By familiarising yourself with certain beginners poses in yoga you will have a basic foundation when starting your practice.
Having this basic knowledge will better equip you to go to your first yoga class feeling like you actually know what to do when the teacher says “downward dog”, rather than looking around for an upside down dog — you’ll find that most of the translations of the poses are named rather descriptively of the actual position you move into.
There are hundreds of yoga poses out there, so we’ve narrowed it down to 11 poses to start you off.
Remember that yoga is not a one pose fits all approach, everyone’s body is unique with varying capabilities. Be mindful of your body and don’t push past your edge. The aim is to feel good in your body, not try to make it do a pose that looks the same as someone else’s.
And lastly, always modify if needed!
If you hold each pose for 5-10 breaths, it can create a great yoga for beginners class for you to practice by yourself or with your friends as often as you’d like.
*Note: If you have any health concerns, consult a doctor before beginning a yoga practice
Cat cow is the perfect way to gently warm up your spine and introduce breath synchronized movement.
This lengthening of the spine helps to improve circulation to the discs between the vertebrae, which in turn relieves stress from the back and calms the mind.
Come into a tabletop position on your hands and knees. Your wrists should be underneath and in line with your shoulders and your knees in line with your hips.
Balance your weight evenly on all fours.
Inhale to look up, lifting your heart and dropping your belly towards the mat.
Then exhale and tuck your chin into your chest, curving your spin up towards the sky.
Bring awareness to your body and your breath as you repeat these movements.
Continue this fluid movement for 5 breaths.
Mountain pose is the foundation of all standing poses and makes for the perfect starting position or resting pose.
It looks simple, but if done correctly you are active through your entire body.
Stand with your feet together, big toes touching with a slight gap between the heels. Alternatively, keep feet hip-distance apart. Press down through all ten toes as you spread them open. Lift your kneecaps by engaging your quadriceps and lift up through the inner thighs.
Draw your belly in and up as you lift your chest and roll your shoulders up, back and down away from your ears.
Feel your shoulder blades coming towards each other while opening your chest, but keep energy through your fingers with palms facing inwards towards the body.
Imagine there’s an invisible string drawing up through the crown of the head all the way to the sky and breathe deeply throughout your entire body.
Hold for 5-10 breaths.
Adho Mukha Svanasana / Downward-Facing Dog
Downward-facing dog is one of the most common yoga poses you will come across. It stretches and strengthens the entire body, making it an excellent pose to do every single day.
Begin in a tabletop on your hands and knees, with your hands stacked under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
Press your palms into the mat, spreading your fingers wide and pressing your index finger and thumb into your mat.
Lift your tailbone and press your butt up and back, drawing your hips toward the sky.
Straighten your legs as best you can, or keep your knees bent, and press your heels gently toward the floor.
Ensure your head is between your arms, facing your knees, and your back should be flat with a lengthened spine.
Hold for 5–10 breaths.
Kumbhakasana / Plank Pose
Plank pose is a highly recommended yoga pose for beginners as it helps to build stamina and core body strength, which is needed for many of the other more challenging yoga asanas.
Kumbhakasana tones all of the core muscles of the body, including the abdomen, chest, and lower back. It strengthens the arms, wrists, and shoulders, as well as the muscles surrounding the spine, which helps to improve posture.
Come to all fours, with your knees under your hips and your hands flat on the floor directly underneath your shoulders.
Lift your knees off the floor and extend your legs out behind you, forming one long line with your body — balancing on hands and toes.
Press your palms flat into the ground, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, rounding into the shoulders and with your core engaged.
Draw your shoulders down your back, away from your ears. Keep your neck and spine in a neutral position by looking down at the top of your mat. Modify by dropping your knees to the ground to reduce intensity.
Hold this position for 3-5 breaths.
Virabhadrasana I / Warrior 1
Warrior 1 is the first pose in a series of Warrior poses. It’s a popular pose that you will often come across during a yoga class. Warrior poses are essential for building strength and stamina in a yoga practice.
Virabhadrasana 1 is a great pose for stretching open the entire front body (quads, hip flexors, psoas) while also strengthening the legs, hips, buttocks, core and upper body.
From mountain pose (Tadasana) step your right foot back.
Keep your front foot parallel to your mat and pointing forward. Position your back foot at approximately a 45-degree angle. Modify by standing on the front of your foot with your heel off the ground.
Keep your feet hip-width apart and square your hips to the front of the mat.
Bend into your front knee, making sure your knee is stacked directly above your ankle, or behind it. Keep your back leg strong.
Extend your arms up towards the sky and relax your shoulders away from your ears.
Hold for 5 breaths before switching to the other side.
Tree / Vrksasana
Tree pose is a perfect beginner’s standing pose, helping you to gain focus and learn to breathe and balance while standing on one foot.
Begin in mountain pose with your feet together and place your right foot on your inner left upper thigh or modify by leaning it on the left ankle. Externally rotate your right leg out.
Place your hands in a prayer position and hold a steady gaze by looking at a spot in front of you.
Keep your belly engaged and shoulders relaxed. Avoid leaning into your standing leg.
Hold for 8-10 breaths then switch sides.
Seated Forward Bend / Paschimottanasana
Seated forward bend pose or Paschimottanasana as it’s more popularly known in Sanskrit, is an excellent pose for giving the whole back of your body a good stretch — from your calves to your hamstrings (back of the thighs) to your spine.
It’s always good to incorporate a seated forward bend in your yoga practice and this one is brilliant for opening up the body and learning to breathe into the discomfort of a posture.
Begin in a seated position with your legs together extended in front of you, feet are firmly flexed with toes curled towards you, and your arms are extended above you towards the sky with palms facing each other.
Lift your chest and start to hinge forward from your waist, bending from your hips and keeping your back flat, fold your upper body over your lower body.
Engage your lower abdominals and imagine your belly button moving towards the top of your thighs.
Once you reach your limit, stop and breathe for 8-10 breaths. Make sure your shoulders, head and neck are all relaxed. Modify by bending your knees.
Bridge Pose / Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Follow a forward bend with a backbend counterpose. Bridge pose stretches the front body and strengthens the back body — a perfect beginner’s backbend.
Lie on your back, bend both knees and position your feet hip-width apart with your knees stacked over your ankles.
Place your arms on either side of your body with the palms of your hands turned down to the ground. Spread your fingers wide.
Imagine dragging your heels on the mat towards your shoulders to engage your hamstrings
Lift your hips up and hold the pose for 5 breaths pressing into both feet.
Supine Twist / Supta Matsyendrasana
Supine twists are neutralizing poses, so they’re great to include if you’ve been doing lots of backbends or forward bends.
They help to detoxify your body as well as aid in digestion and they can be energising (so good for your morning practice).
Lie on your back and hug both knees in towards you with your feet off the ground.
Place your arms in a “T” shape, with the palms of your hands turned up or down.
Let both knees drop down toward the right side of your mat.
Keep your gaze looking toward the sky, or turn to face the opposite direction of your knees.
Hold for 5 breaths before coming to the other side.
Child’s Pose / Balasana
Child’s pose or Balasana is a resting posture that is available for you to take during any time of your practice, be it at home or in a class.
It’s a calming pose that gently stretches your lower back, hips, thighs, knees and ankles and relaxes your spine, shoulders and neck.
Come to tabletop on all fours then bring your knees and feet together as you sit your butt back onto your heels and stretch your arms forward. Another option is to bring your big toes to touch and open your knees as wide as the mat.
Lower your forehead to the floor (block, pillow or blanket) and let your entire body release.
Hold for as long as you’d like!
Corpse Pose / Savasana
Aaaah sweet, delicious Savasana, oh how we love you.
This pose may seem like the easiest, but mentally it’s the most challenging, as most find it difficult to keep still.
It’s THE MOST important of all poses as it integrates all the hard work you just did prior to lying down on your mat.
Savasana relaxes the central nervous system, giving the cells of the body an opportunity to really permeate the fresh oxygenated blood, easing all the muscles and giving them the best gift after all of its hard work.
Lie on the mat with your hands and feet as wide as it is comfortable for you with palms up and toes pointed out.
Bring your shoulder blades right under the chest and just allow yourself to melt into the earth one breath at a time.
Take three deep breaths and then stay in the posture for five minutes or longer.