Yoga is well known for its relaxation, flexibility and strength benefits.
Yoga poses, or asanas, range from beginner to advanced, seated to standing and bends and twists.
Here is the perfect sequence of 5 essential yoga positions to give you a great foundation for your yoga practice. It’s a great sequence for home or anywhere you feel relaxed.
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Introduction for the yoga curious
We were all a beginner at some point in whatever it is we do and love, right?
Yoga is a practice like anything else and requires patience, curiosity and a willingness to explore the body in a sustainable yet courageous way.
I absolutely love it when I have beginners in class because they bring this curiosity (and often apprehension) that can get lost somewhere along their yoga journey.
So to all our beginner yogis…we welcome you. Your curiosity and willingness to learn is refreshing. Never a hassle.
The following sequence is my go-to for you and designed to practice at home, whilst listening closely to the body as you do so, and building the confidence to get along to a class if you have access to one.
5 essential yoga poses for beginners
This yoga sequence for beginners involves flowing through 5 asanas, or yoga poses. We’ll talk you through each of these in a minute, but here they are in a nutshell:
- Mountain pose (Tadasana) - The foundation posture for all standing postures
- Standing backbend – An energising pose to open the hip flexors, get the heart pumping and improve spinal health
- Downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) – This position lengthens the back, hamstrings and calves and opens the chest and shoulders
- Child’s pose (Balasana) – A restorative posture that allows the yogi to relax whilst stretching the inner thighs, quads, back and chest
- Easy sit cross legs – A great pose for cultivating mobility in the hips and lower back as well as giving you a quiet moment to yourself
Yoga pose sequence for beginners
1. Mountain pose - tadasana
This is the foundation posture for all standing postures and can inspire integrity in form for postures across the board. Tadasana, or mountain pose, is the perfect way to check in with how you’re holding yourself.
Does the posture feel slumped and rounded? Or do you tend to stick out your backside and flare the ribs? Can you find somewhere in between? This simple shape does wonders for improving posture.
- Stand at the top of your mat with feet hip distance apart (there are variations with feet together but for a little more stability to start let’s go feet apart).
- >Close your eyes so that you can tune into the sensations in your body that arise as you form this posture.
- Press down firmly into all four corners of the feet and energise the thighs slightly so that the knee caps lift a little.
- Ease the tail bone down the earth of backs of heels to lengthen the spine so that there is an energetic ‘downward movement’
- And then opposing this downward motion, allow for an energetic lift from base of spine to crown as you lengthen the back and sides of neck with chin tucked ever so slightly in.
- Gently magnetise the shoulder blades towards each other so that the chest and collar bones broaden and then palms face forward
- Standing here, notice your breath and the way the posture feels
2. Standing backbend
Opening hip flexors as well as improving spinal health. A standing back bend like this, for many, can be incredibly energising as well. Nothing like a back bend to get the heart pumping and give you that hit of vitality that may be needed during that mid-afternoon slump.
Go easy and listen to the intelligence of your spine.
- From mountain Pose, stand with feet hip distance apart and ever so slightly bend your knees to tilt your tail bone down to the ground so that you feel a ‘lengthening’ in the lower back
- Inhale and extend your arms above head, whilst softening shoulders down back (hands can be either shoulder distance or together)
- Use the exhalation to ground and feel the length you’re creating through the side waist and spine
- On an exhalation, keep extending the spine up and then back to a point that feels comfortable. Stay here or lift gaze if it feels ok on the neck. Stay 5-10 breaths
3. Adho mukha svanasana - Downward facing dog
Lengthening the hamstrings and calves, decompressing the spine, opening the chest and shoulders and being an inversion provides mental clarity as well as energises. I think if you’re able to physically come into this posture, it should be practiced daily as it lengthens the whole back line of the body, technically it’s an inversion which brings with it a whole lot of great benefits and enlivens the sleepiest of yogis.
- From all fours, place the hands just in front of the shoulders, curl the toes under and lift the knees off the earth as you press the hips up and back
- To begin with here soften, or bend, the knees, tilt the tailbone up and back to lengthen the spine
- As you breathe deeply, yet easily, experiment with pressing the hands firmly into the earth and then keeping the sit bones high, pressing the heels towards the earth. If this rounds the back or hunches the shoulders go back to bent knees as pictured
- Wrap the outer up edges of arms in towards each other and allow the neck to hand freely from the shoulders. Stay 5-10 breaths
4. Balasana - Child’s pose
Child’s Pose is a must try and go-to for any beginner.
Although it may not feel so comfortable for everyone, this is a great restorative posture that can be set up with props for more ease and allows the yogi to relax, release and surrender into moments when things get overwhelming – either in a class or off the mat.
stretching the inner thighs, back and chest as well as anyone with tight quads and ankles who will get a big stretch and release in these areas.
How to:In this variation we’re taking knees wide which opens into the groin and inner thighs as well as those places mentioned above. If we were targeting the lower back a little more we’d bring the knees together.
- From a kneeling posture, take knees a little wider than the hips and slide the hands out in front, resting the forehead to the earth (if forehead does not come to earth place a block or blanket underneath so that the ‘earth’ comes to you in support)
- Relax and ease the shoulders down the back
5. Easy sit cross legs
Great for: Cultivating mobility in hips and lower back as well as giving you a quiet moment or so to yourself. It’s just you, the sensations and your breath.
This little pearler can be a tell-tale sign of how mobile (or not) we are in the hips, hamstrings and spine. It’s one that requires your patience and a willingness to go slow but the rewards are incredible.
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- Sitting down, cross your legs with right leg in front of left. Take ankles under knees so that they are away from your hips. If you look down there is an upside-down triangle.
- Flex feet so that your toes curl back towards shins (this will protect knees).
- Inhale and lift arms above head to lengthen the spine.
- Exhale move forward from the hips (without rounding the spine) and place hands shoulder distance apart on the floor in front. Stay for 10 breaths and repeat with left leg in front.
Kate Kendall is the Co-Founder and Director of Yoga at Flow Athletic. Follow @activeyogi to be inspired to move into more shapes for better wellbeing.