If you’ve been curious about yoga but not yet taken that first step into a class it may be because you are worried about not knowing what to do. Entering into a class where everyone else knows what’s going on and what everything is called can be intimidating.
Every beginner feels exactly the same. But if you know some of that stuff before you go it won’t be so scary. We have found 15 best forms yoga for beginners to try for yourself, so you won’t feel like so much of a newbie.
1. Mountain Pose
Tadasana or mountain pose may not look like much of a challenge, but it has hidden benefits.
The idea of this posture is alignment. The posture draws a straight line from the crown of your head all the way down to your heels. Your shoulders and pelvis are stacked along this line too.
The benefit of mountain pose is not just in the alignment. You will need to engage your quadriceps and rotate your thighs inward. Your arms should be hanging naturally down by your sides.
Remember to keep your weight on your heels and slide your shoulders down your back.
2. Child’s Pose
Child’s pose is a great way to pause during a yoga session and rest. It is a calming and restorative posture which lets you rest and refocus before carrying on to your next pose.
It will relax your spine, stretch your neck, lower back, thighs, hips, knees and ankles.
It is a gentle exercise that does not challenge your balance or your strength and gives you the opportunity to pause when your body tells you it needs a break. Listening to what your body is saying is one of the fundamental lessons in yoga.
3. Raised Hands Pose
Like mountain pose on which this posture is built, raised hands pose doesn’t look challenging. However, it requires you to root yourself in the ground with your legs and stretch up to the sky with your arms.
This will provide you with a full body stretch and is a great preparation for the rest of your yoga session. It will also improve posture and strengthen your legs.
4. Downward Facing Dog
Downward facing dog is arguably one of the most famous of yoga forms. It is a fantastic stretch and can work really well to relieve back pain.
This posture targets a lot of different areas. It will strengthen your shoulders, arms and back while also stretching your calves, hamstrings and even the arches of your feet. It can sometimes take beginners a while to get to grips with the right form of downward facing dog.
Using blocks can help and remembering to keep most of your weight in your legs.
5. Cobra Pose
For a back strengthening exercise the cobra pose offers a simple but effective pose.
Low cobras in particular will help to strengthen your back, as you don’t use your hands to press down. But full cobra offers a deeper back bend.
This pose will also stretch your chest muscles, and increase the flexibility of your spine. Try to draw your navel up and away from the floor while holding this posture.
While doing this pose remember to keep your pelvis and legs firmly anchored to the floor.
6. Plank Pose
Plank pose looks deceptively simple, but it is a great core strengthening exercise. A strong core is necessary for many yoga postures, so this is an important pose to include in your session.
It is also used to build strength in the shoulders, arms and legs.
If you want to tone up your abdominal muscles and build strength in your upper body this is an excellent way to do it. You should ensure that your hips do not drop towards the floor or are too raised toward the ceiling while doing plank pose.
7. Tree Pose
Tree pose is a great balancing exercise but beyond that it will also help you to strengthen your core, spine, thighs, calves and ankles. If at first you are finding it difficult to keep your balance practice next to a wall and use that for support.
This is an excellent introduction to balancing poses. Focus your gaze on the floor and try out different positions for your foot to find one that is comfortable and works for you.
You should ensure that you keep your shoulders down, and your hips square.
8. Four Limbed Staff Pose
The four limbed staff pose is used most commonly in the sun salutation. It typically follows the plank pose and is a good starting point for more advanced postures such as inversions.
It strengthens the shoulders, arms, wrists and back and will also tone your abdominal muscles. Beginners may need to modify this pose by keeping their knees on the floor. You should press your palms into the floor and lift your shoulders off the mat.
If you have lower back pain or are pregnant this is not a suitable pose.
9. Triangle Pose
Triangle pose features in a lot of yoga sequences, so it is an important foundation posture to learn. This pose will strengthen your legs and is a great endurance exercise.
The areas that are stretched when in triangle pose are the spine, chest, shoulders, groin, hips, calves and hamstrings.
Beginners can use a block for their lowered hand if reaching the floor is difficult. Alternatively you can rest your hand higher up on your leg, on your thigh or shin but don’t rest on your knee.
10. Bridge Pose
The bridge pose is an excellent pose for those who spend a lot of time sitting, either at a desk or driving. It is a gentle exercise for extending your spine and increasing the mobility of your back.
If you are a beginner and find this pose tricky then you can use a block, changing the posture into a supported bridge. However, you should keep your feet rooted so that you are using your leg muscles to hold the pose.
This posture also helps to strengthen your hamstrings.
11. Corpse Pose
Despite its unsettling name, corpse pose or savasana is one of the best poses for beginners to yoga. It will be the pose that you will end your yoga session with and allows you to sink into a relaxing and meditative state.
A lot of people find it difficult to completely relax so doing this pose every session helps to get used to that letting go feeling. Beginners may feel more comfortable with a rolled up blanket under their head.
12. Standing Forward Bend
A standing forward bend releases tension in your spine and neck while stretching your hips, calves and hamstrings. This pose also has a calming effect on the mind and can improve digestion by massaging the internal organs.
It’s not necessary to keep your legs straight during this posture, and you can bend your knees slightly.
This helps maintain length in your spine and relieves any discomfort in your lower back. If you do have back problems check with your doctor before doing this pose.
13. Garland Pose
The garland pose can be a little tricky for beginners as most people find squatting difficult. But this is an amazing stretch for the pelvic muscles and is often called a hip opener in yoga.
For beginners, it may help to sit on a block or use a rolled up blanket or towel under your heels. Press your heels into the floor to maintain the pose.
Surprisingly, this posture is also a good exercise for your feet which are frequently neglected.
14. Half Forward Bend
The half forward bend is sometimes also called the halfway lift. This may most often be seen as part of the sun salutation.
One of the most difficult things about this posture is keeping your back flat. For beginners this may mean putting your hands on your legs at a height that is comfortable for you. It may also be helpful to bend your knees slightly.
Body awareness and proper breathing help with this pose.
15. Pyramid Pose
If you want to try using your yoga blocks this is the ideal time. They can help to make the pyramid pose more comfortable and accessible. Put a block on either side of your front foot so that you can reach without straining.
This is also a great stretch for your hamstrings and a great warm up posture for hamstring intensive poses. It also stretches your spine and shoulders while working on your balance and coordination.
Now that you know some of the most common yoga poses, what they’re called and what they do it might be time to take the plunge and join a class.
Or you could practice at home with the help of some of the great apps or yoga channels available.
Whatever you decide, we hope you have fun and enjoy yourself.