What is beautiful about yoga is that there are modifications and variations galore, which make it perfect for every single person, from yoga beginners to yogi masters!
Below are 10 of the best yoga poses for beginners, common yoga poses you will encounter in nearly every yoga class.
I have included a photo and video tutorial for each pose, along with a video showing modifications for each yoga posture.
If you are new to yoga, welcome! It’s a great place to find yourself!
Interested in training to become a yoga teacher online? Check out our post on online yoga teacher training!
1. Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This yoga pose is often considered the base of yoga practice and is one of the best yoga poses for beginners because it is so versatile. You will find this yoga posture in SO many transitions during a yoga class, it is definitely worth learning!
Downward Facing Dog Benefits: This great yoga stretch for beginners and advanced yogis alike targets the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, and feet, strengthens the legs, and helps prevent osteoporosis.
- Start on your hands in knees on your mat with your knees underneath your hips and your hands slightly forward from under your shoulders. Keep your palms spread out, spreading each finger flat onto the mat.
- Slowly lift your knees off the ground shifting your hips upwards towards the ceiling and then begin to straighten your legs while pressing your heels down towards the ground.
- Continue to push your legs backward and try to bring your heels down onto the ground, keeping your sitting bones pushed towards the ceiling.
- Press your chest towards your toes and try to touch your heels down to the ground, keeping your gaze towards your navel.
- Try to straighten your knees completely but avoid locking them.
- Hold this pose for a few breaths or as long as is comfortable. To exit the pose, begin to bend your knees and place them down onto the ground, coming back into a tabletop position.
YogiApproved.com brings us an incredible tutorial on downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) for those just beginning yoga.
One of my favorite yoga websites, Body Positive Yoga, made a video that is beyond helpful and shows a modified downward facing dog, and then lots of tips on how to step forward OUT of down dog more easily. Definitely worth a watch!
2. Upward-Facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
Another one of the best yoga poses for beginners, it is a key yoga posture in Sun Salutations, and it feels fantastic!
Upward Facing Dog Benefits: This pose stretches the chest, shoulders, abdomen, and spine, strengths the arms, wrists, and thighs, and stimulates the abdominal organs.
- Begin by lying flat on your stomach with your forehead resting gently on the ground and the tops of your feet pressing down onto the mat.
- Then place the palms of your hands flat on the ground beside the top of your waist with your elbows pointing straight up towards the ceiling.
- Slowly begin to press your palms and the tops of your feet down into the ground as you lift your chest, abdomen, and thighs off of the ground completely.
- Try to fully straighten your arms, press out of your shoulders, and keep the creases of your elbows pointing forwards.
- Engage your buttocks and thighs to keep yourself lifted, trying to push your pelvis forward and lift up your chest.
- Look straight ahead or up towards the ceiling if you can.
- To exit the pose, slowly bend your elbows and lower your thighs and pelvis down onto the ground before gently lowering your abdomen down onto your mat.
If you don’t feel you are quite ready for upward facing dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana), you can substitute cobra pose instead.
The VENTUNOYOGA YouTube Channel offers a helpful tutorial for yoga beginners starting with upward facing dog.
Body Positive Yoga (you will them often in this post because they put out great stuff) gives us a super helpful video on modifications for upward facing dog.
3. Warrior 1 Pose (Virabhadrasana I)
The first standing yoga pose we are introducing, it is another one of the best yoga poses for beginners because it offers a great stretch, but also helps to improve balance without being incredibly difficult to hold. Don’t worry if you tip over, this is normal when beginning yoga! Start with modifications given below and you will improve balance with practice!
Warrior 1 Benefits: This common yoga pose strengthens the shoulders, arms, and legs, improves focus, and energizes the entire body.
- Begin by standing straight with your feet together at the top of your mat.
- Then slowly step your left foot back behind you approximately 3 to 4 feet back. Keep both of your feet in two separate lines and your left foot pointed slightly outwards at a 45 to 60-degree angle while keeping your right front foot pointing straight ahead. Try to keep both of your heels in one line.
- Keeping your hips squared to the front, begin to bend the right knee, keeping your back leg completely straight and pressing into the outer edge of your left foot to stabilize your body. Try to bend the right knee deeper so that it is in line with the left ankle and if possible, try to bring your right thigh parallel to the floor.
- Stretch your hands over your head bringing your palms to touch and then gaze upwards at your fingertips.
- To exit the pose, bring your hands onto your waist and then step the left foot up to meet the right foot at the top of your mat.
Ekhart Yoga brings us a detailed video on Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana I) for those new to yoga.
If you need more modification, Visionary Mary shows us how to modify both Warrior 1 and Warrior 2 in the video below!
4. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
How much do I love you, child’s pose??? A lot!! I know not everyone agrees, but this is one of my personal favorite beginner yoga poses as it provides a great stretch and is so relaxing (I fell asleep in it once).
Child’s Pose Benefits: Child’s pose calms the mind, relieves neck or back pain, and is an incredible yoga stretch for beginners that targets the thighs and hips.
- Begin in a tabletop position and then slowly bring your toes to touch behind you and sit back onto your heels.
- Keeping your knees as wide as your hips, slowly lower your abdomen down towards the ground and stretch your arms out straight on the mat over your head.
- Try to continue to press your hips towards your heels as you walk your hands away from your legs to fully lengthen your spine.
- To exit the pose, slowly walk your hands towards your chest and push yourself back up to a tabletop position.
Howcast has a terrific child’s pose tutorial for a beginning yoga practitioner with a few modifications included.
If it is painful for your ankles and feet to stretch and point in this way, try a rolled-up towel right under the ankle bone that your ankle and foot can wrap around. Your ankle and foot can be bent rather than being forced to be flat and pointed.
The good folks at Body Positive Yoga offer a fantastic video with more child’s pose modifications.
5. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
This is another one of the best yoga poses for beginners and is also one of the best yoga postures for balance!
Chair Pose Benefits: This common yoga pose helps to strengthen the buttocks, thighs, calves, and spine while also stretching the chest and stimulating the abdominal organs.
- Begin in standing position at the top of your mat with your big toes touching.
- Slowly raise your hands straight up over your head and bend your knees, trying to bring your thighs close to the floor as if you were sitting in a chair.
- Make sure to keep your knees behind your toes as you bend downwards.
- To exit the pose, slowly straighten your legs and release your arms down by your sides.
Tonic brings us an easy to follow and to the point tutorial on chair pose (Utkatasana) for yoga beginners!
A video crammed full of helpful chair pose modifications is brought to you by Laura Meihofer LLC!
6. Boat Pose (Navasana)
This yoga posture may be challenging at first, but after working up to it using the modifications provided below, it will feel empowering to balance and hold a boat pose with your head held high!
Boat Pose Benefits: This yoga stretch for beginners helps to tone the abdomen, strengthen the spine and thighs, and improve digestion.
- Begin in a sitting position on your mat with your legs straight out in front of you and your hands pressing down on the ground by your sides.
- Slowly shift your weight onto your hips and raise your feet off of the ground, balancing on your hips and keeping your spine completely straight.
- Lift your chest upwards and lean slightly backward as you raise your hands up and rest them on the sides of your legs.
- Try to straighten your legs completely bringing them to a 45-degree angle to the ground and then straighten your arms so that they are parallel to the ground by the sides of your legs.
- To exit the pose, bend your knees, bring your feet down onto the ground, and come back into a seated position with your legs flat on the mat and your arms by your sides.
Lauren from YogaTX shows us the proper way to pull off boat pose (Navasana) in this quick and easy tutorial!
Yoga for beginners can be frustrating, especially balancing poses like boat pose, but Yoga with COOPS brings us a video with helpful modifications.
7. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
The tree pose is a common yoga pose found in so many yoga classes for beginners! This is one of the standing poses that can truly challenge, but improve balance, as well. Luckily, there are modifications available to help you work up to it, one great one is shown below.
Tree Pose Benefits: This pose is one of the best yoga poses for beginners for helping to improve balance and strengthen the legs.
- Begin in a standing position at the top of your mat with your feet together and your hands on your hips.
- Slowly shift your weight onto your left foot and raise your right foot off of the ground, resting the bottom of your right foot against your lower left calf. If you feel balanced here, you can also reach your right hand towards your right ankle and position the bottom of your right foot against the top of your inner right thigh.
- Focus on a point in front of you to stay balanced in this position and bring your hands together in front of your chest in Anjali Mudra.
- To exit the pose, slowly grab your right ankle with your right hand and release your foot from your thigh and return to a standing position at the top of your mat.
Rosalie and RosalieYoga brings us a terrific how to video for tree pose (Vrksasana) that is aimed for those new to yoga!
If you are struggling with balancing in tree pose, ECHO Interactive Training filmed this short video that perfectly demonstrates a modification you may be more successful with.
8. Cat and Cow Pose (Marjariasana and Bitilasana)
Ok, technically this is two yoga postures, but cat and cow are almost always done together in a yoga sequence. I can think of no yoga poses for beginners, at least, that feel this good on your back. Cat cow are not complicated and give an amazing back stretch!
Cat Cow Benefits: This yoga stretch for beginners strengthens the spine, stretches the abdomen and back, and improves balance.
- Start in a tabletop position with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips.
- Press the tops of your feet down onto the ground and bring your neck into a neutral position by looking down at the floor.
- Slowly begin to look upwards and lift your hips while dropping your abdomen down towards the floor in Cow Pose.
- Then begin to round your spine and bring your chin towards your chest, tucking your tailbone in for Cat Pose.
- Continue to flow between Cat and Cow Pose.
- To exit the pose, slowly come back to a neutral spine in a tabletop position and look straight down at the ground.
IntoSport offers a how to video for those new to yoga covering the cat cow yoga poses (Marjariasana and Bitilasana), great yoga stretches for beginners!
For cat cow modifications it was the physical therapy site Rehab 2 Perform that offers us the best variations on how to make these more accessible yoga poses for you!
9. Seated Forward Bend Pose (Paschimottanasana)
One of the best yoga stretches for beginners, this seated yoga posture gives you an incredible hamstring stretch with the stability of begin able to sit on the floor. Perfect!
Seated Forward Bend Benefits: This is the best yoga stretch for beginners to stretch the entire back of the body, improve digestion, and relieve symptoms of menstrual discomfort or menopause.
- Begin in a seated position on the mat with your legs straight in front of you, your big toes touching, and your feet fully flexed.
- Raise your arms straight over your head and then slowly lean your abdomen forward, keeping your spine straight, and reach towards your toes.
- Try to grab your big toes with your middle and index finger if you can or you can rest your hands on your calves or thighs.
- Keep your gaze towards your toes and with every exhale try to pull your abdomen down towards your thighs.
- To exit the pose, walk your hands towards your hips and come up into a seated position.
For yoga beginners tight hamstrings is common, but luckily ErinFloydYoga put out this handy how to video on seated forward bend modifications to help more people find success with the pose!
10. Corpse Pose (Savasana or Shavasana)
Last but not least, my favorite yoga pose, corpse pose! I highly suggest you find a class where you get to have at least 10 minutes of Shavasana (corpse pose), you won’t be disappointed! This is by far one of the most relaxing beginner yoga poses, or advanced, for that matter!
Corpse Pose Benefits: This is one of the most common yoga poses and it is often used to practice meditation at the end of a yoga class. This yoga pose helps to relax the body, calm the mind, and lower the blood pressure.
- Lay flat on your mat with your legs around 1 foot apart and your arms resting by your sides with your palms facing towards the ceiling. Keep your head centered between your shoulders and look up towards the ceiling, making sure your shoulders are resting flat on the ground and are away from your ears.
- Gently close your eyes and relax all the muscles in your body, allowing yourself to completely rest on the ground.
- To exit the pose, slowly turn onto one side and push yourself up to a seated position.
Find ultimate relaxation in corpse pose (Savasana or Shavasana) with this tutorial for those new to yoga from Yoga Screen.
Even corpse pose can be modified for even more comfort and release, and of course, my favorites at Body Positive Yoga have come through with a video full of modifications to help more people find success with this pose!
Take your practice up a notch…
YouTube is a great place for those new to yoga to start, but sometimes you can find yourself wasting time trying to search for a quality class that you like.
Enter YogaDownload, which offers a phenomenal number of classes in every yoga style you can think of taught by world-class yoga instructors.
YogaDownload offers individual classes and monthly subscriptions which are surprisingly affordable for the number and quality of classes offered.
Good luck to those of you beginning yoga! You will be so glad that you did this for yourself. This is a practice that will bring you benefits each and every day.
Thank you for reading, and take care!
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