In the beginning, yoga might seem a little intimidating, but much like CrossFit it just takes a little practice to get you hooked — and there’s a reason it’s so popular.
Here are the best yoga poses for beginners to help you relax and unwind from a hard workout.
What are the benefits of yoga?
For thousands of years yoga has been used to calm the mind and strengthen the body. Its universal appeal and minimal equipment have made it a favourite exercise method for millions of people; and the benefits are tenfold.
According to Johns Hopkins;
- Yoga improves strength, balance and flexibility.
- Yoga helps with back pain relief.
- Yoga can ease arthritis symptoms.
- Yoga benefits heart health.
- Yoga relaxes you, to help you sleep better.
- Yoga can mean more energy and brighter moods.
- Yoga helps you manage stress.
Research found that just 12 minutes of yoga every other day helped promote bone health, while 20 minutes improved flexibility and memory.
While there is a lot of fancy yoga terminology, clothing, equipment, studios, etc, beginners should not be put off. Yoga is for everyone.
Can you lose weight with yoga?
The short answer is yes. Any yoga pose or exercise that challenges the muscles is key for losing weight, however must be done alongside a healthy diet and maybe a little bit of cardiovascular activity depending on how quickly you want to see results.
Yoga will challenge your muscles, especially if you practice any of the famous yoga flows (Vinyasa, Bikram, Ashtanga, Iyengar, etc.) However, in the beginning its best to simply get comfortable with the poses themselves. Much like with any activity, you want to make sure you’re doing them correctly to avoid injury — and yes even yoga can cause injury if you’re not mindful!
How many times a week should you be doing yoga?
Research has shown that doing yoga anywhere between two to five times a week will greatly benefit your overall health and wellness, and it’s all about setting a routine. You may find just twice a week beneficial to start, but as your muscles get stronger you may progress to four or even six times a week.
What is the first thing you do in yoga?
Preparing for a yoga session — alone or with others — is easy, but there are things you might want to keep in mind before you hit the mat.
- Leave enough time between your last meal and your practice
- Make sure you’re wearing the right clothes — no jeans or tight pants here!
- Find a flow or class you know you can achieve. Set yourself up for success!
- Embrace a beginner mindset. It’s okay to not be a yogi from the get-go. It takes time to master anything.
- Breathe! One big part of yoga is mastering the breathe. This will help you relax into all your poses and bring plenty of mindfulness to each class.
Yoga Poses For Beginners: 12 Poses to Help You Fall in Love With Yoga
Try these yoga poses for beginners to begin your journey to a stronger body and calmer mind. Don’t expect to hit all of these yoga poses perfectly on the first try — just because they are for beginners doesn’t mean they won’t challenge you. You will been to cultivate a certain level of flexibility before you’re able to hit all these poses with ease.
Mountain Pose, also known as Tadasana, is one of the first poses you’ll learn when you get started with yoga and is the foundation for all standing poses.
Mountain pose essentially boils down to simply standing, but your awareness should be on your physical and mental balance. This pose usually comes up on the first section of your practice to bring calm to the mind and awareness to your whole body.
- Stand up straight with your feet solidly grounded to the floor, about hip-width apart.
- Roll your shoulders back and down with your arms by your sides and your palms facing forward.
- Keep your pelvis neutral and hips square.
- Try to stand upright with your body in perfect alignment.
You can challenge yourself by closing your eyes during this pose, learning to balance without any reference to the outer environment.
Another iconic yoga pose, the downward dog Strengthens the whole body; your upper body, arms, shoulders, abdomen and legs. It also stretches the back of the body, ankles, calves, hamstrings and spine, helping stimulate blood circulation. It takes some practice to feel completely comfortable in the position, especially if you suffer from tight hamstrings.
To do Downward Dog;
- Start on the floor with your hands shoulder-width apart, with your shoulders above your wrists. Align your inner shoulders with your index fingers. Your hips should be above or slightly before your knees.
- Next, tuck your toes against the mat or ground, using that leverage to extend your legs and lift both knees into the air. Your body should now resemble an upside-down “V” shape.
- Extend and lengthen your spine, simultaneously pressing through the palms of your hands and balls of your feet. Pull your pelvis up toward the ceiling, using the triceps in your upper arms to help stabilize your form. Some yoga teachers suggest drawing your shoulder blades down your back, while others prefer externally rotating the joints to support the body instead.
We all know the plank, and if you’ve ever done any YouTube core workouts, you’ll know exactly now to do it.
The plank pose in yoga is done on the hands rather than the forearms.
- From all fours bring your knees up off the floor and balance on your toes.
- Tuck your stomach in and engage your core.
- Keep your shoulders, arms and hands aligned, and your back straight.
- Engage your thigh muscles and lengthen the tailbone towards your heels.
- Keep pushing the floor away evenly with the palms of the hands and imagine you’re pressing the heels back against a wall.
- Draw the legs together without actually moving them. This creates more core strength and stability.
- Look at the floor slightly forward, jaw relaxed. Breath is even and steady.
Almost the exact opposite of Downward Dog, Upward-Facing Dog is similar to the Cobra except the goal is stretching and strengthening, so you bring your knees up off the ground.
- Practitioners usually move into this position from downward dog or the plank position.
- When you reach the plank position, exhale and drop your hips down towards the mat.
- As your body approaches the ground, inhale to straighten your arms as you roll over your toes, changing your foot position from toes tucked under to resting on the tops of your feet.
- Open your chest toward the ceiling as you straighten your arms.
- Keep your legs, core, and arms engaged and you move your head back to complete the stretch. Make sure you keep your shoulders dropped, and hunched upwards.
- Hold the position for several seconds, feeling the muscle in your legs work to keep you in the position.
The pose does not only look powerful but builds balance, increases lower-body strength and promotes core stability. It’s a standing yoga pose, and usually done in conjunction with Warrior I.
- With your legs wide apart, your front knee bent at a 90-degree angle and back leg extended, back heel grounded.
- Rotate your torso 90 degrees so its in line with your legs. Your hips, knees and ankles should all follow a straight line.
- Stretch out your hands towards your sides, actively reaching outwards as if someone was pulling you in both directions, creating space between the shoulders. Keep your torso straight. Your pals should face to the floor.
- Make sure your front tight is aligned with the body as it tends to cave inward, if this is the case, push your front knee outward.
- Keep your shoulders over your pelvis and tuck your tailbone if you feel your hips moving out. Turn your head towards your front hand and look over your fingers.
Warrior II strengthens and stretches your legs and ankles as well as your groin, chest and shoulders.
Half Pigeon Pose
This movement has many names, and pigeon pose is one of them. This pose helps increase external range of motion of femur, lengthens the hip flexors and helps prepare the body for more advanced yoga poses such as backbends and Lotus pose.
- Draw your right knee toward your right wrist.
- Bring your right foot in front of your left hip, and slide your left leg back.
- Depending on your flexibility, you might be unable to come all the way forward and over your knee, but rest on your hands on elbows, which ever is most successful.
- Start to bring your upper body forward, and breath into the pose
Seated Forward Fold
Deceivingly simple, the seated forward fold is performed by sitting on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. You then bring your upper body forward to fold in half, bringing your head to your knees. Your ability to complete this yin yoga pose depends hugely on the flexibility in your back and hamstrings.
Yoga poses for beginners should be simple, but also challenge you. This is one of those movements. It may take some time to get totally comfortable with, but this comes with practice so don’t worry if you can only just bring your hips forward and for get all the way down.
One of the more visually attractive poses in yoga, tree pose is a standing yoga pose that focuses on developing stability, balance and strength through the legs and all along the body.
- From Mountain pose, bend the right knee and place the right foot high on the left inner thigh, taking the hands to the hips.
- Allow the right knee to be as far forward in space as will keep the frontal hipbones square so there is no rotation in the pelvis.
- Make sure the standing foot continues to point straight forward and press the right foot into the left thigh.
- Observe how the body compensates. Make any necessary corrections, such as pressing the left thigh bone back and firm the left outer hip into the midline.
- Keeping the pelvis squared to the wall you are facing, carefully draw the right knee back to deepen the external rotation in the hip.
- Only draw the knee back to the extent you can keep the hips square.
- Raise the arms without flaring the front ribs.
- If able to keep the arms straight, reach up, touch palms and take the gaze to the thumbs.
This might be a difficult pose to remain in for a long period of time, but the focus is on balance and keeping yourself grounded and centered.
The chair pose works will tax your legs, core and arms and requires great ankle mobility to reach deeper levels.
Quad strength and a solid midline will keep you balanced during this pose, where you lower your center of gravity.
- Start in Mountain Pose. Taking a deep inhale, bring your arms to the sky in a circle so they are parallel above your head, palms facing inward.
- Bend your knees and begin to hinge your hips back and down as if you were about to sit on a chair. Try to take your thighs as nearly parallel to the floor as possible.
- Your knees may go over your feet and your torso should lean slightly forward to help with balance.
- Tuck your tailbone under to maintain a straight lower back and keep your heels well grounded to the floor.
- Stay in this pose for around seven breaths. To come out, straighten your knees with an inhalation and stand up leading with your arms. Exhale and lead your arms to your sides.
Perform this pose regularly to improve your ankle mobility. To deepen the strength requirements of Chair, squeeze a yoga block between your thighs.
A popular relaxation or end pose to finish your yoga practice with, child’s pose helps extend the back and allows your body to completely relax.
- Start by sitting upright on your knees.
- Slowly fold your upper body over your knees.
- Bring your arms to your sides.
- Relax into the stretch and feel your spine and back unwind.
You can also bring your arms forward, beyond your head to get a little extra stretch.