Yoga Poses For Beginners

A strong body can help you move through yoga poses with ease. But even if you can’t touch your toes or hold a handstand, yoga can still be beneficial for beginners.

Beginners can begin with gentle spine flexion and extension, as well as seated stretches to improve posture. These simple exercises will build strength and allow your muscles to relax.

Baddha Konasana (Butterfly Pose)

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) or Butterfly Stretch, is a relaxing and rejuvenating pose. It improves the flexibility of the hips, groin and inner thighs while strengthening the back and abdomen. It also provides a calming effect on the mind. This posture is especially beneficial for women who suffer from pelvic pain, menopausal symptoms and urinary incontinence.

The posture helps to relieve stress by releasing the emotional baggage that we store in our shoulders. It also strengthens the legs and ankles by promoting proper leg alignment. Practicing the pose regularly aids digestion by improving blood circulation to the abdominal area.

During the early stages of practicing this pose, it is best to support the body with blocks or bolsters to ease the tension in the hips and lower back. This is a yin yoga pose, so it’s important to find the sweet spot of discomfort that is neither too hard nor too soft. You should be able to stay in the posture for 3 to 5 minutes.

Upward-Facing Dog

This popular backbend strengthens the arms, shoulders and wrists while stretching the chest, abdomen and thighs. It is usually part of a sun salutation sequence in all types of yoga. Avoid the pose if you have carpal tunnel syndrome or recent shoulder, neck or back injury. Women who are pregnant should also save it for later in their first trimester.

This is a prone backbend, so it is a good idea to lay down on your mat before moving into the pose. If you have difficulty keeping the weight of your torso on your hands, place a firm blanket under your top thighs.

The name of the pose derives from the Sanskrit words urdhva meaning upward, mukha meaning face and svana meaning dog. It refers to the way the pose stretches out the front of the body, reminiscent of how dogs stretch when they’re lying on their backs. The rounded back of the posture helps to align the spine and stimulate the nervous system.

Seated Spinal Twist

In yoga, twisting poses are often recommended for their ability to relieve back pain. But it’s important to go into these poses — and all twisting poses — gently so that the spine doesn’t compress or overstrain.

Seated Spinal Twist — also known as Parivrtta Matsyendrasana or Bharadvaja’s Twist — is one of the gentlest and easiest twisting poses to practice. This pose can be used to warm up the body before other more advanced twists, or as part of a sequence of seated postures to open the hips and torso.

To come into this pose, sit with your legs wide, then bring your left elbow to outside your right knee and twist. You can increase the depth of this pose by lengthening your spine on your inhales and twisting a little deeper with your exhales. If you have a knee, hip or back injury avoid this pose and look for a supported variation that doesn’t require crossing your legs.

Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

The foundation for all standing poses, Mountain Pose or Tadasana (tah-DAHS-uh-nuh) is a powerful pose that helps you build stability and awareness of the body. It improves posture, balance and calm focus. It also strengthens the leg muscles and improves spinal health.

Mountain Pose can be challenging, especially for beginners. Beginners can practice this pose by backing up against a wall to help with alignment and support in the legs. To increase the challenge, try interlacing your hands behind your back in prayer position or lifting the palms toward the sky in a forward variation of the pose.

Though it may look simple, Mountain Pose requires attention to detail in the form and movement of the whole body. It teaches the principle of balancing effort with ease, which you will learn to apply in other more advanced poses. In addition, it strengthens the core and opens up the chest and shoulders. Practicing this pose daily can also alleviate stress and anxiety while promoting self-confidence and a sense of stability.