12 basic yoga poses for beginners

12 Basic Yoga Poses for Beginners

Whether you are experienced in the world of wellness and fitness or brand new, one of the most important parts of the journey is having a good stretch and strengthening routine. Having a regular yoga practice is a wonderful way to incorporate both those elements into your fitness routine, and best of all, you do not have to be in the best shape of your life to get started.

The benefits of yoga are numerous and include such things as increased flexibility, increased strength and muscle tone, and better mental health. However, knowing where to start may be a bit overwhelming. One of the best ways to get started is with basic poses and then increase and add on to your practice as you gain more experience. Below we have 12 basic yoga poses for beginners. Read on to find out what they are and how to do them.

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What Qualifies a Yoga Pose as Basic?

Depending on where you look, or what type of yoga you are most interested in, you may read or hear different things about the types of poses you should start out doing. When it comes down to it, a basic yoga pose is one that someone with no experience can start that will challenge them but won’t be impossible. It gives them a foundation to build upon to increase the difficulty as they gain more experience and build their strength and flexibility. 

A basic yoga pose should be simple and easy to follow and focus on mindfulness and proper breathwork techniques as you move through different positions.

What Are the 12 Basic Yoga Poses?

You can follow some of the best yoga teachers as you get started on your yoga journey, both in person and on YouTube. Whether you choose that route or you want a more independent practice to work on at your own pace, you will likely see all or a combination of these 12 basic poses:

  1. Child’s Pose or Balasana
  2. Downward Facing Dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana
  3. Upward Facing Dog or Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
  4. Cobra or Bhujangasana
  5. Bridge or Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
  6. Chair Pose or Ukatasana
  7. Warrior One or Virabhadrasana I
  8. Warrior Two or Virabhadrasana II
  9. Tree Pose or Vrkasana
  10. Triangle or Utthita Trikonasana
  11. High Plank or Khumbakasana
  12. Standing Fold or Uttanasana

1. Child’s Pose

Child’s Pose, or Balasana in Sanskrit, is a foundational yoga pose that holds a special place in most yoga practices. To perform Child’s Pose, one kneels on the mat with knees spread wide, hips gently lowered toward the heels, and the torso folded forward, reaching arms either forward or alongside the body. This resting posture offers a sense of surrender, providing a moment of respite and rejuvenation during a yoga session.

Child’s Pose stretches the hips, back, and thighs, releasing tension and promoting relaxation. It is often used as a resting pose between more challenging asanas or as a counterpose to backbends and inversions. With its accessible nature and ability to foster mindfulness, Child’s Pose becomes a sanctuary for practitioners to turn inward, reconnect with the breath, and find balance in mind, body, and spirit.

12 basic yoga poses for beginners - Child’s Pose

2. Downward-Facing Dog

Downward-Facing Dog, or Adho Mukha Svanasana in Sanskrit, is an iconic yoga pose that exemplifies both strength and flexibility. To enter this pose, one starts on their hands and knees, then lifts the hips up and back, forming an inverted V shape with the body. The hands are shoulder-width apart, the feet hip-width apart, and the heels aim to reach towards the floor. Downward Dog engages the entire body, stretching and strengthening the arms, shoulders, hamstrings, and calves. It also lengthens the spine and provides a gentle release for the neck. 

This pose is commonly used in yoga sequences to transition between asanas or as a foundational pose for building strength and stability. Downward-Facing Dog offers numerous benefits, including improved circulation, increased flexibility, and a sense of grounding and rejuvenation. As one of the most widely recognized yoga poses, it continues to be a staple in yoga classes worldwide, catering to practitioners of all levels and playing a crucial role in cultivating a balanced and holistic yoga practice.

12 basic yoga poses for beginners - Downward Facing Dog

3. Upward-Facing Dog

Upward-Facing Dog, or Urdhva Mukha Svanasana in Sanskrit, is a dynamic and heart-opening yoga pose that is often incorporated into yoga sequences. One begins by lying face down on the mat, with the tops of the feet pressing into the floor. The palms are placed beside the chest, fingers spread wide. With a gentle push through the hands, the practitioner lifts the torso off the mat, arching the back and rolling the shoulders back and down. The thighs and knees remain lifted off the floor while the hips hover slightly above the mat.

Upward Dog stretches and strengthens the chest, shoulders, and abdomen, promoting flexibility in the spine and opening the front body. This pose also improves posture, stimulates abdominal organs, and can help alleviate mild back pain. Its energizing and invigorating nature makes Upward-Facing Dog an essential part of vinyasa and flow-based yoga practices, adding grace and vitality to the practitioner’s experience on the mat.

12 basic yoga poses for beginners - Upward Facing Dog

4. Cobra

Cobra pose, or Bhujangasana in Sanskrit, is a rejuvenating and back-bending yoga posture that offers numerous physical and emotional benefits. To practice Cobra, one lies face down on the mat with palms placed beside the chest and elbows tucked close to the body. With a gentle press into the palms, the practitioner lifts the upper body off the mat, arching the spine and elongating the front of the body. 

Cobra pose stretches the chest, shoulders, and abdomen while strengthening the back muscles. It stimulates the digestive organs, improves blood circulation, and can help alleviate stiffness in the lower back. Emotionally, Cobra pose is known for its heart-opening qualities, encouraging vulnerability and inner strength. It can also be a gentle energizer, awakening the body and mind with renewed vitality. The practice of Cobra can be particularly beneficial for individuals who spend prolonged hours sitting or those seeking to improve their posture and relieve tension in the upper body.

12 basic yoga poses for beginners - Cobra pose

5. Bridge Pose

Bridge Pose, known as Setu Bandhasana in Sanskrit, is a rejuvenating and accessible yoga posture that brings numerous benefits to the body and mind. To practice Bridge Pose, lie on your back with knees bent, feet hip-width apart, and arms alongside your body. As you press through your feet and arms, lift your hips off the floor, creating a gentle arch in the spine.

Bridge Pose stretches the chest, shoulders, and spine while strengthening the back, glutes, and legs. It stimulates the abdominal organs, aids digestion, and can help relieve mild back pain. This pose also promotes a sense of relaxation, grounding, and emotional balance, making it an excellent addition to any yoga practice for practitioners of all levels.

12 basic yoga poses for beginners - Bridge pose

6. Chair Pose

Chair Pose, or Utkatasana in Sanskrit, is a dynamic yoga pose that cultivates strength, balance, and concentration. To perform Chair Pose, stand with feet together and arms extended overhead. As you bend your knees and lower your hips, imagine sitting in an invisible chair. The challenge lies in keeping the thighs parallel to the floor and the spine lengthened.

Chair Pose strengthens the legs, glutes, and core, while also opening the chest and shoulders. It stimulates the diaphragm and aids in improving posture. Chair Pose is a powerful asana that builds heat and energy in the body, making it an excellent addition to flow-based yoga sequences and a valuable posture for building physical and mental resilience

12 basic yoga poses for beginners - Chair Pose

7. Warrior One

Warrior One, or Virabhadrasana I in Sanskrit, is a foundational yoga pose that embodies strength, stability, and grace. To practice Warrior One, start in a lunge position with one foot forward and the other foot back, both feet turned slightly inward. Bend the front knee to a 90-degree angle, ensuring it aligns with the ankle. The back foot remains grounded, forming a solid foundation. Lift the arms overhead, palms facing each other, and draw the shoulders down.

Warrior One stretches the hip flexors, opens the chest, and strengthens the legs and core. It also promotes focus and concentration while encouraging a sense of empowerment and confidence. Practicing Warrior One allows the practitioner to connect with their inner warrior, embodying courage and resilience both on and off the yoga mat.

12 basic yoga poses for beginners - Warrior One

8. Warrior Two

Warrior Two, or Virabhadrasana II in Sanskrit, is a dynamic and empowering yoga pose that embodies strength and grace. To perform Warrior Two, stand with feet wide apart, and turn the front foot forward while rotating the back foot perpendicular to the front. Bend the front knee to a 90-degree angle, keeping it aligned with the ankle, and extend the arms out to the sides, parallel to the ground. Gaze over the front fingertips, and engage the core and leg muscles for stability.

Warrior Two opens the hips, chest, and shoulders, while strengthening the legs and building endurance. It fosters a sense of grounding and presence, allowing the practitioner to embody the spirit of a warrior, both fierce and steady. This asana is a beautiful reminder of the balance between strength and tranquility, making it an integral part of any yoga practice seeking empowerment and poise.

12 basic yoga poses for beginners - Warrior Two

9. Tree Pose

Tree Pose, also known as Vrksasana in Sanskrit, is a graceful and balancing yoga posture that symbolizes rootedness and growth. To practice Tree Pose, stand tall with feet together and arms at your sides. Shift your weight onto one leg and place the sole of the opposite foot on the inner thigh, calf, or ankle, avoiding pressure on the knee joint. Bring your hands together at your heart center or extend them overhead like branches. Focus your gaze on a fixed point for better balance.

Tree Pose improves balance, concentration, and flexibility in the standing leg. It also strengthens the muscles of the ankles, calves, and thighs. This pose encourages a sense of inner stability and poise, inviting practitioners to connect with their inner strength and harmony with nature, making it a beautiful and serene addition to any yoga practice.

12 basic yoga poses for beginners - Tree Pose

10. Triangle

Triangle Pose, or Trikonasana in Sanskrit, is a powerful and invigorating yoga posture that offers a deep stretch and strengthening benefits. To practice Triangle Pose, stand with feet wide apart and turn the right foot outward while keeping the left foot slightly turned in. Extend the arms out to the sides at shoulder height and reach forward with the right hand, hinging at the hip to bring it down towards the right shin, ankle, or the floor. The left arm reaches up towards the sky, creating a straight line from the left foot to the fingertips.

Triangle Pose provides a profound stretch to the hamstrings, hips, and side body, while toning and strengthening the legs and core. It also stimulates the abdominal organs and aids in digestion. With its dynamic shape resembling a triangle, this pose promotes balance and stability, and its invigorating nature revitalizes the body and mind, making it a valuable addition to any yoga practice.

12 basic yoga poses for beginners - Triangle

11. High Plank

High Plank, also known as Plank Pose, is a fundamental yoga pose that engages the entire body, building strength and stability. To practice High Plank, start in a push-up position with palms placed directly under the shoulders and arms straight. The body forms a straight line from head to heels, with the core engaged and the legs active. High Plank strengthens the arms, shoulders, chest, and core muscles while improving overall body alignment and posture.

This pose is often used as a starting point for more challenging arm balances and inversions, making it a crucial foundational pose in many yoga sequences. High Plank cultivates physical and mental endurance, encouraging focus and determination as practitioners hold the pose, making it a powerful addition to any yoga practice seeking strength and resilience.

12 basic yoga poses for beginners - High Plank

12. Standing Fold

Standing Fold, or Uttanasana in Sanskrit, is a calming and rejuvenating yoga pose that offers a deep stretch to the hamstrings, spine, and back. To practice Standing Fold, start in a standing position with feet hip-width apart. On an exhale, hinge at the hips, folding the upper body forward and reaching the hands towards the ground or resting them on the shins or ankles. The head hangs heavy, allowing for a gentle release of tension in the neck and shoulders.

Standing Fold promotes relaxation and introspection, encouraging practitioners to turn inward and connect with their breath. It also improves flexibility in the spine and hamstrings, and with regular practice, can help alleviate mild back pain and reduce stress. As a gentle inversion, Standing Fold brings a fresh supply of blood to the brain, refreshing the mind and fostering a sense of calm and tranquility, making it an essential pose for grounding and revitalizing in any yoga practice.

12 basic yoga poses for beginners - Standing Fold

Final Thoughts

Yoga is a wonderful way to build up strength, flexibility, improve your mental health. Although it is a great addition to any well-rounded fitness regimen, it can be hard to know where to start. The best way to start with several basic yoga poses that you can do no matter what your experience level is, and then build upon that as your strength and flexibility increase. If you are ready to level up you can get your feet to the best Y12SR certification programs online to start teaching.

There are 12 basic yoga poses almost everyone can do no matter what their fitness level and experience. These poses include the Child’s Pose, Warrior I and II, Triangle, Upward and Downward Dogs, and more. Each of these works in a different area of the body to increase strength, proper breathing, balance, and flexibility. If you are afraid of your yoga outfit to be rolling up or down, you can find the 5 best yoga tops that don’t ride up here.