Beginning yoga can seem confusing or even intimidating, and that is completely alright. We all start somewhere! This article will show examples of eight common and easy yoga poses you can do at home, give instructions on how to do them, and list some benefits of each one. Typically in a yoga class, poses are linked together in a flow. While the poses listed here aren’t necessarily an entire sequence, holding them for 5-10 big breaths will still be very beneficial. Let’s get started, and don’t forget to breath!
Mountain pose is a great place to start as it helps to build a strong foundation that will carry over into other poses. It improves posture, strengthens the legs, and over time, can even reduce flat feet. On the surface, it doesn’t look like much is happening, but there is more going on than meets the eye.
- Stand with feet either hip distance apart, or big toes touching and heels slightly apart. Rock back and side to side on the feet a little to play around with feeling balance. Come back to standing still, and think about lifting the arches, maybe even lifting the toes and setting them back down slowly. Actively push the ground away from you with your feet.
- Firm the upper thighs so the knee caps lift up.
- Tuck the tailbone slightly to lengthen out the low back.
- Roll the shoulders forward, up, and back one time, making sure the shoulders move away from the ears. Try to bring the shoulder blades together in the upper back, which will broaden the collar bones. The action of rolling the shoulders back may even turn your palms out slightly.
- Stack the crown of the head directly over the pelvis. It can help to pull the chin back a bit so it is parallel with the floor. Imagine a line of energy from your feet (remember, you should still be pressing down through them!) moving up the body all the way to, and even extending, out of the crown of the head.
- Close the eyes or have a soft gaze, and hold for 5-10 breaths.
Tree pose is almost like a one legged Mountain Pose. It is super helpful in improving balance, strengthening the legs, and can reduce sciatica.
- Start from Mountain Pose, and shift your weight onto the right leg. Bring the hands together in front of your sternum like a prayer position. It’s helpful in balancing poses to find something to gaze at, like something on the wall or floor in front of you.
- Come up onto the ball of the left foot, and turn the left knee out to the side as far as you can.
- Bring the left heel to meet the right calf. Feel free to stay up on the ball of the left foot, kind of like a little kickstand. If you feel balanced, start to move the left foot higher on the right leg, coming to the calf.
- Be careful here not to rest the upraised foot on the knee of the standing leg! There should be no sideways pressure on the knee.
- Stay for 5-10 breaths, or about 30 seconds, and then slowly release everything down. Repeat on the other side.
Warrior 2 is a pose that makes a lot of people feel strong and focused, like a warrior! It is great for strengthening the legs while also stretching the inner thighs. It will also help the arms get stronger and stimulate the abdominal organs.
- Begin in Mountain Pose. Step the feet wide, about 3-4 feet. Turn your right foot out 90° and your left foot in a little bit, and try to line up your back heel with your front heel.
- Raise your arms so they are parallel with the floor, making sure to keep the shoulders moving down away from the ears. Keep the fingers as relaxed as possible.
- Bend the right knee, moving it towards the pinkie toe on the right foot. You should be able to look down and see your right big toe. Make sure the knee comes directly over the ankle, and no further! If the knee comes out past the ankle, there is too much downward pressure on the knee and there is potential for an injury.
- Look out over the right hand, and stay here for 5-10 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Your legs will definitely be talking to you after you do Chair Pose. It will strengthen the ankles, calves, thighs, glutes, and spine, and stimulates the diaphragm and heart which helps with overall breathing and circulation.
- Begin in Mountain Pose. Raise the arms overhead with palms facing each other. Try to keep the shoulders relaxed.
- Begin to bend the knees like you are going to sit down in an imaginary chair.
- Be careful here because the knees might want to go out past the toes. If that happens, bring the knees back so you can look down and see your toes.
- Keeping the knees in place, see how much farther you can sink the tailbone down. Folding the upper body forward a little bit can help
- Try not to pop your booty out. Tucking the tailbone will keep the lower back long.
- Stay for 5-10 breaths.
Downward Facing Dog
This is a pose that you will encounter in almost every single yoga class. It is used as a pose by itself, and it is also used in quicker moving flows to help link other poses together. It strengthens the arms and legs, stretches out the hamstrings and calves, helps prevent osteoporosis, and improves digestion and circulation. Be careful in this pose if you have carpal tunnel or severe wrist pain.
- Start on hands and knees. Make sure the knees are directly under the hips, and your hands a little forward of your shoulders. Spread the fingers and try to have as much contact with the floor as possible, so press down into every knuckle mound and out through the fingers.
- Tuck your toes, and lift the hips away from the floor, keeping the knees bent at first. The body will be making a kind of upside down V shape.
- Even in this inverted pose, keep the shoulders moving away from the ears. Remember, you should still be pressing down into the hands and fingers!
- Lift the sit bones up and back towards the ceiling, and gaze back between the feet or knees, which helps keep the head in line with the arms.
- Once everything else is established, start to straighten the legs. It’s perfectly ok if they don’t straighten very far! The goal of this pose is to keep a long spine, not to get the heels on the floor.
- Hold for 5-10 breaths, and gently bring every down to floor coming back to the hands and knees.
Marichyasana 3 (seated twist)
Twisting is so good for keeping the spine flexible, strong, and lubricated. This pose will also massage the abdominal organs and stretch the shoulders. Sometimes it’s hard to sit up tall in a twist, so place a thick blanket or two underneath the sit bones, or even start with your back close to a wall so you can press into it with your hand to help you sit up nice and straight.
- Begin sitting with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend the right knee bringing the foot to the floor, and place that foot by the left knee. Don’t forget about your left leg, though, keep the left foot flexed (toes pointing up to the ceiling) through the entire pose.
- Raise the arms overhead, and then begin to twist to the right. Try to initiate the twist from the navel first.
- Bring the left arm down to hug the right knee, and take the right arm behind you. If you are near a wall, bring the right hand to the wall and gently press into it while bringing the shoulder blades together down the back. Look over the right shoulder as far as possible.
- Hold for 5-10 breaths, and slowly unwind. Repeat on other side.
This is a great introduction pose to backbends. We can easily spend a lot of time slouching, so backbends are great to get the spine flexing in the opposite direction, which strengthens the spine and can help with posture. Baby Cobra Pose also stretches the chest, opens the heart and lungs, stimulates the abdominal organs, and can even be therapeutic for asthma.
- Begin lying down on the belly. Stretch your legs out behind you with the tops of the feet pressing into the ground.
- Place your hands under your shoulders and hug the elbows close to the body.
- Gently press into your hands to raise your head, neck, and chest off the floor a few inches. Keep your gaze down at the floor so the back of the neck is long. Keep your shoulders moving away from your ears.
- Hold for 5-10 breaths, and slowly come back down.
Child’s Pose is one of the most restful poses in yoga. It is a really good pose to come to if you need a break while doing other yoga poses, or if you just want to take a few minutes during your day to relax. It provides a gentle stretch in the hips and ankles, and calms the brain to relieve stress and fatigue.
- Begin on hands and knees. Bring the feet together so your big toes touch but keep the knees wide.
- Shift your hips back towards your heels while keeping your arms extended out in front of you. Your forehead will move down towards the floor.
- If your forehead doesn’t reach the floor, cross your arms at your forearms and rest on them. A pillow or two can also be used to rest on.
- Since this is a relaxing pose, stay for at least 30 seconds to 1 minute, or even longer if it feels nice.
- To come out of Child’s Pose, slowly make your way back onto hands and knees. If you were there for a while, just take your time. Sudden movements can be jarring to the body after lying still in a relaxing position.
So there are eight poses you can do in the comfort of your own home. If you tried them I hope you had fun! Feel free to take a photo of yourself and submit it to the ClutchMOV Instagram page, you can used the hashtag #yogaloveMOV!