Yoga makes a valuable addition to any fitness regimen. With its unique pranayama breathing techniques, yoga contributes to improved muscle tone, flexibility, balance, and the capacity to relax and cope with stress. Moreover, research has shown that engaging in yoga routines enhances overall well-being and quality of life by reducing stress, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and by promoting better sleep.
7 Yoga Poses for Beginners
Are you ready to give it a shot? Below, you’ll find eight “asanas” (yoga poses) that come highly recommended by yoga instructors and are suitable for beginners.
1. Child’s Pose — Balasana — to Help You Relax and Unwind
Transitioning from the Downward-Facing Dog position, gently bend your knees and guide your buttocks towards your heels, simultaneously lowering your chest toward the floor, positioning it over your knees. Gradually descend your shoulders and head to the ground. You can either place your arms alongside your body with palms facing down or provide support for your head by folding your arms under your forehead. Take deep breaths and remain in this pose for as long as you require.
According to Cullis, “Child’s Pose” stands as one of the most restorative yoga positions and happens to be a personal favorite. She explains, “It reestablishes the vital connection between breath and body, infusing a sense of serenity into every muscle. It provides an opportunity to ground yourself, turn inward, and shift away from the chaos of your thoughts, tuning into your body’s inner breath.” Utilize the Child’s Pose as a valuable interlude to relax during your yoga session or whenever you find yourself fatigued or overwhelmed.
2. Mountain Pose — Tadasana — to Improve Your Posture
Stand in a stable position, ensuring your chest is open and expansive while your arms rest naturally at your sides. Concentrate on the sensation of your feet firmly planted on the ground and the feedback from your legs and back. Subsequently, evaluate your posture using a mirror. Lawrence employs a technique with her athletes, having them grasp elongated pencils in each hand while standing. She instructs them to gaze down at these pencils, much like a compass, to observe their alignment. Do they align similarly, or does one point directly ahead while the other veers off to a different direction, akin to three o’clock on a clock face?
This stance can effectively reveal any disparities in your shoulder positioning, offering valuable insights into areas that may require attention. If one of the pencils noticeably tilts, it signifies a corresponding issue with your shoulder alignment.
3. Baby Pigeon Pose to Open Up Your Hips
Begin on all fours, and then advance by sliding your right knee forward between your hands. In a manner reminiscent of a lunge, gradually extend your left leg to the rear, ensuring your knee and the top of your foot remain in contact with the floor. Next, pivot your right knee towards your right wrist and gently lower it to the floor, with your right calf resting flat on the ground and your right foot tucked beneath your left groin. Lean your upper body over the bent leg, either fully down to the floor or propped up on your elbows. Take five slow and deliberate breaths, inhaling and exhaling.
Before transitioning to the opposite side, press back slightly on your left leg to stretch your calf muscles. Then, replicate the pose with your left leg bent and your right leg extended.
This posture is highly favored among runners due to its capacity to enhance hip flexibility and alleviate tension in the glutes and lower back, as explained by Lawrence. She emphasizes, “Whether you’re a runner, weightlifter, CrossFit enthusiast, or Spin cyclist, this stretch is essential for maintaining strength, flexibility, and improving overall performance.” While it may pose an initial challenge, Lawrence assures that you’ll come to embrace and appreciate this pose over time.
4. Legs-up-the-Wall Pose — Viparita Karani — to Restore and Revitalize
This serves as an excellent concluding pose suitable for both yoga beginners and seasoned practitioners. Start by lying on the floor with your buttocks positioned right against a wall. Gradually maneuver your legs upward along the wall, forming an L shape with your body. Your torso should lie flat on the floor, perpendicular to the wall. If needed, you can place a rolled-up blanket beneath your lower back for added support, and ensure your elbows are resting on the floor for additional stability. Flex your toes to sense a gentle stretch in the backs of your legs. Take deep breaths and maintain this position for as long as you desire. To exit the pose, draw your knees toward your chest and roll over onto your side.
According to Lawrence, this pose reinvigorates fatigued legs and infuses a fresh sense of vitality into your step.
5. Easy Pose — Sukhasana — to Relieve Stress
Assume a cross-legged position on your yoga mat, placing your hands gently on your knees with your palms facing upward. Strive to maintain a straight and upright spine. Press your “sit bones” firmly into the floor, these being the bony parts you’re seated on, using the language of yoga. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in.
According to Gwen Lawrence, a yoga coach renowned for working with the New York Knicks, as well as various sports teams, athletes, and celebrities, “This pose serves as an excellent evaluation tool for beginners. Simply sitting on the floor provides a perfect opportunity to observe and feel the external rotation of the legs.” In addition to this, the pose enhances back flexibility and can contribute to stress relief.
6. Tree Pose — Vrksasana — to Improve Your Balance
Commence by standing tall to initiate this pose. Join your hands together in a prayer position, raising them above your head. Achieve balance on your right leg. Extend your left knee outward to the left side and firmly press your left foot against the inner thigh of your right leg. Maintain this posture for a duration of 30 seconds. Afterward, switch legs and replicate the sequence.
According to Shea Vaughn, a wellness and fitness expert, as well as the author of “Breakthrough: The 5 Living Principles to Defeat Stress, Look Great, and Find Total Well-Being” (and mother of actor Vince Vaughn), “This pose serves to elongate the body, from the heels to the tips of your fingers.” Furthermore, it enhances your balance abilities.
7. Cat-Cow to Awaken the Spine and Ease Back Pain
Begin by positioning yourself on your yoga mat, assuming an all-fours stance with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly beneath your hips. Ensure an even distribution of weight between your hands and spread your fingers wide for stability. Inhale deeply and, as you do, arch your back upwards, creating a rounded shape while lowering your chin towards your chest. Feel the stretch extending from your neck down to your tailbone, akin to the graceful stretch of a cat. As you exhale, gradually transition your back into a scooped shape, lifting your head and tilting it backward.
According to Leah Cullis, a Baptiste Yoga instructor, “The Cat-Cow sequence stretches and enlivens the spine, offering relief from back discomfort.” She further explains, “It also enhances flexibility throughout the entire spine, neck, chest, and shoulders. I recommend repeating this motion 5 to 10 times or more for optimal benefits.”