Yoga Moves For Beginners

Yoga is a great way to keep the body moving, and it can be adapted for all fitness levels. If you want to try a few basic moves, these simple yoga poses are perfect for beginners.

A twist helps you stretch your back, hips and shoulders. It also improves spinal mobility and may help alleviate constipation.

Downward Facing Dog

One of the most common and beloved postures in yoga, Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) stretches and strengthens the arms, shoulders, wrists, torso, back body, hamstrings, and arches of the feet. It also lengthens the spine, which relieves spinal compression and improves posture.

The pose is a mild inversion, meaning that the head is lower than the heart, which helps to improve blood flow throughout the body. It releases tension from the neck and shoulders, and helps to alleviate headaches, fatigue, and mild depression.

This pose also opens the chest, creating space for breathing and releasing congestion. It stimulates the circulatory, lymphatic, and digestive systems to flush toxins from the body.

Beginners may find Downward Facing Dog challenging, because it requires a lot of strength and endurance to hold the posture while maintaining good form. To work on this pose with ease, beginners can add blocks under the hands to shift the weight into the legs, which are typically better conditioned for holding body weight. This will help them develop the muscles in the hands and arms while building confidence in the posture. Downward Facing Dog is a wonderful posture to do daily, as it provides a sense of calm and rejuvenation. Practicing the pose throughout the day can also help reduce stress and anxiety.

Upward Facing Dog

A more advanced backbend, the Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana) is an intense stretch for your shoulders and wrists that also strengthens your thighs and hip flexors. It is a key pose in the Sun Salutation sequences, where you transition from Plank to Chaturanga then from Up Dog to Down Dog. This pose can be difficult for beginners to do without the help of an experienced instructor. When done correctly, this pose strengthens the spine and opens the chest. However, if done incorrectly it can strain the neck and shoulders. The key is to keep the neck long, not looking up at the sky and to activate the muscles under the armpits to release the muscles in the shoulder blades to protect the upper back.

The Downward Facing Dog is a great complement to this pose because it provides a counter-stretch for the spine, strengthening the legs and arms, improving posture and enhancing overall body circulation. Other good complementing poses are Baby Cobra and Modified Upward Facing Dog, which make this pose less strenuous for the back and are more accessible to beginners and those with injuries. The Bow Pose is another great option because it helps to lengthen the front of the spine rather than shortening it as the Upward Facing Dog does.

Warrior I

Warrior I is a foundational standing pose that strengthens the legs, ankles, and feet while enhancing hip flexibility. It also builds upper body strength and concentration. You can practice warrior 1 on its own, or as part of a Sun Salutation sequence. In both cases, be mindful of how much weight is placed on the back leg, as this can cause knee, hip, and calf pain. Keeping the weight on the front foot may help alleviate this pain.

As you enter the posture from Mountain Pose, press firmly down through the back foot for stability and rooting down through the outer edge of the back foot to balance your weight equally between both feet. Then, lift your torso up to gaze over your left fingertips while keeping the neck neutral.

If you struggle with balance in this pose, try placing a chip foam block or yoga wedge under the back foot to support it and reduce external rotation of the back leg. To ease the pressure on your front knee, you can also shorten the stance and bend less deeply until you feel more stable. Practicing this challenging, yet rewarding pose regularly builds concentration and focus to meet the challenges of life with strength and grace. Try to hold the posture for 5-10 breaths, before stepping your back foot forward and returning to standing.