If you are brand new to yoga, there are certain postures that are essential for you to learn so you can feel comfortable in a class or practicing on your own at home.
It’s not easy to narrow everything down since there are over 300 positions in the physical yoga (asana) practice, but these poses can start you off on the right path. If you do each one of these for 5-10 breaths, it also creates a great beginner’s yoga program for you to do every day.
Here are my picks for the 10 most important yoga poses for beginners. Note: You don’t have to be able to do all these poses exactly as pictured — ALWAYS listen to your body and modify if needed.
Before you read on, we’ve created a free 28-day online yoga program specifically for beginners like you. Join the free program here.
1. Mountain Pose
Mountain Pose is the base for all standing poses; it gives you a sense of how to ground in to your feet and feel the earth below you. Mountain pose may seem like “simply standing,” but there is a ton going on.
How to do it: Start standing with your feet together. Press down through all ten toes as you spread them open. Engage your quadriceps to lift your kneecaps and lift up through the inner thighs. Draw your abdominals in and up as you lift your chest and press the tops of the shoulders down.
Feel your shoulder blades coming towards each other and open your chest; but keep your palms facing inwards towards the body. Imagine a string drawing the crown of the head up to the ceiling and breathe deeply in to the torso. Hold for 5-8 breaths.
2. Downward Facing Dog
Downward Dog is used in most yoga practices and it stretches and strengthens the entire body. I always say, “a down dog a day keeps the doctor away.”
How to do it: Come on to all fours with your wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Tuck under your toes and lift your hips up off the floor as you draw them up at back towards your heels.
Keep your knees slightly bent if your hamstrings are tight, otherwise try and straighten out your legs while keeping your hips back. Walk your hands forward to give yourself more length if you need to.
Press firmly through your palms and rotate the inner elbows towards each other. Hollow out the abdominals and keep engaging your legs to keep the torso moving back towards the thighs. Hold for 5-8 breaths before dropping back to hands and knees to rest.