Yoga Poses for Beginners, 17 Poses for Getting Started!
Interested in trying yoga? These 17 yoga poses for beginners are the best way to get started!
Now, you may not be able to do every pose on this list, because we did include a few poses that will challenge you.
We did this on purpose.
In order for your body to change, you must change.
You must get stronger, healthier, and more flexible to see results.
However, most of the poses are simple to modify, and everyone should be able to do some form of the pose. 🙂
Some of the yoga poses are referred to as “two-sided” poses, which means that they should be repeated on both sides to make sure that you are working and stretching muscles on both sides of the body evenly. They will say “repeat on both sides” at the end of the instructions.
We will open up with a few important stretches and then work into other poses for balance, strength, and flexibility.
Yoga Poses for Beginners, 17 Poses for Getting Started!
1. Head-to-Knee Forward Bend (Sirsasana)
This is a great stretch for those tight hamstrings! Most of us were not born with extreme flexibility in our legs (Lauren and myself included). This pose will help you increase the flexibility in your hamstrings.
When you bend over in this stretch, try to arch your back a little and bend with the hips, not at the waist. Also, try to focus on pushing out through the heel. This will help increase the stretch.
When beginning, you may not even be able to touch your toes. Just reach as far as you can, and hold the position for 30 seconds. If you feel the stretch easing up, try to lean a little farther. Repeat at least 3x per week for maximum results, and make sure to repeat it on the other side.
2. Seated Forward Bend (Paschimothanasana)
#2 on our yoga poses for beginners is also important for hamstring flexibility.
This pose is similar to the one above, except that you will be stretching out the hamstrings in both legs at the same time.
Again, try to arch the back a little and bend at the hips, not the waist. Push out through the heels.
You may not be able to even touch your toes upon first trying this pose, but practice will enable you to touch your forehead to your knees with time.
This can also be practiced when standing. Hold for at least 30 seconds.
3. Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)
This pose will help to open your hips. This one is also important if you spend most of your days sitting behind a computer because it keeps your hips tight.
Sit with your knees bent and the bottoms of your feet flat against each other. Place your hands on your toes, and slowly lean forward.
Try to bend at the hips, not the waist, and keep your back as straight as possible. Your back should be “active” rather than just hunched over. Also, try to focus on keeping the knees as close to the ground as possible.
Hold for 30 seconds.
4. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
#4 on our list of yoga poses for beginners is a key pose everyone needs to know.
What most people don’t realize when trying to do this pose is that your back should be straight. Try it in front of a mirror, and see if the small of your back is rounded or completely flat. This requires a lot of flexibility in the legs and the back.
Make sure your hands and feet are shoulder width and hip width apart. Ground into your heels, and get them as close to the mat as possible. This requires flexibility in the ankles.
You can also increase the stretch in your shoulders by leaning your head and chest in towards the ground.
Hold for 30 seconds, and try one-legged downward facing dog (below).
We also have a short video on the health benefits of yoga on our Youtube Channel, The Health Nerd, that you might find helpful!
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5. One-Legged Downward Facing Dog (Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This pose is a great stretch for your hamstrings, hips, and shoulders.
From downward facing dog, slowly lift one leg up into the air as high as you can. Again, you want your back to stay as straight as possible. Practice in front of a large mirror.
To increase the stretch in the hips and the obliques, bend the outstretched knee and tilt it back behind you to get into three-legged downward facing dog.
6. Upward Facing Dog (Urdhvamukhasvanasana)
This pose is very similar to cobra pose but with a few key differences. Because it stretches the lower back more intensely, the hips and legs must be lifted off of the ground in order to protect the spine.
Only the palms of your hands and the tops of your feet should be touching the ground.
The arms should be straight, and the hands should be directly below the shoulders and just in front of the hips.
Keep your shoulders back and your gaze lifted slightly upward.
Begin by holding for 5-6 breaths, then work your way up to 30 seconds to 1 minute.
7. Plank Pose (Phalakasana)
The plank pose is also a core pose in the yoga poses for beginners. It’s necessary to build strength in the abdomen and the shoulders.
Keep your hands shoulder-width apart and your gaze down.
The butt has a tendency to “sink” in this pose, so make sure that it stays lifted.
The shoulders and back should be slightly rounded.
While this pose is #7 on this list of yoga poses for beginners, it is easily one of the most important to learn!
Hold for 30 seconds up to 2 minutes.
If you are feeling lost about where to get started with your yoga practice, our Yoga Fat Loss Bible for Beginners should get you going in the right direction! Check it out at the bottom of the page! 🙂
8. Four-Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana)
Chaturanga is the yogi pushup! This move will build some serious muscle in your arms, and it’s a necessity if you’re thinking of progressing in your practice and working towards more advanced poses.
Begin with the same alignment as plank pose, and drop down far enough that your chest is a few inches from the ground. Your upper arms should be parallel with your chest.
Keep your abdomen tightened, and try to hold this position for 10 seconds. Work up to 30 seconds. You can also do it as a pushup combined with plank pose.
9. Upward (Reverse) Plank Pose (Purvottanasana)
This pose really works your core and your shoulders.
Sit with your legs outstretched in front of you and your hands flat on the ground beside you. Point your toes, and use your core and your glutes to lift your hips up towards the ceiling.
The butt has a tendency to “sink” in this pose because you are trying to hold up the weight of your body. Try to keep the hips and butt lifted.
Make sure that your hands are turned inward towards your feet and not back out behind you.
If you feel any discomfort in your wrists, ease up, and rest in child’s pose.
10. Boat Pose Variation (Navasana)
Boat pose is a great one for abs! The legs are fully extended towards the ceiling in full boat pose, but we have included the variation above for beginners.
Begin from the seated position, and keep your arms on the floor next to your hips for stability as you get into the pose.
Arch your back slightly to keep it straight, bend the knees, and lift them so that your calves are parallel to the ground.
Let your hands hover on either side of your knee for balance, and keep the core engaged the entire time.
11. Superman Pose (Viparita Shalabhasana)
This is another basic pose for your abs as well as your back. You may be familiar with it from doing circuit workouts. It’s really the same thing in yoga.
Use your core to lift your legs and shoulders up as high as you can.
Keep your gaze forward and relaxed, and try not to put too much strain on the neck.
Hold for 5-6 breaths, and release. Work up to holding it for 30 seconds. Repeat 3x.
12. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
You should feel this pose mainly in your quadriceps and also your back.
From mountain pose, bring your arms up over your head towards the ceiling (palms can be touching or shoulder width apart).
Arch your back, and slowly squat down with your legs together. The torso and tops of the thighs should form a 90-degree angle or close to it. Tuck your tailbone in to keep the spine elongated.
Your gaze can be lifted or straight ahead of you.
13. Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III)
Keep in mind that in traditional Warrior III, your head should be tilted down with your ears next to your arms and your gaze lifted down. This can be a difficult pose to balance in though, so try it with the head lifted as pictured above first.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. As you slowly lift one leg, lift your arms at the same time to help balance.
The key to this pose is trying to get the body as straight and close to parallel to the ground as possible. This includes your torso and your leg in the air. Try it in front of a mirror for guidance.
Repeat on both sides.
14. Plow Pose (Halasana)
#14 on our list of yoga poses for beginners is a little more difficult but is one you should definitely try.
Plow pose is a counter pose to any sort of backbends, such as cobra, upward facing dog, and wheel pose.
Use your hands to support and lift your lower back up in the air.
Gently lower your feet towards the ground behind you. They may or may not touch the ground. This requires hamstring flexibility, so just let them hover wherever feels comfortable for you.
Your hands can rest on the ground behind your back or stay supporting the back.
Hold this pose for 5-6 breaths after doing any type of backbend.
15. Triangle Pose Variation (Utthita Trikonasana)
This is a beginner variation of full triangle pose, in which one hand is pointed straight up towards the ceiling, and the other hand is touching the floor.
Triangle pose requires flexibility in the legs, hips, and chest. This beginner modification is a good way to work your way into full triangle pose.
Keep the back straight, and the left foot pointed forward. The other foot should be pointed in the direction that you are leaning.
Start at the knee, and try to work your way down your leg towards the ground. Make sure to repeat on the other side.
16. Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana)
From triangle pose (above), bend your right knee and shift your weight to the right. Place your hand down on the floor for support.
It can be in front of or behind your right foot. Make sure that the left foot is pointed forward in the same direction as your torso.
Try to keep the outstretched arm in a direct line with the left leg. Focus on allowing the energy to flow through your outstretched hand.
You should feel this stretch in your obliques.
Hold for 5-6 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
17. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
The final pose in the yoga poses for beginners is another pose that works the butt.
Similar to upward plank, keep your hips and butt lifted as high off the ground as you can.
While your feet and your arms are technically supporting you, try to focus on lifting the torso up using your core and not your feet. This will keep the core engaged and keep your abs and butt working the most.
You can also lift and lower the butt in this pose for an extra workout!
If you liked these poses for beginners and are feeling a little lost about how to start a regular yoga practice, you need to check out the Yoga Fat Loss Bible for Beginners!
It’s a great solution for those looking to lose weight, get more flexible, and relieve aches and pains with a calm yoga practice. It also comes with a flexibility guide and free meditation guide for beginners.
It has detailed instructions and beginner modifications for your practice + a 6-Week Workout Plan any beginner can start with!
You can check it out by clicking here!
Remember not to get discouraged if you’re not a master of the yoga poses for beginners immediately! Get encouraged that you’re moving forward on becoming the healthiest and happiest version of yourself!
Leave a comment below if you enjoyed this article or have any questions!
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Lauren at Avocadu
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