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. While signing up for a private yoga class to learn the basics and proper alignment from a certified teacher is recommended to beginner yogis, it’s not a feasible option for all.
As a beginning yoga student, you might feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of poses and their odd-sounding names. But remember, everyone’s got to start somewhere. Relax—your yoga practice is a lifelong pursuit, giving you plenty of time to learn scores of postures. The best thing you can do, thanks to the internet, is to learn yoga moves from the comfort of your own home.
It’s not easy to narrow everything down since there are over 300 positions in the physical yoga practice(asana), 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.
As you progress, you can take on more challenging poses, but it’s a good idea to keep things simple when you’re just starting out.
Here are 6 yoga poses you can do right now:
1. Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
What to Know: As the name suggests, it’s not difficult to get into the easy pose, and the asana is practiced to stretch the knees, help open up the hips, align the spine, and is a primer to the more advanced cross-legged Lotus pose.
How to Do It: Begin in a comfortable, cross-legged seated position on your yoga mat. On an inhale, lift, and rotate your shoulder blades back and down, so your shoulders move away from your ears. Exhale, placing the tops of your hands on your thighs and slowly close your eyes. With each inhale to lengthen your spine and with each exhale to ground down through your sit bones.
2. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
What to Know: Child’s pose is a restorative asana that helps lengthen the spine, as well as relax your neck and shoulders. It also works to reduce stress and anxiety by bringing the focus back to your breath.
How to Do It: Slowly bend your knees and lower them as wide as your mat with your two big toes touching each other. Push your hips back to your heels as you lower your abdomen onto the tops of your thighs. Release your hands in front of you, palms facing downward with your forehead gently resting on the mat. With each breath, focus on melting your shoulders into the ground and keeping your face and jaw relaxed.
3. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukah Svanasana)
What to Know: One of the most recognizable poses of the bunch, down dog is a great way to stretch your back, shoulders, arms, hamstrings and well, just about everything. And it gets you calm and centered, too.
How to Do It: Come onto hands and knees with palms just past your shoulder, fingers pointing forwards. Knees should be under your hips and toes tucked. Lift your hips and press back into a V-shape position with your body. Feet should be hip-width apart. Keep in mind, it’s OK if you can’t get your feet to the floor (your hamstrings might be too tight). Spread through all 10 fingers and toes and move your chest towards your legs.
4. Mountain Pose
What to Know: 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.
5. Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)
What to Know: The first in the Warrior series, this pose strengthens your legs and opens your hips and chest, while also stretching your arms and legs. While holding this exercise, you’ll see an increase in your concentration and balance — both essential qualities to carry through a yoga practice.
How to Do It: Start in mountain pose. As you exhale, step your left foot back about four feet, so you’re in a lunge position with the right ankle over the right knee. Raise your arms straight overhead, biceps by ears, and turn your left foot about 90 degrees to face the left wall. Align your left heel perpendicular with your right heel. Expand your chest and pull your shoulders back, then lower down toward the floor as you lift your arms up. Make sure your hips stay square to the front, as you continue to breathe.
What to Know: Plank teaches us how to balance on our hands while using the entire body to support us. It is a great way to strengthen the abdominals, and learn to use the breath to help us stay in a challenging pose.
How to do it: From all fours, tuck under your toes and lift your legs up off the mat. Slide your heels back enough until you feel you are one straight line of energy from your head to your feet.
Engage the lower abdominals, draw the shoulders down and away from the ears, pull your ribs together, and breathe deeply for 8-10 breaths.
Because there are so many different kinds of yoga practices, it is possible for anyone to start. Whether you’re a couch potato or a professional athlete, size and fitness levels do not matter because there are modifications for every yoga pose and beginner classes in every style. The idea is to explore your limits, not strive for some pretzel-like perfection. It is a great way to get in tune with your body and your inner self.