Strength, tone and stamina. Cardio health, flexibility, stress relief. You name the body-benefit, and the ancient practice of yoga provides it. Yet the gap between knowing its endless benefits and nailing your first downward dog can all feel rather intimidating.
If you’re taking your first tentative steps towards tackling your premier yoga session, you should first get to grips with some beginner-friendly founding poses.
Let’s make this easy. Here we walk you through 5 fabulous yoga poses that absolutely anyone can do.
5. The Mountain Pose – Tadasana (tah-DAHS-anna)
Establish firm roots with the foundation standing pose of yoga
Stand with your big toes touching each other, with your heels ever-so-slightly apart. Place your arms by your side, with your palms facing forward.
Lift your toes up, spread them out, then release them back down onto the mat one-by-one.
Be aware of how your weight is balanced. As you lift the arches of your feet and straighten your legs, keep your balance even between your front, back and the sides of your feet.
Squeeze your outer shins inwards towards one another.
Gently pull the top of your thighs up and back, while engaging the quadriceps. Rotate your thighs inward.
Push your hips forward. Lift the back of the thighs, releasing your buttocks. Pay attention to your hips – which should remain aligned with your body.
Return your pelvis to a neutral position, drawing your belly in.
Inhale while stretching the torso. Exhale and move your shoulder blades from your head, downwards towards your waist.
Broaden your collarbone, ensuring that your shoulders are in line with your body.
Stretch your neck, keeping your ears, shoulders, hips and ankles in alignment.
Throughout the Mountain Pose, steady your breath. As you exhale, elongate your spine, keeping a relaxed gaze forward. Hold the pose for one minute.
Benefits of this yoga pose: Improves posture; steadies breathing; strengthens thighs, knees and ankles; reduces flat feet; bolsters power, strength and mobility in the hips, legs and feet.
Avoid if: You suffer from headaches, insomnia or low blood pressure, or have recently suffered chronic injury to the shoulders.
4. The Plank – Kumbhakasana (koom-bahk-AHS-uh-nuh)
The infamous core-shaking pose that acts as the ideal intro to the more challenging yoga balances to come
Start on your hands and knees. Your wrists should be placed under your shoulders.
Spread your fingers out and press down, keeping your chest strong.
Lengthen your back and neck, drawing your stomach muscles inwards.
Tuck your toes in, keeping your body in a straight line.
Keep your thighs lifted, don’t allow your hips to sink.
Hold the pose steady for five breaths or, if you’re aiming to increase your strength and stamina, hold it for up to 5 minutes.
Release by gradually lowering back down onto your knees.
Benefits of this yoga pose: Strengthens core; improves balance; enhances bone and joint health; and increases muscle definition.
Avoid if: You suffer from high blood pressure or back pain.
3. The Warrior II – Virabhadrasana II (Veer-ah-bah-DRAHS-anna)
To begin to get into the Warrior vibe, yoga gurus recommend you picture yourself wielding a thousand clubs and wearing a tiger’s skin. Inspired by a warlike incarnation of Shiva, this pose is focused on channelling your inner strength and asserting your power. It’s ideal for building stamina, stability and spatial awareness.
Start off in the Mountain Pose (see above). While breathing out, step your left foot back about 4 feet. Turn your right foot slightly so it’s parallel with the long edge of the mat.
Stretch out your arms so the left arm is reaching towards the top of the mat and the right arm is reaching towards the back. Turn your palms so they face the floor. Move your left thigh towards the ground to position your left knee joint directly above the centre of your left ankle.
Breathe out and bend your left knee.
Continue extending your arms away from each other. Keep your torso at 90 degrees – and try not to lean towards the front of the mat.
Bring your gaze to the fingertips of your left hand. Keep your position for up to 60 seconds.
Repeat with your other side.
Benefits of this yoga pose: Stretches and strengthens the ankles, legs, groin, chest and shoulders. It can help relieve backaches and improve endurance – and can even help aid digestion by stimulating the abdominal area.
Avoid if: You suffer from vertigo. If the pose feels too deep, try reducing the distance between your feet, ever so slightly.
2. The Triangle - Utthita Trikonasana (oo-TEE-tah tree-koh-NAH-suh-nuh)
Engage every part of your body, with Yoga’s classic standing pose that stretches the hamstrings, groins, and hips
Start in a standing position, with your feet placed 3 feet apart. Turn your right toes outwards, and the left toes inwards. Inhale while moving the left hip to the left, then gently move both arms to the floor on your right side.
Slowly exhale and rotate your arms – moving your left arm up, while your right hand rests on your right leg, with palms facing outward.
Press down with your feet, lift your knee caps up and keep your legs steady. As you reach up, spread your fingers out, moving into a position with your arms forming a straight line with your shoulders. Press forward with your left hip, with the right hip positioned at the back.
Breathe and hold the pose for between 3 to 6 breaths.
Release by inhaling and stretching your raised hand upwards to the ceiling. While doing so, press down with your feet, as you create the 5-pointed star.
Repeat the pose with your other side.
Benefits of this yoga pose: Stretches legs, knee muscles, ankle joints, hips, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, chest and spine; improves digestion; alleviates back pain and releases stress.
Avoid if: Stretches legs, knee muscles, ankle joints, hips, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, chest and spine; improves digestion; alleviates back pain and releases stress.
1. The Tree – Trikonasana
Graceful balance and coordination (on one leg) – this position is for both body and mind stillness and strength
Start in the Mountain Pose, with your arms resting at the side of your body. Keep your weight even.
Move your weight onto your left foot, then slowly bend your right knee. Hold your right inner ankle, moving it into the left inner thigh. Be careful not to position your foot by your knee. Move into a position so the centre of your pelvis is in line with your left foot.
Place your hands on your hips and lengthen your tailbone. Once stable, place your hands together in a ‘prayer position’, with your thumbs touching your sternum.
Focus on a stationary point in front of you.
Press down through your left foot, while also pressing your right foot into your left thigh.
Hold the pose for anything up to one minute.
Release by stepping back into the mountain pose.
Repeat over with your opposite side.
Benefits of this yoga pose: Physical and mental steadiness and poise; strengthens ankles and claves; remedies flat feet; therapeutic for sciatica sufferers.
Avoid if: You’re suffering from a migraine, diarrhoea, low or high blood pressure, or have recently injured your neck or back.