Unless you’ve practiced for years, you may get lost trying to navigate your way through the hundreds of different poses, the areas of your body they focus on, and the benefits you’ll receive.
A lot of beginners focus on buying a DVD, or attending a class once they’re comfortable, while very few actually spend time putting together their own routine based on what it is that ails them.
Instead of using a DVD, or forking over money for a class that you may not exactly be comfortable going to, here are 11 poses that will get you started and help increase your flexibility.
The key to getting the most out of these poses is to flow from one, to the next. Try to hold the pose as long as you can, but don’t feel ashamed or get down.
Remember, as you’re performing your poses to breath in when you release, and to exhale as you push deeper into the pose.
The Mountain Pose will help improve your posture and gain clarity. It’s also easy to do as a beginner, and will allow you to focus on improving your breathing.
To perform the Mountain Pose, stand with your feet spread out directly below your hips, with your arms down to your side. Then begin breathing slowly, taking deep breaths in and exhaling your entire breath back out.
Point your head towards the sky, keeping your neck aligned from top to bottom. Then stretch your arms out to the side until they are directly above your nose, reaching toward the sky.
The Downward Facing Dog pose helps improve your blood flow and provides an excellent stretch for your calves and heels.
To start, begin on all fours with your hands shoulder width apart, and your feet spread out directly beneath your hips. Push your toes down into the mat while pushing your hips towards the sky. Keep your knees slightly bent, making sure you don’t lock them. Push deeper, trying to press your heels down onto the mat, while keeping your shoulders in line with your wrists.
The Warrior Pose makes you feel like a warrior, and both stretches, and builds strength up in your ankles, calves, and thighs.
To start, stand with your legs spread out underneath you, one in front of you, and the other behind, at least 3-4 feet apart. Turn your back foot out 90 degrees and your front foot in slightly.
Extend your arms out with your palms facing down, while pushing your shoulders down towards the mat. Lunge onto your front leg while keeping your back leg straight. Make sure that your front knee doesn’t extend past your foot. Look down your arm, staring at the tips of your fingers.
The Tree Pose will help to improve your balance, while also strengthening your entire legs and spine. It helps align your body from top to bottom.
To start, assume the Mountain Pose outlined above, while shifting weight from both feet onto your left leg. Then, keep your hips facing toward the front of the room. Lift your right leg, putting your foot inside of your thigh.
Take a second to find your balance, and then reach your arms forward, bringing them to your chest in a prayer position. Once at your chest, you can begin reaching them towards the sky to complete the mountain pose.
The Bridge Pose works to increase your strength in your neck, spine, and chest. For beginners, the Bridge Pose is as far as you’ll go. However, once you start learning advanced poses, you’ll work from the Bridge Pose into harder backbend postures.
To start, lay down on the mat with your arms to your sides, palms facing up. Then, bring your feet back towards your hips, pushing your lower back off of the floor while keeping your knees directly above your ankles.
Now, clasp your hands together directly beneath your tailbone and press them down into the mat to help support your lower body. As you begin raising yourself up, pay attention to the location of your hips in space, and align them parallel to the floor.
The Triangle Pose is a full body pose that works to strengthen your ankles, thighs, and knees. It’s a common stretch for pregnant women, as it is great for relieving lower back pain associated with being pregnant.
To get started, assume the Warrior Pose listed above, except this time stopping short of lunging onto your front knee. Instead, stay facing center, while reaching down and touching the inside of your left foot with the outside of your left hand.
Now, take your right hand and begin reaching towards the ceiling, while looking upwards toward your right hand. Stretch out your lower back, and hold the pose as long as you can. Then, switch sides and touch your right foot with your right hand, while gazing towards your left hand fingertips.
If you spend long hours at a desk, or sitting down all day, the Seated Twist pose will help stretch you out. It’s great for relieving tension in your shoulders, hips, neck, and lower back.
To start, sit down on the floor with your legs extended out in front of you. Bring your right foot across your left thigh, until it is located outside of your left knee. Then, bend your left knee to bring your left ankle in towards your body, until it is directly under your right thigh.
Twist as far as you can towards your right shoulder, stretching your abdomen muscles. Make sure that you’re focusing on your breathing, while keeping your butt firmly on the floor. Hold the pose as long as you can, and then switch sides when you’re ready.
The Upward Facing Dog pose helps stretch the backs of your legs, your lower back, and your shoulder blades. It also aligns your spine, and strengthens your arms and wrists.
To start, you want to lay face down on the mat. Then, bring your hands directly underneath your shoulders, with your legs pushed out behind you and the tops of your feet against the mat.
Push your hips downward towards the mat as you squeeze the backs of your legs. While keeping your shoulders pressing downward toward the mat, you want to push up with your arms, lifting your chest off of the ground.
Again, you want to hold this pose for as long as you can, while focusing on keeping your breathing steady.
The Pigeon Pose works great for opening up your chest and shoulder blades, while also stretching about the backs of your legs.
To start, assume a push-up position with your palms located directly underneath your shoulders. Then, push your left knee down onto the mat near your shoulders, and bring your right leg forward directly in front of you.
Then, fold your right leg out so that your ankle is directly in front of your left hip. Push your hands down onto the mat, and push your chest outwards in front of you. To finish, lower your chest to the mat in front of you, extending your arms out towards the front of the mat.
The Crow Pose works to strengthen your core, your arms, and wrists. It’s more challenging than most of the poses on this list, but works great at helping you build up your balance.
To start, begin in a Downward Facing Dog pose. Bring your feet forward until your knees touch the backs of your arms. Then, carefully bend your arms at the elbow while lifting your heels away from the mat. Keeping your abs engaged, press your legs against your arms and rest your knees against the back of your arm.
As a beginner, you may want to keep your toes on the floor. If you’re feeling strong, though, you can press your knees into the back of your arm, using the leverage to lift your legs and butt up.
The Child’s Pose is a relaxation technique that lets you focus on your breathing, while stretching your hips, thighs and ankles. It helps to relieve pain in your lower back and neck.
To start, sit on the mat with your heels directly beneath your butt. Push your shoulders forwards toward the mat while extending your arms out directly in front of you.
With your palms facing the mat, bring your chest between your knees and use your hands to pull yourself forward, deeper into the pose. Inhale, and then as you exhale, push deeper into your posture.
The Corpse Pose is a restorative pose that helps you get centered at the end of your routine. It allows you to clear your thoughts, and senses.
To start, lay down on the mat with your arms directly to your sides, palms facing up. Then, lift the back of your head so that your eyes are facing directly toward the sky. Now, relax your entire body, from head to toe.
Think about your senses, and how you’re relaxing them: your eyes, your ears, your fingertips, your nostrils, and your tongue. Allow yourself to sink into the floor, and hold the pose for at least 5 minutes.
Now, head to the mat. It’s up to you to make it a habit to practice your poses on a regular basis. For most beginners, practicing the routine we’ve just laid out for you a couple times per week is more than enough to begin feeling the benefits.