When starting a yoga asana practice, it can seem a bit daunting especially if you’ve ever seen any pictures or videos of what is largely portrayed as yoga in the mainstream media; able-bodied, fit, young women performing acrobatic shapes.
This couldn’t be further from what yoga, as a holistic practice and ancient system is designed to be.
Asana, the physical practice, is only the third of 8-limbs of yoga, and although it is important and beneficial, there are no particular shapes your body needs to be able to attain in order to reach enlightenment.
Learning about some of the most common yoga poses and how to adapt them can be a great way to get started in the practice, so that when you choose to go to your first yoga class, whether that’s in person or online, you are more familiar with some of the shapes.
In this article we will share:
- Considerations for Beginners
- Seated Common Yoga Poses
- Standing Common Yoga Poses
- Common Yoga Poses on Your Back
- Common Yoga Poses in a Prone Position
- Common Yoga Poses for Balance
- Other Common Yoga Poses
Let’s jump right in!
Considerations for beginners
Please make sure that you first consult with your physician and with a qualified yoga teacher to find what styles of asana may be most supportive for your needs before you get started.
Keep in mind that not all postures will be accessible for everyone and that the main goal is to stay present and breathing, the postures are a tool to access deeper states of awareness and connect mind and body.
When attempting any of the postures mentioned below, make sure you give yourself time to warm up, and stay aware of how you feel in each posture, utilizing props and support whenever feels right for you.
Some of these postures may be more accessible to you than others, and although with time and practice, this will evolve and vary, remember that there is no ultimate goal when practicing yoga asana other than to be present, breathe, and explore.
5 Seated Common Yoga Poses
Here are some of the most common yoga poses performed in a seated position.
You can do most of these seated on the ground, on a cushion or blanket, or even seated on a sturdy chair.
1# Sukhasana (easy pose)
Targeting the hips, the pelvic joints, and the spine, this posture is commonly used for meditation as well as to practice pranayama.
To make the posture more comfortable, sit on a blanket, or try sitting on a chair.
2# Dandasana (staff pose)
A great posture to open up the back of the legs and the spine, it can be made more accessible by bending your knees or also sitting on a blanket.
3# Baddha Konasana (bound angle pose)
To lessen sensation in the groins in this hip opener, place blocks on the outside of the knees.
4# Navasana (boat pose)
To keep this core-activating asana more accessible, place your hands behind you on the floor for added stability.
5# Gomukhasana (cow face pose)
A deep stretch for the hips that is not accessible to all, try practicing cow face pose with the bottom leg extended forwards, or sit on top of a block.
Check out this seated yoga practice with Shaunneka on Youtube:
5 Kneeling Common Yoga Poses
The following asanas are performed in a kneeling position, so if your knees are sensitive, place a blanket underneath before practicing these postures.
1# Bharmanasana (tabletop position)
If your wrists are also sensitive, you can bring your hands into fists when performing tabletop.
2# Balasana (child’s pose)
To support your upper body, bring a bolster underneath you and rest your torso and head on top.
3# Anjaneyasana (low lunge pose)
For stability, use blocks under your hands, framing your front foot.
4# Ardha Hanumanasana (half splits pose)
To take this shape closer toward Hanumanasana, place a block under the front glute, exploring which setting provides you more support.
5# Ustrasana (camel pose)
For an accessible version, bring blocks by your feet and take your hands there instead of the heels.
To read more about kneeling yoga postures, check out this other article.
5 Standing Common Yoga Poses
Standing postures can often challenge your balance, come near a wall or use a chair to try these.
1# Tadasana (mountain pose)
Considered the most foundational pose, it can be practiced seated on a chair, keeping the spine long.
2# Uttanasana (standing forward bend)
If your hands don’t touch the floor, either bend your knees generously or bring blocks under your hands, elevating the ground up to you.
3# Utkatasana (chair pose)
This posture can create tightness on the neck and shoulders; bring your arms down to shoulder level or rest your hands on your hips.
4# Virabhadrasana II (warrior 2)
5# Trikonasana (triangle pose)
To keep the posture more open and the breath fuller, bring your hand to your upper shin or thigh, or to a block, instead of reaching for the ankle.
5 Common Yoga Poses on Your Back
For a more relaxing experience, in a supine position, try these:
1# Savasana (corpse pose)
For the ultimate relaxation pose, consider creative ways to make yourself extra comfy by using all the props; blankets, bolsters, blocks, etc.
3# Setubandha Sarvangasana (bridge pose)
If you’d like to practice bridge in a more restorative way, bring a block under your sacrum.
4# Supta Badha Konasana (reclined bound angle pose)
This deeply relaxing posture can be made even more enjoyable by placing blocks underneath the knees.
5# Viparita Karani (legs up the wall pose)
Great to help regulate the nervous system.
5 Common Yoga Poses in a Prone Position
1# Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog pose)
For those with tight hamstrings, bend your knees or place a blanket under your heels.
2# Phalakasana (plank pose)
To play with core strengthening, try this short core-focused flow.
3# Bhujangasana (cobra pose)
Opening up the front of the body, cobra pose can be practiced with a rolled-up blanket under the chest for support.
4# Chaturanga Dandasana (four-limbed staff pose)
An important foundational yoga pose to build alignment and strength, Chaturanga can be replaced by knees-chest-chin to avoid too much stress on the shoulders.
5# Kapotanasana II (sleeping swan pose)
Often known as the pigeon pose, this asana can be adapted by using a prop under the front hip or replacing it with reclined pigeon pose, laying on the back.
5 Common Yoga Poses for Balance
To practice any of the upcoming postures, being near a wall can provide some support!
1# Virabhadrasana III (warrior 3)
Bring your hands to your blocks to find more stability in this balancing posture.
2# Garudasana (eagle pose)
A way to practice this shape in a way that is more accessible and requires less balance is by sitting on a chair or performing eagle pose laying on your back.
3# Vrksasana (tree pose)
To explore this pose, try this class for beginners:
4# Ardha Chandrasana (half moon pose)
This asymmetrical balancing pose can be more easily accessed when keeping the dristhi, the gaze, low to the ground, and using a block under the bottom hand to increase balance.
5# Natarajasana (dancers pose)
A challenging and invigorating backbend and balancing pose, dancer pose can be practiced with a yoga belt to bridge the gap and avoid too much pressure on the shoulders.
5 Other Common Yoga Poses
Although less accessible, here are some more common yoga postures you may want to explore at some point in your journey;
1#Kakasana (crow pose)
If you’d like to dive into the fascinating world of arm balances, you may want to start with crow pose, also known as Bakasana.
Give this tutorial a try!
2# Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog)
For a similar, yet deeper backbend than Bhujangasana, try practicing upward-facing dog.
3# Halasana (Plow Pose)
If your feet don’t reach the floor, keep your hands on your low back, and maybe take your feet to a bolster, block, or against a wall.
4# Sirsasana (headstand)
Headstand is an inversion that requires strength, balance, and focus. To relieve pressure from the neck, practice headstand with blocks under your shoulders.
5# Malasana (garland pose)
If you feel a lot of sensation in this low squat, grab a block and set it on the lowest or medium setting, and sit on it. You could also place your heels on a blanket to find even more support.
There are many common yoga poses beyond the ones explored in this article that are great for beginners.
As you begin to take classes, read articles, and explore the physical practice of yoga in more depth, not only will you learn more yoga asanas and their benefits, but you’ll develop your own way to access them, sometimes with the use of props or creating your own modifications.
To explore beyond the asana practice and learn about the spiritual benefits of yoga, read this article next.