If you are brand new to yoga, there are a number of basic poses that are essential to start your journey into the practice and build confidence – whether you decide to practice yoga at home or in a busy class.
It is actually quite difficult to identify which basic poses you need to learn to build up your practice – there are over 300 positions (or asana) in physical yoga but- hey! – I rose to the challenge and wrote a blog post on 5 absolutely unavoidable poses, which I believe will start you off on the right path.
If you do each one of these postures for 5-10 breaths, it also creates a great beginner’s yoga program for you to do every day.
If you are a seasoned yogi, please don’t think this article is not for you… there’s always space to learn and improve your practice in yoga!
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Mountain Pose is the base for all standing poses; it gives you a sense of how to ground into your feet and feel the earth below you. Mountain pose may seem like “simply standing,” but there is quite a lot going on.
Start standing with your feet together. Press down through all ten toes as you spread them open. Engage your quadriceps to lift your kneecaps and lift up through the inner thighs. Draw your abdominals in and up as you lift your chest and press the tops of the shoulders down.
Feel your shoulder blades coming towards each other and open your chest; but keep your palms facing inwards towards the body. Imagine a string drawing the crown of the head up to the ceiling and breathe deeply in to the torso. Hold for 5-10 breaths.
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Start on your hands and knees in tabletop position with your hands beneath your shoulders and toes turned slightly under. Lift your hips and knees away from the floor and push your hips towards the ceiling. Press the “L” shape of your hands down into the mat. Relax your head and neck. Melt your chest toward the floor. Press your thighs to the back wall. Lift your hips up toward the sky.
One of the most well-known yoga poses, downward-facing dog is a full-body stretch that warms up your muscles and mind for the class ahead. Holding this yoga pose for 1-3 minutes also builds upper-body strength and boosts circulation through the body.
To know more about this pose and its benefits read my article here.
Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
Tree is an awesome standing balance for beginners to work on to gain focus and clarity, and learn to breathe while standing and keeping the body balanced on one foot.
Start with your feet together and then place your right foot on your inner left upper thigh. Press your hands in prayer and find a spot in front of you that you can hold in a steady gaze.
Hold and breathe for 5-10 breaths then switch sides. Make sure you don’t lean in to the standing leg and keep your abdominals engaged and shoulders relaxed.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
This relaxing pose allows you to relax and breathe into your back. It’s a pose of surrender that works to stretch the hips, thighs and ankles. It’s also a great pose for back pain. This is the perfect stretch to do at the end of your yoga session.
Sit upright on your knees with your toes touching and knees shoulder-width apart. Draw your hips down and extend both arms over your head and onto the floor so you can really feel the stretch. Creep your fingers forward if you can to enhance the stretch. Close your eyes, let your head rest on the floor and take in slow, deep breaths.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Lie on your back with legs straight and slightly apart, arms stretched out to your sides and palms facing up. Relax your muscles, deepen your breath, and remain still on the mat.
Savasana is often considered the most important pose of yoga. Hundreds of years ago the physical yoga poses were created to exhaust the body for stillness. It may look simple, but the difficulty comes in practicing acceptance, awareness, and stillness. Think of Savasana as the ultimate cool-down that gives your body and mind a chance to soak up all of the benefits of your physical practice you just finished.
Master these five foundational poses and come back to them as often as you can. As you work to grow your practice, you will start to feel differently in each of these poses. Like with any strong building, a solid foundation is key.