The 5 Best Foundational Yoga Poses for Beginners

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Are you just starting out your yoga journey? Or are you returning to yoga after not practicing for a little while? You’ve come to the right place! Let us talk you through the best yoga poses for beginners and give you some easy tips and tricks to make you look like a pro at your next yoga class.  

As a beginner yogi, it can be overwhelming to see how many different yoga poses there are, especially with their odd-sounding names. Remember, yoga should generally be a relaxing form of exercise, so give yourself some time to get familiar with different poses and postures and then you can really reap the benefits. The most important thing when you are starting out is to keep things simple and make sure you nail the basic poses, which are often the foundation upon which more difficult yoga poses are built.  

Here are our top 5 yoga poses for beginners: 

Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) 

How to do it: 

Start off with your hands and knees on the floor and make sure your knees are slightly behind your hips. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders and shoulder-width apart with your fingers fanned out on the floor. Press into your hands and take a deep inhale, followed by a deep exhale as you lift your knees off the floor, push your backside up and straighten your legs as much as you can.  

Beginner tip:  

Beginners often tend to lean too far forward in this pose, making it more like a plank. Instead, remember to keep your weight mostly in your legs and reach your hips high, with your heels stretching toward the floor (they do not need to touch the floor). Bend your knees a little if you have tight hamstrings.  

Mountain Pose (Tadasana) 

Mountain Pose is a foundational yoga pose upon which all standing poses are built, so it's very important to learn how to practice this pose correctly as a beginner. This pose improves your awareness of your body and thereby your posture. It may not seem like much, but it can really challenge you. It is important to be aware of every part of your body and how each individual part aligns with the rest of your body. Keeping your body actively aligned and engaged through this pose is no small feat!  

How to do it:  

Fan out your toes so you have a wide surface area of your foot touching the ground. If your ankles are touching, step out slightly. Feel how anchored you are to the floor through the bottom of your legs and feet. Engage your thighs, causing your kneecaps to rise and rotate both of your thighs inward. Find the natural curve of your spine, making sure to not overcompensate your posture. Then tighten your core and draw your bellybutton in and towards your back.  Make sure to check that your shoulders are stacked above your hips. Then shrug your shoulders up to your ears and roll them back to release your shoulder blades down. Let your arms hang naturally with the elbows slightly bent and the palms facing forward. Keeping your neck long, your chin neutral and your ears in line with your shoulders and hips, feel the crown of your head drawing up as if someone is pulling your head up by an invisible string. Take 5-10 breaths in this pose and release. 

Beginner tip: 

In this pose, you may feel that you are aligned, but make sure you practice in front of a mirror to see whether you actually are. Oftentimes you will see that you were not as aligned as you might have thought!  

Plank Pose (Kumbhakasana) 

Another well known foundational yoga pose or exercise that is important to know as a beginner is plank pose. This pose engages your core and back to keep your spine in a neutral position. A strong core is essential for a good yoga practice as it acts as a stable foundation on which you can build and practice more technical yoga poses.  

How to do it: 

Put your hands directly under your shoulders (slightly wider than shoulder width) and push your toes into the floor as your bring your body up to a plank position. Squeeze your core and glutes to maintain a solid plank. Your body should be in one line from your head to your back and down to your heels. Keep your gaze slightly ahead and hold this position for about 20-30 seconds.   

Beginner tip: 

When engaging your core in any pose or exercise, oftentimes beginners will tend to forget to keep their breathing consistent while their core is under strain. In any yoga pose, it is essential to keep breathing as you hold a pose or move from one pose to the next.  

Cobbler's Pose (Baddha Konasana) 

Cobbler's pose is a great beginner yoga pose to encourage good posture and a great stretch for your inner thighs.  

How to do it:  

Begin seated on your yoga mat with your legs stretched straight out in front of you. Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together as you let your knees fall out to either side. Sit up tall with a long spine, make sure your ears are in line with your shoulders and your shoulder blades are relaxed downwards. Hold your feet as close to your body as is comfortable for you, releasing slightly if you feel any discomfort in your knees. Press your feet tightly against each other and place your hands either on your feet or your knees.  

Beginner tip: 

If this position is difficult for you, props can often help. You can prop yourself up by sitting on a cushion or block, or you can fold your yoga mat over a few times to create some elevation to sit on. If your knees are very high off the ground, you can also place a block or pillow under each knee to prevent straining of your joints. 

Child's Pose (Balasana) 

Child's Pose (Balansana) is yoga's most important and most used resting pose. It's a great way to gently stretch several parts of your body and reconnect with your breath.  

How to do it: 

On your mat, come onto all fours, with your shoulders above your hands and your hips above your knees. Spread your knees as wide as your mat, keeping the tops of your feet on the floor with your big toes touching. Then move your body backwards, bring your belly to rest on top of or between your thighs and rest your forehead on the floor. Fan our your fingers and elongate your arms, neck and back. Relax into the pose by letting go of any tension in your jaw, face and shoulders.  

Beginner tip: 

Make sure your neck stays in a neutral position. If you find you are bending your neck or feel any discomfort, use a pillow, yoga block, or another prop to keep pressure off your neck. You can also opt to keep your knees closer together if this feels more comfortable to you.  

The right yoga equipment is half of the work 

As you start your yoga journey, it is important to have the right equipment to make your practice comfortable and free from distractions such as loss of grip and slipping. We recommend purchasing a good quality eco-friendly yoga mat to increase your level of comfort and safety during your yoga practice. Eco-friendly yoga mats tend to be free from toxins and are 100% recyclable, making them better for your health and our planet.    

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