Happy baby pose is a simple and relaxing way to open the chest and shoulders. It also stretches the hip flexors and abdomen.
Bridge pose offers a gentle backbend that counteracts hours of sitting and improves spine mobility. It also strengthens the core, hips, quads, and calves. It’s a great pose for beginners to practice.
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) is a heart-opening backbend that strengthens the hips and back. It can also be used to prepare the body for more strenuous backbends, such as Camel and Wheel.
Bridge is not recommended for people with major neck or spine injuries as it may strain these areas and prevent them from healing properly. Instead, these people should replace Bridge with restorative yoga poses.
To make this pose easier, beginners can place a block under their sacrum to alleviate the pressure on the back.
Seated Forward Bend
Known as Paschimottanasana in Sanskrit, this pose, or forward bend, helps to strengthen the knee and hip joints. It also lengthens the spine and stimulates digestion. The pose is also thought to relieve menstrual cramps, reduce fatigue and lower high blood pressure.
New students should start with the seated version of the pose and only fold forward as far as they are comfortable. It’s important to avoid bouncing in this pose as it can cause muscle, tendon and ligament injury.
A strengthening and energizing backbend, Cobra Pose helps to relieve stress, and strengthens the spine, shoulders and abdominal muscles. It’s important not to force the pose or overarch the back; aim for an even curve in your spine.
To begin, lie on your stomach with your palms directly underneath your shoulders and hug your elbows close to your sides. Then, inhale and gently lift your chest off the floor.
Tree Pose, Vrksasana in Sanskrit, improves balance and teaches you to sway gently like a tree in the wind. It’s a standing variation of a seated meditation pose and a great reminder to stay calm, steady and strong in all circumstances.
This posture stretches the thighs, groins and torso while strengthening the ankles and calves. It also challenges your balance. “The key is to keep the hips level,” says Lois Maple, physical therapist with OrthoCarolina Winston.
Triangle Pose (Trikonasana) opens the chest and activates the core muscles. It also strengthens the legs and balances the torso, making it an important pose for building core stability.
Stand with your feet a few inches wider than your hips and place your back foot at a 45-degree angle toward the long edge of the mat. Place your bottom hand on the front leg or a block for support.
Warrior II is the second of a series of powerful standing poses that improve strength and balance. It embodies the spirit of Virabhadra, a warrior who focuses on his target and prepares to strike.
This posture creates length in a sequence of muscles, including the chest, front leg hamstrings and back leg psoas and gastrocnemius muscles. It also helps improve concentration by letting you practice detaching your mind from distractions.
Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) stretches and strengthens the shoulders, arms, legs, torso, and spine. It also increases blood flow to the head, improving memory and concentration.
It is important to avoid the tendency to scrunch your shoulders up toward your ears. Keep a microbend in your elbows and draw the shoulders away from your ears to create space in the neck.
Start from table top position, and begin to press evenly into your palms, lift the hips back, lengthening the spine.
Ustrasana, or Camel Pose, improves spinal flexibility and strengthens back muscles. It also improves posture, reducing the hunchback that many people develop from sedentary lifestyles and too much time spent on devices.
Camel pose is more accessible to beginners than Full Wheel, which requires a lot of shoulder and arm strength and flexibility. If you can’t reach your feet, place a yoga block outside each foot to add height to the position and make it easier to keep your hands there.
Often used in combination with Cow Pose, Cat Stretch strengthens the muscles of the neck and back and helps alleviate lower back, shoulder and neck pain. This simple but gratifying pose improves spinal mobility by rotating and flexing the spine.
Begin on all fours, with your wrists directly underneath your shoulders and your hips over your knees. Tilt your pelvis back, tucking your tailbone and rounding your spine to create the “cat” shape.