You’ve heard all about the amazing benefits of yoga, but now you’re wondering where to start!
There are poses that will help you build strength, many asanas to develop your flexibility and even certain postures to encourage deep sleep.
But if you’re a true novice then you need to take a look at our shortlist of the 18 best yoga poses for beginners:
1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
It might look like you’re simply standing with your arms at your side, but Mountain Pose is a powerful one as it lays the groundwork for all the future yoga positions you’re going to master.
Tadasana has a huge array of benefits with the one of the most important and valuable ones being good posture, a real cornerstone of yoga practice.
There is also evidence to show that Tadasana can be beneficial for people living with arthritis.
2. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Even if you’re completely new to yoga you’ll certainly have heard of the Downward-Facing Dog.
It’s an important beginners’ yoga pose, even if you need to make a few little adjustments.
In yogi Gail Boorstein Grossman’s book Restorative Yoga for Life she uses her expertise to demonstrate a restorative version of the pose.
She describes how the pose is a staple of any yoga class and ideal for beginners or those looking for poses to help with back pain.
The restorative version incorporates a bolster which can relieve any back discomfort and put you in a state of complete relaxation.
Restorative yoga poses might just seem like a great way to unwind, and they definitely are!
However research tells us these poses have many benefits for your health and wellbeing, including calming your nervous system and helping to prevent Type 2 diabetes.
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Don’t forget to pin these yoga poses for beginners for later!
3. Plank Pose (Phalakasana)
Plank Pose is perfect for building strength in your arms and abdominal muscles, strength you’ll need to take your yoga practice to the next level.
Plank Pose forms part of the Sun Salutation series, a graceful flow of poses that help to develop flexibility. Phalakasana also tones your core and improves your posture.
If you’re turning to yoga as a way to cope with anxiety, then the Plank is for you.
Clinical research has shown that performing planks decreases cortisol, also known as the ‘stress hormone’!
See the video below for how to perform the Plank Pose correctly:
4. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
You’ll need to master backbends as part of your yoga journey and Cobra Pose is a good one to start with.
The name of the asana comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Bhujanga’, meaning snake or serpent.
Imagine yourself as a cobra while in the pose with your hood raised!
Yoga instructors describe it as a baby backbend, and a great way to transition in to more difficult positions such as the Upward Bow Pose.
Yogis also recommend easing into the pose by lifting your body slowly off the floor.
Practicing the pose continually will help build your suppleness, ideal if you’re looking for asanas to improve your flexibility.
5. Cat-Cow Pose (Chakravakasana)
Elongating and maintaining your spine is such an essential part of yoga practice, and Cat-Cow Stretch is the one to start with.
It’s also thought to be a good way to relax and unwind after a difficult day.
If you’re trying yoga to help with a chronic pain disorder such as Fibromyalgia, Chakravakasana can help.
Yoga therapist Ginger Wood conducted a study that included regular practice of the pose and found that it was an effective tool for pain management.
Watch the video below to learn how to get the most from the Cat-Cow Stretch:
6. Staff Pose (Dandasana)
Staff Pose is another asana for those new to yoga to work on their posture.
Yoga teacher Luke Ketterhagen explains that the positioning of the pose “strengthens the deep muscles of the lower back, the abdomen, and the muscles deep in the pelvis”, all aspects that help with improved posture.
It’s a simple position that builds a foundation for other poses that involve the lower back muscles.
You can try putting aside your yoga mat when trying this one.
Experts at the BioMedical Institute of Yoga and Meditation believe that it can have “grounding” qualities when practiced ‘on earth’.
They also highlight how it can boost your circulation.
7. Supported Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Turn the classic Bridge Pose to a Supported Bridge Pose by adding a brick.
This asana can be used as a way to relax and cool down at the end of your yoga session.
Yoga instructor and Ayurveda practitioner Travis Eliot describes the pose as “cooling and passive” making it a wonderful asana for relaxing at the end of your yoga session.
In his book A Journey into Yin Yoga, he recommends holding the pose for between 3 to 5 minutes, or longer if you can.
He demonstrates how the pose can help to rebuild the spine, particularly for those suffering from back pain.
Eliot explains that the bolster or low block should be used to enable you to be as comfortable as possible to experience the full restorative benefits of the pose.
8. Seated Spinal Twist Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
Build strength in your spine with the Seated Spinal Twist Pose.
Ardha Matsyendrasana offers so many benefits, allowing you to really stretch out your spine as well as improve your digestion.
Though the pose might look complex if you’re a beginner looking for positions, it’s a straightforward one to master.
Seated Spinal Twist Pose is also one to practice if you’re looking for asanas for weight loss.
In 2013, research was conducted on amateur female tennis players to understand how yoga can impact on basal metabolic rate.
Ardha Matsyendrasana was included in the yoga sequence that participants followed for six weeks.
Results highlighted significant improvements in the metabolic rate of the women, and led to reductions in body mass index (BMI) and waist and hip circumference.
See below how to master the Seated Spinal Twist Pose:
9. Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
Your hips are another area where you need to build strength if you dream of becoming a serious yogi.
Happy Baby Pose can help to loosen tight hip flexors and build strength enabling you to transition into difficult poses more easily.
Ananda Balasana is also a great one for stretching your groin. Take a look at step by step instructions from the professionals to make sure you’re practicing the pose correctly.
10. Cobbler’s Pose (Baddha Koṇāsana)
As someone new to yoga you’ll learn to love Cobbler’s Pose.
This simple stretch is ideal if you want to experience the many wonders of meditation and perfect if you’re looking for easy yoga poses to get started.
Cobbler’s Pose is also valuable if you’re looking for poses to help with running.
It gives you a deep stretch through your feet, and yogis recommend it for people who sit all day as it can help to loosen up your hips.
11. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Child’s Pose is ideal for those who want a restful asana during practice.
This kneeling pose is one of the most simple to master and can be used at any point during your routine.
Balasana is in fact so easy to practice that it’s a pose recommended for kids!
It’s thought that the asana encourages a more relaxed state of mind, making it perfect for beginners who want to harness the peaceful power of yoga.
Research shows it can actually lower both your blood pressure and pulse rate!
12. Supine Pigeon Pose (Supta Kapotasana)
Begin learning how to open your hips by giving the Supine Pigeon Pose a try.
It’s an easy hip opener that you can start to practice whatever your level of flexibility.
As a beginner you might struggle to get in to the pose fully, so yoga practitioners advise using a strap around your leg.
Over time as your flexibility increases you’ll be able to enjoy even deeper stretches in your lower back and legs.
The yoga market is bursting with different products and tools that you can use to support your body as you get to grips with the new asanas.
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Don’t forget to pin these beginners’ yoga poses for later!
13. Tree Pose (Vriksasana)
Balance is key to yoga practice, and Tree Pose is the asana to choose if you want to improve your ability.
Beginner Tree Pose is a slight modification and involves using a chair or wall until you have the stability to hold the pose fully.
B.K.S. Iyengar, founder of Iyengar Yoga, wrote in his book Light on Yoga that Vriksasana “tones the leg muscles and gives one a sense of balance and poise”, important skills for any yogi in training.
14. High Lunge (Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana)
Another pose to help build strength for more advanced asanas is the High Lunge. It’s a basic hip opening posture that is simple to master.
Enjoy a stretch through your legs and help release any tension in your lower back.
It is however essential to perform the pose correctly, as Chiropractor Kai Tiltmann warns yoga can cause pain in the lower back and spine.
Yoga lifestyle company, Yoga by Candace, demonstrate how to perform a high lunge. They explain that the key to success is alignment and rooting yourself in to the mat properly to get the best possible balance.
15. Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)
Triangle Pose is a foundation standing pose that is essential for new yogis to master before they can move on to the more challenging standing asanas.
The pose gives you a satisfying stretch through your legs and abdominal muscles.
In the aforementioned book Light on Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar describes how powerful this pose is for relieving any back or neck pains that you might be suffering with.
For beginners he explains how it also removes stiffness in the hips and legs, allowing you to loosen up and increase your flexibility.
Findings from Harvard Medical School indicate that Utthita Trikonasana, among a number of other poses, are safe for women to practice in the late stages of pregnancy.
Regular sessions can also alleviate feelings of discomfort and stress that can arise in the third trimester.
Another one of the amazing benefits of yoga for women!
16. Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
Seated Forward Bend is another way for beginning yogis to start to build flexibility in their spine.
It is a basic yoga pose, however certified yoga instructor Charlotte Bell states how it requires patience to truly embrace its power.
Rather than focussing on how far your head is from your knee, you should instead focus on your state of mind, giving yourself fully to the pose and reaping the peaceful rewards.
17. Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
Inversion poses within yoga, when the head is below the heart, can be challenging but rewarding.
Legs-Up-The-Wall is the perfect inversion for newcomers to yoga.
It’s a gentle, restorative asana that is thought to provide as much rest as a short nap, so perfect if you’re looking for poses to help improve your sleep.
However it’s essential that inversion poses are practiced correctly.
The latest yoga statistics show that the headstand, another inversion pose, is thought to be the yoga pose that causes the most injuries.
Consider using a bolster or other modification so you’re as comfortable as possible and not putting too much strain on your lower back.
18. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Take any yoga class and you’ll likely finish with the Savasana. This simple restorative pose is designed to put you in a state of full relaxation.
Even though it looks simple it can be difficult, especially for those suffering from back pain.
Try the Supported Corpse Pose, by adding a bolster under your legs to take the pressure off your lower back.
Another way to get inspired as you begin your yoga journey is by following other passionate yogis online!
Read our article on the 11 best yoga Instagram accounts and influencers you need to follow.