I’m a strong believer in building a solid foundation for the rest of your yoga practice, and a lot of that starts with the fundamentals. These are poses that help you understand the basic principles of balance, strength and flexibility. As you get more comfortable with these poses, you can start to play with new variations and more advanced postures.
Here are 10 poses for beginners.
1. Chaturanga. This isn’t an easy pose by far, but it builds strength in the triceps, back and core. Keep your elbows close to the rib cage, and only come down until they are at a 90 degree angle. Any lower than that, and you start to strain the tendons in your elbow.
2. Plank. Another good one for the back and core. More importantly, plank is good to practice wide hands and a broad chest. Don’t collapse the shoulders and sink into it. Stay strong!
3. Upward dog. A little strength and flexibility all built into one. Broad chest, pressing into the hands. Lift out of the lower back while stretching the spine. Lift the knees off the ground and press from the top of your feet.
4. Downward dog. This is one of those poses that feels more relaxing instead of strenuous as time goes on. Pull the shoulder blades down your back and spread the fingers wide to grip the mat. Find as much length through the spine to drive the hips up and back. Bend the knees if you have to. Breathe.
5. Warriors 1 & 2. Keep the front knee from bending beyond the toe. For Warrior 1, keep the shoulders down as you reach from fingertips to the heel of the back leg. Don’t arch too far back; it’s about length in the spine. For Warrior 2, again, keep the shoulders down, open the hips so your back is flat as if you were against a wall. Reach the fingertips like you’re trying to touch opposing walls. Then, turning just your head, look at the forward hand. Strength and balance.
6. Triangle. From Warrior 2, straighten the front leg. Stretch the front arm forward before bending down. Place the hand where you can comfortably balance (shin, toe, ground). It’s less about how low can you go than how open can you keep your chest and shoulders while in this challenging balance.
7. Tree. This pose tests your standing balance, flexibility in the hips and how well your foot can grip your inner thigh! If your foot keeps slipping, place it at the calf, NOT the knee. Play around with different arm positions to challenge the balance more.
8. Bridge. The precursor to some wonderful backbending! Lift from the hips instead of squeezing the butt and press up from the feet. Try to wiggle those shoulders underneath as the chest opens.
9. Cobbler. This is one of the most relaxing poses after a long hard day and works on hip flexibility. Try to open your feet like a book as you become more flexible and relax the knees. For a deeper hip stretch, bring the feet closer in.
10. Savasana. Corpse pose is so much more than lying on the ground. Relax the shoulders, open the chest, let the feet fall out to the sides, and breathe.
** Special thanks to Hsubox Photography for making the most of my front yard to take these photos for me.