The best beginner yoga poses

New to yoga? Try our best yoga poses for beginners to get you started

If you’ve never tried yoga before, it can look a bit intimidating. Not knowing what to expect can put you off joining a yoga class or trying an at home practice.

So, if you don’t know your warrior from your tree pose, we’ve put together the best beginner yoga poses, so you can practice in the comfort of your home before you perhaps try a yoga class. You’ll be a pro before you know it!

Men and women practising yoga outsideCredit: Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images
Everyone can benefit from yoga.

What do you need for yoga

A towel and some comfy clothes

We’ve enlisted the help of yoga instructor Jade Gooding, who teaches online yoga classes for InstructorLive. This is one of the top on-demand fitness platforms in the UK, which also provides free videos for the NHS YouTube channel.

Yoga is more popular than ever and if you haven’t tried it yet, we’ve pulled together a guide with everything you need to know on how to get started in beginners’ yoga.

If you want to learn some basic moves before you join a class, or try a few easy yoga poses to improve flexibility, then this is a great sequence to get going .

All you need is a towel or rug to put on the floor – or better still a yoga mat.

1. Child’s pose (Balasana)

A pose for relaxing and stretching

A gentle stretch for the back, hips and thighs, whilst creating a moment of rest where the body can be still.

Woman on yoga mat in child's pose - kneeling, with her forehead resting on the floor, arms over her head, resting on the mat - illustrating the best beginner yoga posesCredit: InstructorLive
Child’s pose gently stretches the back and is one of the easiest beginner yoga poses to learn

How to do a child’s pose

  • From kneeling, lower your hips to your heels and your forehead towards the floor. Knees can be slightly apart to help make you more comfortable or place a pillow between your heels and bottom.
  • Reach your arms overhead with the palms of your hands on the floor.
  • Breathe.

2. Downward dog (Adho Mukha Shvanasana)

Good for the whole body

A posture to strengthen the core and upper body, while improving circulation. It provides a wonderful stretch for the backs of the legs, as well as lengthening the spine.

A woman on a yoga mat in downward dog posture.Credit: InstructorLive
Downward dog really stretches the calf muscles

How to do a downward dog

  • From your hands and knees, take your hands slightly further forwards and tuck your toes under.
  • Exhale as you lift your knees off the mat and send your sit bones up towards the ceiling.
  • Keep your knees gently bent and focus on creating space through the spine.
  • Let your heels fall towards the mat and keep your neck relaxed between your arms.

3. Warrior two (Virabhadrasana II)

Help build your mental strength

This yoga pose builds strength physically and mentally. It strengthens the legs, core and shoulders as well as building stamina and power from within. It also helps to create space around the hips and shoulders.

A woman on a yoga mat in Warrior Two stance.Credit: InstructorLive
Warrior two helps strength the legs, core and shoulders

How to do warrior two pose

  • Face the long side of your mat, with your feet parallel in a wide stance.
  • Turn your right foot and knee to face the top of the mat, angle your left toes slightly in.
  • Bend your right knee and stack it over your right ankle.
  • Distribute your weight evenly between both legs.
  • Keep your shoulders stacked over your hips and extend both arms, with your palms facing down , gazing past your right fingers.

4. Tree pose (Vrikshasana)

Good for balance

A yoga posture that helps us to feel centred, whilst establishing strength and balance. While it can be one of the trickier beginner yoga poses, mastering it will not only improve your balance, but can also help alleviate anxiety and depression.

A woman on a yoga mat practising Tree Pose. She's standing on one leg.Credit: InstructorLive
Tree pose is great for improving your balance

How to do tree pose

  • From a strong standing position, place your right foot gently onto the inside of your left calf or thigh and carefully press your right foot and left leg together (alternatively you can keep the foot softly resting on the ground).
  • Ensure the pelvis stays level and your hips are square to the front.
  • Once you feel stable, gently stretch your arms up, like branches reaching towards the sky.

5. Bridge pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

Helps to open up your lungs

This yoga pose strengthens your back muscles, legs, glutes and hamstrings, and can also release tension in your back. As it creates space around the respiratory system, it helps to open your lungs.

A woman on a yoga mat in Bridge posture illustrating one of the best beginner yoga posesCredit: InstructorLive
Bridge posture can help release tension in the back

How to do the bridge pose

  • From lying down on your back, bend your knees.
  • On your inhale, press your heels and shoulders into the mat and lift your hips up.
  • Keep your knees parallel by engaging the inner thighs, slide the shoulders down your back and keep your neck neutral.

6. Supine half-twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)

Increase your mobility with this pose

This stretches the muscles on one side of the body, increases mobility of the spine and relives back pain. This twist is often done at the end of a lesson before going into relaxation or Shavasana.

A woman on a yoga mat in half twistCredit: InstructorLive
The half twist is a wonderful back stretch

How to do a supine half twist

  • Lying on your back, bend your right knee and on your exhale drop the right knee over the left side of your body coming into the twist.
  • Open the arms to a t-shape and look towards your right hand, keeping both shoulders on the ground.
  • You can place a pillow underneath your right knee for support.
Phillipa Cherryson

Written by Phillipa Cherryson she/her

Updated:

Phillipa Cherryson is a senior digital editor for Saga Exceptional. Phillipa has been a journalist for 30 years, writing for local and national newspapers, UK magazines and reporting onscreen for ITV. In her spare time she loves the outdoors and is a trainee mountain leader and Ordnance Survey Champion.

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