Start your yoga journey now with the ten best poses for beginners. Whether it’s your first time on the mat or you’re already progressing, you’ll find the most essential poses for your yoga practice.
These basic exercises are the perfect way to start your yoga journey and focus on building strength, flexibility, and body awareness.
In this article, you’ll find step-by-step instructions for the ten best yoga poses for beginners in a sequence (flow) and helpful tips for perfect execution.
The poses contribute to your physical well-being and improve your mental health, mindfulness, self-awareness, and connection to yourself.
Yoga is not just a physical practice but a holistic approach to health and well-being.
With these specific positions for beginners, you can start a yoga practice at home today that will help you reduce stress, improve your posture, and increase your flexibility (Benvenutti et al. 20171; Sorosky et al. 20082; Grabara et al. 20153).
Roll out your mat and get ready to dive into the most crucial yoga postures.
Here are the top 10 yoga poses for beginners with pictures in a sequence (flow):
1. Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
The easy pose, or Sukhasana, has been practiced for centuries as a preferred meditation posture and can be found at the beginning of almost every yoga class.
Leave stress and the hustle and bustle of everyday life behind, strengthen your postural awareness, and enhance your concentration and mental clarity.
- Sit on the mat with your back straight and straighten your spine in its natural vibration.
- Cross the lower legs and bring each foot under the opposite knee.
- Let the shoulders sink back down in a relaxed manner. The hands are placed loosely on the lap or knees. Turn the palms up (more open) or down (calming).
- Close your eyes and focus only on your breath briefly, or set an intention for your yoga practice.
Tips for beginners:
- Let the breath flow calmly and evenly.
- Extend with your tailbone toward the floor while imagining the highest part of your head being gently pulled upward.
- A firm pillow or folded blanket under your buttocks can help keep your spine upright if your back becomes slightly round.
2. Easy Twist (Parivrtta Sukhasana)
The twist out of an easy pose is the simplest and, therefore, one of the best yoga poses for beginners.
This easy twist is optimal for mobilizing the spine and is one of the beginners’ most enjoyable yoga exercises. The easy seated twist stretches the neck, chest, shoulders, and upper and lower back.
- Remain seated cross-legged (spine erect) and take a deep breath.
- As you exhale, starting from the center of your body, turn to the right until you can place the fingers of your right hand behind your buttocks. Place the left hand on the right knee.
- Look over your right shoulder.
- Hold the position for five breaths.
- Exhale as you return to the center and repeat on the other side.
Tips for beginners:
- Start the rotation with your torso, then continue to rotate with your chest, shoulders, and only at the very end, your head. Turn your head only as far as is comfortable for your neck.
- Let your shoulders sink in a relaxed manner.
- With each exhalation, try to rotate a little further into position.
- The fingers behind your buttocks are only lightly placed and do not bear any weight.
- Keep the back straight and the spine erect.
3. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
The child’s pose is one of yoga’s most essential resting poses. It’s perfect for posturing between more active poses, relaxing the lower back, relieving stress, and calming the mind.
- Come into a quadrupedal position and push your buttocks backward onto your heels. The knees are open mat-width, allowing space for the upper body between the thighs.
- Bring your torso down to the floor with an exhalation until your forehead is on the mat.
- You can move your arms forward, stretch them out, rest them at your side next to your torso, or place your hands under your forehead.
- Close your eyes and breathe deeply into your lower back. Stay in this position for 5-10 deep breaths.
Tips for beginners:
- If you want a deeper stretch in the posture, extend your arms and gently move your fingertips forward.
- If the stretch in the hips is too intense, bring the knees closer together in the pose. If you want more intensity, move the knees further apart.
- Rest your forehead relaxed on the floor. Place your hands or a folded blanket under your buttocks if you can’t quite put it down.
4. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
The cobra pose, or Bhujangasana in Sanskrit, belongs to the backbends. It stretches and opens the front of the body, especially the chest, and strengthens the back of the body.
The position can relieve back pain and improve posture when practiced regularly, counteract fatigue, and have an energizing effect.
- Get into the prone position. Actively stretch your legs and toes back parallel, activate your leg muscles, and push the backs of your feet to the floor. The forehead faces the mat.
- Place your hands under your shoulders, close to your chest. Bend the elbows so that they are above the wrists. Pull the shoulders back and down as you do this.
- With an inhalation, lift the chest off the mat, drawing the collarbone long and the shoulder blades back.
- Raise your head last and look slightly downward forward at the floor.
- Hold the position for 4 to 8 breaths.
- Slowly release the position and return to prone or shift back to the child’s pose.
Tips for Beginners:
- You can adjust the backbend according to your desired intensity by bending or extending your elbows further (but never fully extending to protect your joints).
- Keep your legs and creek activated, and actively extend backward through your toes.
- The power of the movement comes from your back. The arms can support the process slightly but not bear any weight. Make sure your elbows stay close to your body and point backward.
5. Cat-Cow (Bitilasana-Marjaryasana)
The name refers to a cat’s soft and supple movement, in which you perform this yoga pose for beginners. The cat gently flows into the cow pose, warming your spine for further postures.
Cat-cow aims to improve flexibility, suppleness, and mobility of the spine, is often incorporated at the beginning of a yoga practice, and is an effective exercise against back pain.
- Come into a quadruped stance (knees hip-width, hands under shoulders).
- Cow: Inhale, lower your belly, lift your head and tailbone.
- Cat: Exhale, lift the mid-back while drawing the chin to the chest and lowering the tailbone.
- Repeat: Do the exercises four more times, then return to a neutral spine.
Tips for beginners:
- Be careful not to buckle at the wrists and keep the arms extended.
- Pull the shoulders away from the ears.
- Integrate the cervical spine harmoniously into the movement and raise/lower the head only at the end of the action.
6. Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
The downward-facing dog is not only one of the most famous but also one of the most popular yoga poses, which is also fantastic for beginners. And for good reason: it’s perfect for transitions but can also be practiced independently.
- Starting position: stay on all fours (knees hip-width, hands under shoulders).
- Stand on your toes and draw your belly button toward your spine.
- Release the knees from the mat and push up through the hands, pushing the pelvis far back until the position looks like an inverted V from the side.
- The heels sink toward the mat but do not need to touch it.
- Extend out from the arms and gently move the chest toward the thighs. The head is in line with the spine, so the ears are between the upper arms. The gaze goes straight down to the mat.
- Hold the position for five deep breaths.
- To come out of the pose, bring the knees back to the floor and go into the child’s pose, or transition into a deep lunge by placing one foot forward between your hands.
Tips for beginners:
- Keep your knees bent first to make your spine as long as possible. You can also alternate stepping with your heels toward the floor as you do this, slowly “lolling” into the position.
- Also, never fully extend your elbows to protect your joints.
- If you have very tight shoulders, place your hands slightly wider than your shoulders.
7. Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
The low lunge is a part of the classic sun salutations you can playfully integrate into almost any yoga flow. It is a helpful exercise for recovery after a workout or as a balance for people doing a lot of office work.
- From the downward-facing dog, place your right foot a large step forward between your hands. The front knee is aligned directly above the hock.
- Place the left knee on the floor, well behind the hip, so you feel comfortable stretching in the hip and thigh. Place the back of the foot on the floor. The further you push the leg back, the deeper the stretch will be.
- As you inhale, tense your abdomen, lift your torso, and bring your arms up beside your ears. Palms face each other. Hold the position for four breaths. Lower the arms and upper body with the exhalation, place the hands next to your foot, and step back into the downward dog with the right foot.
- Repeat the exercise with your left foot.
Tips for beginners:
- Be sure to keep your hips parallel.
- Don’t bend your front knee too far; keep it above your ankle. You should still be able to see your big toe when you look down.
8. Head-to-Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana)
The head-to-knee pose is a seated forward bend in which the head or torso pulls toward the knee to create a comfortable stretch at the back of the leg and along the entire length of the back.
The posture contributes to stretching and flexibility, especially of the hip joints, relieves pressure on the lower back, and regulates the nervous system.
- Come into a seated position. You will sit upright with your back straight, and your legs stretched out straight in front of you. Bend your right knee and place the sole of your right foot against your left inner thigh.
- Inhale and raise your hands shoulder-width apart as you lengthen your spine.
- Exhale and bend forward from the hips over the extended leg. Grasp the foot, ankle, or lower leg of your extended leg with your hands.
- Breathe long and evenly and hold the position for 4-8 breaths.
- To come out of the posture, tighten your abdominal muscles, inhale, and slowly and deliberately lift your upper body. Extend your bent leg forward again.
- Repeat the exercise on the other side.
Tips for beginners:
- Keep your back straight, and gently bend forward from the hips.
- Pull your elbows slightly apart in the pose to widen your chest.
- You don’t need to be able to bring your head to your knee, just in that direction. The more you practice the pose, the easier it will become.
9. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
The bridge pose, or Setu Bandha Sarvangasana in Sanskrit, is a versatile yoga pose among the backbends.
It has the benefits of an inverted pose without the need to be upside down. Therefore, it is an excellent alternative to other inversion poses and perfect for beginners.
- Lie on your back and place your feet hip-width apart on the floor in front of you so that you can still reach your heels with your fingertips. The knees are in line above the ankles.
- Place your arms beside your torso, bringing your shoulder blades close together.
- With an inhalation, push your shoulders and feet evenly into the floor and lift your pelvis. Release your back from the mat one vertebra at a time.
- Draw your shoulder blades together and lift your sternum toward your chin.
- Keep your arms at your sides, palms facing down, or cross your arms under your back.
- Keep the neck long and in a natural extension of the spine. Gaze straight up.
- Breathe evenly and hold the position for 5 to 15 breaths.
- To leave the posture, place your arms beside your torso, lower your hips, and mindfully roll your spine back to the floor as you exhale. Extend your legs before you and take a few moments to trace.
Tips for beginners:
- Avoid spreading your knees wide and dropping them outward by keeping your inner thighs parallel and tight. You can also place a yoga block or book between your thighs.
- Keep the neck neutral, do not turn the head to the side, and gaze straight towards the ceiling.
- Move the sternum towards the chin (and not the chin towards the chest).
10. Relaxation (Shavasana)
No yoga practice is complete without spending a few minutes in the relaxed supine position.
In the final relaxation, the corpse pose, you reap the rewards of your practice, quieting your body and mind and entering a meditative, deep, relaxing state.
- Lie on your back, relaxed and straight.
- Feet are about hip-width apart. Let the tips of your toes fall loosely outward.
- Place the arms to the side of the body, slightly away from the torso. The palms can face up (open) or down (closed).
- Release your body weight to the floor. Consciously release the tension in your muscles.
- Soften your facial features and relax the many small facial muscles.
- Stay in this posture for 10 minutes and let your breathing flow naturally.
- To leave the posture, consciously let your breath deepen and gently move the fingertips and toes to wake up the body. Slowly and mindfully, come back to a seated stance.
Tips for beginners:
- Be patient with yourself. Some days, relaxing and letting go of your body and mind will be easier than others.
- When your thoughts wander, you can bring your attention to the breath.
- Before coming out of your shavasana, take a moment to notice how you feel.
- Each practice is unique and has different qualities or valuable insights as a gift. As you finish these yoga poses for beginners, ask yourself what you want to take away, or let go of, from them for your everyday life—for example, a thought, feeling, or intention. Give yourself an inner smile and gratitude for taking the time to do something good for yourself.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Can yoga give you a toned body?
Yoga styles focusing on strength, such as Ashtanga and Vinyasa, can get you a toned body.
Which yoga is best for our health?
Traditional hatha yoga is the most balanced approach, offering numerous physical and mental health benefits.
What is the best way to get started with yoga?
Find a good yoga flow for beginners (like this one) and playfully try out the different poses with curiosity.
What poses should I start with yoga?
The easy pose and child’s pose are the best poses for beginners.
Does yoga reduce belly fat?
Active yoga classes such as Vinyasa or Ashtanga are suitable for losing weight. Depending on the intensity of the yoga practice and associated diet, body-oriented yoga can also help lose belly fat.
How many minutes of yoga a day are enough?
As little as 10-15 minutes of yoga a day, you will start to notice the positive effects of the practice.
Should I do yoga every day?
You can do yoga every day if it is shorter sessions. Adjust the exercises, duration, and intensity of the practice to your daily needs.
1Benvenutti, M. J., Alves, E. D. S., Michael, S., Ding, D., Stamatakis, E., & Edwards, K. M. (2017). A single session of hatha yoga improves stress reactivity and recovery after an acute psychological stress task—A counterbalanced, randomized-crossover trial in healthy individuals. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 35, 120-126. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2017.10.009
2Sorosky, S., Stilp, S., & Akuthota, V. (2008). Yoga and pilates in the management of low back pain. Current Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine, 1(1), 39-47. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12178-007-9004-1
3Grabara, M., & Szopa, J. (2015). Effects of hatha yoga exercises on spine flexibility in women over 50 years old. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 27(2), 361-365. https://doi.org/10.1589/jpts.27.361
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