Just because these are basic yoga poses, does not mean they are exclusively for beginners. If you are a yoga beginner, we recommend clicking here and then you can continue reading this article.
Yoga is an ancient tradition focused on physical, mental and spiritual practices. There are many styles of yoga, such as Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Iyengar and Sivananda. At their core, all styles focus on the union between the body, mind, and spirit.
Because of the pandemic, people across the globe looked for ways to improve their health – both mental and physical – in their own homes and yoga became a worldwide sensation.
The next 10 basic yoga poses are movements that people will have encounter already when trying out yoga, from beginner to more advanced classes. Some of these poses are used as a transition from one movement to another – we are looking at you Downward Dog.
For that reason, it is important to master these basic yoga poses if you want to improve your health and your mental game.
10 Basic Yoga Poses
1. Downward Dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana
One of the most famous basic yoga poses, the downward dog stretches your body while also strengthening your core and improving your blood circulation. From this position, you can transition to other famous poses, such as the cobra, warrior, lunge, and more.
The downward dog strengthens your entire body, from the upper body, through your core, all the way to your legs. It stretches your ankles, calves, hamstrings and your spine.
- Start on all fours with knees slightly behind your hips and hands shoulder-width.
- Keep your hands press into the mat and lift your knees off the floor.
- Straighten your legs as much as possible.
- You should be in an inverted V position, with hands ahead of your head pressing the floor mat and feet grounded on the floor, toes pointing forward, towards your hands.
2. Plank Pose – Phalakasana
Well, who would have thought, our second basic yoga pose can be done straight after doing the Downward dog. See why you must master these basic yoga poses? Once you can do one, you will start fully integrating the others seamlessly.
The plank pose is considered a foundational pose. https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/ The plank pose will strengthen your core, protecting your spine by improving your posture.
- Start in the downward dog position.
- Draw your torso forward.
- Arms should be perpendicular to the floor.
- Shoulders directly above wrists and torso parallel to the floor.
- Spread your collarbones away from the sternum.
- Keep looking to the floor, and not upwards, to the front.
- Hold the position for no longer than 2 minutes.
You must fight the natural urge of your body to drop your hips and tailbone toward the floor. Try to maintain a straight line with your body. You might feel your body shaking after a while, which means you are working your core muscles to stabilise your entire body in the plank position.
3. Cobra Pose – Bhujangasana
You may do the cobra pose straight from the floor, or you can incorporate the previous two yoga poses to build up to a cobra pose.
The cobra pose strengthens your spine, it stretches your chest, shoulders and abs.
- Start on the downward dog pose.
- Follow instructions to the plank pose.
- From the plank pose, lower your body by bending your elbows until your chest is touching the ground.
- Your thighs, feet, and abs should be touching the floor mat.
- Press your elbows in and roll your shoulders back.
- Lift your chest from the floor, but keep your pelvis, thighs and feet touching the floor mat.
- Do not overextend your elbows when pressing your body upwards and lifting your chest.
- Bring the side ribs forward, draw the upper arm bones back and lengthen your neck.
You may start this position already laying on the floor. For that, skip the downward dog and plank pose, and start laying on the floor mat with chest, abs, pelvis, thigs and feet touching the ground.
Basic Yoga Poses
4. Tree Pose – Vrksasana
Perhaps the most famous of the basic yoga poses. Even those who do not know yoga, know about this pose. People usually photograph themselves in this position to pass on the idea of calmness and control over their bodies.
The tree pose improves the balance and stability of your legs and strengthens the ligaments and tendons of the feet. You will also get a bit of a workout for your butt.
- Stand tall with feet firmly on the floor mat.
- Bend the right knee forward, stand on the left leg straight, and place the right foot as high as possible on your left leg, usually the thigh, with your toes facing down.
- Lock this position by pressuring the thigh against the foot.
- Bring your hands to your heart, in a prayer position.
- You may also raise your hands above your head for an extra challenge.
- Repeat the process now with the left leg bending against the right thigh.
5. Bridge Pose – Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
The bridge pose opens up your chest, stretches your spine and neck, and it strengthens your glutes.
This pose can be used as preparation for deeper backbends, or practice with a bloc as a restorative pose.
- Lie on your back on the floor.
- Bend your knees until your feet are almost touching your buttocks. Neck, shoulders, back and glutes must be touching the floor mat.
- You may use a towel or blanket on your neck to alleviate the pressure you put on it.
- Lift your buttocks as high as possible, until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Your knees should be aligned with your feet, right above them.
- Lift your chin from your chest and firm your shoulder blades against your back.
- Stay in pose between 30 and 60 seconds.
6. Mountain Pose – Tadasana
The easiest pose possible, but an important one. And it is not just standing tall, there is more to it. This is pretty much the first basic yoga pose you have done in your life, it is the foundation of all standing yoga poses.
Mountain pose essentially boils down to standing, but your awareness should be on your physical and mental balance. This pose usually comes up in the first section of your practice to bring calm to the mind and awareness to your whole body.
- Stand up straight with your feet solidly grounded to the floor, about hip-width apart.
- Roll your shoulders back and down with your arms by your sides and your palms facing forward.
- Keep your pelvis neutral and hips square.
- Try to stand upright with your body in perfect alignment.
You can challenge yourself by closing your eyes during this pose, learning to balance without any reference to the outer environment.
Basic Yoga Poses
7. Warrior II – Virabhadrasana II
Whether you like it or not, every time you participate in a yoga class you will do the warrior II.
The Warrior II pose stretches your hips, shoulders, opens up your chest, and relies heavily on your leg muscles building up your stamina and increasing your concentration.
- Start in the Mountain Pose at the front of your floor mat.
- Make a big step back with your left leg.
- Your right foot should be pointing forward, while your left foot should be pointing inwards. Plant both your feet on the ground. Both legs are straight at this point.
- Lift your arms parallel to the floor, one arm to the front and one to the back. Keep your shoulders low and your head held up high.
- Bend your right knee and lower your body slightly, but maintain the right knee aligned with your right foot.
- Stay in the pose for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Return to mountain pose and repeat with the other leg.
8. Cat-Cow Stretch – Marjaryasana Bitilasana
This is a 2 for 1 pose, as they are usually paired together.
The cat-cow warms up the body and stretches your spine, abs, torso and neck. It also opens up the chest and helps with breathing techniques.
- Begin on all fours. Hands and fingers spread out on the floor mat and a neutral spine stance parallel to the ground.
- Lift your bones upward, press your chest forward, lift your head and let your belly sink naturally to the floor mat. This is the cow pose and you should feel a stretch on your torso.
- Do the opposite movement now by rounding your spine outward, tuck in your tailbone and draw your pubic bone forward and bring your chin closer to your chest.
- This is the cat pose. You should feel the stretch on the opposite side of your body, mainly your back and spine.
9. Happy Baby Pose – Ananda Balasana
The happy baby pose helps to stretch your inner thighs, hamstrings and groin. It relaxes your hips and your back muscles, which helps increase your flexibility and mobility.
- Lie on your back.
- Lift your legs and bend your knees bringing them closer to your chest.
- Open your knees slightly wider than your torso.
- Use your hands to grip the outsides of your feet.
- Keep each foot positioned directly above the knee.
- Push your feet up and pull your hands down, creating resistance.
10. Child’s Pose – Balasana
Child’s pose is a resting posture that also gently stretches various parts of your body such as your back, hips, thighs, and ankles. It is a counter pose for cobra and other back extensions.
This pose is not recommended if you have knee problems or had recently a knee surgery.
- Start on your fours, table position. Your feet should be touching each other, pointing inward, your knees should move outwards.
- Keep your hands touching the floor mat and extend your back as if you were about to sit on your ankles.
- This is the extended child’s pose, as your arms are fully extended ahead of your body while you are resting your butt on top of your ankles.