Basic Yoga Poses For Beginners: The Ultimate Guide

Planning to start Yoga? Confused about which style of yoga is good for you? Yoga poses for beginners are included in all forms of Yoga, such as Hatha Yoga, Power Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, and Vinyasa. The level of difficulty increases only once you advance in these practices. Worries such as being overweight or not flexible enough to bend and twist should not stop you from practicing these simple yoga poses. 

Do you often wonder if you will ever be able to stand on one leg and balance in tree pose, let alone balance on your head? As a yoga beginner, more often than not, you are faced with many doubts and questions about this ancient practice which dates back to the pre-Vedic age and continues to evolve even in the 21st century with its spiritual heritage intact. The yogic practices give direct and tangible benefits to everyone regardless of your shape, age, size, fitness level or even spiritual goals. 

Your beginner’s Yoga journey can be exciting, challenging and extremely rewarding! All basic yoga poses help restore mind-body balance, improve your flexibility and overall stamina. The following is a list of simple yoga poses for beginners that are common to all styles of Yoga and are practiced as basic yoga poses.  

Practicing this beginner yoga poses regularly will help improve body awareness and balance, and build a strong foundation for the perfection of your beginner’s yoga routine. Remember that you do not have to perfect these asanas to progress to advanced yoga. Yoga is all about consistency, patience, understanding and listening to your body. 

A few things that you should keep in mind is, any pose practiced with the right leg or hand, should be repeated for the left side too. Yoga is all about balance! 

One of the main aspects that sets Yoga apart from other exercises is breath awareness, which enables the body to detox and releases tension, and helps the mind stay calm. So remember to first work on alignment and gradually shift the awareness to your breath. Holding (or practicing) the following basic yoga poses for 5 to 10 breaths will help you immensely.  

Caution and Contradictions

If you are pregnant or suffering from any medical condition such as hip or knee injury, arthritis, blood pressure, severe back pain or slip disc, please consult your physiotherapist or doctor before attempting any stretch, even if they seem as simple yoga poses. It is advisable that you seek an expert’s guidance for tips on variations. Understanding the use of yoga props can also help immensely as a beginner in yoga. 

Wind Relieving Yoga Pose Series – Part 1 

Sanskrit Name: Pawanmuktasana 

Level: Anti-rheumatic group

Pose Information: The Pawanmuktasana series covers most of the yoga positions for beginners and is one of the important contributions of the teachings of Swami Satyananda Saraswati (Ref book: Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha). These practices are referred to as sukshma vyayama (subtle exercises) and should be done in a non-competitive and relaxed atmosphere. 

Here we have covered ankle, wrist, knee, shoulder and neck rotation exercises which can be done maintaining a base position. Base position is when you sit with your legs outstretched, feet together, and hands by the side, using the arms to support the back ((when required). Note that all references to the rotation of joints should be understood as 10 times clockwise and 10 times anticlockwise. 

A. Ankle Rotation:

How to do 

Step 1: Remain in the base position, keep the legs hip-width apart and heels on the ground throughout the practice. 

Step 2: Slowly rotate both feet together in a clockwise direction and then anticlockwise. You can also try and include rotation of both ankles together in opposite directions. 

B. Knee Crank:

How to do 

Step1: Remain in the base position, bend right knee and interlock the fingers under the right thigh to support and hold it closer to the chest. 

Step 2: Keep the right foot off the mat and rotate the lower part of the right leg (below the knee) in a large circular movement. You can try straightening the leg at the top of the upward movement. 

Step 3: Repeat the same movement with the left leg.

C. Wrist Joint Rotation: 

How to do

Step 1: Remain in base position and extend both arms in front of the body (at shoulder level) with the fists loosely clenched. 

Step 2: Like in ankle rotation, first rotate the fists together in a clockwise and anticlockwise direction and then try rotating the fists together in opposite directions. 

D. Shoulder Socket Rotation: 

How to do 

Step 1: You can either remain in base position or sit cross-legged. 

Step 2: Bend the elbows and place the fingers of the right and left hand on the right and left shoulder respectively. 

Step 3: Rotate both elbows at the same time. To ensure you make large circles –  try to touch the elbows in front of the chest when you bring them forward, touch the ears in an upward movement, stretch arms back in backward movement and touch the sides of the trunk in the downward movement. 

E. Neck Movement: 

How to do 

Step 1: This is best practiced while standing or sitting cross-legged. Keep the eyes closed. 

Step 2: Slowly, move the head forward and try to rest your chin on the chest. 

Step 3: Then move the head back as much as possible without straining. Repeat this 5 to 10 times and feel the stretch in the front and back of the neck. 

Step 4: Then practice the stretch sideways, by moving the head to the right, bringing the right ear close to the right shoulder (without raising the shoulder) and repeating the movement for the left side. 

Beginner Tip: Before practicing the complete and gentle neck rotation (circular movement of the head), you can practice another warm-up by turning the head to the right so that the chin is in line with the right shoulder, and then slowly turn to the left, as far as comfortable. 

Benefits:

Daily practice brings about profound relaxation and toning of the entire psycho-physiological structure which is necessary for the practice of advanced techniques. 

Though these may seem as basic yoga poses for beginners, if performed correctly, not only relax muscles of the body but also relax the mind, tune-up the autonomic nerves, hormonal functions and the activities of internal organs. 

They help release energy blockages and stimulate the free flow of energy through the body. 

They help relieve tiredness and cramps, strengthen ligaments around knee joints, relieve tension around related joints caused due to prolonged standing, sitting, typing or prolonged work at a desk. 

2. Wind Relieving Yoga Pose Series – Part 2 

Sanskrit name: Supta Pawanmuktasana

Level: Abdominal Group 

Pose information: This group of beginning yoga poses is excellent for strengthening the digestive system and eliminate energy blockages in the abdominal area. It also works on the lower body (upper thigh muscles) and helps in toning the leg muscles. 

Below we have covered leg rotation, cycling, and leg lock pose, which should be performed by lying flat on the back (in supine) with legs straight on the mat, arms by the side and head, neck and spine relaxed in a straight line. Note that all references to leg rotation should be understood as 10 times clockwise and 10 times anticlockwise. 

Leg Rotation: 

How to do 

Step 1: Relax in supine and raise the left leg and bring the thigh to the chest.  Clasp the hands on the shin bone just below the knee, and interlock fingers to hold the left thigh close to the chest. 

Step 2: Raise the right leg to at least a 45-degree angle or more, without bending the knee. 

Step 3: Rotate the leg in the clockwise and anticlockwise direction for 10 counts. 

Step 4: After completion, rest the right leg on the mat and then straighten the left knee and relax the left leg. 

Step 5: Repeat the same rotation for the left leg. 

If comfortable or after regular practice of one leg rotation at a time, you can repeat the rotation with both legs raised together. This is a more strenuous practice so ensure you feel no strain on your back. The stronger you get, the larger circles you will be able to make. 

B.  Cycling: 

How to do 

Step 1: Lying in supine, raise the right leg to bend and straighten it in a backward and forward movement – similar to when you cycle. 

When the knee is bent, the thigh should be closer to the chest. And when lowering the leg in a forward movement, the leg should be straight. The heel should remain off the mat during the movement. 

Step 2: Practice the movement in forward and reverse direction (10 counts each). 

Step 3: Repeat with the left leg.

If comfortable, you can also try cycling with both legs, practicing alternate cyclin movements as though pedaling a bicycle.   

C. Wind Relieving Pose: 

How to do 

Step 1: Let the complete body relax in the supine position. The above mentioned basic yoga poses work as an excellent warm-up for this asana.

Step 2: Bend both knees and bring the thigh to the chest. Interlock the fingers and clasp the hands on the shin bones just below the knees. Continue to inhale and exhale and avoid straining any muscles. 

Step 3: As you exhale, raise the head and shoulders and try and bring the nose closer to the knees, if possible place the nose in the space between the two knees. Hold this position for a few counts. 

Step 4: To release, slowly lower the head while inhaling and straighten the legs. If you are not comfortable with raising both legs together, you can also practice by raising one leg at a time. 

Benefits:   

These basic yoga poses for beginners massage the digestive organs and is very effective in removing wind and constipation. 

These simple yoga poses also work on pelvic muscles and reproductive organs, and are useful for impotence, sterility and menstrual problems. 

Leg rotation and cycling help improve hip and knee joints, reduce obesity, and tone abdominal and spinal muscles. 

3. Wind Relieving Yoga Pose Series – Part 3 

Sanskrit name: Pawanmuktasana

Level: Energy Block Postures 

Pose information:This group of yoga poses for beginners to help activate the lungs and heart and help break down neuro-muscular knots. Including this sequence in your daily beginner yoga routine can help you get rid of a stiff back and will help you improve overall vitality. 

The below mentioned basic yoga stretches are performed while maintaining the base position, which is when you sit with your legs outstretched, feet together, and arms by your side (on the mat for support when required). 

 Dynamic Spinal Twist: 

How to do 

Step 1: In base position, separate the legs as far as apart as comfortable without bending the knees or hunching the back. 

Step 2: Stretch the arms sideways at shoulder level. 

Step 3: Exhale and twist to the left and bring the right hand down to touch the left big toe. Turn the head to the left and gaze at the left arm which is stretched back.

Step 4 : Inhale and return to the center and repeat the same movement for the right by twisting the trunk to the right and gazing at the right arm, which is stretched back. 

Step 5: Complete this one round by returning to the center. Practice at least 10 rounds.

B. Churning the Mill: 

Sanskrit name: Chakki Chalanasana 

Pose information: This is a fun and easy yoga pose for beginners. The movement is similar to the action of churning a mill with an old-fashioned Indian mortar or stone grinder. 

How to do 

Step 1: Sit in base position and separate the legs as far as apart as comfortable without bending the knees or hunching the back. 

Step 2: Interlock the fingers of both hands and stretch the arms forward, without bending the elbows. 

Step 3: Swivel to the right, passing the hands above the right toes, then lean back (inhale) as far as possible on the backward swing, moving the body from the waist. 

Step 4: On the forward swing (exhale), move to the left, passing the hands above the left toes and then back to the center to complete one rotation. Practice 5 to 10 rotations clockwise and then anticlockwise. 

C. Rowing the Boat: 

How to do 

Step 1: Sit in the base position with legs together and straight. This is yet another fun yoga exercise for beginners which is similar to the action of rowing a boat. 

Step 2: Clench your fists (not very tight), exhale, straighten your arms and bend forward from the waist, as far as comfortable. 

Step 3: Inhale, draw the hands back towards the shoulders and lean back as far as possible. The hands make a complete circular movement with every round. 

Beginners Tips: Practice 5 to 10 rounds. You can also reverse the direction of the rowing movement for another 5 to 10 sets.

Benefits: 

This sequence removes the stiffness from the back, increases spine flexibility, helps tone nerves and organs of the pelvis and these simple yoga poses can also be performed for postnatal recovery. 

It helps regulate the menstrual cycle and is also good for constipation. 

There is much awareness of synchronized breathing which also helps promote the health of your respiratory system. 

4. Garland Pose 

Sanskrit name: Malasana 

Pose information: This squatting position is an excellent stretch for the entire spine and also massages the pelvic organs and muscles. However, squatting pose is not for people with knee problems or sciatica. 

How to do 

Step1: Squat with your feet flat on the floor and as close together as possible (between 1.5-2 feet apart. 

Step 2: Bring your torso forward and palms together in front of the chest in prayer pose (Namaskar or Anjali mudra). 

Step 3: The knees should be wide apart and the elbows should press against the inside of the knees. As you gently push the knees away with your elbows, your front torso lengthens and expands. Hold this position for a few breaths. 

Step 4 : You can go further in this pose by straightening your arms in front of the body, at the same time push in with the knees, pressing the upper arms inward. Exhale. 

Step 5: The head should be bent forward. Bring the chin to the chest and retain your breath for 2-3 seconds. 

Step 6: Return to the starting position with hands in Anjali mudra. You can hold this beginners yoga pose for up to a minute and straighten your knees to return to a standing position. 

Benefits:

This asana has a profound effect on the nerves and muscles of the lower body, including thighs and knees. 

It also helps exercise the shoulders, arms, and neck. 

It helps tone the belly and increases flexibility in the hips. 

Beginner tips: If you find it difficult to place your heels flat while squatting, place them on a folded yoga blanket. 

You can also sit on a block to maintain the length in the spine and hold the pose for longer to work on flexibility. 

If squatting on the floor is difficult, you can sit on the edge of a low chair/table and place your legs on a block such that the knees are above the hip level.

5. Butterfly Pose 

Sanskrit name: Baddha Konasana

Pose information: This Bound Angle split is called the Butterfly Pose as the open hip joined by the feet and the up and down movements of the bent leg resemble the butterfly in motion. It also represents a typical sitting position of Indian cobblers and is also called Cobbler pose. It is one the best yoga poses for beginners as well as advanced yogis as it comes with many benefits and is one of the few poses that can be practiced after food (without the forward bend).

How to do 

Step 1: Sit with legs stretched out in front. 

Step 2: Bend both legs at the knee and press the soles of your feet together. It is similar to a Namaskar mudra, the difference being, you are using your feet instead of your palms. 

Step 3:  Place your palms on the feet, exerting gentle pressure to keep them together. Bring the heels as close as you can to the perineum. 

Step 4: As you do this, work on sitting erect and avoid the curving of the spine. If you have tight hamstrings, you may find your knees way above the ground. Flapping the legs helps loosen up the inner thigh muscles and increase flexibility. 

Remember that your knees must never be forced on the ground and the outer edges of your feet must always be pressed to the floor. 

Step 5 : If possible, you can use your thumb and index finger to hold the big thumbs of your feet. You can relax in this posture and take a few deep breaths. As the thigh muscles relax and move closer to the floor so will the knees. 

Step 6: If you are comfortable with forward bends, you can bend forward with an exhalation, bringing your abdomen close to or on the heels. This, however, is achievable with practice and improved flexibility.  

Benefits:

It is a strong groin and hip opener. 

It stimulates and improves blood supply to the pelvis, abdomen, and back and is therapeutic for urinary disorders. 

It relieves sciatica pain and prevents hernia.

 It helps regulate the menstrual cycle and helps improve fertility. 

Beginner tips: If your knees are way above the ground due to tight hamstrings, you can use blocks, bolsters or pillows to support your knees. Allow your knees to rest on the yoga prop and focus on maintaining a straight spine, even when you attempt a forward bend. 

6. Mountain Pose 

Sanskrit name: Tadasana

Pose information This pose can be practiced anywhere and by anyone. It looks like one of the easy-to-do yoga poses in which you have to stand straight, but when done with yogic awareness it becomes a highly effective pose that engages all the muscles of the body and evenly distributes body weight. It is the foundation of all standing poses. 

How to do

Step 1: Stand with your feet together or about 2 to 3 feet apart. 

Step 2: Lift your toes, become aware of the weight on the balls of the feet and heels, and then spread and relax the toes on the floor. 

Step 3: You can gently rock back and forth or side to side to become aware of the evenly distributed body weight on the feet.

Step 4: Firm your thigh muscles and lift the knee cap up. 

Step 5: Tuck your tailbone in and imagine a straight line running from the tailbone all the way up to the back of your head and reaching up to your crown. Align yourself with this line. 

Step 6: Roll your shoulders back, widen your shoulder blades and release them down into your back. With your hands by your side, spread your fingers and stretch them out. 

Step 7: Keep your facial muscles relaxed and keep your head straight. Breathe in and out softly and naturally. You can stay here for 30 seconds to 1 minute. If comfortable, you can practice with your eyes closed. 

Benefits: 

It improves balance and posture. 

As a yoga beginner, you will find this pose helps to increase overall body awareness. 

It also helps firm abdominal muscles and buttocks. 

It is therapeutic for flat feet, relieves sciatica, strengthens ankle, knees, and thighs.  

7. Standing Half Forward Bend 

Sanskrit name: Ardha Uttanasana

Pose information:  Some schools of Yoga also call this pose as Samakonasana, also known as the Right Angle pose. It helps you find the length in your spine and balance the body when you bend forward. It helps synchronize movement with breath and is a good preparatory pose for deeper forward folds. 

How to do 

Step 1: Stand with feet together or hip-width apart, whichever is most comfortable and allows you to equally distribute weight on all four corners of the feet. 

Step 2:  Raise the arms straight above the head, palms facing each other and fingers stretched out. Maintain the alignment of arms in line with your ears throughout the asana. 

Step 3: Arch the back slightly, pushing the buttocks out a little and slowly bend forward from the hips until the back forms a right angle with the legs. 

Step 4: Keep the legs straight. However, if you are suffering from back pain or any discomfort in the knees, you can bend the knee slightly while keeping the head, neck, spine, and arms in a straight line.

Step 5: Hold the final position for a few breaths and slowly return to the upright position, with the arms, head and back in a straight line. 

Benefits: 

It helps stimulate the abdominal organs and improves digestion. 

Works specifically on the shoulders and the middle and upper back. 

It helps improve posture and relieve tension. 

8. Standing Forward Fold 

Sanskrit name:  Utthanasana 

Pose information: This pose is the third pose in Surya Namaskar and is also called Padahasthasana or Hand to Foot variant of a standing forward bend. It is an intense stretch that requires a certain amount of flexibility, however, as a yoga beginner, you can include this with variations in your daily practice and slowly work towards deepening the bend. 

How to do 

Step 1: Stand in Mountain pose, that is with feet together or hip-width apart.

Step 2: Bend forward from the hips until the fingers or palms touch the floor on either side of the feet. Bend the knees if you have to. 

Step 3: Bring the forehead as close to the knees as is comfortable, without straining the neck and shoulders. Feel the deep stretch in the spine as you pull the head down and press the hips up. 

Step 4: Work on straightening the legs to deepen the stretch. You will experience a deep stretch on the back of the legs. 

Step 5: Keep the awareness on the abdominal muscles pressed against the thigh and deep exhalations as you contract the abdomen. To release, inhale and bring the hands and torso to the upright position. 

Benefits:

It helps improve posture and lengthen the spine. 

It helps calm the mind and relieve tension. 

It stimulates the digestive and endocrine system. 

Beginner tips

Use blocks to rest your palms on. It helps maintain stability and reduce strain by bringing the floor closer to you. Do not round your back or lock your knees, instead, keep the knees bent and focus on deepening the stretch with every exhalation. 

9. Tree Pose 

Sanskrit name: Vrksasana

Pose information: This is a pose that teaches you to stand tall like a tree! This balancing asana helps induce physical and nervous balance. To begin with, you can take wall-support. If you are right-handed, practice with the left side/leg leading as this will help develop both sides equally. 

How to do:

Step 1

Stand straight with your feet together and arms on the side. Focus your gaze on a fixed point. This is the key to avoid any distractions and maintain balance. 

Step 2

Bend your right knee, grab hold of the ankle and place the right foot on the left inner thigh. 

The right knee should point out to the right side and the closer the right heel to the perineum the better. 

Step 3

When the body is balanced, bring your hands together in the namaskar mudra in front of the chest. You can also raise the arms above your head. 

Step 4 

Stay here for a few breaths. Keep your gaze fixed. Slowly release the posture and place the right foot down. 

Step 5 

Repeat the pose on the left side. 

Benefits: 

This pose is therapeutic for flat feet and sciatica. 

It helps strengthen calves, ankles and foot muscles.

It helps improve concentration and helps develop mind-body balance. 

Beginner tips: At first, you may find it difficult to place the right foot on the left thigh. For easy yoga for beginners you can begin by placing the foot a little lower, either above or below the left knee and gradually raise it higher. You can also stand against a wall to get over the fear of falling.

10. Warrior 1 Pose 

Sanskrit name: Virabhadrasana I

Pose information: There are 3 poses in warrior series and Warrior I can be done by beginners. It is practiced regularly by advanced yogis too because it helps create a great foundation for any Vinyasa flow. You can also practice Equestrian pose or Ashwa Sanchalan asana, which is one of the poses from the Surya Namaskar sequence. 

How to do:

Step 1

Stand with your feet wide apart, roughly at around 4 to 5 feet distance with the right foot in front at a 90-degree angle and the toes pointing to the front of the mat. 

Step 2

Align the right heel with left heel, but turn the left foot outward at a 45-degree angle. 

Step 3

Bend your front/right knee and keep the shin perpendicular to the floor. 

Step 4

Keep the back leg straight and adjust your hips and shoulders so they face the front of the mat. This is not one of the best yoga poses for beginners as it takes regular practice to achieve the right alignment and place the back foot flat on the mat. 

Step 5

Inhale and stretch your hands over the head with palms facing each other. If you do not feel any discomfort on shoulders or neck, you can place your palms together in the namaskar mudra and lookup. Else, you can choose to look straight.

Step 6

Remember to keep your shoulders relaxed, chest lifted and root down to the mat by pressing into the feet. Release the pose after 5 to 7 breaths and repeat the pose with the left leg in front. 

Benefits: 

This pose helps strengthen the legs and stretches the arms and legs for better flexibility.

 It also works on the chest and back, improving circulation and respiration.

 It helps energize the body, improves concentration and brings awareness of groundedness.  

Beginner tips: You can modify the pose and balance the back leg on toes instead. You can also move into Ashwa Sanchalan asana by placing your hands down on either side of the front foot. With regular practice and improved flexibility, you can work towards placing the back foot flat on the mat.

  11. Low Lunge 

Sanskrit name: Anjaneyasana 

Pose information: This pose is also known as Crescent Moon pose as it is a part of Chandra Namaskara (Moon Salutations) and is known as Ardha Chandrasana. It is also a great preparatory pose for backbends and splits. In Hindu mythology, Anjaneya is another name for Lord Hanuman, who had mastered all Yoga siddhis and was commonly found holding this stance. 

How to do:

Step 1: You can get into this beginners yoga pose from a Downward Facing Dog Pose or Equestrian Pose. From Downward Dog, exhale and bring the right foot in front and place it in between the palms. 

Step 2: Keep the right knee and ankle in a straight line to prevent the right knee from stretching forward towards the toes. This helps keep the knee safe. 

Step 3:  Maintaining the balance and deep stretch in the Equestrian pose, slowly bring the left knee down and place it on the mat. 

Step 4: Rest your palms on the right knee or around the waist and allow the hips to sink forward and draw the tailbone towards the ground. You will feel a deep stretch on the left leg. 

Step 5: Maintaining the length of the spine, raise the hands and stretch both arms over the head, keeping the arms shoulder-width apart. Raise the chin and lookup. In the final position, the back will be arched.  

Step 6: You can either stay in this position or slightly lift your left knees off the mat to come into a full Crescent Pose.

Step 7: To release the posture, bring your hands down on the mat, next to the front foot and return to the Downward Dog pose. Repeat the stretch with the left leg in front. 

Benefits:

It gives a complete and deep stretch to the entire body, especially the hips and groins, thighs, arms, chest, and neck. 

Because it works on the areas that hold tension, it helps relieve physical and emotional tension when held for 7-10 breaths or more. 

It stimulates the thyroid glands and boosts the body’s metabolism. 

Being a heart-opening posture, it helps improve blood circulation.  

Beginner tips:  This pose has many variants and can be adapted in many different ways to improve your flexibility. Using Yoga props like knee cushion or blanket is advisable for cushioning knee joint and for deepening and staying in the pose for longer.  

12. Cat-Cow Stretch 

Sanskrit name: Marjaryasana sequence

 Pose information: This is a great stretch to improve flexibility and can also be practiced as a warm-up sequence before you start your practice. It can also be practiced during pregnancy (without forceful contractions) and during menstruation. 

How to do:

Step 1: Come on your knees and lean forward to place your palms down for a tabletop position. 

Step 2: See to that the knees are hip-width apart (knee-hip at a 90-degree angle) and the wrists are beneath the shoulders, with fingers facing forward. Maintain a neutral spine.

Step 3: With the next inhalation, expand the belly, filling the lungs with maximum air and at the same time curve the spine so it becomes concave and raise the head to look up or towards the third eye. 

Step 4: As you exhale, pull the belly button (in) closer to the spine and arch your back as you round and stretch the spine upward. Look down or at the nose-tip, bringing the chin closer to the chest. 

Step 5: Repeat this cycle of inhalation and exhalation synchronized with the spinal movement for 5 to 10 rounds. 

Benefits: 

It improves the flexibility of the neck, shoulders, and spine. 

Because the movement is done in with the breath, it helps relieves stress and calms the mind. 

It helps relieve menstrual cramps, lower back pain, and sciatica. 

It stretches the abdominal and chest muscles and prepares the body for forward and backbends. 

13. Thunderbolt pose 

Sanskrit name: Vajrasana 

Pose information: Vajrasana is practiced as a meditation posture in many cultures across the globe. Vajra is also the major Nadi which helps regulate the sexual energy in the body. Control of Vajra Nadi leads to control of sexual energy, and pose as such is beneficial reproductive and digestive organs. It is one of the few poses that can be performed immediately after a meal.  

How to do: 

Step 1:  Kneel on the floor with knees together and calves beneath the thighs. 

Step 2: The first toe of both the feet should touch each other and the spine should be erect. 

Step 3: Rest the buttocks on the sole of the feet with the heels touching the sides of the hips. 

Step 4: Place the hands on the knees, palms down, close your eyes and relax the whole body. 

Step 5: Keep the awareness on the breath and avoid arching o the spine while you hold the posture. 

Benefits: 

It is a preventive measure against hernia and also helps relieve piles. 

It helps alleviate menstrual disorders, alters the flow of blood and nervous impulses in the pelvic region and is therapeutic for sciatica. 

It helps activate the prana flow and is very effective for meditation. 

It is extremely useful for digestion and helps relieve stomach related ailments such as hyperacidity and peptic ulcer. 

Beginner tips: Due to tight hamstrings, you find it difficult to sit straight. Thus using a yoga pops like a folded blanket or pillow/bolster will be very useful. 

14. Child’s Pose 

Sanskrit name: Balasana 

Pose information: Have you noticed how babies sleep? This asana resembles the fetal position and you can feel a sense of mental, physical and emotional calm in this posture. This easy yoga for beginners pose gives you a relaxing break from the physical and mental stress. 

How to do:

Step 1: Kneel on the floor and sit back on your heels. The big toes should touch each other. 

Step 2: Slowly, move your knees to at least hip-width apart and bend forward, allowing your torso to rest on the floor in between your thighs. 

Step 3:  Stretch your hands forward and place your forehead on the floor. Release any tension or stiffness as you exhale, allowing the front of your shoulders to rest on the floor. You can stay here for 2 to 3 minutes. 

Benefits:

It helps strengthen and stretch the back muscles, releasing pressure on the spine and gives space to the discs to resume the correct position. 

It helps tone pelvic muscles and regular practice helps relieve constipation. 

It also helps relieve stress.  

Beginner tips: You can also stretch your hands back, alongside your torso, with palms facing up. At times, you may find it difficult to sit on your heels as you bend forward. You can place a folded blanket or pillow in between your back thighs and calves to sit on. 

15.  Downward-facing Dog Pose 

Sanskrit name: Adho Mukha Svanasana 

Pose information: This is one of the most common poses in any Vinyasa flow, including Surya Namaskar and variations. It takes time to perfect this pose and only regular practice can help improve alignment. 

How to do:

Step 1: From the Child’s Pose, come on all fours by walking your hands back (slightly away from shoulders) and your knees placed directly under the hips. 

Step 2:  Spread your fingers and start lifting your knees off the mat, raising the buttocks towards the ceiling. Keep the head in line with the spine, between the arms and don’t let it hang. 

Step 3 : Gently push back, moving the torso and shoulders towards the thighs and lift the sitting bones up towards the ceiling.

Step 4: Slowly work on straightening your knees. Do not strain. Stay in this posture for 5 to 7 breaths and then relax in child’s pose. 

Benefits:

It helps strengthen the limbs and the back. 

It also helps the growing bones to grow longer in young adults and helps increase height.

It also helps stimulate blood circulation, relieves stress and menstrual discomfort and improves digestion. 

Beginner tips:  As a beginner, It is okay to keep the knees slightly bent and heels away from the floor.

16. Plank pose

Sanskrit name: Santolanasana/Phalakasana 

Pose information: It is one of the best poses for a yoga beginner to build core strength. Although it takes time to achieve stability and increase the duration, it is an easy-to-do pose that does not require much flexibility. It is also the fifth asana in the Surya Namaskar sequence and is a part of most of the Vinyasa sequences, for all levels. It is also known as Utthita Chaturanga Dandasana. It has many variations and the stronger you get with planks the more creative you can get with your core workout. 

How to do:

Step 1: You can either balance on all fours in Marjari-asana or hold a Downward Facing Dog position. From Cat-Cow asana, lift your knees off the mat. If in Adhomukhaswanasana, bring your arms perpendicular to the floor and drop the buttocks until the torso is parallel to the floor. 

Step 2: Grasp the ground with the toes and move the shoulders forward, until the shoulders are in line with the wrists. 

Step 3: Instead of looking down between the palms, look a little ahead/away and focus the gaze at a fixed point in front. 

Step 4: Press into palms and fingertips, spread the collarbone away from the sternum and spread the shoulder blades away from the spine. 

Step 5: Avoid dropping and putting pressure on the lower back, lengthen the tailbone towards the heels, breathe normally, keep the facial muscles relaxed and hold the posture from anywhere between 30 seconds to 1 minute.  

Step 6: To release the posture, you can place knees down and relax in Marijariasana or lift your hips to return to  Downward Facing Dog.  

Benefits:

It improves nervous balance and builds a sense of inner equilibrium and harmony. 

It is a complete body workout and helps strengthen the core, which in turn can help strengthen back muscles and relieve back pain. 

It strengthens the wrists and helps build stronger biceps and triceps. 

Beginner tips:  You can use a yoga belt to loop and secure it around your upper arms, just above your elbows. This helps maintain the shoulder-wrist alignment. You may also find a forearm plank easier, in which you place your elbows on the mat in line with your shoulders. If holding the plank at a stretch is tough, you can rest your knees down in Cat-Cow pose in-between and resume the posture again. 

17. Cobra Pose 

Sanskrit name: Bhujangasana

Pose information: This energizing backbend is also a part of the Surya Namaskar sequence and resembles the raised hood of a cobra. Though popularly categorized under basic yoga poses for beginners, the more you practice, the deeper you can get into the pose and turn it into an advanced backbend.  

How to do:

Step 1: Lie flat on your stomach with toes touching each other. 

Step 2: Bend your hands and place the palms next to the shoulder. 

Step 3: Inhale and raise your head, the shoulders and arch the back into a cobra pose. 

Step 4: Do not lift the shoulder and squeeze them, instead keep them firm and away from the ear. Relax the muscles around the neck. Do not strain. 

Step 5: Feel the stomach pressed to the floor and continue to press your hips, thighs, and feet to the floor. 

Step 6: Breathe into your chest and exhale gently. Repeat for 5 to 7 breaths and gently release by relaxing your hands and bringing your forehead back on the mat. 

Benefits:

It helps strengthen the spine and improve flexibility. 

It also tones abdominal muscles and stimulates the digestive and reproductive system. 

It helps regulate metabolism, improve lung capacity and relieve stress. 

Beginner tips: It is advisable to first keep the elbows slightly bent and as you advance, you can attempt to get into a deeper backbend by straightening your hands. If this is difficult, you can also practice Saral Bhujangasana (Easy Cobra Pose) with forearms resting on the mat instead of palms. 

18. Half Spinal Twist 

Sanskrit name: Ardha Matsyendrasana

Pose information: It is suggested that every yoga practice, including a beginner yoga routine, should include at least one spinal twisting asana, preferably following the forward bending and back bending asanas. As a beginner, you should be careful to not strain and twist too much – beyond what the body will allow.  

How to do: 

Step 1: Sit with legs stretched out in front. 

Step 2: Bend the right leg and place the right foot flat on the mat, to the outside of the left knee. The toes of the right foot should be towards the front of the mat. 

Step 3: Bend the left leg and place the left foot next to the right buttock. 

Step 4: With the right knee pointing towards the ceiling, bring the left hand across so that the outer side of the upper arm presses against the inner side of the right knee. 

Tips: You can further bend the left arm at the elbow and point fingers towards the ceiling. If comfortable, you can extend the left hand and grab a hold of the right ankle or arch of the right foot. 

Step 5: See to that your spine is straight and not arched. Raise the right hand and take it back, around the back of your waist and simultaneously twist your trunk and head to look over the right shoulder. Do not strain the back or neck. Use the left arm as a lever against the right leg to twist the trunk. 

Benefits:

It helps tone the nerves, makes the back muscles supple, relieves lumbago and muscular spasms. 

It alleviates digestive ailments, regulates the secretion of the adrenal gland, liver, pancreas and is beneficial for the kidneys. 

Beginner tips: If you need to balance and to ensure your spine does not curve,  you can place the right hand on the floor for support. 

19. Boat Pose 

Sanskrit name: Naukasana

Pose information: This is a basic yoga stretch as well as a popular core-strengthening fitness workout. This pose also has an advanced variation that needs more flexibility and strength. However, all variations are effective exercises for strengthening abdominal muscles and work towards a strong core. 

How To Do:

Step 1: Lie in a supine position with palms flat on the mat. 

Step 2: Inhale deeply, hold your breath and raise the legs, arms, shoulders, head, and trunk off the mat. The shoulders and feet should not be more than 5 to 7 inches off the mat. 

Step 3: The arms are stretched forward (same level as shoulders) with palms facing down. 

Step 4: Balance on your buttocks and avoid rounding the spine. Hold the final position (and the breath) for 5 counts or for as long as comfortable. 

Step 5: Exhale and return to the supine position. 

Step 6: Relax the body before attempting the next round. Practice 3 to 5 rounds.  

Benefits:

Boat pose is highly effective for core-strengthening and toning. 

It induces deep relaxation as it eliminates nervous tension. Thus a lot of yogis practice this just before Savasana. 

Likewise, it can restore freshness if practiced in the morning.

It stimulates digestive, circulatory, nervous and hormonal systems. 

Beginner tips: If you are suffering from back pain, you can get into this posture from a sitting position. Find your balance and lift both legs off the mat. You can also keep your knees slightly bent till you develop core strength. 

20. Happy Baby Pose 

Sanskrit name: Ananda Balasana

Pose information: Another yoga posture named after children who are often found in a state of yoga, a state of happiness or bliss. This pose represents a happy baby. Have you noticed how infants lie on their back and grab hold of their big toes? It is a playful posture and one should try and relax in this posture for maximum benefits. 

How to do:

Step 1: Lie down on your back. 

Step 2: Raise both your legs up and bend them at the knee. 

Step 3: Bring the knees closer to the chest and hold your big toes. Use your thumb and index finger to get a good hold of the thumb. Ensure your arms are stretched through the inside of the knees as you hold your toes. Simultaneously, you can also place your palms on the outer edges of the feet or the arch of the feet. 

Step 4: Bend your hands at the elbow and gently pull the knees downward. Slowly open up your hips and widen your legs to deepen the stretch, but ensure that the ankle remains perpendicular to the knees and the tailbone remains on the floor.

Step 5: Press the shoulders down to the floor and tuck your chin into the chest to ensure the neck and head are relaxed. Breathe normally, relax and enjoy the stretch for a few breaths. 

Step 6: Before releasing the posture, hug your knees closer to the chest. 

Benefits:

It stretches the back, inner part of your thighs, groin, and hamstrings. 

It is a great hip-opener and helps release tension in the lower back. 

It also helps open up the shoulders and massages the digestive system. 

It helps calm the mind and destress. 

21. Legs Up the Wall 

Sanskrit name: Poorwa Halasana 

Pose information: This is a good preparatory pose before practicing inversions like Halasana or Viparita Karani. Like in inversions, this semi inverted pose reverses the action of gravity on the body. Below are steps to practice this beginners yoga pose with wall support which offers the desired stability and support in this inversion and also allows you to hold the posture for a longer time. While holding inverted asana the breath becomes slow and deep, and the blood and lymph accumulated in the lower limbs are drained back to the heart, a process that helps increase the supply of oxygenated blood to the entire body. 

How to do:

Step 1 : Lie down on your back and bend your legs so that you can adjust and move your sit-bones as close to the wall as possible. It helps to turn sideways with knees bent and move close to the wall and then lie flat on your back and adjust to get comfortable.  

Step 2: Place the arms close to the body or slight away, either with palms facing down or with hands made into fists and placed under the buttocks. 

Step 3: Raise both the legs to the vertical position such that the back of your legs are resting against the wall. 

Step 4: The buttocks should rest on the floor or on the fists and the upper body (neck-shoulder area) should be completely relaxed. 

Step 5: You can either stay in this posture for as long as comfortable (3 to 5 minutes helps in deep relaxation) or you can try variations like moving the legs away from each other as far as is comfortable and then bringing them back together. 

Step 6: To get into the final pose of Poorwa Halasana, bring the feet towards the head, making a 45 degree angle between the legs and torso and hold it for 3 to 5 breaths and take the legs back and rest them on the wall. 

Step 7: To come out of the posture, slowly bend the knees and turn sideways as you lower both the legs to the floor. Hug the knees closer to the chest for a few breaths before sitting upright or moving into the next pose, which should be a counterpose like Cobra or Fish Pose.  

Benefits:

It stretches the pelvis, regulates the kidneys, activates the intestines and helps regulate body weight. 

It helps remove tiredness from the legs and also helps calm the nervous system, especially when you hold the posture for 5 minutes or more and combine slow rhythmic breathing. 

It is an easier version of advanced inversions, yet it gives you all the benefits of an inversion. It helps regulate the blood pressure and helps relieve stress and anxiety, leaving you feeling absolutely rejuvenated. 

Beginner tips : Apart from the wall, using props like a folded blanket or a bolster to rest your buttocks on can be extremely useful. You can always adjust the distance between you and the wall based on your flexibility and height. If comfortable you can try this pose without wall support for a shorter duration.

22. Fish Pose 

Sanskrit name: Matsyasana 

Pose information: This is the most preferred counterpose for inversions like Halasana or Sarvangasana as it stretches the neck in the opposite direction and helps release any muscular tension. Ancient texts refer to Matsyasana as ‘destroyer of all diseases’. It helps reduce fatigue almost instantly and also increases overall vitality. 

How to do:

Step 1: Lie on your back (in supine) and relax your body with arms by your side, resting on the mat. 

Step 2: Bring the palms under your buttock and press into your palms gently as you slightly  tip your head backwards.  

Step 3 : Inhale and use your forearms to lift your chest, shoulders, upper back and head off the mat and rest the top of your head on the mat. Your back will be arched in the final position.  

Step 4: If comfortable you can rest your palms on the thighs. Hold this position with breath awareness for 30 seconds to 1 minute. You can keep your eyes closed. 

Step 5: Return to the starting position, reversing the order of movements. 

Benefits:

It stretches the intestines and abdominal organs and is useful for all abdominal ailments, such as constipation. 

It is therapeutic for asthma, bronchitis and encourages deep respiration. 

It regulates the functioning of thyroid glands and stimulates the thymus gland, boosting the immune system. 

It helps restore hormonal balance, helps de-stress and detoxify, increases youthfulness and metabolism.  

Beginner tips: It is important that the body is slowly lowered and raised from the final position by using elbows for support to avoid any sudden jerks or movement in the neck area. You can gradually increase the duration to 3 to 5 minutes and then move into variation like folding the legs in Padmasana position. 

23. Half-Locust Pose 

Sanskrit name: Ardha Shalabhasana 

Pose information: It is preparatory for the full Locust Pose. Ardha means half and Shalabh means locust, which is known for its energy to great leaps. This pose helps strengthen the spine and release tension in pelvic area and in the final pose one has both legs raised like that of a feeding locust.  

How to do:

Step 1: Lie flat on stomach (in prone). 

Step 2 : Place your hands under the thighs, palms downwards or upward, based on your comfort level. 

Step 3: Your chin will be touching the mat, slightly stretched forward. 

Step 4: Using back muscles, lift the leg first. Raise it as high as possible without bending the leg. 

Step 5: Take care to not bend or lift the right leg and avoid putting pressure on it. Instead use the back muscles to lengthen and stretch the left leg. 

Step 6: Do not strain or try too hard to raise the left leg higher. Do not hold your breath and continue to breathe normally for 5 to 7 breaths. 

Step 7: Exhale and bring the left leg down on the mat. Repeat the stretch for the right leg. 

Benefits:

It improves blood circulation in the lower back and pelvic area and is therapeutic for sciatica and lower back pain. 

It helps relieve constipation. 

It strengthens and tones the lower body, especially the thighs and buttocks. 

It helps people with stiff back and pain and it strengthens the back muscles and improves flexibility. 

Beginner tips: You can try variations like raising alternate leg and hand at the same time where in the leg is stretched back and the arm stretched in front of you with fingers pointed straight. 

24. Supine Spinal Twist 

Sanskrit name: Supta Matsyendrasana  

Pose information: This is a gentle twist that helps the free flow of energy through the body. It creates space between the vertebrae and helps relieve any discomfort and stiffness and helps you restore balance and energy so it can be practiced first thing in the morning or even towards the end of your practice before you move into the final relaxation pose. 

How to do:

Step 1: Lie flat on the mat and take a few deep breaths to rest the back on the mat and relax completely. 

Step 2:  Engage your core and raise and bend your knees, bringing them closer to the chest. 

Step 3: Spread your arms wide, in line with your shoulders and keep your palms facing down for support. 

Step 4: On the next exhalation drop both knees down to the left side as you lower your legs. Keep the knee and feet stacked. 

Step 5: Adjust the knees so that they are in line with your hips and your heels are a few inches away from the buttocks. However, you can deepen the twist by bringing the knees closer to the chest. 

Step 6: Ensure the shoulder blades are spread on the mat and the shoulder is completely rested on the mat. This will result in a gently twist in the upper back region. 

Step 7: Gently turn your head to the left (opposite direction) and stay in the final pose for 30 seconds to a minute, keeping the awareness on your breath.

Step 8: To release the pose, engage your core and raise the legs with knees bent and bring the knees close to your chest. Keep the core engaged and repeat the same twist on the left side. 

Benefits:

It gives your shoulders, chest, upper, mid and lower back a good stretch and massages your internal organs. 

It helps improve digestion. 

It offers a complete detox and increases spine flexibility. 

It gives an energy boost and helps relieve stress and anxiety. 

Beginner tips: Do not force the upper knee down. Instead, try and relax into the posture and surrender to gravity. You can also use a pillow or bolster in between your knees and thighs to avoid strain. You can also attempt to do the same supine twist with one leg straight and bending the other leg and allowing it to rest on the floor as you twist. Here, you can bring the opposite hand down and let the palms rest on the knee as you relax and deepen the stretch. 

 25.   Corpse Pose 

Sanskrit name: Savasana

Pose information: This deep relaxation pose can be practiced at any time of the day to de-stress and relax and should definitely be practiced after asana practice. It helps relax the body and mind completely and increases inner awareness as you consciously work towards releasing tension in all the muscles.

It appears easy but it is quite difficult to do this effectively, just like meditation.  It is one of the most important yoga poses in basic yoga for beginner series. 

How to do:

Step 1: Lie flat on your back with arms and legs relaxed and palms facing the ceiling. You can place a yoga blanket or headstand pillow under the head for support and comfort. 

Step 2: Keep the feet slightly apart, release any tension around the knee and hips and further relax your upper back. 

Step 3: Place your arms about 15 cms away from the body. Relax the neck and back of your head and ensure the head does not tilt to one side.

Step 4: Shift the awareness from the body to the breath and continue to breathe in a natural relaxed manner. 

Step 5: Begin to make a mental note of your breath, counting from 27 backwards to zero. In between if the mind wanders, start again from 27. Overall, anywhere between 2 to 5 minutes is a good time to stay in this posture. 

Step 6: To come out, turn to your right and hug your knees for a few breaths. Then come up to a seated posture. 

Benefits:

This posture relaxes the mind and body and has psychological and physiological benefits. It can be practiced before bedtime. 

It helps develop complete body awareness and prepares the mind for a state of pratyahara or an increase in inner awareness. 

It helps release stress, depression, fatigue and helps cure insomnia. 

It stimulates blood circulation and improves concentration. 

You may have noticed certain Yoga props in use in the above-shared yoga for beginners list.  You can use yoga props to help you with support and alignment. For beginners, they provide support in yoga poses and make basic yoga poses more accessible, regardless of your physical flexibility and strength. Check out our blogs on yoga props – from blocks, yoga straps, sandbags to yoga bolsters! 

Once you find yourself balancing and breathing with ease in these beginning yoga poses, you can try the Sun Salutation sequence, which will further improve your flexibility, stamina, and immunity. 

Check out our step-by-step guide on Surya Namaskara here https://www.juruyoga.com/suryanamaskar-the-complete-guide/   

1 Comment

  1. Great advice! There is another unique, yet proven yoga strategy you can use –right in the comfort of your home– to tighten and tone your body FAST. The best part, it’s a complete done-for-you program. It quiets your mind, increases your metabolism, all while helping you build a healthy life.

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