Practicing yoga is an amazing way to become more connected with your mind, body, and spiritual wellness. With its popularization in Western culture, many misconceptions and stereotypes have developed. For example, the idea that you need a fancy yoga mat and stylish yoga wardrobe or to practice at a sleek studio full of sweating bodies and bumping music.
The truth is, we don’t need to “be” a certain way, have a particular body type, or buy special yoga gear to enjoy a fruitful spiritual practice. According to the ancient Hatha Yoga Pradipika, “Anyone who practices can obtain success in yoga, but not one who is lazy. Constant practice alone is the secret of success.”
Each asana, which translates to pose or seat, is a world unto itself with plenty of variations and modifications. As a beginner, it is best to seek guidance from an experienced yoga teacher. For example, a yoga instructor can help guide you with the correct posture, whether you’re perfecting your Mountain Pose, a power pose, Horse Pose, or beginner yoga poses.
Books, articles, and videos are good ways to inform and supplement your yoga practice.
What’s The Best Type of Yoga For Beginners?
Many yoga classes at studios and fitness classes in gyms are fast-paced and feature advanced or intermediate yoga postures. However, if you’re a beginner, it’s recommended that you practice slow flow. That is, holding each pose for several deep breaths and moving more mindfully and slowly than in a classical yoga practice.
Breathe deeply and enjoy the stretch and relaxation for extra flexibility, healthy blood circulation, and building strength. Integrate the Yin Yoga principles:
- Let go of effort
- Let gravity help you in the posture
- Try to release tension as much as possible
- Hold each pose for 3-7 minutes
Yep! You heard correctly; yin yoga recommends holding each pose for three to seven minutes. By holding poses for a long time, yin yoga may help alleviate muscle tension and joint pain and improve flexibility in hips and all areas of your body.
While Yin Yoga is a gentle practice, it is also a challenging practice in its own way. As you hold the pose, you’ll feel a sense of discomfort as your body stretches and your body weight sinks you deeper into the pose. A significant portion of the practice is the mental challenge of making space for your discomfort and finding release in the muscles where we store our stress and emotions.
Putting a blanket under your knees or any areas that need support while in the pose is essential to ease your discomfort and help you reap the benefits of the entire practice. However, if at any point you feel excruciating pain, gently get out of the pose and ask your fellow yoga teachers for modifications.
A Beginner’s Yoga Routine with 7 Poses
Here is a great beginner routine of 7 poses to practice. Below you’ll find the complete steps for the correct posture with each pose, common variations, the best foundational pose, and other simple poses perfect for beginners or those that want to get back to the basics.
- Cobra Pose
Great For: Strengthening shoulder muscles and stretching your lower back.
Getting Into Your Pose: Start out lying on your stomach and place the palms of your hands on the ground on either side of your chest. If you have any lower back issues, separate your feet. With an inhale and your eyes facing forward, move your heart center off the ground by lifting your head and chest into the air, keeping your legs and hip joints rooted on the ground.
Engage your core muscles, use your upper-body strength, and your arm muscles to make a uid motion that arches your spine. You should feel your lower back engaging, so use your core strength to protect your lower back from doing all the work as you lift.
Lift and tuck your chin slightly to take pressure off your neck. Stay here for 3-5 breaths, maintaining proper posture. Gently release the pose with your nose to your yoga mat. Release on the mat, or continue to engage your arms in a push-up stance before lifting your upper body once more and returning to Cobra Pose.
Beginner Tip: Start out low. Beginners shouldn’t expect to straighten their arms fully. By practicing this pose on a consistent basis, over time, you should be able to incrementally lift your entire torso higher. As your cobra grows taller, you will improve your flexibility and strength.
- Tree Pose
Great For: Improving balance
Getting Into Your Pose: Tree Pose is a fantastic balancing pose that also tests your lower- body strength. From a standing position, bring all your weight onto the left leg. Depending on how flexible you are, place the sole of the right foot on the inner ankle, calf, or thigh of the standing leg. Avoid placing your foot on your left knee to avoid knee injuries or pain. Connect hands to heart by holding your palms together at the heart center, then lift them overhead.
Tree Pose is one of the basic yoga poses that tests your concentration levels. Center your gaze as you balance on your grounded foot and breath deeply while engaging your core and squeezing your lifted foot into your standing leg.
Beginner Tip: Trees sway and fall; keep a smile as you practice. Over time, you should be able to raise the point where the sole of the foot touches the other leg. Remember to do both sides.
3. Triangle Pose
Great For: Stretching the whole body.
Getting Into Your Pose: Triangle Pose is a standing pose that is a total body workout. Start this power pose by taking a wide stance on your yoga mat. Point the toes of both feet forward.
Lift your arms out to the sides as if two people are pulling you in two directions, holding them parallel to the ground. Keep your arms and legs as straight as possible, but bend your knees to stay comfortable in the pose.
Tilt the torso to the right and touch your right knee or shin, depending on how flexible you are. Look to the sky and hold the pose for several deep breaths. Then switch and practice Triangle Pose on the other side.
You’ll feel this stretch in your leg muscles, chest, oblique muscles, and shoulders.\
Beginner Tip: As you incorporate this active pose into your regular practice, you’ll gain a great deal of flexibility. You may be able to reach past the shin and touch your foot or yoga mat. As you do this, point the support foot in the direction of the stretch for better support and to increase your stretch.
Great For: Stretching arms, legs, back, and shoulder muscles.
Getting Into Your Pose: Downward-facing Dog is a foundational pose in all yoga classes. Start in the hands-and-knees position on the ground with your knees hip-width apart. Spread your fingers as far apart as you can on your yoga mat; this will help support your weight instead of your wrists.
Curl your toes and lift your knees off the ground. You’ll feel your abdominal muscles engage. Raise your tailbone toward the sky while straightening your legs or bending your knees as needed. Your head will naturally lower toward the ground as your arms and shoulders engage.
Imagine your thigh muscles turning towards each other while your elbow creases face forward. These micro-rotations will help you maintain proper posture in the pose and strengthen your body.
Downward Dog helps lengthen the spine, arms, and legs to the point where your body forms a triangle with the ground, with your tailbone at the highest point.
You’ll notice the flow of blood rushing to your head as you hold this pose for 30-60 seconds, up to a few minutes.
Beginner Tip: Bend one knee at a time, pushing the opposite heel toward the ground. Switch back and forth a few times. To come out of the pose, walk your feet toward your hands and your hands toward your feet.
Standing Forward Bend
Great For: Stretching the lower back and backs of your legs.
Getting Into Your Pose: Start this standing pose with the soles of your feet on the ground and the legs hip-width apart. Lower your head toward the ground and touch your legs— wherever the hands reach is fine.
You’ll feel the blood flow to your head, so gently rise from this pose into Mountain Pose with an arc motion in your spine.
Beginner Tip: If the hamstrings are tight, bend your knees. Let the neck muscles relax completely and breathe deeply.
Great For: Relaxing and cooling down with this restorative hip-opening stretch.
Getting Into Your Pose: From the hands-and-knees position, separate your knees wider than the hips. Keeping your hands in position, press the pelvis back and down toward the heels, lengthening your arms and lowering your head toward the floor.
Beginner Tip: Touch the hips to the feet, if possible. If not, just lower the hips as much as possible and relax the torso and arms, resting the forehead on the ground or on a blanket or block.
Great For: Finishing off your routine with stillness and relaxation.
Getting Into Your Pose: Simply lie with your back on the yoga mat. You can add bolsters or blankets under the knees and hips if they’re sore. Focus on your breathing and stillness, and relax all the muscles of your body. Invite your mind and heart to rest, as well.
Beginner Tip: Let go and connect with yourself physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.