Yoga poses might sound like magic spells, but they can actually help you improve strength and balance. They also increase your awareness of your body.
From standing forward bends to inversions, here are some of the best beginner-friendly poses you can do. Learn to master them, and you’ll be on your way to a more satisfying yoga practice.
Janu Sirsasana, or head to knee pose, is a great stretch that can relieve stress and fatigue. It can also reduce high blood pressure and insomnia and aid digestion.
It is a great pose to use before and after running as it helps open up the legs, especially the hamstrings. It also improves circulation and can help to tone the groins, shoulders, and back muscles.
The key to this pose is folding forward from the hip joints. This avoids tilting the pelvis forward, which can lead to back strain and injury.
When starting out, you can use a yoga block or strap to support your pelvis and help keep your spine long and straight. Then gradually advance to a position where you feel comfortable stretching and without pain.
Seated Forward Bend
Seated Forward Bend, or Paschimottanasana, is a calming and energizing pose that can help relieve stress and fatigue. It also stretches the spine, shoulders, and hamstrings.
As with any forward bend, this is counter-indicated if you have back pain or injury. So, if you’re not feeling comfortable in the pose or are concerned about your spinal alignment, it’s better to skip it altogether.
To practice seated forward bend safely, you should first sit up straight on the floor or on props with your legs extended in front of you. Holding a strap or belt around your feet can be helpful if your hamstrings are tight.
With each inhale, lift and lengthen your chest slightly; with each exhale release a little more fully into the pose. This can feel quite challenging at first, so take it slow and steady. It may take you five to ten breaths to get into the pose comfortably.
Downward Facing Dog
When done correctly, Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) stretches the shoulders, arms, calves and back while strengthening the arm and leg muscles. It also improves circulation, which can help heal back pain.
To perform the pose, first position yourself on hands and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Spread your fingers and relax your neck.
Then lift your sit bones and straighten your legs, releasing heels toward the floor as you press your thighs back and lift your hips. Repeat on the other side.
The bending of your knees in this posture helps to take the pressure off of the tight hamstrings and back, which can alleviate back pain in some people. However, you should not lock your knees as it can cause injury.
Mountain Pose, or Tadasana, is one of the most basic yoga postures. It helps improve your posture, relieves sciatica pain, and tones your core and leg muscles.
To perform the pose, stand erect and place your feet hip-distance apart, with the base of your big toes touching. Rock from side to side and forward and back until you feel a comfortable amount of balance.
Once you’ve established this foundation, move into the pose by lifting and spreading your toes, then releasing them back down on your mat. Repeat as needed.
Mountain Pose is the most basic standing position in yoga. It’s also a great way to establish alignment for other standing poses and inversions.