7 Yoga Poses for Beginners

Uttanasana or Standing forward Fold Pose variation with the support of the wall and a chair.

Many people would like to start yoga but they have no idea where to start. Yoga can feel like an intimidating field to navigate when you’re first starting out. It’s vast and overwhelming and there are so many different styles and types to try. But luckily, there is yoga for beginners that is straightforward and welcoming.

While every yoga pose can be adapted and modified to work for any person, some postures are significantly more challenging than others. That’s why it’s great for beginners to start with some of the foundational postures of the yogic practice to then build upon as they continue on their yoga journey.

Yoga for Beginners: 7 Yoga Poses to Jumpstart Your Yoga Practice

Jump into your practice with these quintessential and foundational yoga poses that are perfect for beginners to practice and learn.

1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Mountain Pose or Tadasana Pose foundational pose in yoga practice.

Mountain Pose is one of the foundational yoga poses. So make sure not to skip it when you practice. Mountain Pose is essential for building a practice of yoga for beginners. It is the building block for all other poses.

  1. Come to stand at the top of your mat with your feet either together or roughly hips-distance apart.
  2. Ground down firmly into the corners of your feet and spread your toes to create a lot of surface-area connection with the floor.
  3. Energetically draw your legs toward each other and gently hug in around your waistline.
  4. Root down into your feet to elongate your spine up toward the sky.
  5. Soften your shoulders away from your ears and release your arms by your sides.
  6. Hold for a few deep breaths and tap into all the energy it takes to create this simple shape.

2. Easy Pose (Sukhasana)

Young sporty woman practicing yoga lesson sitting in Sukhasana or Easy Sitting Pose also practicing with a mudra gesture

As another foundational posture, Easy Pose is the building block of all seated positions in yoga. Note, however, that Easy Pose is not easy for everyone. Everyone’s hip joints are structured differently. If the structure of your hip joints is such that internal rotation is easier for you than external rotation, you may want to switch to practicing Lightning Bolt Pose (Vajrasana) instead.

  1. Sit on your mat in a comfortable cross-legged position.
  2. If your back is rounding, elevate your hips by sitting up on a folded blanket, pillow, or yoga block(s).
  3. Find a place where you can comfortably relax the weight of your pelvis down so that your knees relax lower than your hips. If your hips are propped up 4 to 6 inches and your knees are still higher than your pelvic rim, try sitting in Lightning Bolt Pose instead. If your spine is rounding back in Vajrasana, add support under your hips.
  4. Ever so slightly, tip your pelvis forward so that you can lift and elongate your spine up toward the ceiling.
  5. Relax your shoulders away from your ears and lengthen the back of your neck.
  6. Soften into this shape for a few deep breaths.

3. Cat/Cow (Marjaryasana/Bitilasana)

Athletic Asian woman practice yoga's Cat/Cow Pose.

These gentle poses are the perfect yoga for beginners shapes because they are counterposes to each other and softly allow you to mobilize your back body.

  1. Come onto all fours in a Tabletop Pose (Bharmanasana). Align your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees.
  2. Lengthen your spine from the crown of your head down through your tailbone.
  3. As you inhale, relax your belly toward the floor. Draw the tips of your shoulder blades toward each other and peel open your chest. Expand your heart forward toward the top of your mat. Option to lift your gaze.
  4. As you exhale, root firmly into your palms. Hug your navel toward your spine and round your whole back body. Draw your shoulder blades apart from each other and gaze toward your belly button.
  5. Continue to flow back and forth between these two shapes as you follow the rhythm of your breath. Flow for about five to 10 rounds before releasing.

4. Standing Forward Bend Pose (Uttanasana)

Attractive senior woman practicing yoga's Uttanasana Pose.

A yoga for beginners practice wouldn’t be complete without a Standing Forward Bend Pose, which is another foundational pose that all other forward folds follow.

  1. Start in Mountain Pose.
  2. Soften your knees and draw your hands to your hips.
  3. As you inhale, lengthen your spine.
  4. As you exhale, lead with your chest and hinge from your hips to dive the weight of your torso forward and down over your legs.
  5. Option to leave your hands on your hips or release them onto props, your legs, the floor, or simply allow them to dangle downward with the force of gravity. (see very top photo)
  6. Bend your knees as much as you’d like to allow your pelvis to tip forward.
  7. Allow the weight of your upper body to surrender downward. Relax your head and neck completely.
  8. Hold for a few deep breaths before slowly releasing.

5. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

Cobra Pose also known as Bhujangasana.

Cobra Pose is a foundational backbending shape in the yogic repertoire so it’s a great archetypal posture for beginners to learn.

  1. Lie down on your belly with your elbows bent and your palms planted underneath your shoulders.
  2. Untuck your toes and root down firmly into the tops of your feet. Lift your kneecaps from the floor and press your pelvis down into the mat.
  3. Hug your shoulder blades together and energetically slide the heels of your hands toward the back of your mat.
  4. As you inhale, lift your chest off the floor and peel your heart first forward to create length and then up toward the sky.
  5. Soften your shoulders down away from your ears and continue to squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  6. Hold for a full, deep breath and then slowly lower back down to the floor. Repeat for a few breaths.

6. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Woman practicing yoga's child's pose or Balasana.

In a yoga for beginners practice, you might find yourself feeling overwhelmed from time to time. But thankfully, in yoga, there is a specific posture that can always be visited to relax the body and calm the mind: Child’s Pose.

  1. Come onto all fours in a Tabletop Pose. Align your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees.
  2. Bring your feet to touch and draw your knees out about as wide as your mat.
  3. Release your seat back down onto your heels and soften the weight of your torso down toward the floor.
  4. Rest your body over a prop or your own legs and surrender your forehead down.
  5. Option to keep your knees out wide or draw them closer together—find the position that feels the most comfortable and relaxing for you.
  6. Option to keep your arms reaching forward or release your arms down by your sides with your palms facing up.
  7. Soften and surrender into this shape for as long as you’d like.

7. Corpse Pose (Savasana)

Young woman practicing yoga's Savasana or Corpse Pose.

As the quintessential yoga pose, Savasana is typically included in every single yoga class, including yoga for beginners, to absorb all the benefits of your practice at the end of class.

  1. Lie down on your back.
  2. Stretch your legs out onto your mat and relax your arms by your sides with your palms facing up.
  3. If it feels comfortable, you can walk your feet out roughly as wide as your mat and allow your heels to turn in and your toes to flop out.
  4. If your low back is uncomfortable, place a rolled-up blanket or pillow under your knees.
  5. Soften your shoulders away from your ears and lengthen the back of your neck.
  6. Either relax your gaze or close your eyes completely.
  7. Surrender here for as long as you’d like.

Give Yoga for Beginners a Try With These Foundational Poses

Seated Cat/Cow Pose is a yoga pose version that is great for beginners.

When you’re first starting out in your yoga journey, the incredible number of yoga poses can feel like a lot. But each yoga pose really stems from a foundational posture that has similar alignment of the body.

Try these seven foundational postures, and once you master these, other—perhaps more complex—postures will come to you more easily and naturally.

Leah Sugerman, E-RYT 500, YACEP, yoga writer

Leah Sugerman is a yoga teacher, writer, and passionate world traveler. An eternally grateful student, she has trained in countless schools and traditions of the practice. She teaches a fusion of the styles she has studied with a strong emphasis on breath, alignment, and anatomical integrity. Leah teaches workshops, retreats, and trainings, both internationally and online. For more information, visit www.leahsugerman.com.

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