Categories: Mindful Movement | Published On: January 4, 2021 |

11 Must-Know Yoga Poses for Total Beginners

7 minute read
11 Must-Know Yoga Poses for Total Beginners

So you’re ready to try yoga. But where to begin? This article is the perfect place to start. Before you get started as a beginner yogi, it’s important to note that yoga is meant to feel good for you and meet your body’s needs. It can be intimidating to begin yoga at home if you’re aspiring to do an effortless headstand. But a healthy, holistic yoga practice meets you wherever you are on your physical and mental journey.

Beginner yoga is meant for everyone and can benefit people of varying abilities. Regardless of your age, body type, physical limitations, or experience, yoga can be an easy way to refuel your mind, reduce stress, renew your spirit, and step back into a healthy lifestyle. In this article, we’ll explore how you can confidently and easily begin a yoga practice for the first time. If you’re a total yoga beginner, this article will teach you the essential yoga asanas so you can practice them at home. But yoga is so much more than striking a pose; as you learn how to be fully present in your yoga flow, you will understand just how deeply a yoga practice can enrich your mind, body and spirit.

The best yoga tips for beginners

Here are some useful yoga tips that every beginner yogi should know. As you begin your practice, you may be wondering, “am I doing this right?” Let’s go through some yoga tips you can come back to as you begin your own yoga practice.

Remember your breath

Focus on your breathing, and it will be easier to relax, focus, and ease into a yoga pose with confidence. Consistent, deep breaths will also help you absorb the full benefits of yoga and keep you from tightening muscles or sustaining an injury. Take some time before a yoga class to breathe deeply on your mat for 10-15 breaths to start your yoga practice with intention.

Yoga is a non-judgemental practice

Yoga practice is meant to remind us that we are all equal; it’s a spiritually rooted practice with a long history of self-reflection and self-empowerment. This is true of ancient and modern yoga practices. So stop worrying about what someone else in your online yoga class is thinking, and begin by checking in with yourself. As soon as you’re looking at someone else’s mat, you’ll begin tensing muscles and lose balance. Start with a modified chair yoga class or a yoga class for seniors to get started.

Have fun with your yoga practice

Beginning a new hobby or starting a yoga practice at home should be enjoyable, easy, and comfortable. If you’re unsure of your ability to do a pose, try a modification or go back to Child’s Pose or Downward Facing Dog. The first month of yoga will look different for every individual. Don’t be afraid to create a yoga practice to suit your needs. If you’re going through a difficult time and are looking to restore mindfulness with yoga, that will look different than someone who is looking to build strength and flexibility. At Boomerang, we offer online yoga classes that suit every level of skill, ability, and flexibility. Find a Boomerang workshop that suits your goals.

11 Simple Yoga Poses For Beginners

If you’re ready to start your own yoga practice at home, this step-by-step guide to popular yoga postures will help get you started. This yoga guide is a great place to start your own yoga journey, from restorative poses to more challenging asanas that build strength and challenge you.

1. Downward Facing Dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana

A woman practices downward facing dog

This yoga pose is a great one to practice on your own at home. It may feel uncomfortable the first few times you do it—but as you ease into it and your muscles relax, you’ll find yourself craving the release of this pose. This yoga pose is also a great pose to come home to as a beginner. If a class feels too difficult, come back to this posture to recentre. Downward Dog is a pose that many modern yoga classes come back to repeatedly during a yoga flow; it’s a chance to find your breath and notice what your body is telling you.

How to do the Downward Facing Dog pose:

  • Begin on your hands and knees, with your knees under your hips, shoulder-width apart.
  • Spread apart your fingers and press them into the mat, lifting your tailbone up and back.
  • Gently lower your heels to the floor as low as they’ll go as you straighten your legs.
  • Release your head so that you’re looking at your knees, with your head between your two extended arms. Keep your spine long.
  • Does this pose feel impossible for you? Try bending your knees. You may also need to work into this yoga pose with some modifications. Try using a chair or blocks for support.
  • Hold this pose for as many breaths as you like, but it’s typically a longer pose that can be comfortably held for 5-10 deep breaths.

2. Child’s Pose or Balasana

Child’s pose is important for a yoga beginner to know because it can be a safe place in your own yoga practice. This easy yoga pose is a comfortable way to reconnect with your mind and body at any time of day. Do you have bad knees or limited flexibility? You can always modify Child’s Pose in a way that feels good to you. You may wish to rest your forehead on a block, kneel on a folded blanket, or lean forward onto your fists until your back lengthens and you feel yourself growing in flexibility.

How to do the Child’s Pose:

  • Begin by kneeling on your yoga mat with your knees hip-width apart and your feet together.
  • As you exhale, reach your arms over your head and fold forwards with a long spine so that your torso and head rest comfortably between your knees.
  • Stay in this pose breathing deeply for as long as you like.

3. Warrior II or Virabhadrasana II

Warrior pose is practiced during a yoga class

This is a popular yoga asana often used in modern yoga classes. It’s a great pose for beginners to learn because the position is simple but requires concentration and focus to maintain balance, engage muscles, and stay grounded. Be conscious of your front knee in Warrior II pose as it tends to travel forwards. Adjust your lunge so that your knee doesn’t move beyond your ankle.

How to do the Warrior II pose:

  • Step forwards with your left foot into a stance where your legs are wide apart but rooted with your left knee bent in a supportive stance.
  • Reach out your arms on either side of your body so that one is ahead of you and the other is behind you, parallel to the floor, with your palms down. One arm is reaching the back of the room, and the other reaches towards space in front of you.
  • Point your front foot towards the front of the room and position your back foot, so it is slightly turned outwards. The arch of your right foot should be in line with the heel of your frontward-facing left foot.
  • Turn your body so your head is looking forwards, and your hips are open, with your left hip following your left hand towards the front, and your right hip is turned towards the back.
  • When you do this pose facing the other direction, your front leg will be your right, and your back leg will now be your left, with the rest of the steps also applying to the opposite side.

4. Triangle Pose or Trikonasana

A woman demonstrates the triangle pose while doing yoga

Triangle Pose teaches us to observe our own limitations.It may feel tempting to push in a yoga class so that your fingers touch the floor, but it’s more important that you keep your spine long and extended. Consider using a block or support so that you can focus on keeping your spine elongated.

How to do the Triangle Pose:

  • Begin in the previous posture, Warrior II.
  • Gently straighten your bent left leg into a straight line and reach your left hand down to touch your shin, the ground or onto a block.
  • Lift your right hand upwards, sweeping it towards the sky and reaching your fingers towards the ceiling. Keep up conscious breaths as you lengthen your spine and look upwards, extending both of your arms.
  • Once you’ve cycled through 5-10 breaths, switch sides for Warrior II and continue into the opposite side for your Triangle Pose as well.

5. Plank Pose or Kumbhakasana

Even if you’re new to yoga, you may know Plank Pose from gym class or workout videos. This asana teaches us to engage our core and warm up the whole body, engaging muscles and strengthening multiple muscle groups at once. It’s a great example of how even the simplest yoga poses require concentration and focus.

How to do the Plank Pose:

  • Begin on all fours with your hands below your shoulders and your knees bent, shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your palms flat and press down through your fingers as you slowly lift your knees and straighten your legs as you push upwards through your arms. Keep looking down at your yoga mat.
  • Engage your core, legs, and arms to keep your whole body engaged and lifted.
  • If you find your neck tightening or your shoulders tensing, try rolling your head gently to release it in a neutral position.

6. Tree Pose or Vrksasana

This beginner yoga pose is a simple tool to build balance, engage focus, and easily track your progress as you begin a yoga practice. It feels great to notice your balance and focus increase over time. If lifting your right sole to meet your thigh feels too difficult, work towards lifting your foot to meet your shin instead.

How to do the Tree Pose:

  • Begin in Mountain Pose, standing with your feet firmly planted. Find your centre and balance by focusing on a spot in front of you.
  • Pushing down through your left foot with your toes spread apart, bring the sole of your right foot to meet the inner thigh of your left leg, so your right knee is open and facing outwards.
  • Keep breathing deeply as you focus on the same spot ahead to maintain your balance and if you are able, lift your hands up into a prayer position in front of your heart.

7. Upward-Facing Dog or Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

A woman does the upward facing dog yoga position

You may notice that this yoga pose is a mirror pose to Downward Facing Dog. Downward-Facing Dog extends your tailbone and spine, while Upward-Facing Dog posture opens the front of the body, allowing for a beautiful stretch all along the front of the body and abdomen. This is also a great yoga asana for beginner yogis to incorporate into a workday, especially if you spend a lot of your day sitting at a desk. Release pressure on your spine and open up the breath with this essential beginner yoga posture.

How to do the Upward-Facing Dog Pose:

  • Begin lying facedown on your mat, with your elbows bent and tucked in beside your body.
  • Become aware of your hips and press down on the mat from your pelvis.
  • Engage your core and push the front of your body up by rooting your arms downwards, tilting your head towards the sky.
  • Allow your chest to open as you push up, grounded by your legs and hips.
  • Feel free to modify this yoga pose. If it feels difficult, keep your knees on the ground. If you feel confident in this pose, let an engaged core lift your knees and the front of your legs off the mat.

8. Seated Forward Fold or Paschimottanasana

If you spend a lot of your day sitting, incorporating this basic yoga posture into your day can help alleviate pressure on your spine. A seated forward fold is an easy way to relieve back pain and pressure. If you’re new to this yoga pose, start with a beginner’s modification by bending your knees slightly as you fold. Over time your back will lengthen, and you’ll be able to fold forward more completely. Don’t force a forward fold, especially if it means bending your back or straining. You should feel a stretch in this yoga pose, but it shouldn’t be deeply uncomfortable or painful. Still having trouble? Sit on a small yoga block or yoga bolster until you feel comfortable sitting upright.

How to do the Seated Forward Fold Pose:

  • Sit with your legs elongated in front of you, flexing your feet.
  • Begin by sitting up tall with intentional posture, rooting and balancing yourself as you notice where your sit-bones (the bottom of your buttocks) connect to the mat.
  • Keep your back flat and your spine long as you fold forwards towards your legs.
  • Reach forwards and grab your shins or the soles of your feet. Do not flex your shoulders or neck; your head should hang loosely and comfortably in this yoga pose.

9. Bridge Pose or Setu Bandha Sarvanga

A woman demonstrates the bridge pose during a yoga class

Bridge pose is a versatile yoga posture. It can be restorative and calming, or it can be a way to challenge your body and strength as you build up your yoga practice. If you have concerns about your shoulders or neck, you can easily modify this yoga pose by folding a blanket underneath your neck. Remember that your feet and thighs should remain parallel in this pose; don’t let our legs don’t fall out to either side.

How to do the Bridge Pose:

  • Lie on your yoga mat on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the floor. The heels of your feet should be close to the tips of your fingers when you stretch your arms out with your hands palm-down on the floor next to your body.
  • Breathe in deeply. As you exhale, slowly lift your hips by flexing your buttocks and your core.
  • Lengthen your tailbone as you lift. You may want to connect your hands underneath your pelvis, clasping them so that your weight remains on the tops of your shoulders. Broaden your shoulder blades.
  • Breathe in deeply and remain in this pose for as many breaths as feels comfortable, slowly lowering to the floor vertebrae-by-vertebrae when you are ready to release the posture.

10. Mountain Pose or Tadasana

This pose should feel strong and certain, rooted through your feet with arms parallel to your ears. It can be tempting to lift your shoulders in this pose but breathe in deep as you remind yourself to relax your shoulders and to let them roll back and down as your arms extend upwards.

How to do the Mountain Pose:

  • Stand firmly rooted with your big toes together, the rest of your toes spread apart, and heels slightly apart. Exhale.
  • Inhale as you spread your arms upward and press down into your feet.
  • Take a long, deep breath in and out and hold this pose for 3-5 deep breaths.
  • Do you have back problems or trouble extending your arms? Consider placing your palms together over your heart for a more comfortable modification.

11. Happy Baby Pose or Ananda Balasana

As you can guess from the name, this pose is meant to feel good. It’s a popular go-to pose for both beginners and experienced yoga students at the end of a yoga class. Happy Baby Pose will bring awareness to your hips as you open and release. This is a more vulnerable pose because you’re lying on your back in a childlike position, which is why it’s usually recommended at the close of a class when you’re winding down your flow to move into a meditative Shavasana pose.

How to do the Happy Baby Pose:

  • Begin this yoga pose lying comfortably on your back.
  • As you inhale, reach for the outside of your feet with both hands. If you can’t quite reach, begin by looping a yoga belt around each sole and holding it firmly with your hands.
  • Gently open your knees wider than your torso, pulling your feet gently up towards your armpits.
  • Your ankles should be above your knees, even if you are modifying this pose with a belt or yoga accessory. Push downwards with your hands or belt, and push upwards with the soles of your feet into your hands to create a sense of resistance.
  • If it feels comfortable to do so, rock gently from side to side while breathing deeply.

Explore beginner yoga with Boomerang’s online classes

Now that you’ve had an introduction, why not try a yoga class at home? Our online community at Boomerang is a great place to source information, inspiration, and wellness tips from an active community of first-time yogis just like you. Whether you’re looking to try something new or develop skills you already have, our community learns by doing.

Are you looking to explore wellness in your own life? If you’re inspired by this easy yoga guide, sign up for Boomerang and check out our other wellness and mindfulness workshops. Boomerang is a great place to learn, make friends and get inspired from the comfort of your own home.

Looking for upcoming online yoga classes to join? View all upcoming Boomerang workshops.

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.

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