Yoga Poses for Beginners: 20 Essential Exercises

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Yoga Poses for Beginners: 20 Essential Exercises

Yoga is a great way to improve flexibility, strength, and balance. It can also help to reduce stress and improve mood.
Here is an easy-to-follow guide to 20 essential yoga poses. Each pose is described with simple instructions, so you can start practicing right away. If you’re a beginner, start with a few poses and gradually increase the number as you become more comfortable.

Cat-Cow Pose

  • Begin on all fours with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees below your hips.
  • On an exhale, arch your back and drop your head and tailbone toward the mat.
  • On an inhale, reverse the movement, arching your back, tilting your tailbone and chin toward the ceiling, and dropping your tailbone toward the floor.}

Plank Pose

  • Begin on all fours with your wrists directly under your shoulders.
  • Extend your legs straight behind your body, with your toes tucked.
  • Engage your abs and bring your hips level with your shoulders so that your back is flat.
  • Gaze slightly in front of your face to keep your spine neutral, and hold the position.

Side Plank

  • Begin in a plank position, and shift your bodyweight into your right hand, with your wrist under your shoulder.
  • Drop your heels to the right side of the mat, rotate your body to face the left side, and lift your left arm into the air at shoulder height and twist.
  • Raise your hips as high to the ceiling as possible.
  • Hold the position, then switch sides and repeat.

Downward-Facing Dog

  • Begin in a plank position.
  • Lift your hips up and back, sinking your heels toward the floor, until your body forms an upside-down “V” shape.
  • Press your shoulders away from your ears and relax your neck.
  • Spread your fingers wide on the mat, with your palms pressed against the floor.
  • Hold the position. (Optional: Peddle your feet for added hamstring and calf stretch.)

Three-Legged Dog

  • Begin in a downward-facing dog position.
  • Lift your left foot off the mat and up toward the ceiling.
  • As you move, keep your shoulders square and your bodyweight even between both palms and your right foot.
  • Lower your foot and switch sides.

Low Plank

  • Begin in a plank position.
  • Keep your elbows close to your sides, bend your arms, and lower your entire body as one unit.
  • Stop when your biceps are parallel to the mat.
  • Push yourself back up.

Upward-Facing Dog

  • Begin lying on the mat with your legs extended straight behind your body.
  • The front of your legs should rest on the floor, and your upper body should be propped up in the air by pressing your palms down into the mat.
  • Extend your arms to straight and lift your thighs and shins off the floor.

Child’s Pose

  • Begin in a kneeling position, with your shins flat on the ground.
  • Rest your butt on your heels, with your knees slightly wider than your torso and your hands in your lap.
  • Walk your arms forward until straight on the floor.
  • Lower your stomach down onto your thighs, and rest your forehead on the floor.

Mountain Pose

  • Begin standing with your feet hip-width apart, with your bodyweight distributed evenly throughout both feet.
  • Place your hands at your sides with your palms forward.
  • Spread your toes, lift your chest, and bring your shoulder blades down your back.

Chair Pose

  • Begin standing with your feet together and your arms at your sides.
  • At the same time, raise your hands overhead, with your palms facing in until your biceps are by your ears.
  • Do this while bending your knees and sitting back as if lowering into a chair.
  • Hold the low position.

Forward Fold

  • Begin standing in mountain pose.
  • Fold forward at your waist and place your palms on the mat in front of your feet.
  • Bend your knees as much as necessary to make this happen.

Low Lunge

  • Begin in a forward fold.
  • Then, step your left foot backward until your leg is straight, your toes are tucked, and your heel is high.
  • Bend your right knee to 90 degrees and come up to balance on the fingertips.
  • Lower your back knee and shin to the mat.
  • Switch sides and repeat the movement.

High Lunge

  • Begin in a low lunge with your left knee and shin off the floor.
  • From there, lift your torso and raise both arms overhead.
  • Keep your shoulders down and your hips squared to the front of the mat, and hold.

Warrior II

  • Begin with your legs almost as wide as the mat.
  • Place your right foot forward, with your toes facing straight ahead, and your left foot back, with the outside of your foot parallel to the back of the mat.
  • Note that your right heel should be lined up with the middle of your left inner arch, with your torso facing your left side, and your arms at your sides.
  • Keep your left leg straight while deeply bending your right knee until your thigh is parallel to the mat.
  • Extend your arms out to the sides at shoulder height with your gaze over your front fingers.
  • Hold this position. Switch sides and repeat.

Extended Side Angle

  • From Warrior II, tilt
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