Embarking on a yoga journey as a beginner is an exciting path of discovery, and it can also be difficult to know where to start.
The ancient practice of yoga offers numerous physical, physiological, mental, and spiritual benefits, including improved flexibility, increased strength, reduced stress, and enhanced mindfulness.
This article is for you whether you’re new to yoga and eager to dive into the foundations of this practice, and also if you’ve been practicing for a while and want to revise the alignment and foundation of some simple yoga poses; to return back to basics.
Whether you want to stretch out your muscles, calm your mind, or build core strength, we’ll offer accessible options for all, making them ideal for those just starting their yoga practice.
This article will guide you through 16 simple yoga poses that are perfect for beginners.
We will also discuss:
- Basics of yoga for beginners
- Main benefits of practicing yoga for beginners
- 16 simple yoga poses for beginners
- Tips for beginners
- A practice with simple yoga poses
Basics of yoga for beginners
Yoga is a mind and body practice with a 5,000-year history in ancient Indian philosophy.
Various styles of yoga combine physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation or relaxation.
The word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit word “yuj,” which means “to yoke” or “to unite.”The earliest references to yoga are found in the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India, and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, a collection of 196 sutras (aphorisms) on yoga philosophy, considered the foundational text of yoga.
The yoga practice intends to unite the mind, body, and spirit. It is a way to connect with your inner self and to find peace and balance in your life.
When the mind is calm and the body is healthy, the spirit can thrive.
Yoga intertwines physical postures, breathing exercises, meditation, and other techniques.
The physical postures of yoga, called asanas, are designed to stretch and strengthen the body. They also help to improve balance and flexibility, amongst many other benefits.
Breathing exercises, called pranayama, help to regulate the breath and to bring oxygen to the body.
Meditation, another foundational pillar of the yoga practice, helps to calm the mind and to focus your attention.
Main benefits of practicing yoga for beginners
Yoga, often thought of as a purely physical practice, is actually a holistic system designed to help you find physical, mental, and even spiritual balance.
Here are some of the physical benefits of practicing yoga:
- Improved flexibility
- Increased strength
- Better balance
- Reduced pain
- Improved sleep
- Regulates the nervous system
When it comes to mental benefits, here are some:
- Improved mood
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Increased focus and concentration
- Improved self-awareness
Finally, here are some of the spiritual benefits you can experience even by practicing simple yoga poses:
- Increased mindfulness
- A sense of connection
- A sense of peace
- Enhanced ability to follow your intuition
20 simple yoga poses for beginners
Let’s dive into some simple yoga poses to try:
6 seated simple yoga poses
For those people looking for a way to practice that is more stable and grounding, seated postures are a great place to start.
Here are some simple yoga poses that you can do seated on a chair or on the ground:
1# Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
When starting, consider sitting on a blanket or meditation cushion to make the stretch less intense on the lower back and groins.
2# Seated Twist (Bharadvajasana)
Seated twists are great to release tension in the spine and shoulders, as well as support a healthy digestive system.
If you rather, you could practice it laying down on your back to make it more restorative.
3# Seated cat-cow (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana)
Cat and cow poses are some of the most simple yoga poses to keep your spine flexible and healthy.
4# Bound angle pose (Baddha Konasana)
For those with tighter groins and lumbar spine, elevate your seat by sitting on a cushion or blanket, and bring blocks underneath your knees for support.
5# Seated forward fold (Paschimottanasana)
It helps you regulate your nervous system and stimulate the vagus nerve, Paschimottanasana is one of the most simple yoga poses for beginners, especially with your knees bent and with support beneath them.
5 Standing simple yoga poses for beginners
Standing poses help develop stability and balance by strengthening the core muscles, improving posture, and increasing body awareness.
Here are some beginner-friendly and simple yoga poses while standing:
6# Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Mountain pose is the most foundational of the simple yoga poses in this section.
As a symmetrical standing posture, it helps gain proprioception and helps you feel grounded and present.
7# Crescent Lunge (Astha Chandrasana)
This is an asymmetrical posture, hence requiring the practitioner to tap into their strength, balance, and focus.
8# Tree pose (Vrksasana)
An iconic yoga pose, it can be simplified and more stable by placing your foot on the floor or a block instead of balancing on one leg.
You could also use a wall for support.
9# Warrior II pose (Virabhadrasana II)
A very popular yoga posture in yoga styles like Vinyasa yoga, this posture can be practiced seated in a chair to make it more accessible.
4 simple yoga poses in prone position
The next few simple yoga poses are all practiced facing down toward the ground, in a prone position:
10# Crocodrile pose (Makarasana)
Crocodile pose is a great way to relax the body and mind. It helps to release tension in the muscles, especially in the back, shoulders, and neck.
11# Cobra pose (Bhujangasana)
This posture is a gentle backend that can help you open up the front body.
12# Table top position (Bharmasana)
A great option to downward facing dog for beginners that want to keep their practice closer to the ground.
13# Downward-facing dog pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Another yoga posture that is included in many yoga classes, it is great to build overall physical strength and stability in muscles and joints.
5 supine simple yoga poses
If you’d like to practice some simple yoga poses laying down on your back, here are some of the most essential and accessible:
14# Wind relieving pose (Apanasana)
A great posture if you’re having digestive issues.
15# Legs up the wall pose (Viparita Karani)
One of the best restorative yoga poses for when you want to foster deep sleep.
16# Corpse pose (Savasana)
If laying on your back is not for you, lay down in any other pose, or sit down, and just let yourself relax and breathe.
Tips for beginners
- Choose a quiet and clean space where you can practice with fewer distractions, if possible.
- Create an intention, or Sankalpa, to help you understand why you practice and support your commitment.
- Begin your practice with a few gentle warm-up exercises such as neck rolls, shoulder shrugs, and gentle stretches to prepare your body for the practice.
- Pay attention to your breath throughout the practice, allowing your breath to guide your movements. This can help you stay present and calm during your practice.
- Be mindful of your needs and avoid forcing yourself into a pose that doesn’t feel right for you. Yoga should not cause pain; instead, it should feel supportive.
- Modify, adapt, or skip poses as needed, take care of yourself.
- Begin with simple yoga poses such as the ones explored in this article. These poses have accessible options to serve a wide range of practitioners.
- Focus on sensations in the body over how a pose should look.
- Use props like blocks, straps, or bolsters to support your practice. Props can assist with balance, flexibility, and stability, and help you comfortably access the poses.
- Aim for shorter, more regular sessions rather than long, sporadic ones to allow your body and mind to adapt and progress.
- Yoga is not only about physical poses but also about cultivating a mindful state. Bring your awareness to the present moment, focusing on the sensations in your body, your breath, and the present experience.
- If you’re uncertain about proper alignment or have specific concerns, consider reaching out to seek a qualified yoga teacher. They can offer valuable guidance and ensure you’re practicing safely and effectively.
A practice with simple yoga poses
Practicing simple yoga poses can bring immense physical and mental health benefits to beginners and long-time practitioners alike.
We hope that the 16 simple yoga poses described in this article have helped you learn a bit more about the basics of yoga asana in a gentle and accessible manner.
By incorporating these poses into your day, you can improve your flexibility, cultivate your strength, and foster balance, while also experiencing reduced stress levels and increased mindfulness.
Starting slow and listening to your needs, as well as choosing a practice that works for you will make your experience more pleasant.
With intentionality and commitment to the practice, simple yoga poses can be a great benefit to your life.
For more articles about yoga for beginner practitioners, check out this section of our website.