of bodies and that makes them a great place, not just to find strength and flexibility, but also to build confidence in the work.” These two types of yoga poses for beginners also help you develop a sense of where your body is positioned in space without actually seeing it, says Rideaux.
And though popular culture makes it seem that props are reserved solely for older folks, Rideaux encourages everyone from beginners to yoga veterans to use them while practicing if they’re available. “Props are so helpful in creating clean alignment and helping you avoid injury,” she explains. “And a lot of times, as you find the proper alignment, it actually gives you a greater challenge.”
To kick off your journey to becoming a seasoned yogi and start building up the necessary strength, flexibility, and confidence, try flowing through these yoga poses for beginners.
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Yoga Pose Cheat Sheet
Whatever poses youre working on, remember this: Its just yoga. No matter what the Instabraggers are posting, or what the human pretzel in front of you is doing, were here to remind you that yoga asana is not about perfection.
Its about progress. Its about becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable. Its about union with the mind and body, and above all, keeping your body safe. Even if all you do is arrive on the mat and lie in Savasana for 15 minutes, youre still doing yoga, friends.
Give it your best and let that be good enough for today. Namaste.
Different Yoga Poses For Different Beginners
Not all beginners are the same. Its helpful to think about people just starting out in yoga as falling into two categories:
- True Beginners
- Active Beginners
Why the difference?
A true beginner is not only starting out with yoga but with physical exercise in general. That doesnt mean they havent moved in the past, just that they have not worked out regularly in the last year or two.
An active beginner is someone who regularly moves their body. They might dance three nights a week, run four days a week, or lift-weights every other day.
Both true beginners and active beginners are new to yogathats the beginner part. Yoga is a skill that takes time to learn and flourish in.
However, active beginners are used to doing physical exercise. They might have a strength and balance advantage compared to a true beginner.
Its like if you regularly cook dinner but are now trying to learn to cook Thai cuisine. Youd have an advantage over someone who didnt know how to turn on the oven.
But true beginners have another advantagenewness. I often find its better knowing nothing about a subject rather than having to unlearn what youve learned. True beginners can be easier to teach because they dont have habits from other disciplines.
Both categories still need to learn how to do yoga its just that some poses will be easier for you depending on what youve done for exercise. Other factors influence this, which we cover in The Beginners Series.
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Want To Get Into Yoga But Dont Know Where To Start These Foundational Poses Will Set The Stage For Your Evolving Practice
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We get it. Yoga can seem daunting. Seeing somebody gracefully hold their fully outstretched leg behind their head in Compass Pose tends to feel more aspirational than practical. But the history and heart of yoga is geared toward beginners. Straightforward poses practiced mindfully give your body the stretch and strength that you seek while still requiring your mind to turn quiet and focus.
For yogis who are just starting their journey, establishing a strong foundation in easy yoga poses for beginners will help you find the balance and body positioning you need to grow your practice. Many poses build off one another, so knowing how to keep your breath steady and your body in alignment in a foundational pose will soon transition you into more involved postures.
The poses for beginners described here are the building blocks for your asana practice. Theyre less involved than more traditional yoga poses, but still act as an introduction to heart openers, back bends, standing balances, and more so you can learn the fundamentals in an approachable way. Seriously, you dont need to hold a Handstand for 5 minutes to be completely in your bodyyou just need to move, tune in, and connect with your breath.
What Should I Wear To My Yoga Class
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There is no real uniform in yoga except bare feet. Wear something comfortable to move in. Stretchy pants and a comfy shirt work well. Many yoga students choose tight fitting athletic wear because this type of clothing wont move when you turn upside down. Its all optional. Listen to more tips from one of the worlds leading yoga teachers, Kristin McGee, so you can start your practice with much comfort and ease.
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Twelve Basic Yoga Poses For Beginners
Stress relief. Heart health. Increased strength and stamina. Theres no shortage of reasons for athletes to take up yoga.
If youre new to the practice, try getting started with these 12 basic yoga poses. Remember, start slow. And always consult a physician before taking up a new fitness regimen. Namaste!
It Increases Flexibility And Balance Of The Body And Mind
Flexibility in yoga practice is not just about reaching your toes. Its about the journey towards your toesthe flexibility to be open-minded, and to release the ego and just be, shares Howe, who adds that balance in yoga should also be considered holistically, rather than just in terms of not toppling over when holding Tree pose. The emphasis on the mind-body connection in yoga helps develop physical balance and allows us to tune into our emotional needs and honor those needs. With that said, Howe notes not to diminish the power of improving your physical balance. On those days when balance aligns, and we can stand in Tree pose without wobbling, that rush of adrenalinethe confidence boostis amazing.
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Legs Up The Wall / Viparita Karani
This pose is known as the great rejuvenator for good reason. It alleviates pressure in the legs, helps the circulation of both blood and lymphatic fluid and is a wonderful pose to do before bed or if you wake up in the middle of the night. Rest your legs against the wall or make it a little more active by just raising your legs above your hips, like Katherine in the photo below.
Tip: Place a pillow/bolster/folded blanket under your lower back to make it more of an inverted pose.
Not All Yoga Poses Are Appropriate For Beginners
There are 200 yoga poses done in modern yoga, defined by a yoga teacher named B.K.S. Iyengar, in his book, Light on Yoga. Iyengar offers a scale in his book of 1-60 but its not helpful as its wildly all over the place.
For instance, he rates tadasana, mountain pose, as a 1, the easiest kind of posture. But then he ranks purvottanasana , front body stretched out pose as a 1 as wellwhich its not.
From there, the scale takes off. Many poses rated as the most challenging require a lot of mobility, particularly in your hips. If youve been a runner or cyclist, or even sit during the day, youre going to find hip mobility hard.
Hanumanasana, for instance, which we might call the splits, comes in at a 36. The majority of people would find it challenging to plop right into splits. Can you get there over time? Maybe, but it will take time, effort, and patience. This is definitely not an appropriate yoga pose for a beginner.
Its impossible to give a definitive list of what the best yoga poses for a beginner might be, and it would be beside the point. Even Iyengars rating scale seems to be based on what he could do, rather than others. Yoga teaches self-awareness, and you can bring that awareness to the different postures to decide if it is right for you.
What we can do is give you some helpful tips to get started:
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Seated Wide Angle Straddle
Verywell / Ben Goldstein
Pose type: Seated
Opening your legs wide creates a slightly different stretch from Paschimottanasana. Though it may look like the mandate is to bring your chest to the floor, it’s really not about that. Rather, concentrate on keeping your back flat, rotating the pelvis forward instead of crunching forward through your spine, and keeping your feet flexed. If you do all three of these things, it really doesn’t matter how far forward you lean.
Easy Yoga Asanas For Beginners
Whether you are a beginner, an intermediate or an expert, it is advisable to begin your yoga routine with warm-ups and Sukshma Vyayam . Few minutes of warm-ups make the tendons more flexible, while Sukshma Vyayam relaxes the body. Once through, you can perform the following sequence of easy-to-do yoga poses for beginners
Stretches the lower back, massages the abdominal and pelvic organs and also tones the shoulders.
Improves balance in the body, augments stamina and releases stress in shoulders. Also, strengthens the legs, arms, lower back and is especially helpful for those leading a sedentary lifestyle.
Improves digestion, relaxes the mind, makes the spine flexible and strengthens wrists and shoulders.
Allays constipation and soothes the nervous system.
Tones the arms and shoulder muscles and stretches the upper front torso.
Stretches the abdominal muscles, the upper back, hamstring and calf muscles.
Strengthens the lower back, balances the body and boosts determination.
Always end the routine with Yoga Nidra as it prepares the nervous system to absorb the effects of all yoga postures performed.
Improves bowel movement, relieves menstrual discomfort and improves flexibility in groin and hip region.
Helps those suffering from constipation and sciatica, augments flexibility of spine and tones arms, legs and abdominal organs.
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What Is The Best Yoga For Weight Loss
This differs from person to person, but I would say depending on your fitness and your body type, I would say for a complete beginner that might have a bit more weight to loss, a hatha style yoga would be a great introduction.
As you progress, you may choose a more vigorous style like Vinyasa or Power. They are much more of a dynamic style where you will work on strength-based postures and it will challenge you mentally and physically.
But make sure to attend a beginners class first as it will give you a sense of achievement and not a sense of failure you might get at a really difficult class.