10 Basic Yoga Poses for Beginners (The Best Stretches)

Ready to learn some basic yoga poses for beginners!?

The poses we will go through are 10 of the most commonly used. Learning these will give you a solid foundation for your yoga practice.

These are most important for you to learn!

For example, have you ever tried learning the guitar?

By learning ‘G’, ‘C’, and ‘D’ chords, you can play HUNDREDS of songs.

Kinda like getting the these 10 basic yoga poses for beginners down.

At first, learning may be challenging.

Eventually, you’ll get the flow of it.

The chords will start linking together…

Suddenly, you’re moving fluidly. Flowing through chord progressions.

Just like moving through yoga. And (this is important) linking the poses together via the breath.

And once you master the basics… THEN you can add in more chords. And work on the fancy licks and riffs.

Aka new poses and inversions.

Good luck on your journey!

Now, let’s dive in…

Basic Yoga Poses for Beginners: Quick Navigation

Here is what we are going to cover (click to jump to section).

What Is Yoga?

Before we get to the basic yoga poses for beginners… let’s start off with addressing what yoga even is.

Firstly, yoga is older than your grandma. And her grandma. And her grandma before that…

In fact, it goes back many generations of your grandmas. Yoga’s roots trace back to northern India over 5,000 years ago!

Most folks these days are familiar with the physical poses. But did you know yoga started without them? It’s true!

Yoga was designed as a lifestyle practice. A way of finding internal enlightenment through external practices. Eventually, Hatha yoga came along and introduced the physical practice. The yoga ‘asanas’ (those are the physical poses). To deepen meditation.

The yoga asanas (again, those are the poses), are only one part. As a collective of practices within yoga sutras, which have been ‘categorized’ as the 8-limbs of yoga through ashtanga.

There’s a big rabbit hole of philosophy that we won’t get into. Remember, yoga is over 5,000 years old! If you are looking for more philosophy, I would encourage you to do a deeper dive elsewhere.

We will focus more on the physical movements. And today, we are going to focus on just 10 basic yoga poses for beginners.

HOWEVER… Before we get moving… One thing you should remember is that…

Basic Yoga Poses for Beginners: It’s All About The Breath!

In fact, the movements from yoga are guided by it. You are linking through postures on the inhalations and exhalations. Finding rhythm (like shifting through chords on a guitar).

Breath is the most important part! The “Pranayama” component of the 8-limbs previously mentioned.

Think of it this way: the asanas are stops between inhalations and exhalations.

  • Inhale upward dog
  • Exhale downward dog
  • Inhale move forward halfway lift
  • Exhale forward fold

(An example of a portion of Sun Salutation A)

And this is where yoga gets its edge over more modern exercises.

(tho we really shouldn’t be categorizing the two together)

With its emphasis on breath, yoga offers a more meditative practice. Calming your mind and allowing you to focus. Specifically, the focused breathing allows you to control the autonomic nervous system. Taking control over your fight-or-flight. Allowing you to calm the mind and stimulate rest-and-digest. One of the many reasons yoga complements strength training so well!

One of the most important things to remember in your yoga practices, is to breath through your nose.

In Vinyasa yoga, a common pranayama technique is called Ujjayi Breathing.

I would suggest you practice this controlled breathing technique often. You can do it anywhere. Even where you are sitting right now. Because the better you get at it, the better you will be at moving through yoga asanas with it.

As you inhale and exhale:

  • Keep your mouth closed and breath through your nose.
  • Constrict your throat so that your breathing makes an “ocean” sound.
  • Control your breath with your diaphragm.
  • Keep your inhalations and exhalations equal in duration.

How To Do 10 Basic Yoga Poses for Beginners

The poses selected are among the 10 most common

Child’s Pose

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Child’s pose is a great resting position. It’s a good spot to start before a movement practice. And to go if you need a rest during more vigorous practices.

Start out by coming to your hands and knees. Bring your knees wide on your mat. Your big toes to touch. Sit your hips back onto your heels. Rest your forehead on the ground and relax the arms out in front of you.

You can also press your hands into the ground, lifting the elbows to make it more active. Try walking your hands to the left, and holding it there. Then move over to the right, and do the same. Creating a stretch into the side body (we’ll cover it in the video below).

Cat-Cow

A great way to warm up and mobilize the spine. Cat-cows are always nice to start a yoga practice with.

Start by coming to your hands and knees. On an inhale, bring your gaze upwards as you drop your navel and round the spine towards the ground (cow pose). As you exhale, tuck your tailbone and arch your back like a cat stretching (cat pose). Rinse and repeat.

Btw – notice how your breath moves you between positions? This is actually two asanas linked together with the breath. Cat pose and Cow pose.

Downward Dog

A foundation of MANY directions of movement. Downward dog is one pose you will spend the most time in. It links up a wide variety of sequences. And even tho it may be hard just to hold downward dog for a beginner, eventually it will be another resting pose.

To do downward dog, plant your hands on the ground. Tuck your toes and lift your hips high. Push your hands into the ground and work on bringing your chest towards your thighs. If you have tight hamstrings, keep your knees bent:

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With time, you will work on bringing your heels towards the ground as you straighten your legs. Creating an upside-down V shape.

Forward Fold

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Plant your feet a normal standing distance apart. INSTEAD of straightening your legs and reaching for the ground / toes… BEND your legs. FOLD at your hips and bring your chest towards your thighs. As you become more flexible in the hamstrings, you can work towards straightening the legs.

Pro tip: If you have brutal hamstring flexibility, practice doing seated forward folds often. Sit on the ground with your legs extended along your mat. Similar to the standing forward fold, bend your knees. Work on lengthening your spin along your thighs. Over time, work on straightening the legs.

Cobra Pose

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Lay down on your stomach along the mat. Come to the tops of your feet. Bend your elbows and place your hands by your chest. Draw the elbows towards each other (not flaring out). Without putting weight into your hands, lengthen through your legs. Pressing your thighs into the ground. And without putting weight into your hands, lift your chest off of the ground. Think of lengthening the spine. Lower back muscles and thighs lifting your chest higher.

Chair Pose

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Chair pose will get on your nerves sometimes. I mean, imagine yourself sitting back into a chair. But there is no chair. And instead of sitting down, you just hover there. In a squat. Legs firing up. And you just have to stay put and focus on controlling the breath. Sticking it out.

That’s what chair pose is. It’s annoying lol.

But it is also a good pose for strengthening and toning your legs! And it is a part of Vinyasa B, aka Sun Salutations B in Vinyasa yoga.

Btw – if you’re practicing yoga, Sun Salutes are going to be crucial to learn and practice (the video at the end will help).

For Chair Pose, come to a standing position. Bring your toes to touch. Thighs come together. Lift your arms and sit back as if you were sitting into a chair. Open your chest and bring your gaze upwards towards your hands.

Now hold it. See how many controlled breaths you can do in this position.

Warrior One

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Another step in Sun Salutes B variation, is Warrior One. A powerful pose that offers many variations and sequencing opportunities. We can talk about those later… First, master Warrior One.

Start from Downward Dog. On an inhale, lift and extend your right leg upwards. Exhale, bring your knee to your nose and plant that right foot as close to between your hands as you can get it. Drop your back foot at a 45-degree angle. Inhale lift yourself into a lunge. Left leg is extended and straight. Right knee is bent and directly above the ankle. You can adjust the stance, bringing your feet closer together to make it easier. Keep your hips aligned with each other, and facing forward. Hands are lifted with pinkies drawing towards eachother. Lift your chest.

Warrior Two

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The next step in the warrior series, is Warrior Two.

Similar to Warrior One, only this time, bring your back foot to a 90-degree angle. Your front leg will be bent with the knee over the ankle. Front heel points towards the inner arch / heel of the back foot. Hips are open to the side this time. Front knee aligned with the toes. Lift your arms and lengthen your spine. Try not to lean forward, draw yourself back so the spine is over the hips. Think of yourself between two panes of glass.

Bridge Pose

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This is great pose for strengthening the hamstrings, stretching the front body, and improving thoracic spine mobility (especially moving into the more advanced Full Wheel variation – more on that in a moment).

Start out by laying on your back. Bring your heels towards your glutes. So your fingertips can just touch your heels. Engage your core, pressing your lower back into the ground. Create a slight tuck in your tailbone. Press your feet into the ground, engage the hamstrings and glutes, and lift your hips upwards. Press your arms into the ground.

You can also interlace the fingers and come onto your shoulders. Or even bring your hands by your ears, planting them on the ground, and lifting yourself up into a full wheel pose (see below).

Corpse Pose

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The final resting pose, aka Savasana, is laying on the ground in a relaxed position. Letting everything go and finding a meditative state. Usually, it is held for 5-10 minutes or longer after a yoga class.

Start by laying on your back and bringing your feet wide. About mat width distance apart. Roll onto your shoulders and open your palms up towards the ceiling. Close your eyes. Relax the breath. And try not to fall asleep… 😉

3 Bonus Basic Yoga Poses for Beginners

Chaturanga

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The next step from Cobra in your Sun Salutes, is Chaturanga or Low Lunge.

Start out by coming to a high plank. Your arms are extended. Think of PUSHING the ground away from you. Then, bend your elbows. Draw them together as you lower halfway.

From there, you can move into…

Upward Dog

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When moving through Vinyasa, the next step after Chaturanga will be to inhale as you come to the tops of your feet, straighten your arms, and lift your chest. Keep your thighs lifted off of the ground. They should be strong and engaged.

As you exhale, you can lift the hips and move back into Downward Dog.

This is the next step up from a low cobra position mentioned earlier. This time, you keep your knees lifted and put all the weight into your hands.

Full Wheel

basic-yoga-poses-for-beginners-full-wheel-pose

The next step from a bridge pose, is full wheel. This is an amazing chest opener. It is great for posture and thoracic spine mobility. EVERYONE should practice this pose (or Bridge Pose we discussed earlier). Especially as most of us are constantly in a forward rounding position. This will help stretch out those shortened muscles!

From your back, set yourself up as you would into a Bridge Pose. Bring your hands by your head. Press them into the ground, and lift yourself up onto the crown of your head. Finally, press into the ground and lift yourself all the way up. Working on straightening your arms. Pressing your chest forward, over your wrists. Working on straightening your legs.

You can also elevate your feet on something like yoga blocks or your couch. This will help you to straighten your arms and target the thoracic spine. Again, work on straightening your legs and bringing your chest forward.

Basic Yoga Poses for Beginners 30-Minute YouTube Class

Alright! We’ve covered a lot here. You should have some knowledge on yoga, and how to do the ‘asanas’.

Words and pictures are great and all…

But let’s put it to real practice!

Here is a Yoga for Beginners YouTube video class you can use to practice what we covered. Hope you enjoy it!

Best,

Jason

PS – Don’t forget to subscribe to the WithinMVMNT YouTube Channel!