16 Simple Yoga Poses For Beginners: Move Your Body & Calm Your Mind

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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.

a woman with tattoos in black yoga clothes doing child pose on a yoga mat

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
a woman doing cat yoga pose in a grey top

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.

an annotated image of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing easy Pose

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.

an annotated image of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing bharadvaja's twist Pose

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.

an annotated image of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing cat cow pose

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.

an annotated image of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing bound angle Pose

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.

an annotated image of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing seated forward bend Pose

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.

annotated image of a woman doing yoga's mountain pose

7# Crescent Lunge (Astha Chandrasana)

This is an asymmetrical posture, hence requiring the practitioner to tap into their strength, balance, and focus.

an annotated image of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing crescent lunge pose

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.

an annotated image of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing tree pose

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.

an annotated image of a woman doing warrior 2 pose

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.

an annotated image of a man wearing black yoga pants in crocodile pose

11# Cobra pose (Bhujangasana)

This posture is a gentle backend that can help you open up the front body.

an annotated image of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing cobra pose

12# Table top position (Bharmasana)

annotated image of a woman doing yoga's tabletop pose

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)

annotated image of a woman doing yoga's downward facing dog

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.

an annotated image of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing legs up the wall pose

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.

annotated image of a woman in corpse pose, savasana

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

To conclude

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.

Photo of author
Laia is an Afro-Catalan accessible and inclusive yoga & meditation teacher. She has trained in hatha, vinyasa, trauma-informed yoga, yin yoga, and restorative yoga and holds E-RYT 500 and YACEP accreditations with the Yoga Alliance. Additionally, she is a freelance writer and translator, publishing in Catalan, English, and Spanish. As a former professional athlete who lives with a chronic illness, Laia has gained valuable insights into the benefits of self-care and the importance of pausing and slowing down. She is dedicated to sharing accessible and sustainable practices of yoga and meditation to help people create a more harmonious life. Being a black and chronically ill individual, her mission is to empower non-normative yoga teachers to find their unique voices and develop tools to make wellness practices accessible to the communities they serve, thereby taking up space and creating a more inclusive and diverse yoga industry. Furthermore, as a writer and creative, she is passionate about supporting other creatives and innovators. She fosters a genuine community dedicated to finding balance while staying productive and inspired. Laia has developed unique techniques that intertwine yoga and meditation with writing, journaling, and other accessible methods to help each other stay creative and mindful.

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