I have been asked a few times on how to start a yoga journey and while I am not an expert, I can share my top 10 poses that I found are easy for beginners but will become a staple in any yogi’s practice! When I first started practicing these were the poses I practiced every day and continue to practice regularly to maintain consistency and build a habit that I look forward to each day I make it to my mat.
Disclaimer: Before trying any of these poses please note that I am not a certified yoga teacher. This is my take of each of the poses and what works best for my body. I cannot guarantee any of the benefits mentioned but urge you to give them a try if you’re physically able 🙂
1. Boat Pose- Paripurna Navasana
This pose is a great ab work out! Start by sitting on your mat with the soles of your feet on the ground, knees facing the ceiling. Start to raise your legs until they are parallel to your mat. You may use your arms for support but the goal is to use your abs to keep you sitting straight, heart shining forward and proud. To get into full expression straighten your legs and lift your hands over your head. Shaking is good! That means your muscles are working and that’s where the magic happens.
Benefits of Boat Pose: Stress Relief, Improved Digestion, Strengthens the abdomen, hip flexors, and Spine.
2. Warrior II- Virabhadrasana II
Warrior II is great for increasing stamina! There are many ways to come into this pose; this is my go to set up. Start in Downward Facing Dog (see number 5) raise your right leg high and flex your foot like you’re trying to stamp it on the wall behind you. Slowly, move your raised foot to between your hands and align yourself into a low lunge. Once you are aligned, drop your left heel to the floor, parallel to the short end of your mat and cartwheel your arms open to a T. Maintain your lunge and ensure your hips are level, arms are level & gaze is forward.
Benefits of Warrior II: Relieves backaches, Therapeutic for sciatica & infertility. Strengths and stretches legs, ankles, groin, chest, lungs & shoulders.
3. Extended Side Angle- Uthita Parsvakonasana
This pose is a great side body stretch pose! I always start in Warrior II (see number 2). With your arms at a T begin to stretch forward as far as you can go, your body should tell you when to stop. Drop your front elbow to your bent knee and stretch your back arm up and over your head creating a straight line from your fingertips all the way down to your toes. Remember to maintain your lunge and breathe!
Benefits of Extended Side Angle: Increases stamina. Strengthens and stretches the groin, spine, waist, chest, legs, knees and ankles.
4. Triangle- Utthita Trikonasana
This is another side body stretching pose! Again, I always like to start in Warrior II as a good set up to Triangle pose. Once you are in Warrior II, start by straightening your front leg. Then send your hips back and reach forward at the same time. You should feel this in your side body. Once you are reaching as far as you can go, tick tock your arms to 6 & 12. The goal is not to reach your fingers to the floor but rather act as though there is a wall in front of you and behind and you are pressing yourself to both the front and back wall.
Benefits of Triangle Pose: Therapeutic for anxiety. Improves digestion. Stress relief. Stretches the hips, groins, hamstrings & calves.
5. Bridge Pose- Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
This pose feels SO DAMN GOOD! Start by laying on your back. Place the soles of your feet on the ground just far enough so you can graze your heels with your fingers. Lift your bootie until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Interlock your fingers underneath you and start to roll onto your shoulders. Get into full expression by lifting your thighs, hips, and chest towards the sky. This is a great prep pose for wheel!
Benefits of Bridge Pose: Reduces anxiety, fatigue, backache, headache, and insomnia. Stretches the chest, neck, and spine. Helps to calm the brain and can help alleviate mild depression.
6. Plank Pose- Phalakasana
Another ab work out! This pose is super easy to get into. Basically, it’s the top of a push-up. Align your hands directly below your shoulders and your feet directly below your ankles. Push hard into your hands to round out the space between your chest and your mat and push your heels towards the back of the room. Your arms may shake, your core might tremble; again, that’s the magic happening!
Benefits of Plank Pose: Strengthens the arms, wrists, and spine. Tones the abdomen. Great prep pose for arm balances.
7. Downward Facing Dog- Adho Mukha Svanasana
This pose will become your best friend! At first it’s challenging and hard to hold, but after you build up some muscle you will find it a more relaxing and restful pose. An easy way to get into it is to start in Plank Pose (see number 6) Simply, send your hips up and back. Your bootie will be straight up towards the ceiling. Try to get your heels to touch the mat, it’s not easy so don’t get frustrated when it doesn’t happen on your first or tenth try! Do not lock your knees, if anything you should have a slight bend in them to avoid injury. Keep your arms straight and push hard into your fingers, adding length to your spine. I’ve learned that the more you tuck your navel to your spine the easier it is to hold this pose for longer periods of time.
Benefits of Downward Facing Dog: Energizes the body. Improves Digestion. Strengthens and stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, arms, legs, arches & hands.
8. Three legged Down Dog- Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana
Same thing as Downward Facing Dog only with 3 legs! Simply begin in Down Dog and raise one of your legs up into the air. Flex your foot so fiercely that it’s as if you are trying to stamp your foot on the back of the room. Level your hips. It’s not about how high you can get your leg, it’s about stretching your grounded leg!
Benefits of 3 legged Down Dog: Quiets the mind. Strengthens and stretches the hamstrings, hip flexors and arms. Develops confidence in balance.
9. Childs Pose- Balasana
The best rest pose! Start by kneeling on the floor with your big toes to touch. Send your knees out wide, about the same wideness as your hips. Lay your torso down between your thighs and reach your arms forward. Aim to touching your bootie to your heels and stretching your arms as far as they can go. Rest your head on your mat and enjoy this restful rejuvenating pose.
Benefits of Childs Pose: Calms the brain and helps relieve stress & fatigue. Stretches the arms, thighs & hips.
10. Corpse Pose- Savasana
This is the pose we all work towards during our practice. It has been called the hardest most challenging pose and not because of its physicality. The mental work that goes into this is what makes it challenging and I often struggle to let everything go and relax into this pose. Start by laying on your back in a neutral position. Lay whichever way you feel most comfortable. I’ve seen legs straight out, knees bent, arms over head, arms at side; it all works! Do whatever you need to relax fully into your mat and let the practice you finished go. Once you feel relaxed, begin to focus on your breath & only your breath. Let your lingering thoughts go. Release your brain into the back of your head and relax. That’s it. Relax and Rest. I like to stay in this pose for at least 5 minutes, but you can stay as long as you’d like!
That’s it! These poses helped me get acquainted with yoga and fueled the beginning of my yoga journey. I hope they can help you too! Remeber, it’s all about your body and what your body needs. These might not work for everyone and that’s okay. We are all different, beautiful beings ❤